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on 21 May 2007
Economics is one of those things I've always thought I ought to know more about, but all previous attempts to educate myself have ended in either confusion or terminal boredom. Well done then, to David Smith and his Free Lunch, for rendering the subject both understandable and engaging. Smith introduces all the basic ideas and the big names in this whistlestop tour of economic theory. By the end you'll be familiar with Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes, you'll be able to wax intelligent over the dinner table about interest rates, and you'll have heard some interesting anecdotes along the way.

I personally found it very useful in drawing out all the connections between consumer spending, tax, interest rates, and how they all impact each other in the mysterious machine known as 'the economy'. Those wanting deeper analysis will want to look elsewhere, but if you're only going to read one book on economics in your life (and let's face it, for most of us one is plenty), this is what you require.
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on 8 August 2017
This is not a book about economics but about history of British economy! It describes what happened in British economy from historic times.

The book deliberately avoided any charts or formulas. However, I think introduction to some economics formulas would have been justified. There is only one real formula, where author states what components make up a country's GDP.

I am not sure whether linking economics theory with lunch theme actually worked. Often it felt bit annoyance.

If you give it a miss, you won't miss much.

If you live outside Britain, then don't buy this edition/version.
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on 15 February 2003
This highly informative and interesting book is presented in an original and 'easily digestible' format, suitable for all readers. Smith manages to cover most, if not all, of the economic issues concerning us today, in a concise 282 pages. I was particularly impressed with the references to economic history and the incorporation of so many of the 'big names' in economics - both new and old.
For those new to economics, perhaps one of the most refreshing features about the book is that it contains no diagrams and just two simple equations - which is very unusual for a contemporary book on economics. As an undergraduate studying economics, I cannot help think that a diagram in one or two places would have clarified the explanation - however, this may have over-complicated things for the general audience, and I think Smith was right to leave the book diagram free.
Even as a student, who supposedly should know a fair bit about economics, I found the book highly informative, clarifying issues that I am studying at the moment and touching on new topics that I have not yet encountered. To my surprise the book focused on various aspects of current economic theory in a clear and concise manner that will no doubt help me in my studies.
'Free Lunch' contains a wealth of general economic knowledge presented in a highly accessible and often witty writing style. I would therefore recommend this book as an excellent introduction to economics.
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on 30 July 2017
Recommended
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on 12 February 2003
David Smith, Economic Editor of The Sunday Times, has presented an excellent and digestible introduction to economics in his new book, Free Lunch, Easy digestible Economics. Smith provides a good general overview of key economic concepts, an examination of current economic issues and an introduction to key economic thought of the last two hundred years. Smith includes topics such as whether Britain should change to the Euro currency, why some countries are designed to remain in poverty, and how British monetary policy has evolved over the last twenty-five years. Best of all, Smith uses only one simple equation and does not offer a single complicated mathematical example.
The book is set out as a meal plan with appetizers, a main course, desserts, coffee and guest speakers. Guest speakers include many well-known economists such as Carl Marx, Adam Smith, and Maynard Keynes, but the contributions of some less famous economists such as Ricardo are also examined. Smith also provides further details of economic web sites worth visiting and a book list for the interested reader wishing to learn more about economics.
All in all, the book is a fantastic introduction to economics, giving the necessary information to understand the way in which our countries are run and our personal finances are controlled.
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on 27 January 2004
I have a fairly average understanding of the economy but have often felt fairly lost when watching business news on TV and listening to people talking about GDP, the relationship between interest rates and inflation, the effects high/low taxation on government revenue and public spending etc . . . . My business is investing in the property market and I need a firmer understanding or economics if I am to reduce the risks associated with my line of work.
This book gave a good, top level grounding in how the different elements of the economy interact. He does this without getting boring or going into too much detail. I found the book very easy to read and it held my attention. This is no easy feat for a book on economics!
However I am left feeling that my taste has been wetted and I need to know more in order to fully understand the subject. The book has done well to stimulate my interest to the extent that it did, but did not provide enough detail to satisfy me.
If you just want a top level, interesting introduction to economics and how it effects Joe Bloggs you won't regret buying this book.
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on 22 August 2016
The book is laid out as if the reader is having a meal with the author, but that is the only gimmick. He takes us through the basic of economics in a straightforward and accessible way that everyone can understand. Naturally, some dishes are more appetising than others, but that's to be expected. If I take anything form this book it's that there is always a trade off in economics so there are no perfect solutions.. There is, as they say, no such thing as a free lunch.
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on 13 February 2009
It is at times like these when the world is facing a period of recession when one needs to sit down and read a "thing" or two about economics. Being an eager economist, I was truly impressed with the fields covered by David Smith.

The great thing about this book is the writing style. Smith does not complicate things, in a way that someone who studied economics before may find it a bit too amateur. But the purpose of this book is to provide basic knowledge on the 5-10 main areas that one needs to touch in order to continue with, or simply learn about economics.

In my opinion the writing on the Credit Crunch crisis of 2008 seems a bit rushed but this is not something to overshadow the main idea of the book, as the effects of the crisis are yet to be fully revealed and no author seems and will seem updated enough to illustrate the economic crisis on paper, unless the economy recovers. This is a tool for someone who has had little -if any- economic knowledge and seeks to broaden it.

One shall not expect difficult diagrams or complicated and advanced vocabulary, as Smith definitely puts out an excellent and easy-going "dinner party" for someone to enjoy.
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on 15 July 2012
I don't really have any serious academic interest in economics, but I've recently started to read around the subject because I'd like to bee able to understand the present (IE July 2012) Eurozone crisis. Also, I believe that knowledge of economics cannot be harmful.

I bought this book because I thought it would provide a simple, easy entry into the subject, and the big appeal to me was that this book promises to forego the complications of diagrams and equations that appear in economics textbooks. This was a big plus for me since I'm not so hot on my mathematics. The book fulfills its promise, with the exception of the equation relating to GDP, which is pretty easy to understand. The author manages to include most of the (surprisingly few) branches of economics without using too much econo-jargon and getting bogged down in details.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but I don't believe this book deserves five stars. It's certainly well written and accessible, and I've certainly learned a lot from it, however something about it just didn't sit quite right with me. Sometimes, though infrequently, the author does get bogged down in details, and I occasionally felt like I was being expected to apply knowledge that I hadn't before learnt. This mainly took the form of "if X then Y" scenarios that the author had tried to use to demonstrate a specific point, and I would fail to see the leap that got from X to Y. Also, structure did create a few issues, such as wittering on about inflation without really explaining what inflation is and what causes it. I may have simply missed the point, however.

On the whole, I'd recommend this book to anyone who is an economics amateur, and I think it could act as a bridge between this and more advanced texts. It won't make you an economics expert, but it will certainly leave you knowing even just a little bit more about the way the economy works.
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on 23 February 2003
This highly informative and interesting book is presented in an original and 'easily digestible' format, suitable for all readers. Smith manages to cover most, if not all, of the economic issues concerning us today, in a concise 282 pages. I was particularly impressed with the references to economic history and the incorporation of so many of the 'big names' in economics - both new and old.
For those new to economics, perhaps one of the most refreshing features about the book is that it contains no diagrams and just two simple equations - which is very unusual for a contemporary book on economics. As an undergraduate studying economics, I cannot help think that a diagram in one or two places would have clarified the explanation - however, this may have over-complicated things for the general audience, and I think Smith was right to leave the book diagram free.
Even as a student, who supposedly should know a fair bit about economics, I found the book highly informative, clarifying issues that I am studying at the moment and touching on new topics that I have not yet encountered. To my surprise the book focused on various aspects of current economic theory in a clear and concise manner that will no doubt help me in my studies.
'Free Lunch' contains a wealth of general economic knowledge presented in a highly accessible and often witty writing style. I would therefore recommend this book as an excellent introduction to economics.
0Comment| 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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