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Classical Economics Reconsidered Paperback – June 1, 1977

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The discussion of Say's Law is one of the best in the literature and on its own would make the book worthwhile.... This is a lively book by a real scholar ... a man who knows his subject and who writes with vigor and with interest."--D. P. O'Brien, Economica



"Clearly presented, lucidly written, and informative."--The Economist



"It is a well-written and well-organized book. Illuminating insights (and some provocative conclusions) are scattered throughout."--Roger M. Troub, Social Science Quarterly

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (June 1, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691003580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691003580
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,420,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

I have heard a lot of good things about Thomas Sowell. I have no doubt that he is a brilliant man. And I admire his conservative/libertarian principles. But this book was so difficult to understand, I wondered what use is an abundance of knowledge if one is unable to dispense it to others? Since I have read other Sowell books, I have concluded that it is the subject matter and not the author, which contributes to its lack of readability. If you're an experienced economist, you'll probably enjoy this book. If you're a novice in economics, don't bother. Instead, I would recommend Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson" to get an understanding and appreciation for classical economics.
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This is not a long book. In fact, I believe you can buy this with "On Classical Economics" as it forms the first four chapters of that book. But it's a good one. It definitely requires a grounding in economics or you will quickly be in over your head with all of the jargon and concepts, and the more you are acquainted with classical economics the better. It helps to read Todd Bucholz' New Ideas From Dead Economists, which is a history of economic thought from Smith to Rational Expectations theory, and it doesn't hurt to read some classical economics. What makes this book important is how many myths it dispels about the classical economists and classical economics, and how it concisely lays out their differences. I gained a newfound respect for Malthus from this book, and my respect for Ricardo actually shrunk a tad. I was introduced to economists I'd never heard of but who made important contributions, I learned that the "labor theory of value" doesn't really mean what I thought it did (Sowell helped me out by pointing out Smith's inconsistencies, which are numerous in Wealth of Nations), and frankly I saw how many of the concepts in economics which I thought of as being marginalist, neoclassical, or otherwise post-classical, can indeed be found in the classical economists.

So, for econ nerds, especially those of you who aren't as well-versed in classical economics as you should be, this is a great book, whose densely-packed insights belie the small number of pages.
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This man's depth of knowledge is amazing and this book does a great job of diving even deeper into the thoughts of the Classical Economists. I found that he seemed to focus more on Ricardo and Marx than Adam Smith but Sowell's ability to make difficult concepts understandable is his real strength. Not that he "dumbs down" concepts, but it's the way he circles around and completes the relationship between economists that is impressive. This book isn't for the novice reader but if you are seriously interested in the "wisdom" of the classics, this is a book for you.
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Thomas Sowell (born 1930) is an economist, social theorist, political philosopher, columnist, and author (known particularly for his books on race and economics, such as Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Race And Culture: A World View, Ethnic America: A History, etc.), who has long been associated with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

He wrote in the Preface to the 1994 reprint of this 1974 book, "For a slim volume of four essays to survive for more than a decade, and then to be re-issued 20 years after its original publication, is not simply a matter of personal gratification for the author but, more importantly, a tribute to the continuing vitality of the enduring questions addressed by the classical founders (Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, and Jean-Baptiste Say) of economics."

Karl Marx was the one who coined the term, "classical economists," but John Maynard Keynes' use of the term (in his The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money) is perhaps the most famous. But Sowell argues that there were "serious questions" raised as to whether ANY economists "had ever believed the things attributed by Keynes to the 'classical economists.'" (Pg.
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