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The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance [Paperback]

by Russell Roberts
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 7, 2002 0262681358 978-0262681353

A love story that embraces the business and economic issues of the day?The Invisible Heart takes a provocative look at business, economics, and regulation through the eyes of Sam Gordon and Laura Silver, teachers at the exclusive Edwards School in Washington, D.C. Sam lives and breathes capitalism. He thinks that most government regulation is unnecessary or even harmful. He believes that success in business is a virtue. He believes that our humanity flourishes under economic freedom. Laura prefers Wordsworth to the Wall Street Journal. Where Sam sees victors, she sees victims. She wants the government to protect consumers and workers from the excesses of Sam's beloved marketplace.While Sam and Laura argue about how to make the world a better place, a parallel story unfolds across town. Erica Baldwin, the crusading head of a government watchdog agency, tries to bring Charles Krauss, a ruthless CEO, to justice. How are these two dramas connected? Why is Sam under threat of dismissal? Will Erica Baldwin find the evidence she needs? Can Laura love a man with an Adam Smith poster on his wall? The answers in The Invisible Heart give the reader a richer appreciation for how business and the marketplace transform our lives.

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The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance + The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity + The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protection (3rd Edition)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hailed as an "economic romance" by the publisher, yet reading more like a dissertation on big business versus the consumer, this snappy, well-written novel casts economic polemic in fictional form. Laura Silver is a newly hired English teacher at the prestigious Edwards High School in Washington, D.C. On the street one day, she strikes up a conversation with Sam Gordon, fellow instructor of economics at Edwards. Despite Sam's fanatical devotion to free-market capitalism, bleeding-heart liberal Laura finds she enjoys their verbal sparring. Over the course of the school year, Laura and Sam run into one another on campus and around town, each time learning more about the other and delving further into political and economic topics. Meanwhile, an out-of-the-ordinary subplot pits ruthless Charles Krauss, CEO of mega-corporation HeathNet, against smart and savvy Erica Baldwin, director of the consumer watchdog agency, the Office of Corporate Responsibility, with their vicious sparring illustrating Sam and Laura's abstract arguments. It's an understatement to say that this is a novel with an agenda the agenda is the story here. Readers with a basic sympathy for deregulation and capitalist hegemony will enjoy Sam and Laura's intellectual adventures best, but students of economics across the board may find this fictionalized debate engaging and informative. (Mar.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A page-turning, well-written love story that also teaches an impressive amount of good economics."--Milton Friedman, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Nobel Laureate in Economics

"The Invisible Heart should be required reading for every politician and bureaucrat who has lost touch with the romance of what happens outside of Washington, DC. Sam Gordon is a modern-day hero--impassioned by logic, inspired by free markets, and impelled by love. Russell Roberts has crafted a charming and clever tale sure to captivate readers with an endearing combination of economics and emotion."--Declan McCullagh, Washington Bureau Chief,

Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (March 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262681358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262681353
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This might convert Marx January 13, 2003
This is a very creative, and downright brilliant book. It very palatably presents free market economic theory in a sweet, engaging, and endearing tale.
Were I a high school teacher or a college instructor teaching an entry level economics course this would be a book that I would definitely require -- it outlines fundamental economic concepts in a practically fashion easily understood by the "lay" person. Additionally, it presents a perspective that those left of center (such as myself) are compelled to respect, even if they are philosophically not in agreement.
Besides its educational merits, this is simply a touching novel that keeps you committed, and makes you feel warm and satisfied finishing it. A reader completed devoid of any interest in economics whatsoever would find this an interesting and worthwhile read (and end up better educated despite himself).
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can economics really be breezy and fun? May 14, 2001
Wow, what a fun book, but eerily reminiscent of my own life.
My first thought was that the author modeled the main character on me -- but then I realized that my experiences are pretty much identical to those of all other economists. For example, the main character has discussions on economics at a dinner party and at a TV viewing party -- discussions which I have had almost down to the exact same words. I've met all those people, had all those conversations, and experienced all those frustrations.
From the very first chapter, I saw things that I intend to incorporate into my own classroom starting immediately. I anticipate walking into the first day of class, pulling out a dollar bill, and .... well, you can read it for yourself. Or perhaps talking about the room filled with nuts, and asking my students how long it will take to eat them all. Roberts gave a lot of great little techniques to liven up an economics classroom.
Also, with this book, Russell Roberts has practically cornered an entire literary genre: economic fiction. Unlike the Marshall Jevons books of economic fiction (which are horribly written), Roberts has written a book which is both compelling as an economic work and delightful as a romance.
Roberts shows that he is both an interesting economics teacher and a skillful fiction writer. I hope that he writes more books like this ... and that perhaps he inspires other economists to follow this path. Economics has never been more accessible to the average person than in this breezy romance.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Russell Roberts' heart made visible June 4, 2001
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is not a book which will change the mind of a dedicated collectivist. Nor is it likely to fully satisfy the Club for Growth crowd. It is a simple love story which will appeal immensely to the non-idealogue while explaining in plain language the undeniable economic realities which guide human behavior. Were I to follow my dream and teach a high school civics class, this would certainly be on my required reading list.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An economist in love May 29, 2001
It's every economist's nightmare. Being forced, at a party or a diner, to discuss economic policy with non-economists. Surrounded by bright intellectuals - lawyers, artists, scientists - the economist has made the error of taking off his (or hers) political correct mask. He has digressed upon his views on society. Having too much to drink, he explained why minimum wages harms unskilled workers, why electricity companies should be privatized, or (god forbids) why `globalization' is a good thing. Whatever the topic, nobody understood. Everybody has turned against the him. How can someone be so right wing, so inhumane, so myopic?
A passionate economist is seldom appreciated. The main character of The Invisible Heart learned that the hard way. Sam Gordon teaches economics at a high school in Washington, and is an economist who would make Milton Friedman look a liberal sissy. Gordon believes passionately in the market mechanism, and abhors government intervention, and just can't shut up about this.
The problem is that Sam is in love. The object of his love is an English teacher named Laura Silver. But he is definitely no Don Juan. Sam tries to woo Laura by relentlessly discussing economics. He understands he has a problem. "It would be a good idea to talk about something else than economics", Sam sighs after one of his semi-successful attempts to lure Laura. "But what could it possibly be?" This book is not the first attempt to take boring economic theory and bake it into crusty and tasty fiction. Other economists have tried to sell economics by writing it into a detective story or a thriller. Writing a love-story about economics is without doubt the boldest attempt. And the most successful. O.K.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No better way to learn economics March 27, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is good. It does two things, each of which is difficult, and almost impossible in combination--explain economic concepts and policy in clear language and tell an compelling love story with a couple of interacting plots, with an interesting surprise at the end. If you are interested in economics but would like to get it with something more exciting than supply and demand curves, read this book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning Economics has Never Been This Enjoyable September 8, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was brilliant. I bought it before going on vacation and I couldn't put it down. It is a very fast read (maybe 2 or 3 hours total reading time) and taught me about 15 economic lessons that are incredibly valuable. I find myself quoting the lessons of the book constantly.
Perhaps the most valuable element of the book is that the author cleverly uses the characters to argue both sides of each economic argument. You not only learn the "right" answer, but you learn the holes in the most common arguments that are advanced by those that don't subscribe to more "free market" thinking. This should be required reading for anyone involved in business or economics.
Note that the book will be very interesting even to those marginally interested in economics as the love story is exceptionally well written and thought provoking.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable economics!
This book makes economics unbelievably light and fun reading! Highly recommended as a starting point for anyone that dreads economics.
Published 1 month ago by Pro Shopper
5.0 out of 5 stars An Economics Textbook in Disguise
Don't succomb to the cliches, think through the issues we face everyday. How can we best achieve a fair and brisk economy. Fun.readable
Published 2 months ago by Daniel Pisaniello
5.0 out of 5 stars good story, good teaching
This is a great book to read while studying economics. It is an engaging story, as well as a learning tool.
Published 3 months ago by amy G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Originally got this for a class, but I enjoyed the reading. The author narrates the story in a unique fashion and portrays his message so that everyone can understand the concept... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Noman
2.0 out of 5 stars Fundamentally fictional
I didn't know that Marc Rich had written a economics book.

50 pages into "The Invisible Heart," the arguments between Miss Silver and Mr. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ameripen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
We purchased this book to be used with our homeschool curriculum. I'm anxious to use it this next school year.
Published 10 months ago by Danielle Lawman
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent book
We read this for an entrepreneurship class I was in. Its an easy read that teaches you a few technical and easy topics on economics.
Published 10 months ago by J. Berry
4.0 out of 5 stars Good easy read. Interesting.
Good easy read. Gives a lot of interesting economical viewpoints. Definitely would suggest this book to others interested in economics.
Published 12 months ago by Sunita Patel
5.0 out of 5 stars The Invisible Heart
Have you ever wondered what homeless people do with the money people give them? Do they really use it to buy food and water or do they spend it on drugs and alcohol? Read more
Published 14 months ago by Rose A. Tamburri
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks
Good quality and very informative. This book is part of my required reading for my class. The book came on time.
Published 14 months ago by jisjames007
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