Framing the Dialogue

On Classical Economics

You may have heard of Adam Smith and most certainly Karl Marx, but what about John Stuart Mill or Jean-Baptiste Say or John Manard Keynes?  These men and many others are the forefathers of classical economic thought and On Classical Economics is an in depth look at their theories and writings.  Author Thomas Sowell is a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and one of my favorite writers and a prolific one at that.  You can read his regular columns at

On Classical Economics is not a book for light reading and probably is more for folks who really want to probe the depths of classic economic theory. 

“Certainly one need not have read a word of Smith or Ricardo in order to get an economics degree, tenure, or an appointment to the Council of Economic Advisers.  But if one is still old-fashioned enough to want to be an educated individual, then an understanding of how ideas evolve and how the dynamics of polemics can drive both parties to untenable positions should be part of that education.”

As an amateur economist I struggled with this.  It is well written as you would expect from Sowell, but the level of detail and theory was more than I was expecting.  I was seeking to expand my knowledge base even though I don’t expect to be appointed to the Council of Economic Advisers.

If you are looking for a great book on economics you could read any number that I have read and reviewed and in particular Basic Economics also by Sowell.  I believe that he has recently updated this favorite book.

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