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The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protection (3rd Edition) 3rd Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0131433540
ISBN-10: 0131433547
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 3rd edition (October 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131433547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131433540
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I don't really consider this a work of fiction, and neither does the author. It is in a fiction format, but its primary purpose is to make the case against protectionism, and for free markets. Roberts does this beautifully, raising and dismissing almost every argument for protectionism, and doing this with charm, wit, and almost a complete lack of venom.

The story follows the time-traveling journey and conversation of Ed Johnson (a businessman looking for protection form Japanese competition) and his guardian angle David Ricardo (modeled after the little-known economist.) Together they travel to the future, back to the past, and through alternate timelines to demonstrate Robert's point.

Through this journey, Ricardo corrects some critical mistakes in economic theory; such as the `zero-sum theory', misconceptions on the nature of supply and demand, the role and meaning of wages and `real' wages, the mythical "dangers" of a trade deficit, what imports and exports really are, and most of all, dismisses the myth that trade with other countries hurts the American worker overall (which he admits, in a smaller sense, it sometimes does.)

The book takes some leaps of logic, which the author fully admits in the back of the book; such as the town of Star (Ed's hometown) being unchanged in the `protectionist' universe. These little plot devices are not meant to represent reality, but demonstrate more abstract points, in that sense, it is more like a metaphor.

Overall, the book makes one of the strongest cases ageists the practicality of protectionism that I have ever heard. He also fits some talk as to the moral case against it, that it is really an issue of freedom, and no one person has the right to force another in to a certain kind of behavior (A.K.A.
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Format: Paperback
This is the third edition of Roberts' novel about the benefits of free trade, using "It's a Wonderful Life" as his template. David Ricardo "touches down" from heaven to earth (like Clarence), to help convince Ed (George Bailey) that he should not support protectionism. The previous versions focused more on threats that were perceived from Japan and Nafta. Here, Roberts uses India and China as his examples.

To me, one of the most appealing things about Roberts' work is his honesty. He doesn't pretend that economic change doesn't hurt, but he also focuses on the benefits in the longer term. He writes in such a pleasant style that economics becomes accessible to people who are "math phobic."

His other book, The Invisible Heart, is at least as good as this one.
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Content Summary: This book is a fairly effective defense of Free Trade, and focuses upon a summary of the ideas of David Ricardo. It is set as a imaginary dialogue between Ricardo, and a fictional U.S. television manufacturer. Ricardo is trying to redeem his lost soul (very much modeled after the Jimmy Stewart picture, "It's a Wonderful Life") by defending his ideas about free trade and comparative advantage to the U.S. businessman. The intent is to defeat the idea that tariffs and trade barrier protectionism helps.

Analytical Review: For those not highly motivated to read Ricardo's economic classic ("On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation'), this is a very readable alternative that simplifies his ideas. It presents the free trade arguments in a very accessible format. Many examples are very clear and compelling, others not so much. Whether you with free trade mantra or not, this is a good, clear defense to be read, digested, and reflected upon.
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Format: Paperback
The Choice by Russell Roberts is a short parable on the dangers of protectionism as an economic system. Throughout you'll recognize a mix of storytelling frameworks made popular by "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Carol"—i.e. being led through alternate timelines to witness the consequences of one's choices.

It's a worthy read even though most of the pro-protectionist crowd—those who would benefit the most from the book's message—aren't even aware of what protectionism is or why it's problematic, and are unlikely to ever check out The Choice.
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This tiny book is an excellent primer for anyone who wanted to know more about Free Market Economics. It does a very good job of explaining tariffs and subsidies and how that affects the market as a whole. The book is written like a story, with one character trying to convince another of something that he shouldn't do (you'll have to read it to find out what). Overall, I think this is a good book for juvenile and adult alike who know very little to nothing about the economics of a free market.
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Format: Paperback
Russell Roberts has taken the concept of free trade and made it understandable. I originally purchased this book for my college International Economics class, but it would work for high school economics classes as well. It is easy to read and has well rounded characters. As a future educator I would certainly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
Economics is perhaps the most misunderstood but most popularly debated "field" second only to Politics.

This book is the current best effort to have an easy to understand resource to train the masses on how economists think and how world trade and currency work.

The Choice is extremely cheesy and written in such clear, simple language it reads rather harsh so it's not a book meant for nostalgic re-reads or for rainy day entertainment (although I find it incredibly entertaining having discovered it 3 years into my economics degree). The stories, characters and dialogue are simply tools to explain abstract ideas to all audiences. Roberts admittedly simplified the language for that purpose. But the information and explanations are there for nearly every debated topic on international trade and economic policy.

In essence, this book has the power to be more effective in preparing a mind to understand the fundamentals of economic thinking than most 101 level Econ classes. It's pure content broken down with the use of storytelling, not mind numbing graphs. The Choice should be required reading the first week of any micro/macro entry-level econ class so students don't spend the semester quietly trying to figure out why supply and demand curves are not curved at all when their teacher draws them and misses some of the larger lessons about economics.

My Professor who assigned the reading to me in college is actually a good friend of Russel Roberts and is mentioned in the thank you section: Michael McElroy of NCSU. What a tremendous experience learning from him was for me.
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