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Top Economics Books

11 min read ⌚ 

In 1849, the Scottish philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle coined the phrase “the dismal science” to describe economics. His contemporary, John Stuart Mill, loudly contested Carlyle’s views, expressing his optimism that economics has the best shot of all human endeavors to actually make us better people.

And like it or hate it, the fact is that this social science regulates many aspects of your life. These 15 books went the furthest in analyzing which and how. These are really the best books on economics! And some of them profoundly altered our world.

#1. “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith

The Wealth of Nations SummaryIf you’ve ever been in Scotland or England, Adam Smith has probably been in your pocket quite a few times. Literally: he’s the guy on the Scottish £50 note and the most recent English £20 note!

And the awesome thing he did to get there was writing “The Wealth of Nations,” his magnum opus, and the fundamental work in classical economics!

Published at the very dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and more than a decade before the Storming of the Bastille, the work (considered the first modern economics book!) is as fresh today as it was two and half centuries ago. In fact, its ideas about the free market, labor division, and the invisible hand still resonate loud with most of the economic theorists active today.

And did we mention: it is the second most cited book in social sciences published before 1950!

#2. “Capital: Critique of Political Economy” by Karl Marx

Capital SummaryAnd that’s only because Karl Marx’s “Capital” is the most cited one!

For a good reason, might we add. Because If Adam Smith can be credited as the founder of modern economy, “Das Kapital” set the foundations of materialist philosophy, economic history, and historical materialism.

For better or for worse, Marx wrote “The Communist Manifesto” as well – and that has somewhat tarnished the reputation of his most important work in the Western hemisphere. But, as the first sentence of this review proves, only among the general population.

Both political thinkers and leading economists think very differently. And they continually go back to Marx’s “Capital,” because the book – a mammoth three-volume study – is widely considered to be the best analysis of the historical origins of capitalism.

And because Marx’s theories about the surplus value and the inevitable fluctuations and economic crises in any capitalist society – wait for it – have been proven right. Over and over again.

#3. “Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy” by Joseph A. Schumpeter

Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy SummaryWe already featured Joseph Schumpeter‘s influential 1942 volume in our list of the top 15 entrepreneurship books. But, we can’t leave it out of this list as well. The reasons are many. We’ll list only three.

First of all, the only two social science books published before 1950 and cited more than this one, are the above two entries on this list.

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