"As history, Machine Dreams is a remarkable achievement. It is hard to imagine a historian who was not an economist (as Mirowski is) being able to encompass the economics of the second half of the 20th century in its diversity and technicality." London Review of Books
"Phil Mirowski reminds me of an investigative reporter with a world-class story. He has gone straight to the heart of a really interesting problem--the emergence of economics' modern era in the crucible of World War II--and come back with a detailed account of events at The Cowles Commission and the RAND Corporation. It is news, the best that can be said quickly. It is opinion: cyborg economics (meaning purely cognitive economics) is not the sort of science Mirowski wants to see. And it is sensationally interesting. You don't have to agree with his conclusions to recognize that Mirowksi is the most imaginative and provocative writer at work today on the recent history of economics. Machine Dreams is a real-time cousin to The Difference Engine .". David Warsh, The Boston Globe
"Machine Dreams is an astonishing performance of synthetic scholarship. Mirowski traces the present-day predicaments of economic theory to its intellectual reformulation and institutional restructuring by military funding and in the crucibles of World War II and the Cold War. His demonstration that the mathematical economics of the postwar era is a complex response to the challenges of "cyborg" science, the attempt to unify the study of human beings and intelligent machines through John von Neumann's general theory of automata, is bound to be controversial. His critics, however, will have to contend with a breathtakingly wide range of published and unpublished evidence in fields ranging from psychology to operations research he presents. This noir history of economic thought will change its readers' understanding of twentieth century economics profoundly." Duncan Foley, New School University
"In Machine Dreams the most exciting historian of economic thought of our time takes on one of the most fascinating themes of the intellectual history of the 20th century--the dream of creating machines that can think and how this has affected the social sciences. The result is an extraordinary book that deserves to be read by everyone interested in the social sciences." Richard Swedberg, University of Stockholm
Machine Dreams recounts the story of how the computer came to transform the very content of American economics, and how the mathematician John von Neumann inadvertently became the most important thinker for the economics profession in the 20th century. The narrative crosses the two genres of the history of economic thought and World War II, arguing that the Second World War and the Cold War were central to the postwar rise of the neoclassical orthodoxy in America. The treatment concludes with reflections on the ways in which the computer will further transform economics in the 21st century.