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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Book Review: The Worldly Philosophers by Robert Heilbroner

Have you ever wondered how the world's economic system developed? If you have then you are not alone. Between the covers of The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers you can quench your thirst for the knowledge of how both society and the economy developed hand-in-hand. Today's economic decisions rest on ideas of the economic thinkers like Adam Smith, Parson Malthus, John Maynard Keynes, Carl Marx, Joseph Schumpter and J.S. Mills.

The book moves through the historical development of society and the economic system. Each concept provides further understanding of the nature of society and the development of modern commerce. The economists chosen as subjects have created larger influences on world development and understanding. It is through this understanding that we can see why the U.S., the European Union, and China have different currencies and different spheres of economic influence.

Business owners, investors, and decision makers can benefit from understanding the underlying principles that contribute to the structure of the modern economic system. Many of the decisions companies make today are based in the vantage points of the philosophers that fostered Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism. Each of these vantage points are seen by certain populations as an ideal in society that fosters cohesion and human development. All three exist in the world today and influence the nature of business, decision making and the preferred methods of economic gain. Each of the systems have changed over time in order to avoid collapse or weather difficult times but still hold to their root principles.

The book provides a nice overview of the most influential economic thinkers. Where additional depth was needed it seemed to be lacking. Yet this is not the nature of the book as it appears to be offering a broad overview of the concepts versus in-depth analysis. A more logical development of concepts from the earliest to the latest concepts would be of great benefit. Furthermore, organizing the index around the economist versus around broad concepts would provide additional benefit as a resource. It is worth the purchase price.

Heilbroner, R. (1999). The worldly philosophers: the lives, times, and ideas of the great economic thinkers (Seventh Edition). NY: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-86214-9

Price: $12.24

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