Basic Economics and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player


Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering
Sell Us Your Item
For a $7.12 Gift Card
Trade in
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Start reading Basic Economics on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy [Hardcover]

by Thomas Sowell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)

Buy New
$21.92 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
In Stock.
Rented by RentU and Fulfilled by Amazon.
Want it Monday, April 28? Choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $20.82  
Hardcover $21.92  
Paperback, Large Print $32.64  
MP3 CD, Audiobook, Unabridged $33.80  
Audible Audio Edition, Unabridged $29.95 or Free with Audible 30-day free trial
Sell Us Your Books
Get up to 80% back when you sell us your books, even if you didn't buy them at Amazon. Learn more

Book Description

December 28, 2010 0465022529 978-0465022526 4th
The fourth edition of Basic Economics is both expanded and updated. A new chapter on the history of economics itself has been added, and the implications of that history examined. A new section on the special role of corporations in the economy has been added to the chapter on government and big business, among other additions throughout the book.

Basic Economics, which has now been translated into six languages, has grown so much that a large amount of material in the back of the book in previous editions has now been put online instead, so the book itself and its price will not have to expand. The central idea of Basic Economics, however, remains the same: that the fundamental facts and principles of economics do not require jargon, graphs, or equations, and can be learned in a relaxed and even enjoyable way.

Frequently Bought Together

Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy + Economic Facts and Fallacies, 2nd edition
Price for both: $34.48

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews



“Clear and concise…among economists of the past thirty years, Sowell stands very proud indeed.”—Wall Street Journal
Basic Economics is not only valuable for a general lay-person audience; it would also benefit lawyers, politicians, and yes, economists, as well.”—Washington Times
Basic Economics is a healthy main course disguised as a rich dessert.  The expanded Fourth Edition now weighs in at well over 600 pages.  Readers will celebrate the girth. Tom Sowell’s smooth writing, irresistible logic, deep knowledge and flawless economics make each page an explanatory treat to experts and novices alike.”  —Thomas Hazlett, Professor of Law & Economics and Director, Information Economy Project, George Mason University
“Badly needed…. Anyone who has been subjected to biased and dreary economics textbooks should read Basic Economics as a bracing corrective.”—Claremont Review of Books
Basic Economics demonstrates in every chapter why Thomas Sowell is one of America's greatest thinkers. It is must-reading for anyone who wants the truth about how the laws of economics govern so many of the events in our daily lives.”—Arthur C. Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute and author of The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future
“Alchian said the true test of whether one understands his subject is whether he can explain it to someone who doesn’t know a darn thing about it. Mr. Sowell wasn’t Alchian’s student, but Basic Economics demonstrates his ability to make economics understandable to a person who hasn’t set foot in an economics class. It’s a book rich with explanations and examples of everyday economics issues.”—Walter Williams, George Mason University
“The unyielding truths of economics befuddle social engineers of all stripes.  Sowell, in exemplary fashion, strips the mystery from those truths, making them intuitive—even obvious.”  —David Boaz, Executive Vice President, Cato Institute and author of Libertarianism: A Primer

About the Author

Thomas Sowell l has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst, and other academic institutions. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in academic journals and in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Fortune, and he writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 786 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 4th edition (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465022529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465022526
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 4.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst and other academic institutions, and his Basic Economics has been translated into six languages. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in both academic journals in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and Fortune, and writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
179 of 185 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great upgrade to essential volume January 3, 2011
Basic Economics has become an institution in itself. With this, its fourth edition, the publisher offers the same great essential survey of economics with more examples and new material in the form of a chapter on the history of economics. If there was anything lacking in the first three editions, it was this general history of the study. The history is provocative and rings of new theories like that in Juggernaut: Why the System Crushes the Only People Who Can Save It.

In Basic, Sowell mainly addresses the various principles of economics through the problems and concerns of modern society such as the effect of price controls, the role of profits and losses, and international trade.

Altogether, Sowell covers some very complex and relevant topics. The theme that becomes clear upon reading this book, however, is that all of these issues have at their root very basic principles based on supply and demand, and the inherent risks of "unintended consequences" that stem from government intervention. As he states in the introduction, basic economics apply in many different kinds of economies--capitalist, socialist, feudal, and so on.

The upgrade over the 3rd edition is definitely worth the extra cost (this coming from someone who has read both). For anyone debating whether to add Thomas Sowell to their shelves, this would be a great start.
Was this review helpful to you?
175 of 184 people found the following review helpful
There's a story Milton Friedman use to tell when he was the Nobel Prize winning Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. He would say that an economist is a man that knows a thousand ways to make love, but has never been with a woman. The truth of this statement is embodied in just about every concept you will study in economics, and the people responsible for those concepts. It is as though they go out of their way to be as confusing as possible. They use language that only a fellow economist could hope to understand but probably doesn't.

This book by noted scholar Thomas Sowell seeks to DEMYSTIFY ECONOMICS, and it gets the job done very well. If you ever wanted to understand economics but could not get the job done, guess what? You now have your chance. This book is clear, readable, to the point, deep, logical, and gripping. You will never read the weekly jobs report or economic output release from the government in the same way again, what's more, you will understand it. We have all been involved with jargon. Some esoteric thinker lays a paragraph on you in such a way that you don't understand a word he is saying. It's all intentional. Here's your chance to get even. You read this book; it will be you laying out the economic concepts for your friends. Here's just a taste of what you will learn.

There are SEVEN distinct sections to the book. All of them will hold your attention. They are:

I Prices and Markets

II Industry and Commerce

III Work and Pay

IV Time and Risk

V The National Economy

VI The International Economy

VII Special Economic Issues

The author chooses his words in such a way as to make the topic highly readable.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
64 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Add to Your Library January 5, 2011
This is one hefty book that surveys the basic principles of economics written by educator Thomas Stowell. The author covers the entire gamut of economics in a single volume, which is a huge project (comparable to superman leaping tall buildings in a single bound), yet he does it effortlessly. From the simple to the complex, Stowell covers it all. This updated edition also includes a chapter on the history of economics, which I found enlightening. If you are thinking of getting an introductory book on economics, you will want to get this one. But don't let that recommendation fool you, this book will be of interest to even the expert.
Was this review helpful to you?
83 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Thomas Sowell says it, I believe it! December 31, 2010
Thomas Sowell is to Economics as is William Shakespeare to the English language. He connects; he makes it clear and beautiful and the truth rings, cannot be muted.
Why the world is not falling at the feet of Dr. Sowell, (at least the economic world), is beyond my capabilities of conjecture. Oh! I forgot. He seems to be black of skin, and his economic views are greatly conservative, so that pretty much closes the door.
OH! How I wish that this GREAT THINKER and teacher of economics and politics was known and read by everyone who is forced to go to government schools. I have heard that Dr. Sowell is a self-described curmudgeon who does not take kindly to social or political bovine fertilizer, or other flim-flam, therefore it would be pretty much impossible for him to do so, but I always prayed that Dr. Sowell would be our second "black" president, after William Jefferson Clinton.
For my money, and yours too, any book written by Dr.Sowell should be treasured, read to your children and kept in your heart.
Was this review helpful to you?
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ecellent January 16, 2011
By Spooch
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Professor Sowell takes a dry subject and demonstrates why it is important for all of us to have a basic understanding of the fundamentals. His style is neither condescending nor abstract, rather one finds a comfortable balance reading this work. But, be warned... although you might be tempted to read this like a novel, it is a serious book which needs to be savored.

I only wish that those in government had the good sense to read and learn from it. His discussions of the "unintended consequences" arising from government mucking about with prices are excellent.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Every High School Make This Required Reading
What an eye opener. I thought I had a pretty good understanding about economics. Had to rethink that one. Read more
Published 7 days ago by R
5.0 out of 5 stars Review
Insightful summary, well reasoned and clearly explained basic principals, which in most cases, particularly for laymen all you need to bet by.
Published 13 days ago by Ronald Gottlieb
5.0 out of 5 stars Basic Economics: A Primer for Free-Market Thinkers
Should be required undergraduate reading. A book for anyone wanting to understand free- market capitalism. A book for the young and the old (I'm old).
Published 17 days ago by Pam Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
I would heartily recommend this book to anyone wanting to have a better understanding of economics and how it affects everything in our lives. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Cesar
5.0 out of 5 stars Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy 4th ed. Kindle...
Having no training in Economics I found this an eye opening masterpiece on basic economic mechanisms. Read more
Published 1 month ago by JPP Smorenburg
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing economic clarity
Sowell is excellent at explaining the complex issues of economics in plain and simple language. This course should be included in all high school government classes.
Published 1 month ago by Sharon K. Schulling
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift for Dad
This was a Christmas purchase for my dad. He enjoys it. Thomas Sowell should be required reading for High School students.
Published 1 month ago by Dogg-Man
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book that introduces Economics in layman's terms
This is a great introductory book to economics. It certainly helped me understand a lot of about how economics works. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jay
5.0 out of 5 stars Review
Dr. Sowell is a brilliant economist and communicator, and I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand how things work in layman's terms.
Published 2 months ago by Anne Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars Arrived quickly and in great condition
Showed up quickly and in great condition! Haven't actually read it yet, however, my brother has promised me that it's a good read.
Published 2 months ago by Donatus weithman
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Have something you'd like to share about this product?
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for Similar Items by Category