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