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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ashenfelter, Orley, 2011. "Economic History or History of Economics? A Review Essay on Sylvia Nasar's Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius," IZA Discussion Papers 6213, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6213
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ted Gayer, 2002. "Graduate Studies in the History of Economic Thought," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 34(5), pages 35-61, Supplemen.
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    Keywords

    economic policy; economic growth; economic history;

    JEL classification:

    • B10 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - General
    • B30 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - General

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