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can I shed some light?
on December 19, 2009
If you're confused about all of Dr. Mankiw's different macroeconomics texts floating about out there, lemme try to set you straight.
The one you see on this page: "Macroeconomics" is usually used in 2nd or 3rd year macroeconomics courses in college. This is because the exercises at the end of each chapter can be a little equation-intensive, and some of the exercises, such as the proper derivation of the IS-LM curve, require differentiation. The text of each chapter itself is not so vicious, so a energetic instructor could conceivably use this book in a lower-level course, if you were willing replace the book's exercises with easier ones.
Anyhow, the seventh edition has just come out: this has a bluish abstract geometric-type design on a tan background. The ISBN-13 is 9781429238120. The sixth edition had a blue cover; the fifth edition had an orange cover. The publisher, Palgrave-MacMillan, claims that the seventh edition balances "short-run and long-run issues in a way that emphasizes the relevance of Keynesian and classical ideas to current practice. Featuring the latest data and extensive coverage of the current financial crisis, the text has also been revised with the addition of new case studies on real-world issues such as President Obama's stimulus plan and a study of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe."
Mankiw is also well-known as the author of "Principles of Macroeconomics," currently in its fifth edition (ISBN-10: 0324589972; ISBN-13: 978-0324589979), at least as of my writing. This text is more appropriate for freshman-level, non-major survey courses, or for high-school courses provided that they're honors courses, such as AP courses. The exercises at the end of each chapter require only arithmetic and the most rudimentary algebra.
Note that "Macroeconomics" is not just a gratuitous ratcheting up of "Principles of Macroeconomics:" they're two fundamentally different books, arranged differently, and with completely different publishers. There are even massive concepts in "Macroeconomics" (IS-LM model, Solow steady state, the Keynesian consumption function, etc.) which don't warrant a mention in the much more watered-down "Principles of Macroeconomics."
The publisher of Mankiw's "Principles of Macroeconomics," Thomson South-Western also puts out an even simpler version of that text called "Essentials of Economics" (currently ISBN-10: 0324590024; ISBN-13: 978-0324590029). This book is quite obviously intended for use in normal high-school settings: it's just a watered down version of "Principles of Economics." Whatever edition "Principles of Macroeconomics" is in, that's the edition that "Essentials of Economics" will be in, since they come out in tandem.
Believe it or not, we ain't finished yet. Whenever Thomson South-Western comes out with a new "Principles of Economics," they also come out with a new "Brief Principles of Economics," which is a shorter -- but not watered-down -- version of "Principles of Economics." The level of this is the same as that of "Principles of Economics" (i.e., freshman surveys or honors high school), it's just that many discussions have been given short shrift, should that meet your needs. Like "Essentials of Economics," this will always have the same latest edition as "Principles of Economics." Currently, "Brief Principles of Macroeconomics" is ISBN-10: 0324590377 and ISBN-13: 9780324590371.
As far as I know, Dr. Mankiw is not the author of an intermediate-level microeconomics text similar to the "Macroeconomics" text I discussed first.
Hope all this helps. For what it's worth, Dr. Mankiw looked through this review.