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Talking to My Daughter: A Brief History of Capitalism

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  4,860 ratings  ·  572 reviews
‘Why is there so much inequality?’ Xenia asks her father, the world famous economist Yanis Varoufakis.

Drawing on memories of her childhood and a variety of well-known tales – from Oedipus and Faust to Frankenstein and The Matrix – Varoufakis explains everything you need to know in order to understand why economics is the most important drama of our times. In answering his daught
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 28th 2019 by Vintage (first published 2013)
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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 explanati
W.D. Clarke
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 de
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely everyone, crucial topic + very accessible!
A favorite, surpassing the sea of ECON101 books; the storytelling alone makes me revisit this. The most accessible introduction to "the market economy", unraveling this enigma while rooted in real-life concerns and historical/global scope...

The Brilliant:
--This book and Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky exemplify accessibility. As Varoufakis puts it:
As a teacher of economics, I have always believed that if you are not able to explain the economy in a language young people can understand,/>
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
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
Peter Mcloughlin
Economics is one of the ideological bulwarks of the current order. It is a discipline that is so influential on affairs of the present that it is imperative that it not be left to the experts. A democratic polity depends on knowing how economics work if it is to make sensible political decisions. The author brings economics, markets and finance down to earth. He explains how these things came about how they operate and why it is important to understand these forces which rule our lives. He expla ...more
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.
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
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 greatest living eco
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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 b
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.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, favorite
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 expe/>"There
Ali Khosravi
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ryan Boissonneault
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.”

Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A mathematician, a software developer and an economist walks into a bar.

The bartender polishing a glass, “What is 1 + 1?”
The mathematician instantly answers, “2”.
The software developer waits until the mathematician is done, “1.999999….”
The economist looks directly into the bartenders eyes, “What do you want it to be?”

This joke was given by Varoufakis at Politics and Prose, a talk I watched before reading this book and I think it sums up his healthy cynic
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's great! I learned a lot!
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will admit that the first thing that caught my eye about Talking to My Daughter About the Economy was the title. It reminded me of being in the car on the way to school, back when I went to school up in Mountain Lakes, and listening to my dad explain concepts like business cycles, the structure of student loan repayment plans, why credit cards aren't money, and, of course, surety bonds. There were simplified lessons on Keynesian macroeconomic theories, heavily seasoned with Grateful Dead lyrics, beca ...more
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't usually read a lot of none fiction - I have always thought that I needed a character and plot driven story to make a book a page-turner for me.

That being said I picked this book up as somebody who understands the basic concept of capitalism but not much more. I wasn't really expected to enjoy reading it but I did want to understand more about the topics the book covers. I was pleasantly surprised to find this book was really accessible and easy to understand and kept me interested all t
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5! a really approachable and sweet read on today’s economics with metaphors and allegories for dummies like me. I found a lot of the ideas very applicable to daily life and used it more than once more like a philosophical / meditative practice book than a political text - which I think is Varoufakis’ intent: remove the stigma, the scariness, the loftiness of economics and democratize it for those of us who are actually practicing living under capitalism.
Should add that I borrowed this fr
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With the excuse of explaining the economy to a child, he explains it to the rest of us: How currency works, society economies and why our planet is in peril because nature and clean air has no monetary value. And as a final salute he insists that economists are more philosophers than scientists, even though they pretend to be.
Peppered with greek mythology and a not very well disguised anger and disgust about the austerity policy after the Greek crash, it's a clever little book for anyone -
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The material is at times interesting but the writing is incoherent and boring. You have to keep in mind that it is written for a thirteen year old so it talks about basic economics principles. A good aspect of this book is it is written from a very different angle than a classic capitalist view so he doesn’t always see free markets as the solution to every problem. Overall I believe one can benefit from reading this book but I struggled to stay engaged. From other reviews I can see that other tr ...more
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely brilliant book. It's one of these basic books that you would want your child to read to help them understand the society they live in and how it's economy work. I don't agree with every thought and process in the book, but would say I agree with most of it. Yanis used very easy to handle approach and went through the basics in really easy way for our young generations. Personally, I certainly enjoyed the read.
Some explanations of global money matters were good, some not so good. Historical insight is great. Overall I think I am almost as confused by economics as ever, but more from a philosophical and moral viewpoint than before. Maybe that’s the point of this book.
Peggy Warren
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great, simple overview of how our capitalist, market society works, and why it creates inequality.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
The one most arresting reason why I love reading the books of Yanis Varoufakis is the degree of accessibility which he accords. Although an expert in the domain of Economics, he has the unique and compelling ability to shed the garb of an expert and make himself comprehensible to every layman whose curiosity has piqued towards understanding the dismal science. Whether it be his devastating book on tumultuous, draining and daring battles with the European establishment during his eventful and sho ...more
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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-civ
“Los estudios de economía puede que utilicen modelos matemáticos y métodos estadísticos, pero se parecen más a la astrología que a la astronomía.” 2 likes
“It is at this point in the book that the author famously laments that despite our ability to bring food from the earth, we are incapable of creating a system in which the hungry can be fed.” 2 likes
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