Book Reviews

Book Review: Grand Pursuit – The Story of Economic Genius.


This seminal and extremely thorough work of Sylvia Nasar deals with the evolution of economic theory and practice from mid-1800’s and covers the “big picture” of the last 200 years.

She provides a substantial amount of detail about Karl Marx, Joseph Schumpeter, Hayek, Friedman, F. Engels, Marshall, and J.M. Keynes with many engaging vignettes from Das Kapital, Marx’s major opus which helped create communism.

He wrote Das Kapital, his most influential work that forms the foundation of communism, without even visiting one factory. Das Kaptial created more inequality among common labour than he envisaged.

B.P. Webb, an English upper-class lady is credit with the invention of the welfare state, which many, if not all European countries adopted, at great cost to state coffers.

Grand Pursuit is highly educational and highly entertaining because of details of personal lives of prominent economists of the era. K.Marx was poor for most of his life, since he spent more than he had, and had to be bailed out by his German benefactor, and industrialist F. Engels.

This voluminous book provides a sweeping history of economic thought and evolution of economics in the 20th century. While people commonly thought that before mid 19th century the majority of the population of the world would live in poverty all the time, inventions and progressive policies and politics changed wealth distribution, partly due to taxation and partly because of productivity increases.

The author provides an informative, admirably engaging, readable, and interesting history of modern economics without much economic theory, equations, formulae, graphs, demand and supply curves.

The part dealing with governments how and why they get involved in wars, and how ordinary people suffer on both sides – the aggressor and defender, are extremely revealing. The financers of such lethal conflicts gain huge financial rewards and the treasuries of nations become poor.

Highly recommended for people interested in history, and economics. It should be compulsory reading for all students studying economics, and history.

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