Just Trying to Compete with the Movies

As many of you know my Bereans colleague Mark Smith likes movies and likes to write movie reviews.  I am not so cool so I like books.  And on occasions I like to highlight some I like really well.  This time I have three.  And I apologize that you can’t go see the movie versions of these—I don’t think anyone would go at any rate.

If you like economic methodology (who doesn’t), you’ll love this book.  It is a bit old, by Terrence W. Hutschison, entitled ‘Positive Economics’ and Policy Objectives.  The main characters are, of course, dead economists, like John Maynard Keynes, or Adam Smith, or Ricardo.  What a cast of stars.  And the whole book is about how economists like them (and many others) have thought about how to do economics and then about how one should do economics, from the standpoint of philosophy of science and its limits.  That sounds really exciting, and I know it does to you also.

The second attraction is a new book by Roger Scruton, a long-time philosopher-star, from England (Like Hutchison).  It has the enticing title of Fools, Frauds and Firebrands—it almost does sound like a novel.  The subtitle is the kicker:   Thinkers of the New Left.  If the title didn’t make you want to read it, the subtitle certainly will.  As you might guess, this is about the thought of the New Left, a cast of characters like Sartre, Habermas, Althusser, Lacan, Badiou and, the current superstar, Zizek.  If you have ever wondered what the New Left and their precursors really said, the book is an excellent summary—and the short sneak preview answer is, nothing.

Finally, I recommend a book by Thomas C. Leonard, with the creative title, Illiberal Reformers and the edgy subtitle of Race, Eugenics and American Economics in the Progressive Era.  This is a history of ideas book and set in the 1880s to the 1920s, an era you will want to re-live I am sure.  What the Progressives really believed was scandalous, and who doesn’t like a good scandal.

I will be reviewing another book soon, the latest by Deidre McCloskey, with the title Bourgois Equality, the third in her acclaimed series about how we largely eliminated poverty in the West and are on the way elsewhere, due to markets (what a microagressive word!).  Stay tuned.

These books should be coming to a library near you, if they haven’t already.  I give them all two thumbs up.  I know Mark Smith is jealous.