Monday, May 21, 2018

Update: Six Book Reviews

I'm finally getting around to posting material I've been sitting on for a long time--in some cases, for years.

This time around, I've put up a half dozen book reviews.

Three are of works of economics, two of them nineteenth century classics of the kind that every serious student of the subject should eventually get around to, but which people are much more likely to cite than to actually read--Friedrich List's The National System of Political Economy, and Alfred Marshall's Principles of Economics. (The textbook for generations of economists, John Galbraith remarked in A Journey Through Economic Time that his training for his Ph.d consisted mostly of mastering that one book.)

The third book reviewed here is John Galbraith's son James' more recent work, The End of Normal, interesting not as a foundational classic, but for its more recent address of our contemporary situation, especially the post-war, post-1973, post-2008 situation that List and Marshall could not have anticipated, and the ways in which it challenges the received wisdom of the "Marshallian" view.

The other three book reviews also have a social science interest, if of a very different kind. One is also a review of a classic, C. Wright Mills' The Sociological Imagination. Another concerns, again, a comment on our times, Thomas Frank's, Listen, Liberal (the title of whose book, rather intentionally, evokes Mills' work).

The last is actually a work of film criticism, Peter Biskind's Seeing is Believing. A fascinating study of American film in the 1950s, it is also a study of the 1950s themselves, which I find worth discussing in this context because of its extraordinary grasp of the politics of that era, and the way in which they manifested themselves in its movies.

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