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Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Independent Studies in Political Economy) [Paperback]

by Peter J. Boettke
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 2012 1598130757 978-1598130751 1st

A great supplemental text for the teaching of economics, this book offers a clear perspective and a passion for a deeper understanding of the subject. Economics is not merely a game to be played by clever professionals, but a discipline that touches upon the most pressing practical issues at any historical juncture. The wealth and poverty of nations is at stake; the length and quality of life turns on the economic conditions individuals find themselves living within. Touching upon a variety of subjects—including market socialism, political economy, and economics education—this reference contains the wisdom of an expert in the field.

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Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Independent Studies in Political Economy) + The Clash of Economic Ideas: The Great Policy Debates and Experiments of the Last Hundred Years + Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty
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Editorial Reviews


“A superb book. . . . It is vintage Boettke: engaging, witty, and chock full of insight. This book should be put in the hands of every first-year student of economics, if only to show them what they are missing!” —Bruce Caldwell, research professor of economics, Duke University

“A solid book that counters the excessive simulation of modern academic economics while, at the same time, avoiding the temptation to extend application of the logic beyond reasonable limits. Boettke concentrates on the primary purpose of economics, which is to convey an understanding of how, within properly designed institutional constraints, operative markets generate and distribute value without overt conflict.” —James M. Buchanan, distinguished professor emeritus of economics, George Mason University

“Peter Boettke's book Living Economics not only is splendidly characterized by broad erudition, solid analysis, shrewd observation, and expositional clarity, it appears at a propitious moment.”  —William R. Allen, professor emeritus of economics, University of California–Los Angeles

“A remarkable book. The volume luminously reflects the amazing breadth of Professor Boettke’s reading, and the deep and careful thoughtfulness with which he reads.”  —Israel M. Kirzner, professor emeritus of economics, New York University

About the Author

Peter J. Boettke is a research fellow at the Independent Institute, a professor of economics at George Mason University, and the editor of the Review of Austrian Economics. He is also the recipient of the Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Teaching from the College of Arts and Sciences at New York University and the author of several books, including Calculation and Coordination: Essays on Socialism and Transitional Political Economy; The Political Economy of Soviet Socialism: The Formative Years, 1918–1928; and Why Perestroika Failed: The Economics and Politics of Socialism Transformation. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

Product Details

  • Series: Independent Studies in Political Economy
  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Independent Institute; 1st edition (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598130757
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598130751
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 Cheers for Living Economics! June 4, 2012
Living Economics by Peter Boettke is an indispensible guide to anyone interested in economics. This book is a fantastic read and is sure to not only educate but also entertain any reader who thinks 1) economics is serious and 2) economics is fun.

The title, "Living Economics" has three meanings. The first is to explain economics as a living discipline, capable of growing and changing over time. Economics as a discipline possesses nearly limitless potential to do good and bad, depending on who its stewards are, what they attempt to do with it, and what they understand to be its limits. In this respect, Peter Boettke masterfully describes what economics was "yesterday," what it is "today," and what it could be "tomorrow." In doing so, he describes the origin, decline, and revival of mainline economics as well as the works and scholars who contributed to its revival. This is a journey that Boettke describes not only after years of research but also by living through it and his personal experience with and love of the the teachers he has had throughout his intellectual development.

The second meaning is the acknowledgement that economics is rooted in sound principles; what Boettke refers to as "the three p's and the three i's." In this lesson familiar to anyone who has heard him deliver a lecture, he explains how property rights generate the incentives, prices generate the information, and the profit/loss system generates the innovation. This lesson, how we lost sight of it, how it has made its resurgence, and the role of economists in saving economics from the grips of social engineers is one of the central themes of this book.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
As a title, Living Economics pretty aptly describes this book. This book is both about teaching economics (the importance of it, some of the lessons one should seek to impart or learn from economics), the great theorists of it, and why those debates are still relevant today. Long and short: Boettke is writing from the perspective of the Austrian economists who were, themselves, descendants of the Scottish Englightenment, and through most of the book, Boettke is particularly keen on explaining why both groups' approach to economics ("economist as student") was superior to the approach of Keynes, Samuelson, and the like ("economist as planner").

Section 1 discusses the hows and the whys of teaching economics. Economics is a way of thinking and should be taught as such. Economics, taught correctly, gives us a way to appreciate the spontaneous order that emerges when individuals make individual decisions coordinated by the price mechanism (which, when interfered with artificially, leads to a host of generally unintended consequences). A possibly radical suggestion, echoed throughout this book's essays, is that economics should not focus on the idea of equilibrium as much as the real-world process of disequilibrium (which, per Kirzner, is the only way to think of the economy as a dynamic and innovative, rather than static and steady, order).

On to section 2, which profiles and discusses some of Boettke's favorite economics teachers (those he learned from in classrooms and through reading).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read! June 4, 2012
By Tom
Living Economics is a great book for would-be teachers of economics. The author shows a commitment to teaching the principles of his craft and provides insights into the workings of the free market. This book is a useful resource for how to approach teaching economics students at multiple levels of collegiate life. And it does so by drawing from examples of professors (including Nobel Laureates F.A. Hayek, James Buchanan, and Elinor Ostrom) who had a lasting impact on their students, the economic discourse, and seemingly the author himself. Peter Boettke argues that economics professors are the reason that many college students come to despise economics, and that the remedy for this is to get off the blackboard and "look out the window". Life provides the questions economists should answer, and it's through applying economics to real life that makes studying exciting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring book by a great teacher! June 12, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Peter Boettke has read a lot and he teaches what he has learnt in a beautiful way in order we understand what the market economy is about.

Boettke is a passionate teacher and dedicated student who loves what he does and that is what one gets when he reads the book. He has deep respect with those who think different and tries to find the best in all strands of thought.

The book is a journey through his great masters ranging from Rothbard, Hayek and Elinor Ostrom and James Buchanan.

A must read book!
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