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A History of Economic Thought
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Make no mistake: Robbins knows his stuff, he's fair, correct, and surprisingly open-minded. However, this is a transcription of lectures, and the syntax is contorted. He interrupts the flow of every other sentence to insert some qualifier or oral footnote, and the effect can be maddening. This is too much to read for the depth of treatment you will actually get. If you do read it, you will get a pretty swell reading list, but the material is definitely weighted in favor of antiquarian literature and ancient disputes. I personally found it a pleasant read, because I like old books and economics, and I felt a certain affection for the grand old man, but unless you share these tastes, you're bound to be frustrated
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
This series of lectures sheds light on the major contributors to Economic thought since Plato and Aristotle. Since the book is made up of transcripts of his lectures, he doesn't manage to cover the figures or the ideas in depth. However he does manage to give some guidelines as to what you should read if you want to be well informed on the history of Economic thought.
I did not find the language in it frustrating, it just made the book seem like a personal lecture with Robbins (minus the questions) which added to my enjoyment. He stops at Fisher, so if you were hoping for ideas and icons after that, you will be disappointed.
The book is split into five sections. The first deals with those philosophers that preceded the formal study of economics; Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas etc... Very interesting stuff, especially if you aren't familiar with the relationship between the ancients and economics.
The second to the fourth sections deal with famous economists, from Adam Smith to Karl Marx. His treatment of Marx is brief so don't expect anything more than a few pages. While he goes into some length about Adam Smith and the other classical economists.
Finally he lectures on Jevons, Menger and others of the "Marginal Revolution", ending his series of lectures with Fisher.
A good read, I would recommend it to undergraduates in Economics or any one else who is interested in the history of economic ideas.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2002
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a collection of lectures given at the LSE. So DON'T think it is a history. Nevertheless, it is a comprehensive journey from aristotle's economica thru the modern era. Good as a reference. Not bad as a read -- but be aware you are reading a transcribed lecture and adjust your expectations accordingly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is Lionel Robbins 1979 lectures on history of economic thought he taught at London School of Economics. These lectures are a very enjoyable read. But they function much better as a supplement to original material, or even a supplement to another history of economic thought text such as Schumpeter's "History of Economic Analysis" or to "A Companion To The History of Economic Thought" edited by Samuels, Biddle, and Davis.

There is a lot to be reinforced by reading these lectures, but they function far less successfully as an introduction to the history of economic thought, than as a complement to other texts or a Professor's lectures.

I learned a lot from reading and rereading these lectures, it is too bad they are not available on utube.

Robbins is particular strong on Adam Smith, lectures, 13, 14, 15, and 16; and the Marginal Revolution, lectures 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33. He is impressive on Mercantilism, lectures 4 and 5, and generally remarkably erudite throughout, but unfortunately weak on the Historical school, lectures 25-6 and Marx, lectures 24-5.

Overall very enjoyable read, but there are dozens of digressions (for example how he and the Marxian Cambridge economist Maurice Dobb rarely disagreed on grading and ranking doctorial exams p. 317). The citations for further reading are incredible and there is a reading list in the appendix that is worth the purchase of the book itself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
The book is the transcription of the lectures Lionel Robbins gave in the London School of Economics during 1979 on the History of Economic Thought. The material covered goes from Plato to Fisher (very few developments from the 20th century are included). Since the book is verbatim transcripts of the lectures, there is not much depth here. Therefore, a conventional book by Robbins on the subject would have been preferred (that he knew the subject, there can be no questions of). Also, the coverage varies: there is ample stuff on Smith and the early mercantilists, but the material on Marx and Walras, for example, is frustratingly short. Still, for those starting in the subject, this is an OK read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
This compilation of Lord Robbins' lectures on the history of economic thought is perhaps the greatest guide to economic history ever anthologized for undergraduate students. The lectures themselves mirror the curriculum of any exceptional university course on the history of economic thought, and each lecture contains footnotes pointing one to primary sources and other important economic history texts. Reading these lectures alone will not make one a fantastic economic historian, but actively pursuing the works cited in the footnotes, as well as the recommended reading list (with this text as a guide!), will certainly place one in a great position to master the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
These lectures show very well Robbin's in-depth knowledge on the subject and the pure passion towards teaching. As the preface mentions, this is more of a book to get to know Robbins rather than history, however I found his further reading suggestions and references extremely helpful for those who want to master these topics. Don't expect to read it like any other normal book. These are Robbin's classroom lectures at LSE that got recorded by a student (his nephew) and later reported in writing. So this book does get quite frustrating sometimes, but overall it's worth the reading.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
A well-organized and well-considered series of concise lectures are codified in this book. This is a substantial, but not overwhelming, chronology of the more influential contributors to economic history and thought.
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on January 1, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
very good
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