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Journal of Economic Literature: Vol. 50 No. 1 (March 2012)

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Economic History or History of Economics? Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius: Review Essay

Article Citation

Ashenfelter, Orley. 2012. "Economic History or History of Economics? Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius: Review Essay." Journal of Economic Literature, 50(1): 96-102.

DOI: 10.1257/jel.50.1.96

Abstract

In this essay, I review Sylvia Nasar's long awaited new history of economics, Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius. I describe how the book is an economic history of the period 1850-1950, with distinguished economists' stories inserted in appropriate places. Nasar's goal is to show how economists work, but also to show that they are people too—with more than enough warts and foibles to show they are human! I contrast the general view of the role of economics in Grand Pursuit with Robert Heilbroner's remarkably different conception in The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers. I also discuss more generally the question of why economists might be interested in their history at all. (JEL B10, B20, B30, N00)

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Authors

Ashenfelter, Orley (Princeton U)

JEL Classifications

B10: History of Economic Thought through 1925: General
B20: History of Economic Thought since 1925: General
B30: History of Economic Thought: Individuals: General
N00: Economic History: General


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