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

Orley Ashenfelter ()

No 17607, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: In this essay I review Sylvia Nasar’s long awaited new history of economics, Grand Pursuit. I describe how the book is really 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.

JEL-codes: A11 B20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-evo, nep-his and nep-hpe
Date: 2011-11
Note: EFG LS
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Published as “Economic history or history of economics?” Review of Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius, Center for Economic Policy Studies, Working Papers: 1365. Journal of Economic Literature, March 2012, 50(1), 96-102.

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