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Memoirs of an Unregulated Economist (Cinema and Modernity) 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226774404
ISBN-10: 0226774406
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stigler, one of the leading figures in the conservative "Chicago School" of economics, won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 1982 for his work on the economics of information and on the economics of public regulation. In this engaging memoir, he recounts his intellectual development. As a graduate student at the University of Chicago during the 1930s, he was deeply influenced by economists Frank Night and Jacob Viner. These two mentors nurtured his belief in the efficacy of free markets and the harm that government interference in markets often causes. Stigler, who taught at Iowa State University and Columbia University before returning to the University of Chicago in 1958, here describes the work of colleagues like Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, Ronald Coase and Richard Posner, "Chicago" economists who share a fierce commitment to free markets and to rigorous microeconomic analyses. Stigler concludes that economic logic will eventually pervade other, less rigorous social sciences. This is a well-written and tautly argued book.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Stigler’s memoirs are a gem: in style, in wit, and above all, in substance, they reflect accurately his own engaging personality and his extraordinarily diverse contributions to our science.”

(Milton Friedman)

“Should be read by anyone considering a career in economics, but Stigler’s writing is so accessible that his discussions will whet even a casual interest.”--, <I>
(James C. Cooper Business Week)

“Beautifully written, it will appeal to anyone seeking a better understanding of what technical economics is all about. It is full of stories about powerful minds, courageous intellects and tightly focused issues.”--, <I>
(David Warsh Boston Globe)

“A loving and fierce defense of economics as a science.”
(Robert Krulwich New York Times Book Review)

“Mr. Stigler is at his best as a historian of economic thought, great and small. . . . He also provides abundant insight into the anthropology of the tribe of academic economists in the latter 20th-century U.S., bizarre as it may be. Interspersed in all that is a simple autobiography of a gentle man and his lifelong love affair with the dismal science. Anyone even on the edge of economic romance will find here a refreshing bouquet.”
(Robert B. Reich Wall Street Journal)

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Product Details

  • Series: Cinema and Modernity
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (March 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226774406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226774404
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,862,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a trained economist, I appreciated the insider's view of economic history that Stigler provides. His intimate recollection of the famous Chicago School of Economics, its professors, and ideas make this book well worth buying. An economic historian by trade and passion, Stigler has a knack for vividly recalling key events. He discusses his relationships with famous economists such as Friedman and Beck. He also provides detail of how certain ideas crept into the mainstream of economic theory. For example, Stigler warmly recalls the `eureka' moment when Ronald Coase convinced his colleagues at the Chicago School of the logic supporting the Coase Theorem. That alone makes this book well worth it.
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Format: Hardcover
The dust jacket describes this book as "...at once the masterful intellectual autobiography of one of this century's most distinguished economists and a brilliant overview of the impact of economic ideas on policy since the mid-century." That description is right on target.
Stigler provides everything in this short, accessible book. The reader is treated to a detailed explanation of the evolution of Stigler's thinking on a wide variety of topics. These chapters, such as Chapter 6 ("Monopoly") and Chapter 7 ("Political Regulation of Economic Life") also provide a very good intellectual history of how the generally accepted view of these topics has changed over time. Not coincidentally, these chapters together with Chapter 10 ("The Chicago School") document the tremendous amount of influence the Chicago School of economics has had over the economics profession.
At a minimum, the book is worth the purchase price because of it's witty treatment of the "inside baseball" of academic life and frank description of the intellectual atmosphere at the University of Chicago. As an example, the letter exchange between Frank Knight and Paul Douglas reprinted beginning on page 183 should not be missed (no synopsis here can do it justice). Nor should the reader miss the description detailed in Chapter 5 ("Eureka") of how Ronald Coase, in one evening, turned the entire Chicago economics department from critics to supporters of what is now called the "Coase Theorem."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This biography combines analysis of ideas along with analysis of people. Lots of intriguing comments on the famous, Friedman, Becker, Viner, Hayek, Knight, Burns, etc. Stigler presents a sympathic view, avoiding the negative without compromising accuracy. Also comments on many universities in the same way, with tact and affection. Much time spent defending academia and the intellectual world. Explains his interaction with government and policy as academic. Covers his reaction to Nobel award. Interesting viewpoint from insider who was still somewhat outside.

Frank Knight was Stigler's mentor. Explains Knight's personality and his impact on this students. Contrasts Knight and Simons. Quotes Knight : "Truth in society is like strychnine in the individual body, medicinal in special conditions and minute doses; otherwise and in general, a deadly poison." (23) As usual, Stigler makes no critical comment.

Notes that Henry Simons was the forerunner of the Chicago school and its devotion to markets. Presents a quote from Simon; "It seems no wise fantastic, indeed, to suggest that present development point toward a historic era which will bear close resemblance at many points to the middle ages. With the disappearance of free trade within national areas will come endless, destructive conflict among organized economic groups - which would suffice, without assitance from international wars, for the destruction of Western civilization and its institutional heritage." (21) This written in 1930's.

Remembers Jacob Viner this way: "It was years later before I fully appreciated some of Viner's great virtues.
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Format: Paperback
I've picked up a few of his books lately and I simply love his writing style and accessibility. This book is very short on economics and heavy on personal stories as it should be considering the title. I'm not sure the book gives you any real depth to Stigler's economic knowledge but it's an interesting read and worth the time of anyone who is a student of economics.
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