Arnold Kling  

Recommended Books

Sowell's "Intellectuals and So... The Limits of Context: A Criti...

Diane Coyle offers her recommendations. Pointer from Tyler Cowen. The comments are mine.

1. Paul Seabright, The Company of Strangers. I strongly recommend this one. Note that there is a revised edition out, or due out soon.
2. David Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. Can you believe I have never read it? It is right up my alley. My excuse is that I do not expect to learn anything new from it.
3. Paul Ormerod, Butterfly Economics. A commenter once suggested that Ormerod and I have a lot in common. But I've never read any of his books.
4. William Baumol, The Free Market Innovation Machine. Baumol is my perennial favorite for the Nobel Prize. As I recall, though, this book did not wow me.
5. Sylvia Nasar, A Beautiful Mind. Skip the movie. Read the book. Or, if you saw the movie, don't assume that you don't need to read the book.

I still like my review of Coyle's book. I like the content of The Soulful Science much better than its tone. What grates on me is that she seems to go out of her way to be nice to other academic economists. I'm much more chip-on-the-shoulder.

Speaking of book recommendations, Eric Falkenstein recommends the one Nick and I wrote. Eric also seems chip-on-the-shoulder.

Finally, speaking of book reviews, I have a review of David Callahan's book on health care policy in The Freeman.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (6 to date)
Eric Falkenstein writes:

Dunno what you mean, but I heartily recommend your book. When I read it, I thought it's first section was perhaps a little too obvious, but I forgot that hardly anyone has read Fogel's Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, which is pretty dry.

david writes:

Paul Ormerod, in Butterfly Economics:

Governments can never know in advance either the scale of a recession or whether it will lead to an unexpectedly high increase in unemployment. But when the economy has actually begun to slow down sharply - when a deep recession is beginning to be a matter of fact than one of prediction - measures should be brought in very quickly which reduce the possibility of a particularly massive loss of jobs taking place. Such policies could only be temporary. Further, there will be inevitably be a degree of waste involved in widespread job subsidies. But once jobs have been destroyed on a large scale, it seems very difficult to generate the environment in which they can be created again.

No 'recalculation', I'm afraid. I recall that one of your policy suggestions on the recession was to temporarily cut the payroll tax - i.e., widespread job subsidies - but I presume your intention was to promote recalculation rather than to promote retention of the previous economic environment.

Implicit throughout the book is the very non-Austrian assumption that the complexity of an economy can nonetheless be reduced to simple dynamic models, but I daresay Ormerod was writing to an audience that already assume this to an even greater extent.

David R. Henderson writes:

I liked Coyle's write-up. One correction, though: Sylvia Nasar is an economist, if you count having a Masters degree in economics. She was actually much better at straight economics reporting when she was at Fortune in the 1980s than when she went to the NYTimes: she was great on free trade.

gaddeswarup writes:

I vaguely remember that you commented (somewhat negatively) about Paul Seabright's book but I am not sure.

gaddeswarup writes:

I apologize for another comment. I was worried about my comment before, googled and found the link I had in mind:

Bill Conerly writes:

"My excuse is that I do not expect to learn anything new from it."

That's a common problem for those of us more schooled in certain issues than our acquaintances. Friends ask me which of the books about the financial crisis I'd recommend. Having followed the crisis closely as it was unfolding, and written and spoke about it, I doubt that reading any of the crisis books is as valuable as my current reading (Gibbons on the Roman Empire). Yet I'd like to be able to recommend a good book to my friends.

What should I do? Grab four of them at Borders, skim while drinking a cup of coffee, and recommend one on that basis?

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