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Economic History or History of Economics? A Review Essay on Sylvia Nasar's Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius

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  • Ashenfelter, Orley

    ()
    (Princeton University)

Abstract

In this essay I review Sylvia Nasar's long awaited new history of economics, Grand Pursuit. I describe how the book is an economic history of the period from 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. I also discuss more generally the question of why economists might be interested in their history at all.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6213.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economic Literature, 2012, 50 (1), 96 - 102
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6213

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Keywords: economic policy; economic growth; economic history;

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