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184 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great upgrade to essential volume
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...
Published on January 3, 2011 by John R. Smith

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Will a Socialist read this book?
The people who would most benefit from reading this book unfortunately won't read it because of the one sided political presentation. So, I will give an example from my childhood that is not political that will augment the points made by Mr. Sowell. Later I will criticize the shortcomings of this book.

For 6th grade I went to a boarding school. At night a man...
Published 1 month ago by Ozdal Barkan


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184 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great upgrade to essential volume, January 3, 2011
This review is from: Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (Hardcover)
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.
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178 of 187 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blows Away Any Other Book You Will Read On Economics - 5 Stars for CLARITY!!!!, February 5, 2011
This review is from: Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (Hardcover)
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. If it can't be made simple, he doesn't write about it. This means you will understand everything in this book. Make sure you get the 4th edition by the way. A lot of the information that was previously covered in the back of the book in appendixes and footnotes has now been moved to the front parts, and it is better off there. I personally loved many of the stories that the author employs. The use of metaphor is critical to retaining the concept, and once Sowell tells the story, you remember it forever. Consider the following:

* In the space of 14 years, the number of Chinese citizens living on a dollar a day went from 374 million in 1974 to 128 million in 2004.

* In the space of 20 years, India was able to move 20 million people out of destitution.

* How many are aware that China with 20% of the world's population has only 10% of the world's arable land. This is why America's farmers are encountering unprecedented prosperity at this time.

* KFC which we recognize as the old Kentucky Fried Chicken company now sells more product in China than it does in the United States.

* About 25% of the Chinese adult population is overweight, and remember this use to be a country known for mass starvation.

* When Mikhail Gorbachev met Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in England, she was amazed at how little Gorbachev knew about economics.

* Boris Yeltsin visits the United States in 1989, and sees a super market in Houston Texas. The inventory on the shelves freely displayed sends his brain spinning, and his view of communism is altered right there. He goes back to Moscow and the audience is stunned by his narrative of what he saw.

* Sowell describes the Indian bureaucracy prior to 1991 as being impossible to do business. Between brides and unnecessary regulations, it was virtually impossible to grow a business in India. One powerful wealthy family, the Tata's made close to 120 proposals between the 1960's and 1989 to grow their current business, or start new ventures. All of them were turned down by the government. When reforms went into effect in 1991 foreign investment went from $150 million to $3 billion in 12 months.

* What a difference computers have made. Farmers in India know routinely log onto their computers once a day to find out the prices of soybeans on the Chicago Board of Trade.

CONCLUSION:

Don't even think about missing Chapter 25, which is the history of economics. Sowell takes you through all the modern concepts beginning with the Wealth of Nations written by Adam Smith in 1776. He's then onto David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill. He covers John Maynard Keynes in detail and Post Keynesian economics as well.

There is no reason to ever stick your nose in another economics textbook again. Paul Samuelsson would turn over in his grave in awe if he knew how easily Sowell explains the economics of the modern world in easily readable language. Thank you for reading this review.

Richard C. Stoyeck
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65 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Add to Your Library, January 5, 2011
This review is from: Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (Hardcover)
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.
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84 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Thomas Sowell says it, I believe it!, December 31, 2010
This review is from: Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (Hardcover)
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.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ecellent, January 16, 2011
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This review is from: Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (Hardcover)
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.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Any Course in Economics, April 19, 2011
By 
Karen Pitts (Colorado Springs, CO) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (Hardcover)
I took four semesters of economics in college. The textbooks were tedious and really not that informative. Suffice it to say that I learned far more about economics reading this book than I ever learned in college. And I had a lot more fun doing it, too.

When you get right down to it, economics is nothing more than common sense. But the catch is that for any issue relating to economics, you actually have to think about it a little, rather than just impulsively going with the first thing that comes to mind. Most of us have had our brains befuddled with lots of false and misleading information that has been presented to us over the years by politicians, reporters and teachers. That makes it difficult to simply sit back and think clearly and logically about economic issues.

This is just the book to fix all that. It covers just about every aspect of economics imaginable. And all of it in clear, straight-forward language with lots of examples and no jargon. Sowell doesn't try to impress the reader with how smart he is, but is more Socratic - as in "you really knew this stuff all along, if only you'd thought about it".

I cannot recommend this book enough. Economic illiteracy dominates officialdom from the President on down. It is probably hopeless to get people who already think they know everything read "Basic Economics". But for anyone reading this review there is hope. You will never regret it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most readable economics book, March 9, 2011
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This review is from: Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (Hardcover)
Well what can I say? I am a physician and I could read and understand the whole book in 7 days. It is one of the very best books ever written in any subject. I would rate it among the top 100 books ever to be written.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The complex made simple., January 22, 2011
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This review is from: Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (Hardcover)
Instead of the House reading the Constitution after swearing in, how about a pre-swearing in reading assignment of Basic Economics and a test. Failure=Not a Representative and Passing=You can take the oath of office; and the first time you ignore the basics learned in Sowell's masterpiece, you are unemployed.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Danger: Read this and you'll discover how little you know about Economics., January 23, 2011
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This review is from: Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (Hardcover)
No matter how much you might think you know about the subject, this book will set you straight. It might be tempting to dismiss this book because Sowell is a "known conservative," but that would be a grave mistake. Although he does have a point-of-view that informs his work, if you are someone who appreciates a logical, unemotional and well-documented presentation of a subject--as I do--you can't fail to find this book's offering unassailable.

Possibly the most-important take-away for me from Basic Economics is this: nearly everything that you hear from any politician regarding economic activity, policy proposals, cause-and-effect, statistics and anything else regarding economic issues is probably wrong, and often intentionally so. It is disconcerting that we as a society have, and continue to, "mess up a good thing" because we rely on mythology, circular reasoning and tautologies to make decisions that affect everyone--all to often negatively. This book opened my eyes.

Disclaimer: I have been heading toward being a free-market Libertarian for some time. After reading this book, I have a clear understanding of how our economy works, how I believe it should work, and the ability to articulate it. How I will cope with my urge to go and shoot up Washington--that's another subject.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book with a strong bias, February 21, 2012
By 
David (BRUXELLES, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This book is very informative and the explanations are very clear, even for a non native speaker like me. As expected from the title, the material is basic and can be grasped by someone who has no/little general knowledge in economics. The author makes a good job of presenting abstract concepts by giving examples from the real world.

The views expressed in this book will probably appear conservative and somewhat biased, particularly to European readers. However, the reasoning rely on strong and rational arguments. Besides, the book is very well written.

In short this is a good introduction to economics and I would recommend it without hesitation.

Thank you for reading this comment.
David

PS: This extract was the only one which puzzled me a bit:
"If Americans buy more Japanese goods than the Japanese buy American goods, then Japan gets American dollars to cover the difference..."

The author seems to assume that all exchanges are made in US dollars and base the rest of this reasoning on this assumption.

I thought that most sales of Japanese goods were made in Yen? How could the Japan get "Americans dollars to cover the difference"?
I would appreciate if someone could explain this specific point.
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Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy
Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell (Hardcover - December 28, 2010)
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