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Grand Pursuit: A History of Economic Genius
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Grand Pursuit: A History of Economic Genius

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,220 Ratings  ·  160 Reviews
The author of the groundbreaking bestseller A Beautiful Mind takes the reader on a journey of discovery—how the greatest invention of modern times, economics, has changed the lives of every single human being. In a sweeping narrative, the author of the megabestseller A Beautiful Mind takes us on a journey through modern history with the men and women who changed the lives ...more
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group (first published 2011)
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Alex MacMillan
May 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
"No. The master narrative of High Liberalism is mistaken factually. ... A political philosophy based on fairy tales about what happened in history or what humans are like is going to be less than useless. It is going to be mischievous. ... Anyone who after the 20th century still thinks that thoroughgoing socialism, nationalism, imperialism, mobilization, central planning, regulation, zoning, price controls, tax policy, labor unions, business cartels, government spending, intrusive policing, adve ...more
The subtitle says this is a grand story of economic genius, but the text is more of a series of interesting anecdotes of the public lives of some famous economists.

It was interesting to see how Schumpeter attempted to make policy when he was the Austrian Finance Minister, how Keynes maneuvered in the Bretton Woods conference, or how Beatrice Webb wandered from classical liberalism to inventing the predecessor to the modern 'welfare state'. But the book is very thin in describing the history of
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those Interested in Intellectual and Socio-Economic History
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Suzanne Dobbins
In her preface, Nasar describes Grand Pursuit as “the story of an idea that was born in the Golden Age before World War I,” the grand pursuit of “turning economics into an instrument of mastery” that could drive prosperity, rather than the “dismal science” that cautioned against government or even voluntary social intervention. Although she gives a glimmer of the ideas of such founders of classical economics as Adam Smith, Thomas Robert Malthus, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, the focus is on t ...more
Jan 31, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a popularly oriented book on economic history - in particular by way of a historical look at economists and their times. The premise is to look at the thinkers who developed our ways of thinking about how economic thinking can be used to improve the lots of people through intentional activity -- through intentional economics policies. The immediate mode of discussion is to focus on particular thinkers and their times and from that construct a larger narrative of the story of economic pol ...more
Mal Warwick
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Economics Through the Lens of Personality: An Accessible History

It’s well known that Thomas Carlyle, a 19th century British historian, is credited with first calling economics “the dismal science.” What’s much less widely appreciated is that this derogatory label was well justified when he set the phrase down on paper in 1849.

Until well into the 19th century, as Sylvia Nasar shows so clearly in Grand Pursuit, economics was, indeed, dismal. The gloomy predictions of Thomas Malthus dominated discu
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Sylvia Nasar has written a brilliant and very interesting book about economic history from Marx to the present. A Grand Pursuit is about two concerns (1) what do we do with the poor? and (2) how do we deal with the ups and downs of the economy that cause such disruption in the world? Both topics are front and center in our present situation.

Nasar deals with these questions by telling about people, like Marx, Beatrice (NOT Beatrix) Potter Webb, Schumpeter, Hayek, and most especially Maynard Keyn
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
This is hands down the finest book on the actual study of economics that I have ever read. It is a layperson's book. It puts things in perspective. It lays the groundwork to understand when people go on about Keynesianism and Milton Friedman and Monetism and explains who thought up what and who's done what in whose name and lays out the basic principles of everyone and does a wonderful jo of justifying the actual study of economics - important, since there are a lot of haters and Economists have ...more
Vishaka Datta
Apr 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Sylvia Nasar takes you through the "long run" history of economics, most notably the men and women who made great strides in it, stretching from the days of Marx in 1840s Europe and concluding with Amartya Sen in modern day India. I felt that the book begins to really meander and turns a tad incoherent with the post WWII history, and hence the three stars. But it really does start with a bang.

All the economics debates today, no matter how polarised their opponents may be, all agree on one basic
Christian Dibblee
This is a tough book to review. On the one hand, I immensely enjoyed learning about the various thinkers that Nasar brings to that table. I had vague recollections of Alfred Marshall and Paul Samuelson from my college classes, but truly knew nothing about Joseph Schumpeter coming in. Nasar certainly helps provide an accessible entry into the economic history world.

That said, this is a book that was almost doomed to meet its expectations or thesis. The economic thinkers, while all important (thou
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fic, econ, history
My friend is absolutely right on many problems of this book - the lack of real analysis, pretty obvious and horrible biases, etc. "...the author just skims through the whole thing, telling us what the general population chose to remember about each economist." But I guess her complaint here is exactly the point of the book. It simply wants to introduce what the author thinks we (general pop) would want to know about these men and women. And I decide to continue reading because of the same reason ...more
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Sylvia Nasar was born to a German mother and Uzbek father. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1951, then moved to Ankara, Turkey in 1960. She graduated from Antioch College in 1970, and earned a masters' degree in economics at New York University in 1976. For four years, she did research with Nobel Laureate Wassily Leontief. She is currently the Knight Chair in Business Journalism at Co ...more
More about Sylvia Nasar...
“Para Dickens y Marx, la función de las empresas era controlar o explotar al trabajador. Para Mill, su función era enriquecer a los dueños. Para Marshall, la empresa no era una cárcel, y dirigir una empresa no significaba controlar a los presos. Competir por los clientes (o los trabajadores) exigía algo más que repetición ciega. Las empresas estudiadas por Marshall habían tenido que evolucionar para sobrevivir.” 0 likes
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