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

4.1 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0131433540
ISBN-10: 0131433547
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson; 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 (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ryan Alger on August 24, 2007
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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A very readable book. It makes the theoretical, moral, and empirical cases for free trade without using jargon or coming off as an ideological rant. The story is relatable and endearing. Though it isn't an academic text it does a great job of illustrating fairly complex principles.
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By JwHw on August 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book if you're trying to understand the big picture of trading. Yes it's fictional but a great way to read about economics and enjoy it. I think everyone learns differently and this is a great way to diverge from what can be dry and boring textbook learning to something more enjoyable. I'll use the book's example and say the best thing to compare it to is "It's a Wonderful Life" only econ style!
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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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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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This was a great little read. I actually had to read it for my masters class but I enjoyed it. It's clear the points he's trying to get across, so it's easy to follow. At the same time, it has a little "Miracle of 34th street" flavor.
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This is a short short that includes economic principles in real life examples. This was originally assigned by my economics professor as an extra credit assignment. I absolutely loved the book and have shared it with two others so far. This book also helped me get ahead in economics while others were beginning to struggle. I do enjoy economics, but I am NOT an economics major; If you are interested in learning more about economics this is a great book, but you must first understand what a comparative advantage is when talking about economics. I hope this review helps.
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