Results for “worldly philosopher”
7 found

*Worldly Philosopher*

The author is Jeremy Adelman and the subtitle is The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman.  This is the book I have looked forward to most all year and so far (p.153) it does not disappoint.  Here is one excerpt:

If there was one author who captured Hirschmann’s imagination, it was Michel de Montaigne.  The highly personal vignettes, meditations, and moral reflections shook Hirschmann to his core.  He immediately grasped the power of the essays — Montaigne questioned absolute forms of knowledge by submitting everything to the interrogating eye of the observer, starting by looking at himself, turning himself over and over to capture the multiple points of perspective or the multiple forms of the self.  “We are never ‘at home’: we are always outside ourselves,” Montaigne wrote.  “Whoever would do what he has to do would see that the first thing he must learn to know is what he is.”

I am pleased that this book has 740 pages and I am wishing for more.  Here is a WSJ review.  Here is a good UK review.  Here is a review from The Economist.

Best non-fiction books of 2013

There were more strong candidates this year than usual.  The order here is more or less the order I read them in, not the order of preference:

Jeremy Adelman, Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschmann.

Daniel Brook, A History of Future Cities.

Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief.

I liked Neil Powell, Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music and also Paul Kildea, Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century.

M.E. Thomas, Confessions of a Sociopath.

Rana Mitter, China’s War With Japan 1937-1945, the US edition has the sillier title Forgotten Ally.  The return to knowing some background on this conflict is rising.

Emile Simpson, War from the Ground Up: Twenty-First Century Combat as Politics.

William Haseltine, Affordable Excellence: The Singapore Health System.

Clare Jacobson, New Museums in China.  Good text but mostly a picture book, stunning architecture, no art, full of lessons.

Mark Lawrence Schrad, Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State.

Paul Sabin, The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and our Gamble Over Earth’s Future.

Charles Moore, Margaret Thatcher: An Authorized Biography, from Grantham to the Falklands.

From books “close at hand,” I very much liked John List and Uri Gneezy, Virginia Postrel on glamour, Lant Pritchett, The Rebirth of Education, and Tim Harford on macroeconomics.

Scott Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia gets rave reviews, although I have not yet read my copy.  From the UK I’ve ordered the new Holland translation of Herodotus and Richard Overy’s The Bombing War and have high expectations for both.

If I had to offer my very top picks for the year, they would all be books I didn’t expect to like nearly as much as I did:

Joe Studwell, How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region.

Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy, Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832.

Mark Lewisohn, Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years, volume I.

Peter Baker, Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House.

Apologies to those I left out or forgot, I am sure there were more.

Diane Coyle and Tyler Cowen FT podcast on the economics books of the year

The link is here, (ungated?) emergency link here, It is about an hour long, and here is the premise:

A month ago I [Cardiff Garcia] asked Diane and Tyler each to choose five books released this year that would be fun to discuss. Then I narrowed that list of ten down to five:

1) Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O Hirschman, by Jeremy Adelman
2) The Undercover Economist Strikes Back, by Tim Harford
3) Giving Kids a Fair Chance, by James Heckman
4) How Asia Works, by Joe Studwell
5) America’s Assembly Line, by David Nye

(Worldly Philosopher was the one book included on both lists.)

We discuss these five in the first part of the podcast. In the second part we discuss Tyler’s new book, Average is Over, which is out this week in the US. We then close with some general thoughts about trends in economics books and a teaser of Diane’s own forthcoming book, A Brief and Affectionate History of GDP, scheduled for release early next year.

Here are some of Cardiff Garcia’s thoughts on my own new book, Average is Over:

From Average Is Over, what has stayed with me is that success in the future increasingly will be about managing comfort levels, those of oneself and of others — especially regarding the discomfort that comes with sacrificing personal judgment in favour of better, externally-offered judgment, perhaps submitted by a machine or an algorithm.

The reality of our inferior human judgment will first be resisted, but eventually it will be accepted. The transition won’t be smooth. It won’t be natural. It will lack the romance of the stories we now tell ourselves but will soon disbelieve. Those who do make the transition early will have an advantage over the rest. Trust will be a blurry concept for a while.

In more and more situations, “letting go” will be a better strategy than thinking independently. Sometimes both will be needed. Choosing from these options will be the one (meta) judgment that still matters. With time we’ll get better at it, but only after a period of intense emotional confusion.

I eagerly await Diane’s own work on gdp, as I have been wanting a good book on that topic for some while.

Greg Mankiw’s summer reading list

For his students, that is:

  • Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom
  • Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers
  • Paul Krugman, Peddling Prosperity
  • Steven Landsburg, The Armchair Economist
  • P.J. O’Rourke, Eat the Rich
  • Burton Malkiel, A Random Walk Down Wall Street
  • Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff, Thinking Strategically
  • Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Freakonomics
  • John McMillan, Reinventing the Bazaar
  • William Breit and Barry T. Hirsch, Lives of the Laureates

Very good picks, and here is the link.  How about a book on globalization (Martin Wolf) or economic development (John Kay)?  How about a book on China (????) or economic history (Robert Fogel)?

Addendum: Here is Arnold Kling’s addendum.

Robert Heilbroner has passed away

Robert Heilbroner, author of Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers and among the most influential economic historians of the 20th century, has died in New York. He was 85.

Heilbroner, who had suffered for the past three years with Lewy Body
disease, a rare Alzheimer’s-like illness, died of a stroke last
Wednesday, according to his son, David.

Here is an obituary.

Malcolm Gladwell on the new Albert Hirschman biography

It is an excellent overall review, here is one good excerpt of many:

“We may be dealing here with a general principle of action,” Hirschman wrote:

“Creativity always comes as a surprise to us; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened. In other words, we would not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming. Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be.”

And from there Hirschman’s analysis took flight. People don’t seek out challenges, he went on. They are “apt to take on and plunge into new tasks because of the erroneously presumed absence of a challenge—because the task looks easier and more manageable than it will turn out to be.” This was the Hiding Hand principle—a play on Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand. The entrepreneur takes risks but does not see himself as a risk-taker, because he operates under the useful delusion that what he’s attempting is not risky. Then, trapped in mid-mountain, people discover the truth—and, because it is too late to turn back, they’re forced to finish the job.

You can buy the book here.