Arnold Kling  

Reading List

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Greg Mankiw's list has a list of suggested readings for an economics undergraduate that are


fun enough that you would not be embarrassed (well, not too embarrassed) reading them at the beach

I have no quarrel with his suggestions of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, The Worldly Philosophers, or Capitalism and Freedom, all of which were available when I was an undergraduate.
But I don't think any of the recent books on his list are in that class. I particularly dislike Nalebuff, although the book Greg recommends from him is not the one I read.

I'm not sure I can do any better with books written since the 1970's, but offhand these would be my recommendations.


  • Perry Mehrling, Fischer Black and the Revolutionary Idea of Finance

  • William Easterly, The White Man's Burden

  • Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist

  • Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
  • Daniel Pink, Free Agent Nation

  • Robert Kaplan, Eastward to Tartary

  • Bjorn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist

  • Alan Blinder, Hard Heads, Soft Hearts

  • David Warsh, Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations


I have just started the Warsh book, so I reserve the right to retract that recommendation. So far, he makes economics seem much more melodramatic than it really is, particularly the annual convention of the American Economics Association, the importance of which he seems to over-rate, in my view.

But anyone whose idea of good beach reading is economics is probably not an especially fun person as far as most people are concerned. I plead guilty.


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TRACKBACKS (3 to date)
TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/512
The author at _o_________ ___ _______ in a related article titled Summer Reading List writes:
    Greg Mankiw and Arnold Kling have posted suggestions of books for economics undergrads to read at the beach this summer. Since they include mostly books I haven't read, I'll need to update my wishlist. I added a couple books in Kling's comments: W [Tracked on May 15, 2006 6:56 PM]
COMMENTS (12 to date)
drtaxsacto writes:

I would substitute James Suroweicki - The Wisdom of Crowds for Blinder's book. Blinder's book had the defect of being almost a screed. He tried to hit a middle ground but I think missed it. Suroweicki has some important insights about how we can make decisions better.

Timothy writes:

I might add Cowboy Capitalism to the list, I thought it was a pretty good read.

PJens writes:

The book that got me reinterested in economics was: Naked Economics-undressing the dismal science, by Charles Wheelan. My wife even liked it. I have not heard or read any reviews on it, and even I found things to question in it. But, in my opinion, it is a very good read.

Ian writes:

I would add either of Hernando DeSoto's books. The Other Path is a bit dry compared to The Myster of Capital, but they're both great.

Both are excellent practical looks at property rights and compliment Easterly's recent books very well I think.

steve writes:

I second De Soto

Also anything by Peter Bernstein or Roger Lowenstein

May be controversial here, but Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom is a great book as well

Don Boudreaux writes:

I would add to Arnold's list:

Arnold Kling's Learning Economics

Russell Roberts's The Choice

EclectEcon writes:

I would not be ashamed to be reading either Liar's Poker or Moneyball by Michael Lewis at the beach.

SteffenH writes:

I would ad:

David Friedman "Machinery of Freedom", "Hidden Order" and more recently "Harald"
Paul H. Rubin "Darwinian Politics" (beware sunburn)
William Easterly "The Elusive Quest of Growth"
Julian Simon "The Ultimate Ressource 2"
Huber/Mills "The Bottomless Well"
Tomas Larsson "The Race to the Top"

Jack writes:

The Mehrling book is great for its background on the development of the CAPM.

Dr. Kling, I suspect that Mankiw's list contains more books by authors he disagrees with than does this one. Is there a book you strongly disagree with that you could still recommend?

If you're going to the beach, how about something fun and/or light:
Walter Block, Defending the Undefendable
Frederic Bastiat, The Law
Steven Landsburg, Fair Play

Mark Bahner writes:

I'd substitute Ultimate Resource 2 for "The Skeptical Environmentalist."

And when world annual per capita GDP growth occasionally climbs above 5% per year in the 2020s and over 6% per year in the 2030s, people will realize that Ray Kurzweil's analyses were pretty important to economics, so I'd add, "The Singularity is Near."

Scott Wood writes:

I'm amazed that no one included Sowell's Knowledge and Decisions.

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