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The Economics Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

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What happens in a recession? How does money work? Why do we pay taxes? Economics affects every aspect of our lives, from how we get to work to where we spend our money-and big economic ideas continue to shape the world. Written in plain English, The Economics Book is packed with short, pity explanations that cut through the jargon, step-by-step diagrams that untangle knotty What happens in a recession? How does money work? Why do we pay taxes? Economics affects every aspect of our lives, from how we get to work to where we spend our money-and big economic ideas continue to shape the world. Written in plain English, The Economics Book is packed with short, pity explanations that cut through the jargon, step-by-step diagrams that untangle knotty theories, classic quotes that make economics memorable, and witty illustrations that enhance and play with our understanding of economics. Whether you're a beginner, and avid student, or an armchair expert, you'll find plenty to stimulate you within this book. --book jacket


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What happens in a recession? How does money work? Why do we pay taxes? Economics affects every aspect of our lives, from how we get to work to where we spend our money-and big economic ideas continue to shape the world. Written in plain English, The Economics Book is packed with short, pity explanations that cut through the jargon, step-by-step diagrams that untangle knotty What happens in a recession? How does money work? Why do we pay taxes? Economics affects every aspect of our lives, from how we get to work to where we spend our money-and big economic ideas continue to shape the world. Written in plain English, The Economics Book is packed with short, pity explanations that cut through the jargon, step-by-step diagrams that untangle knotty theories, classic quotes that make economics memorable, and witty illustrations that enhance and play with our understanding of economics. Whether you're a beginner, and avid student, or an armchair expert, you'll find plenty to stimulate you within this book. --book jacket

30 review for The Economics Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

  1. 5 out of 5

    Devyn Duffy

    This book is exactly what it says it is: "big ideas simply explained." It's a simple overview of the history of economic thought, devoting one to four pages to each of many major ideas promoted by diverse economists. One possible drawback is that the book presents the economists' opinions at face value, confusing some readers into thinking that the book itself is advocating those positions. For example, two pages are devoted to an idea from Marilyn Waring that GDP undercounts women's labor, unde This book is exactly what it says it is: "big ideas simply explained." It's a simple overview of the history of economic thought, devoting one to four pages to each of many major ideas promoted by diverse economists. One possible drawback is that the book presents the economists' opinions at face value, confusing some readers into thinking that the book itself is advocating those positions. For example, two pages are devoted to an idea from Marilyn Waring that GDP undercounts women's labor, under the title "GDP Ignores Women." Like each idea, the book provides a logical flowchart for this idea: "GDP aims to record the value of transactions in an economy over a year. -> ...But it excludes non-market activity... largely performed by women. -> GDP ignores women." This kind of presentation can confuse the reader into thinking that the book agrees with this view, when in fact the book is just presenting this idea as part of the history of economic thought, and isn't taking a side. Overall, this book does a good job of letting the economists debate their competing views and leaving it up to readers to form their own opinions. This book isn't a textbook on economics, just an overview, but even as that it introduced me to economists and ideas that I hadn't heard of before. And it's easy to read with amusing graphics. Even if you have a degree in economics, you still might enjoy this simple book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    Niall Kishtainy was a tutor of mine at the LSE and his tutorials were always enjoyable, informative, and challenging. This book has those same qualities. An introduction to economics for the general reader, this book sets the subject out chronologically so that you get a potted history of the discipline as well as a guide to its key concepts. Also, the choice of subjects ranges rather wider than many books of its type so you get coverage of relatively obscure but important concepts such as the D Niall Kishtainy was a tutor of mine at the LSE and his tutorials were always enjoyable, informative, and challenging. This book has those same qualities. An introduction to economics for the general reader, this book sets the subject out chronologically so that you get a potted history of the discipline as well as a guide to its key concepts. Also, the choice of subjects ranges rather wider than many books of its type so you get coverage of relatively obscure but important concepts such as the Diamond-Dybvig model. This might result in coverage which is a little unsatisfying for the expert reader, but it isn't really directed at them. For the layman, this book will make you sound more knowledgeable than most others of its type.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Trevor Price

    It's like a collection of 100+ encyclopedia articles on myriad economic subjects, plus a handful of lengthier essays. It's dry. I don't know what I was expecting. It certainly doesn't tell a story or make for gripping literature, but it's credible and readable. It's like a collection of 100+ encyclopedia articles on myriad economic subjects, plus a handful of lengthier essays. It's dry. I don't know what I was expecting. It certainly doesn't tell a story or make for gripping literature, but it's credible and readable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John Frankham

    One of the Dorling Kindersley series dealing with science, religion, politics, philosophy, etc, aimed at a wide, interested, but non-expert audience. This volume, on economics, was for me (a retired economist!) a good, quick survey of economic thought and ideas, from early days to current thought. Possibly requires a lot of interest/persistence, for the lay reader. But I will be reading the others in the series, with some trepidation!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Meadows

    I didn't actually read this book from cover to cover, as I consider it more a reference book, yet I can highly recommend it. It draws clear, concise portraits and timelines of economic concepts, both current and past. I didn't actually read this book from cover to cover, as I consider it more a reference book, yet I can highly recommend it. It draws clear, concise portraits and timelines of economic concepts, both current and past.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Walter Calaza

    You can see that it was written by a socialist. It is really a poor work when you say that USA is a bottomless pit of capitalism and on the next page you talk about how Nixon terminated the gold parity and the dollar is completely government controlled. It misrepresent theories from adam smith and omit other pro capitalism theories. The book subscribe to the theory that the 1929 crises happened because we had an excess of free market. I would give one star but the book has some cultural depth.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Not as detailed as a textbook, but if you’re looking for a good summary of economic ideas, this is perfect.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Keelan

    Good reference book for economics, has some good further reading recommendations for those interested enough to look a little deeper.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Sims

    As I'd never taken an economics course in school, I always felt a little lacking in this area. I was able to drill down and really learn the difference between the approaches of Keynes (more government involvement, to micro condense) and Friedman (free markets, to micro condense), with some historical context to boot. Also, I learned what 'the money supply' even is, and of course how politics and culture affect economics. Lots of history of economics, which is fascinating, like how scientists tr As I'd never taken an economics course in school, I always felt a little lacking in this area. I was able to drill down and really learn the difference between the approaches of Keynes (more government involvement, to micro condense) and Friedman (free markets, to micro condense), with some historical context to boot. Also, I learned what 'the money supply' even is, and of course how politics and culture affect economics. Lots of history of economics, which is fascinating, like how scientists tried to quantify the economy of various European principalities and kingdoms way back when, and how they did it. There was a bunch of stuff I won't remember, but the book was clearly written and well done, in my opinion. I appreciated that the format is easy to skim and read, there was no dumbing down of the content.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Sylvester

    "The Economics Book" by DK Publishing is a decent resource. After having completed several introductory financial and classical economics courses, I came to realize that much of the material I had studied had a built-in presumption that the tenets should be taken at face-value. I knew this was problematic because my first foray into economics required reading through the principal works of various big league economists in order to establish the general evolution of economic thought--turned polic "The Economics Book" by DK Publishing is a decent resource. After having completed several introductory financial and classical economics courses, I came to realize that much of the material I had studied had a built-in presumption that the tenets should be taken at face-value. I knew this was problematic because my first foray into economics required reading through the principal works of various big league economists in order to establish the general evolution of economic thought--turned policy--turned implications; throughout the 20th century (thesis-based research). From there, I read several contemporary books on political economy where modern economists reflected on these works, the times those economists lived in, and the exceptions to each rule they came up with based on the resulting implications. Thus, by the time I got to the more formal textbook study of classical economics, I felt it was important to find a resource that provided additional context to gain a more fundamental understanding of the discipline as a whole. "The Economics Book" helped me achieve this. The authors describe, chronologically, where economic ideas have come from, the limitations of each (in addition to their usefulness for analysis), and what real-world drawbacks and benefits tend to unfold. One reason I picked up The Economics Book specifically was because of the format. I wanted a bedside book that delved into each concept in bite-sized pieces so I could digest 2-to-3 a night. It served this purpose well but as I got going and the depth of the content improved, I started reading it in earnest, and finished it far in advance of what I had originally intended. The only drawback of this book is that it is designed for someone with no economics background. Because of this, the beginning is mind-numbingly dry but once you get about half-way it picks up and challenges much conventional thinking (based on my analysis of financial and news media, and other contemporary works). For example, even if people have studied economics they may have studied it at a time when a certain school of thought dominated without being able to see the implications that have arisen since that time (based on faulty assumptions or changing circumstances). Or, people may have been taught it through a certain discipline that picks and chooses what it wants to emphasize to confirm a self-interested bias. This book is decent for calling all assumptions to account in that respect. 3 stars for DK Publishing!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Martin L. Cahn

    Earlier this year, I reviewed a book that I had hoped would be a primer on economics. Unfortunately, what I read ended up being a biased diatribe against Democratic/liberal policies versus Republican/conservative rather than a dispassionate layman’s lesson on economics in general. Luckily, this book has none of those problems. I don’t know if I’ll necessarily retain it all, but reading this book — which offers economics through time from ancient times to 2012 — was more the economics lesson I was Earlier this year, I reviewed a book that I had hoped would be a primer on economics. Unfortunately, what I read ended up being a biased diatribe against Democratic/liberal policies versus Republican/conservative rather than a dispassionate layman’s lesson on economics in general. Luckily, this book has none of those problems. I don’t know if I’ll necessarily retain it all, but reading this book — which offers economics through time from ancient times to 2012 — was more the economics lesson I was looking for. If nothing else, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the complexities of monitoring and navigating the world of economic policy in the U.S. and abroad.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Tay

    Good beginners book on Economics

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gradinaru Alexandru

    It was a very edifying book, with lots of theories on social conduct and economic mechanics very concisely explained and easy to grasp. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in Economics.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tianyao Chen

    A lucid summary of the biggest ideas in economics. And a more enjoyable read than a college economics book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Declan Melia

    I must admit that I read this book all wrong. It’s supposed to be a reference book. A bit of a primer to bring you up to speed on any area of economic theory before you take a deeper dive. I didn’t use it like that at all, I read it from cover to cover in a mad burst. So, if I’m using the book incorrectly, I can hardly complain if it doesn’t work as well as it should. I’m sure, as a primer, this book would be a handy reference. The writing is clear and concise, the design and layout is handsome I must admit that I read this book all wrong. It’s supposed to be a reference book. A bit of a primer to bring you up to speed on any area of economic theory before you take a deeper dive. I didn’t use it like that at all, I read it from cover to cover in a mad burst. So, if I’m using the book incorrectly, I can hardly complain if it doesn’t work as well as it should. I’m sure, as a primer, this book would be a handy reference. The writing is clear and concise, the design and layout is handsome and if you spend the right amount of time with it (that is, read a section quite slowly, perhaps more than once) then it is very informative. The only reason that it became a bit of a wash, is that I read it too quickly. My only other complaint (and it’s not really a complaint so much as a caution) is that it might be time for a bit of an update, it closes just at the 2008 GFC, without having had the time to contextualise that event and understand it any more clearly. Also, if the current book I’m reading is anything to go by, it’s historic slant may be a little right wing. Anyway, this book is great as a primer, looks good on a shelf, and would probably make a great place to put a coffee cup. But don’t try and read it in one go. Three stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Like the other 'introductory' books on economics that I've been trying to read, it's written on the wrong level for me. I know too much for introductions, and not enough to understand the finance pages of "The Economist" magazine.... I'm thinking I'll have to actually audit a few college courses to fill the gaps and deepen my understandings of the connections. Like the other 'introductory' books on economics that I've been trying to read, it's written on the wrong level for me. I know too much for introductions, and not enough to understand the finance pages of "The Economist" magazine.... I'm thinking I'll have to actually audit a few college courses to fill the gaps and deepen my understandings of the connections.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kevan

    This is my first book of economics where markets are discussed. It's very helpful and it provide very good plot to build. I have one complaint that so many times you're looking for explanation but there is no explanation . This is my first book of economics where markets are discussed. It's very helpful and it provide very good plot to build. I have one complaint that so many times you're looking for explanation but there is no explanation .

  18. 4 out of 5

    T

    Fantastic introduction to economics! Whilst this book may look a bit juvenile for adults, I cannot recommend it enough. A great overview of the big names in econ' ... Fantastic introduction to economics! Whilst this book may look a bit juvenile for adults, I cannot recommend it enough. A great overview of the big names in econ' ...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mohammadreza Seifollahi

    A good little introduction to economics. The chronological structure is pretty much useful if you like to know the timing of each major economic milestone.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Another $40 well spent.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Scout Collins

    The Economics Book looks at different economic theories and economists, with a bit of world history thrown in. As a beginner in Economics, this book wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. It was kind of disorganized and didn't explain some concepts very well (they weren't as "simply explained" as the title claims). If you're at university level economics it might be helpful, or maybe high school at the earliest. I know economics is definitely a tricky topic to explain so I will give the book credit The Economics Book looks at different economic theories and economists, with a bit of world history thrown in. As a beginner in Economics, this book wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. It was kind of disorganized and didn't explain some concepts very well (they weren't as "simply explained" as the title claims). If you're at university level economics it might be helpful, or maybe high school at the earliest. I know economics is definitely a tricky topic to explain so I will give the book credit for that.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jamie is

    Confession: I've only skimmed through this after purchasing today, looking up specific topics and a few that caught my eye. I am a huge fan of topic overviews that are graphic-intensive summaries. I wish more intro courses were taught this way; this is the overview I never got and I feel as though it's truly connected the dots and given me a better understanding of important socio-political conversations (although I took several Econ courses in undergrad/grad). Confession: I've only skimmed through this after purchasing today, looking up specific topics and a few that caught my eye. I am a huge fan of topic overviews that are graphic-intensive summaries. I wish more intro courses were taught this way; this is the overview I never got and I feel as though it's truly connected the dots and given me a better understanding of important socio-political conversations (although I took several Econ courses in undergrad/grad).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Caeser Pink

    It was an OK overview of economic theories, but didn't really provide any in-depth understanding of the mechanics of world economics. And really, there seems to be only two major economic theories, Supply Side and Demand Side - and appropriately or not, smaller verses bigger government ideologies are fitted into those two theories. For example, socialism and communism and lumped into demand side theory. It was an OK overview of economic theories, but didn't really provide any in-depth understanding of the mechanics of world economics. And really, there seems to be only two major economic theories, Supply Side and Demand Side - and appropriately or not, smaller verses bigger government ideologies are fitted into those two theories. For example, socialism and communism and lumped into demand side theory.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    A great overview of economics. The book covers a number of ideas in a simplistic and easy to understand way. The book goes chronologically through economics and talks about what ideas/people helped lead to the idea that you're reading about and what other things came from the idea. A great read for anyone interested in learning about economics. A great overview of economics. The book covers a number of ideas in a simplistic and easy to understand way. The book goes chronologically through economics and talks about what ideas/people helped lead to the idea that you're reading about and what other things came from the idea. A great read for anyone interested in learning about economics.

  25. 4 out of 5

    The Time Traveler

    Encyclopedia of Economics I enjoy the Big Ideas Imply Explained series. It takes difficult subject matter and simplifies it into a comprehensive work. Economics can be very complicated if it is looked at mathematically, however, the theories presented here describe the underlying philosophies to an Economist's approach in problem solving real issues. Encyclopedia of Economics I enjoy the Big Ideas Imply Explained series. It takes difficult subject matter and simplifies it into a comprehensive work. Economics can be very complicated if it is looked at mathematically, however, the theories presented here describe the underlying philosophies to an Economist's approach in problem solving real issues.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    I found the visual treatment distracting and overwhelming. Some good stuff, but gimmicky. It would be a fun companion to a more straightforward treatment, but I don't think it's a very useful introduction to the subject. I found the visual treatment distracting and overwhelming. Some good stuff, but gimmicky. It would be a fun companion to a more straightforward treatment, but I don't think it's a very useful introduction to the subject.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Layne

    Easy to read introduction to economic theories past and present. Helps to make sense of things you hear in the news when you've never taken an economics class. Easy to read introduction to economic theories past and present. Helps to make sense of things you hear in the news when you've never taken an economics class.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Good basic intro and really good graphic design.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amir Hassan

    Big ideas, simply explained

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dehsar

    nicely written book covering the history of economy with illustrations that make it easy to understand however i expected it to cover some more important concepts

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