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VINE VOICEon 17 April 2017
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A wonderful holistic introduction to economics. Partha Dasgupta’s comprehensive knowledge and understanding makes it so relevant and interesting. I now see economic reports and predictions from a completely different and deeper perspective.

There were so many ‘aha’ moments that I realise that my previous perception of economics was very basic and very naive. Dasgupta uses the vehicle of contrasting the many factors influencing the lives of two ten year old girls, the first is Desta living in Ethiopia, the other Becky living in US.
Although this is in the Oxford University Press ‘A Short Introduction’ range, this brilliant book gives us the breadth and depth of economics, linking it to other human activities in politics, sociology, belief system, etc. making it essential reading to all college students as they may gain a better insight into economics and with it might subsequently have a better chance of becoming successful entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately this edition was published in 2007, so there is no mention of the banking crisis 2007-2008. I for one would dearly like to read an updated 2nd edition and see how Dasgupta’s analysis of it and possibly how he might refer to it in his chapters dealing with Trust, Markets and Institutions.

This book remains relevant, so despite reading this book, post economic banking crisis and post Brexit decision, it has helped me to understand how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer no matter what. I can now see how this happens as the economic, political, legal and social aspects play out, not only globally, but also closer to home in the UK between the ‘deprived areas’ and the ‘wealthy areas’.
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on 28 March 2016
Very Good
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on 30 March 2017
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The key thing about the title of this book is that it is a very short introduction, therefore necessarily limited, which can be a great problem for some (see other reviews) and particularly when considering economics which is voluminous, diverse and disparate in its character. However, while some will find it wanting, if you are considering finance specifically, economic crisis and political economy (personally I think Thomas Piketty is a good author in those respects) or some of the classic thinking (Wordsworth has recently reprinted the big thinkers Smith, Marx, Keynes) it is still a good short introduction to its subject matter. There are also some topics which are important but less considered elsewhere such as trust.

Good contents, structuring, satisfactory style and pace of writing by the author and well referenced material all add to the reading experience, I would recommend it to the interested casual reader, students or even anyone acquainted by the topic as it is sometimes interesting to read good introductions, like this one, as an exercise in considering what you have learned in between first acquaintance and now.
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Economics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 22 Feb 2007

The series.
This is a great series for getting a quick overview of many subjects. I call them train journey books as they can be read on quickly on a train journey.
This is a complicated subject but this book attempts (and largely succeeds) in 170 pages in giving you the basics. It starts with the history of the subject and then describes the application of economics in our modern world. You won’t become an expert by reading this book but it will give you an appreciation of how economics drives the modern world.

Another good book in the series that gets the essentials in. Quite well written and easy to follow. I enjoyed this book but believe me there is far more to this subject than mentioned in this book. However, it is a great primer on economics.
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on 20 July 2017
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I have read a number of books from the "A Very Short Introduction" series and have generally been impressed. The idea is to introduce the reader to a complex subject, but in a way that is approachable and helpful without going into too much detail.

Sadly I felt this book failed to deliver on that. I have no doubt the author is an expert in their field, but it was just presented in too complex a manner. The context is good - providing two families in very different worlds and explaining how their different lives can be defined by economics, but beyond that it got too complex too quickly.

A real disappointment.
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on 3 April 2017
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Always been partial to this Oxford 'short introduction' series- there have been some misses and non-events but on the whole, they provide succinct introductions and sometimes intriguing insights and critiques of the subject matter.

This one tackles a huge subject, namely Economics, with a fair degree of focus without getting bogged down in too much detail [an actual failing of modern economic theory for decades now] and on the whole I think tries to presents Economics as what it should be- a rigorous social science, rather than a wannabe hard one. Well worth a look for a balanced take on the discipline.
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on 28 March 2017
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This is surprisingly interesting. I got a lot out of it. However ( and this is a big however ) this isn't really a complete introduction to economics. A GCSE or A-level textbook might well do a better job. when it comes to the basics. Though I do think this still works as a general introduction to Economics. There is a lot that it doesn't cover but in an area that is as controversial as economics that isn't surprising.

It was written in 2007 so some important new developments won't be included.
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on 17 June 2011
The problem with the low reviews of this book is that they are expecting a short treatise explaining the complexities of the economic world to people whose desire is to learn about current affairs more than economics as a subject.

This book is not attempting to explain the history of finance (Niall Ferguson's ascent of Money is excellent for this) or the reasons for the credit crunch (try Peston, Who runs Britian for a UK perspective).

Rather, it introduces the layperson to economics as a discipline particularly the kinds of questions/topics economists are concerned with and the methodologies and conceptual frameworks employed to deepen our understanding.

If considered from this perspective, Professor Dasgupta (who was tutored by Nobel Laureate James Mirlees) has written an excellent short introduction. Its core strengths are twofold. Firstly, Dasgupta considers some of the most interesting and counterintuitive economic concepts ( such as Trust) and the implications of such ideas on interaction and economic results. Secondly, Professor Dasgupta has a gift for highlighting and drawing attention to the most theoretically interesting issues, whilst at the same time explaining these in language that is clear for non-experts to understand.

So, if you want to understand economics and not just the business pages of the Times, this book will be worth reading.
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on 8 January 2015
Fast delivery! And an interesting read
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 November 2013
The Very Short Introductions series of Oxford University Press provides succinct introductions to more subjects than a person can reasonably hope to know. Parath Dasgupta offers a brief, pointed look at Economics in this 2007 volume in the series. Dasgupta is the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. Dasgupta was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his work in economics and has written many important books and studies.

"A little learning is a dangerous thing"; and a "very short introduction" does not have to be easy. Dasgupta's book is not written "for dummies" and it does not present its subject in the manner of an introductory textbook. Instead, Dasgupta offers the lay reader an example of how economists define problems and issues and try to solve them. In other words, the book offers the reader an example of how to "think like an economist". This gives the book a dense character. Dasgupta develops his own way of approaching and his position of questions of economics, neither of which might be fully shared by all members of his profession.

At the outset, Dasgupta makes two broad worth noting. First, he ties in economics with politics and, especially with ethics. Unlike some scientists who might try to minimize ethical, philosophical questions, Dasgupta is quite clear that ethical commitments are a driving force behind economics and politics. The second point involves Dasgupta's approach to economic questions. He rejects a historical, "narrative" approach because of the difficulty of supporting one proposed "narrative" over another. Dasgupta's approach is heavily analytical and quantitative, relying on mathematical modeling, statistics, and game theory. He tries to identify and weigh the factors involved in economic growth.

The material is daunting, but Dasgupta presents it well, if briefly. He enlivens his account by telling a story. Dasgupta introduces the reader to two fictitious girls, , Becky, 10, who lives with her parents in the American Midwest and Desta, 10, who lives with her family in a village in tropical southwest Ethiopia. Becky's father is a successful attorney in a law firm while Desta's father is a subsistence farmer on a small plot. The family is heavily involved in the farming. Becky's family is prosperous, and she has dreams of excelling in school and becoming a doctor. Desta lives at subsistence level. She knows she will marry at a young age at the behest of her parents and be expected to continue in essentially the same harsh life in which she was raised.

Dasgupta tries to show why the circumstances in which Becky and Desta find themselves differ so markedly. He writes: "Economics in great measure tries to uncover the processes that influence how people's lives come to be what they are. The discipline also tries to identify ways to influence these processes so as to improve the prospects of those who are hugely constrained in what they can be and do. The former activity involves finding explanations, while the latter tries to identify policy prescriptions. Economists also make forecasts of what the conditions of economic life are going to be; but if the predictions are to be taken seriously, they have to be built on an understanding of the processes that shape people's lives; which is why the attempt to explain takes precedence over forecasting."

Dasgupta examines the economic factors that shape Becky's and Desta's lives in a series of chapters that include local, national, and international considerations. He begins with the concept of "trust" in economic activities between people which he develops using game theory modeling. In subsequent chapters, he considers communities, markets and households, trying to develop and explain factors common to both the United States and the Ethiopian village. He presents an important chapter on science and technology and on the institutional structures which allow their development. The book becomes broader in scope and probably more controversial in the latter chapters as Dasgupta describes hidden environmental costs, human capital, and natural resources such as air, water, and the ocean fishery in ways that the author claims are not usually followed by other economists. He discusses inequities in the distribution of wealth between the two countries he considers in addition to growing disparities between rich and poor in the United States and other developed nations. He also tries to tie economics in to politics and to the structure of government, based on the virtues of democracy and majority rule.

The book shows an economist thinking and practicing his discipline in a way a lay reader can, with effort, understand rather than offering an overview. The book helped me understand how an economist works. Dasgupta helped me see different ways of thinking about important matters, which is a worthwhile accomplishment and the goal of a "very short introduction".

Robin Friedman
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