- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; Revised edition with a New foreword by Daniel C. Dennett edition (May 2, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691146462
- ISBN-13: 978-0691146461
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #594,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life Revised edition with a New foreword by Daniel C. Dennett Edition
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One of Strategy & Business's Best Business Books for 2004
Shortlisted for the 2005 British Academy Book Prize
"A brilliant book."--Martin Wolf, Financial Times
"The Company of Strangers is a model of how different disciplines can enrich each other to explain human progress."--George Peden, Times Literary Supplement
"[A] clear, thought-provoking, and elegant book."--Howard Davies, Times Higher Education
"Why is everyday life so strange? Because, explains Mr. Seabright, it is so much at odds with what would have seemed, as recently as 10,000 years ago, our evolutionary destiny."--Economist
"An important and timely book. . . . It starts in the mists of prehistory but ends emphatically in the here and now."--Giles Whittell, Times (London)
"A welcome and important contribution. . . . The Company of Strangers exemplifies a new breed of economic analysis, seeking answers to fundamental questions wherever they are found and ignoring disciplinary boundaries. . . . [It] is highly readable and will be accessible to a wide audience."--Herbert Gintis, Nature
"There seems to be no place where Seabright is a stranger. He obviously feels as much at home among classical economists as among evolutionary biologists, quotes modern literature and ancient history with equal aplomb, jumps from experimental psychology to political philosophy and draws liberally on his personal memories of places from Ukraine to India. . . . [His] book is obviously not meant as an exercise in planned economy, but as an excursion, without blinkers and without apprehension, through a tumultuous crowd of ideas."--Karl Sigmund, American Scientist
"An entertaining, wide-ranging account about how the economy evolved in a way that allowed strangers, even potentially hostile strangers, to cooperate and even collaborate within market-based institutions. Seabright tells the story of how human beings, despite their genetic predisposition toward violent and even murderous behavior, have managed to produce a complex civilization through market-based institutions."--Choice
"We now depend on the efforts of many strangers for our lives. In these days of terror and conflict, Seabright's stunning exploration of this human social experiment is timely. . . . This is a book every concerned citizen should read, along with anybody in business who ever has to tangle with government regulations or the law, and who wants to understand why those relationships are so complex."--Diane Coyle, Strategy and Business
"In his absorbing book, Seabright . . . marvels at how easily we 'entrust our lives to the pilot of an aircraft, accept food from a stranger in a restaurant, enter a subway train packed full of our genetic rivals.' It's not often that an economist provides nuggets for cocktail party conversation."--Peter Young, Bloomberg News
"Few economists are so sweeping in their ideas as Seabright, and few so anxious to make us look freshly at the world. . . . In The Company of Strangers, Seabright has produced one of those books that lie low, speak quietly, but work a change on the reader."--Robert Fulford, National Post
"Paul Seabright contends that the Neolithic revolution, which saw the beginning of farming, changed not only the environment but also human nature. Settling down to tend fields promoted societies based on trust. Today, he says, all our economic institutions rely on trust. . . . [I]t is a provocative read."--Maggie McDonald, New Scientist
"Human civilisation is the result of a magnificent collaborative effort, the unwitting by-product of countless individuals working together. . . . Drawing on history, biology, literature, anthropology and economics, his argument is subtle and compelling."--Guardian
"So what does it take to become truly global? In a nutshell, it means learning how to live in The Company of Strangers. In [this] illuminating book . . . Paul Seabright, himself an economist, brings together insights from history, biology and sociology to explain the concept of modern civilization."--Korea Herald
From the Publisher
Short listed, 2005 British Academy Book Prize, The British Academy One of Strategy & Business's Best Business Books for 2004 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
On the other hand, the book could benefit from a more structured approach, both between its chapters (which are somewhat loosely connected) as well as within its chapters (in terms of concepts presented and frameworks considered).
If you're just starting out on evolutionary economics or on the interplay between sociology and economics, this would be a good and interesting book to look for.
I've read about half of the book. Up to this point, I'd say the discussion of the traits that people share with other primates (when dealing with
resources) has been the most interesting aspect of the book so far.
It seems that Seabright has no personal experience of war. I did serve for many mean-lives (I was very lucky, for a while) in an infantry rifle platoon in WWII and after my luck ran out, I spent a year in an army hospital with other wounded soldiers where we talked candidly of our war, and I can say that criminal behavior among the men in service who fought in that war was, if anything, less common that among civilians. Moreover, I am sure that the British and French soldiers -- and (excepting some SS units) the German soldiers I fought -- were equally well behaved.
Thus I found the book interesting and erudite but laced with Seabright's politics and therefore to be taken with reserve.