Arnold Kling  

If I Taught Greg Mankiw's Seminar

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Unchecked and Unbalanced Selfish/Self-Interested...

His list of books for a freshman seminar in economics includes a diverse selection, including Bryan's Myth of the Rational Voter, which is the only one that I would duplicate. Offhand, I would pick

1. Jerry Muller, The Mind and the Market. My choice for history-of-economic-thought book is much more difficult than Heilbroner (Mankiw's pick), and far meatier.

2. Robert Frank The Economic Naturalist. Replaces the McMillan book on Mankiw's list. Could be a close call.

3. Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian, Information Rules. Price discrimination explains everything. I like it much more than Dixit-Nalebuff (Mankiw's choice in what I would call the business economics category).

4. Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist. Yes, Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom and Hayek's Road to Serfdom are classics, but this works better today. Or should I propose From Poverty to Prosperity?

5. Kevin Lang, Poverty and Discrimination. A left-leaning book, with a good dose of statistical methods provided along the way. My preference over the Okun classic.

6. Ed Leamer, Macroeconomic Patterns and Stories. As you know from recent posts, I like his perspective on macro, and he has a good sense for methods. Replaces both Farmer and Krugman from Mankiw's list.

7. Burton Malkiel, A Random Walk Down Wall Street. Students should be conversant in finance and how economists think about it.

8. Tyler Cowen, The Age of the Infovore. This would replace Landsburg in the category I think of as "economists outside the box." Many alternatives here, none exactly right. What I really want is The Best of Robin Hanson, a collection of six essays (any more and the students' heads would explode), but that book doesn't exist.


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COMMENTS (11 to date)
Adam writes:

How about Thomas Sowell's Knowledge and Decisions?

Norman writes:

The Best of Robin Hanson is a book that *should* exist. Seriously, how can we make this happen? I would buy it.

Mitch Oliver writes:

What sort of professor doesn't include his own book in the text list? What's your game?

Rebecca Burlingame writes:

I've been meaning to read The Mind and The Market for a couple of years..since it is about economic thought perhaps I should set down the far weightier The Growth of Economic Thought by Henry Spiegel for now. The Economic Naturalist was okay if a bit light. Two more good reads not on your list: The Mystery of Capital by Hernando de Soto and Gridlock Economy by Michael Heller. One suggestion, read the Mystery of Capital first or Gridlock Economy can mess with the good vibe of the first.

Mitch, one of the current post titles references one of Arnold's books.

MikeP writes:

For a freshman seminar, I'd definitely use Bastiat and Henry Hazlitt.

libfree writes:

I like the idea for a best of Robin Hanson. He can even steal your subtitle (Anymore and your head would explode)

Ano writes:

Gregory Clark's "A Farewell to Alms" is a pretty good economic history of the world.

review reader writes:

The amazon review for information rules was not particularly flattering.

Brian Moore writes:

"What I really want is The Best of Robin Hanson, a collection of six essays (any more and the students' heads would explode), but that book doesn't exist."

"The Best of Robin Hanson is a book that *should* exist. Seriously, how can we make this happen? I would buy it."

Hey economists named Robin Hanson, this sounds like a 20$ bill on the sidewalk! Get on it! :)

"A Random Walk Down Wall Street" should be required reading for anyone thinking themselves an educated person.

Excellent selection.

Dave Backus writes:

On Dixit-Nalebuff, Info Rules: I like Co-opetition, Brandenburger and Nalebuff. The first seems like a practice run.

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