Book Review: Grand Pursuit


Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius

By Sylvia Nasar

SIMON & SCHUSTER

In the 18th century, the storied British conservative Edmund Burke observed that “nine parts in ten of the whole race of mankind drudge through life.” Nasar, an economist herself, profiles a long list of notables—from novelist Charles Dickens to Nobelist Amartya Sen—who have applied their prodigious intellectual talents to improving the lot of that lower 90 percent. The result is less a cohesive history than an amusing pastiche of her characters’ insecurities and caprices, like Karl Marx’s bastard child and Friedrich Hayek’s lifelong crush on a cousin. Ultimately, she savages socialism and celebrates capitalism. Yet, like A Beautiful Mind, her best-selling bio of schizophrenic mathematician John Nash, this is a lively, instructive tome. “Before 1870 economics was mostly about what you couldn’t do,” Nasar writes. “After 1870, it was mostly about what you could.”

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Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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