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Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  10,144 ratings  ·  1,176 reviews

In Talking to My Daughter About the Economy, activist Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s former finance minister and the author of the international bestseller Adults in the Room, pens a series of letters to his young daughter, educating her about the business, politics, and corruption of world economics.

Yanis Varoufakis has appeared before heads of nations, assemblies of experts

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Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 26th 2018 by Vintage (first published 2013)
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Kevin
A favorite, surpassing the sea of ECON101 books; the storytelling alone makes me revisit this annually. The most accessible and engaging intro to "the market society" (capitalism) you can ask for, unraveling this enigma while rooted in real-life concerns and historical/global scope...

The Brilliant:
--A flow of stories grounded in real world history bringing to life the big-picture logic and consequences of our global market economy, with minimal jargon and zero abstract formulas. You can suppleme
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T.D. Whittle
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
Two stars for "It was okay."

What I liked: Varoufakis explains his understanding of the evolution of Capitalism briefly, clearly, and engagingly. A bright child really could read and grasp what he has written. That's well done and not easy to achieve.

I am going to review this as if politics and economies are necessarily married to each other, because that is Varoufakis's belief and one which I completely agree with. Good luck trying to separate the two! He gives a very good explanation of Bitcoi
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Trevor
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely book and I’ve asked both of my daughters to read it and have already started talking to one of them about it. It is nice for a couple of reasons. The first is that it explains complicated ideas in highly accessible ways. As he says at the start, you probably shouldn’t trust anyone who can’t explain even difficult concepts in a way that a reasonably educated person can understand. This is doubly true of economics, particularly since our world is run according to the dictates of e ...more
May 舞
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Buddy read with R Nair

"The worst slavery is that of heavily indoctrinated happy morons who adore their chains and cannot wait to thank their masters for the joy of their subservience."

I've been meaning to read a book explaining how Capitalism works for a very long time, and I'm glad to say that this concise yet inclusive work of non-fiction delivers splendidly.


Written in very simple language, this book explains:

The necessity of surplus for states to exist.
The emergence of profit as an end of i
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W.D. Clarke
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this book, Varoufakis shows us how the growth of human civilization gave birth to the first systems of politically-legitimized inequality (and how ancient and feudal inequality, characterized by "societies with markets", gave way to a much different kind of world, that of the "market society", of capitalism, in which everyone is driven to, compelled to, sell their labour, and in which the only real value is "exchange value").

Varoufakis also takes us on a tour of several key moments that truly
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D.  St. Germain
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: capitalism
Yanis Varoufakis, the cheeky former Greek minister of finance and a saavy economics professor, delivers an explanatory book on modern capitalism for the non-academic, using a variety of examples from European history, Greek mythology, and pop culture to make his points.

Varoufakis believes that understanding economics is key to a truly well-functioning democracy. Yet, the jargon-filled academic field of economics obscures important ideas in strange language and uses inane examples that make it
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Malcolm
Yanis Varoufakis, economics professor and former finance minister of Greece, subscribes to a simple view that I share: if you can’t teach your subject to kids, you’re not such a good teacher….. (OK, string theorists might get a let off on that one, but only maybe). Now, for those of us who teach history, sociology, cultural studies and the like it might seem that we’re getting off easily in comparison to Varoufakis, who teaches economics. Towards the end of the engaging and highly accessible his ...more
Rossdavidh
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black
Before he launched Progressive International with Bernie Sanders in 2018, before he wrote books on the world's response to the 2008 financial crisis, before he was Greece's Finance Minister in 2015 during high-stakes negotiations between Greece and the EU on how to cope with Greece's economic and budgetary collapse, Yanis Varoufakis wrote a book (in Greek) explaining economics to adolescents (such as his daughter). It was subsequently translated into many other languages, but not into English un ...more
·Karen·
The first time I've ever understood Bitcoin. ...more
Ali Khosravi
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
Probably one of the best books ever written about the economy and the history of Capitalism (and to think that he finished writing it in only 9 days), the difference being that Varoufakis is not afraid to demystify and simplify his vocation whereas his colleagues have a egotistical tendency to make economic concepts sound more complicated than they actually are to attract more research funding. This is an absolute must read for every young person today, to understand what kind of a world we will ...more
Nishanth
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
Yanis Varoufakis just moved up a notch in my personal list of favorite authors. What an outstanding book this is. To reinforce my rating ,I would like to first mention another book Principles of Economics ,regarded as one of the more popular Economics textbooks for beginners, (I now have second thoughts as to whether there even exists such a thing as a 'Textbook' in economics) that I happened to read before I stumbled upon this gem and the contrast could not be much sharper.

Gregory Mankiw in hi
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Doruntina Berisha
I'm surprised that people rated the book with 2 stars! But then again people who like and profit from Capitalism obviously won't like this book. The book is brilliantly written. ...more
Roel Peters
Without doubt, Yanis Varoufakis is a brilliant man. His book, "The Global Minotaur", was a much needed alternative vision on the state of the global economy. However, in his new book, using simple examples and some history lessons, Varoufakis tries to explain his vision in words that a teenager would understand. I agree on the starting point of the book, that many theories exist solely to legitimize the position of the ruling class and rationalize inequality. Yet, despite his obsessive reference ...more
Carlos Martinez
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 simply because of how much I enjoyed it.

This is a brilliant ABC of economics, in particular the Marxist critique of capitalism. I didn't learn all that much (mainly I got some ideas for how to Talk To My Son About the Economy), but Varoufakis is such a great storyteller, and he brings economic concepts to life in a very powerful way. An excellent primer, and goes well with the less Marxist but very useful Economics: The User's Guide. Varoufakis does a really great job
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Bridget McGovern
There’s nothing quite as intoxicating as a good book. I started this book this morning and finished it by the afternoon. As someone who only has a more-or-less elementary understanding of economics, this was an excellent, accessible, and digestible primer to economic theory. He does away with pretentious academic writing and draws on anecdotal stories, Greek mythology, and books/movies from popular culture to explain capitalism. He’s definitely made me excited (and more confident) to dive deeper ...more
Tanroop
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great and very accessible intro to economics.

Varoufakis writes well, in a way most will understand easily, and explains key aspects of the world we inhabit today: the birth of capitalism- putting lie to the quite frustrating belief that capitalism is "just human nature"- and market societies, the role of debt, currency, banks, and so much more.

A key takeaway is the volatility and perverse incentives that are integral to capitalism. Hopefully this book gets people thinking about alternatives.
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muthuvel
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite, economics
Right from the boomers upto today's newer generations of various terminologies, Economy is something that's always been a bit obscure to clarify things out. People often say it's too big to fail. In 2008, US recovered the market economy from the crises period through people's tax money of 14 trillion dollars so as to make things stable. Most of everyday influencers say that we have to leave Economics to the experts. Yanis being a Economist himself simply disagrees.

"There are no economic experts.
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James
A very clear discussion of market economics presented as a series of missives to his daughter in Australia. Each chapter was short enough for a single commute into town, and draws on lots of comparisons with popular and more traditional (although mostly Greek) references to illustrate his points. Heartily recommended for anybody who, like me, wanted to have more of a grounding in a subject that I've previously had to rely on the BBC's Steph McGovern for all my knowledge. A point deducted as it f ...more
Paul
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, economics
"When you were born, your name, Xenia, appealed to me greatly because its etymology comes from the Greek word xenos, meaning 'stranger' or 'foreigner' and translates as 'kindness to strangers'. The appeal of this name came in part from my belief that the best way to see your country, your society, is to see it through the eyes of an outsider, a refugee. [...] Doing so will grant you the opportunity to retain your freedom."


In this book, Yanis Varoufakis who is widely regarded as one of the gr
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Abhijeet Jain
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Amazing book! Covers a lot of ground related to economics, from ancient Egypt system to present trend of cryptocurrencies. I especially love the way Yanis presented his views. The book gives you an interesting perspective to look at markets. A society with markets vs market societies, government vs bankers, the author talked about these in quite a detail.
Overall an interesting book. Would be re-reading it soon.
Laura Mitchell Hutchinson
Brilliant.

I never thought I would be able to understand anything about the economy (even though I have a business degree... Econ101 was not my forte). This book was an absolute gem to find — an economist explaining the history of economies to his young teen daughter. The language is simple enough and there are lots of familiar pop-culture stories and metaphors woven throughout to explain theories and shifts.

I learnt so much about the economy obviously but also race, history, money, technology,
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R Nair
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"If the economy is the engine of society and debt is its fuel, then labour is the spark, the life-breathing force that animates that engine, while money is the lubricant without which that engine would seize up"

A buddy read with May

Short, sweet and concise. This book explains all the essentials that a simpleton such as yours truly has been confounded by over the years and has been too embarrassed to ask anyone about. Turns out most people don't have a fair idea about statements like " Central ba
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Matt Thackeray
Like many heterodox economists, Yannis Varaoufakis enjoys the limelight given by holding provocative and challenging points of view. This book is very much in the same vein, examining how capitalism in its current form came to be. Using a range of personal anecdotes and pop culture references, he illustrates in relatively easy-to-follow discussions the various aspects of what drives our modern economies.

Where his book falls down is in the blanket covering of all forms of capitalism being the sam
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Kurdo Chali
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always said that economics is not a science as any other experimental science like physics is. At last, it can be regarded as some methods and formulas of mathematics and statistics applied to the different economic situations.
And unsurprisingly this fascinating book repeated my belief, but this time I heard it from a well-known economist.
The brutality and inhumanity of the capitalistic world order can hardly be explained better than this. And recommend reading this book to any body who w
...more
Coral Davies
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Leaving the economy to the experts is the equivalent of those who lived in the Middle Ages entrusting their welfare to the theologians, the cardinals and the Spanish inquisitors. It is a terrible idea."

A necessary book for all. Not interested in economics? Find it dull and unnacessible? Honestly give this a go. Thought-provoking and relatable, Yanis once again gets us all thinking about the important questions in life with regards to the economy and politics.
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Ashleigh
While there was nothing new in this book, it did succeed in presenting a coherent and relatable explanation of what the economy is and why it functions as it does. I would have liked it if Varoufakis had also provided some more thoughts on potential solutions or alternatives, but it is still a short and worthwhile read. 3.5 stars.
Dr. Tobias Christian Fischer
A good idea to make things understand economy better - sometimes it is actually quit difficult to grasp the facts and get a clue what it means. But there are a lot of good examples that makes sense such as refrigerator or others. I like the description of automation and the commodities and connection to nature of market competition.
Dan Hamilton
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yanis has done something noble here. He’s taken an endlessly complex topic and brought it down to a level understandable by anyone willing to listen. And he’s done so with wit, wisdom, and an unmistakable moral clarity.
Wick Welker
We have two options: democratize or commoditize.

I highly enjoyed this one-sided conversation that Varoufakis has with his daughter. He lets go of the heady economic theory and just talks brass tacks: the ins, outs and flaws of market economies. He lays out some interesting and hilarious ground rules: economists don't know why they're talking about and should stop thinking of themselves as scientist on a foundation of established theory.

What we have here is a definition of the market economy and
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Ryan Boissonneault
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism by Yanis Varoufakis is a short book that describes the economy in simple terms using personal stories and classical literature and myths.

To begin with, let’s start with a quote from the book, which I think might capture the overall message nicely:

“The worst slavery is that of heavily indoctrinated happy morons who adore their chains and cannot wait to thank their masters for the joy of their subservience.”

This heavy indoct
...more
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Autobiography:

Let me begin with a confession: I am a Professor of Economics who has never really trained as an economist. While I may have a PhD in Economics, I do not believe I have ever attended more than a few lectures on economics! But let's take things one at a time.

I was born in Athens back in the mists of 1961. Greece was, at the time, struggling to shed the post-civil war veil of totalitar
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News & Interviews

Nature, in Her infinite awesomeness, can provide solace even when you’re stuck in the house. As a matter of fact, the numbers suggest that...
98 likes · 15 comments
“When economists insist that they too are scientists because they use mathematics, they are no different from astrologists protesting that they are just as scientific as astronomers because they also use computers and complicated charts.” 5 likes
“My reason for writing it was the conviction that the economy is too important to leave to the economists.” 5 likes
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