The Story of Economic Genius
Nasar’s account begins with Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew observing and publishing the condition of the poor majority in mid-nineteenth-century London, the richest and most glittering place in the world. This was a new pursuit. She describes the often heroic efforts of Marx, Engels, Alfred Marshall, Beatrice and Sydney Webb, and the American Irving Fisher to put those insights into action—with revolutionary consequences for the world.
From the great John Maynard Keynes to Schumpeter, Hayek, Keynes’s disciple Joan Robinson, the influential American economists Paul Samuelson and Milton Freedman, and India’s Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen, she shows how the insights of these activist thinkers transformed the world—from one city, London, to the developed nations in Europe and America, and now to the entire planet. In Nasar’s dramatic narrative of these discoverers we witness men and women responding to personal crises, world wars, revolutions, economic upheavals, and each other’s ideas to turn back Malthus and transform the dismal science into a triumph over mankind’s hitherto age-old destiny of misery and early death. This idea, unimaginable less than 200 years ago, is a story of trial and error, but ultimately transcendent, as it is rendered here in a stunning and moving narrative.
Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius
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The exact point is that it has not gone on a long time. [It is] perfectly new. . . .
Our system though curious and peculiar may be worked safely . . . if we wish to work it, we must study it.
—Walter Bagehot, Lombard Street1
“See to it that the material you’ve collected is soon launched into the world,” the... see more
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Reading Group Guide
Here is the sweeping story of extraordinary men and women who, under dramatic and varied circumstances, helped humanity escape the blind and brutal past and seize control of its material fate. In London, New York, Vienna, Cairo, and Calcutta, these thinkers looked for tools that not only let them decipher the world outside their windows but to transform it. They turned the dismal science into a cheerful one and fostered a revolution in human thinking that changed the lives of everyone on the globe.
Grand Pursuit begins in Victorian London with someone whose name is synonymous with imagination, the novelist Charles Dickens. He is soon joined by a journalist, Henry Mayhew; the wayward son of a textile baron, Friedrich Engels; a beautiful heiress determined to live a meaningful life, Beatrice Webb; the American inventor of the Rolodex, Irving Fisher; a speculator who collected Impressionist paintings, the genius John Maynard Keynes; Milton Friedman, a boy who grew up over a store but daydreamed of being the hero of an F see more