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  • Basic Economics, Fifth Edition

  • A Common Sense Guide to the Economy
  • By: Thomas Sowell
  • Narrated by: Tom Weiner
  • Length: 23 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (726 ratings)

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Summary

In this fifth edition of Basic Economics, Thomas Sowell revises and updates his popular book on commonsense economics, bringing the world into clearer focus through a basic understanding of the fundamental economic principles and how they explain our lives. Drawing on lively examples from around the world and from centuries of history, Sowell explains basic economic principles for the general public in plain English.

Basic Economics,which has now been translated into six languages and has additional material online, remains true to its core principle: that the fundamental facts and principles of economics do not require jargon, graphs, or equations and can be learned in a relaxed and even enjoyable way.

©2014 Thomas Sowell (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Basic Economics, Fifth Edition

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B and B book: Boring and Brainwashing

This book is a particularly boring attempt to brainwash the reader into believing that:

1. Free markets are capable of optimising all sorts of economic relations among people and companies. Any attempt to interfere with the laws of free markets can only result in terrible consequences for society.

2. Economy is a science comparable to physics or chemistry. It is precise, infallible, and deterministic in its infinite wisdom. Economists are therefore in possession of sacred knowledge, while politicians in their infinite stupidity insist on interfering with free markets, therefore spreading mayhem.

We all know that there is a certain class of economists that believe in these principles in the same way that fundamentalists believe in certain religious principles. It is because of them that economics has gained a reputation of being an unethical, ridiculously self-aggrandising, and thick-headed discipline. What is particularly irritating about this book is that it uses unbelievably redundant and circular argumentation. For example, if I argue that:

John is driving a car. He knows how to drive very well, and so he drives very fast. He has an accident when Peter is in the car, who has been admonishing against excessive speed. Obviously Peter is responsible for the accident because I already told you that John is a good driver.

Everyone with minimum intelligence could counter-argue that John might have been and probably was the one responsible for the accident! An intelligent person would want anyway to know more about the circumstances of the accident, which are not provided in a sufficient detailed way so that conclusions can be considered supported by evidence. However, this kind of argumentation is used all over the book, essentially to make us believe that free markets (the Johns) are very good for society and therefore when things go wrong is certainly because of the Peters (the politicians trying to regulate markets).

All this is unbearably superficial and poorly analysed, as these arguments omit everything that could be used to refute them.

On top of everything, the reader uses a preaching tone of voice, it feels like one is learning about economics from a drill sergeant.

A much more interesting reading for those wanting to understand economic science beyond this dogmatic approach is provided by the references below.

Jackson, T. (2009). Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet London: Earthscan. (not yet available in Audible)

Raworth, K. (2017). Doughnut economics: Seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist. London: Random House Business Books. (already available in Audible)

71 people found this helpful

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I promise you, this book will change your life.

I highly or more than highly recommend this book to anyone regardless if you are studying economic or not. The explanation are so common sense and clear you will be enlightened. I am really grateful to have taken the time to listen to it and really want to say thank you to all the people behind it and the author. You have succeed beyond your goals. I will re-listen to it couple times until it becomes a song in my head. So grateful.

28 people found this helpful

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Basic Economics or A Neoliberal Handbook?

If you are looking for an explanation of how the economy works, this is NOT the book for you. It is more of a propaganda sheet for neoliberalism. Rather than go into the mechanics of how a modern economy works, Sowell relies on examples of how and where government intervention has failed in order to justify his neoliberal convictions. He never attempts to explain the failings or short comings of laissez fair economics, like it's natural tendency towards monopolisation, which undermines its own justification (the free market), or the ecological cost to the planet. There are some interesting and useful definitions just over half way through the book, differentiating stocks, shares and bonds for example, and a very brief history of economics right at the end, which I shall use for further reading, but it does not explain how economics works. I have read Adam Smith and a little of Marx, both of which do attempt to explain with great success the workings of capitalist economics. I wanted a more up to date explanation, but this book failed totally in that task.

23 people found this helpful

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Opinion Piece masquerading as Textbook

This is a well presented, but completely one sided economic viewpoint. It works hard to dismiss all government interventions and, instead advocates a somewhat cold hearted conservative economic policy as the only way to proceed.

That would be fine if the book was presented as an argument for hands-off economics. But it's not. It is presented as a textbook introduction to the field. As such it should present a balanced viewpoint- which sadly it fails to do.

17 people found this helpful

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Is this really economics?

I had huge expectations for this based on reviews. It is terrible. Essentially a one sided very basic American view of the world. There was no evidence base and no balanced view or alternative models. i sincerely hope that this is not the usual standard of economic teaching in US universities.

17 people found this helpful

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Basic Economics??

In my opinion this book should be called "Why capitalism is great!". I would say this is not a book about basic Economics and more book about the benefits of capitalism ( whilst completely ignoring the the obvious faults) .

According to the author for example the American health care system is far greater than the British health care system ( or any other country) based solely on the fact that it costs alot in America and a couple of very specific studys. This may be true at the high end but its completely ridiculous to suggest this is true for the majority.

If this were a book about basic Economics it should in my opinion just explain the basics of economics and how the system works without any bias.

The basic principle of the book is that no government intervention in economic affairs is required the market will regulate it self and if everyone one adopted this system we would live in some sort of paradise. The tone of the book is almost insulting.

I would point out I am generally someone who believes in Capitalism but I am aware of the pitfalls. Which by the way are so obvious they cannot be ignored.

In conclusion if you want a fair and balanced explanation of how the economic system works this is not the book for you.













16 people found this helpful

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Fantastic

I could have listened to more of this, I never thought economics could be so interesting.
Absolutely loved it.

I would recommend everyone to read this book, gives you a better understanding of how things are not what they seem, would help pick your electoral parties as well.

The man that read this, his voice was perfect to listen to.I could probably listen to his voice from any audio book.

Gave this rating as I could not fault anything about this book.

16 people found this helpful

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Boring title, boring cover, amazing content!

Along with Bill Bryson's "A Short History Of Nearly Everything", Sowell's "Basic Economics" should be available to every school child in the land. It clearly explains how the people of the world interact, and why sometimes it doesn't work (spoiler - politicians). You'll learn new knowledge throughout this book. You may change your mind on some things, or have light bulb moments as to why you feel the way you do on other subjects. This is a life changer.

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mind blown (what!)

this book should be called "a defence of capitalism and the justification for profit in a world of poverty". this book oft quotes Margaret Thatcher and her wise words of economic advice to the ignorant commies. seriously outdated and simplistic, I particularly enjoyed "people are homeless because landlords can't make a profit" and that the book only recognised two polar economics "free market good, socislism/communism (alternated) bad". if you are looking for some neoliberal propaganda this is your book. if you are reasonably well off, and don't want things to change, this will re-enforce your sense of morality. that is all

7 people found this helpful

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outdated and one sided view of economics

it needs be stated clearly that this book is purely about the authors believed benefits of free market economics. He states his opinions as though they are based in scientific fact, which they are not.
I believe free market economics is the best system for most goods but the author fails to realise the complexity of our economy of society, and that for certain services we need alternative systems. He also fails to acknowledge that economics is not an exact science.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Trenton
  • 04-10-15

Phenomenal!

People say that is all the time, but this REALLY NEEDS to be required reading (listening in this case), and here is why:

Mr. Sowell expertly explains economics in this 25 hour long monster in a way that everyone can understand and enjoy. Everything he says is very well supported either using simple logic, hypothetical situations and many real world international and domestic examples.

Even if you don't agree with his explanations, you will still come out of this book with a better understanding of economics as you would have to come up with a logical reason to disagree with him, because his beautiful explanations and examples are essentially devoid of emotion, which is a very good thing.

Some of my favorite things of the book are:
- His often repeated statement is his definition of economics: Utilization of scarce resources which have alternative uses.
- His explanation of the difference between prices and costs.
- His examples of the effects of price controls.
- The absolute lack of mudslinging towards liberals, he actually operates under the assumption of people encouraging government intervention all with the best of intentions.
- His reminders how economists are known for being boring because of splashing cold water on policies due to cold hard boring facts.

This thing is almost 25 hours long, takes a while to listen to but it is like music to your ears. It's economics pure and simple and is fascinating.

Thomas Sowell for president! (Hey he's only 85, that isn't too old is it?)

108 people found this helpful

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  • M. Kunze
  • 10-02-18

The most eye-opening book I have ever read

A fantastic book by a brilliant author, fantastically read by a brilliant orator.
To anyone who thinks "economics does not interest me", I say: Give this book a try regardless. I promise that, unless you have read other economics books before, this one will feel truly earth shattering. It is well-written, well-researched, easily understandable by everyone and enormous in its educational value. Grab it while you can.

68 people found this helpful

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  • Awesomeness80
  • 08-10-18

Not the book I thought it would be

This Book seems to be more of a comparison between capitalism and other economic systems. I get it, I agree capitalism is a great system. I don’t need something that is borderline propaganda for it. I wanted something that would help me better understand micro/macro economics better. Not how I could have more mental ammo against a communist in an argument. I think the results speak for themselves in that case. This book was not for me.

62 people found this helpful

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  • B. Davis
  • 17-03-15

Great Publication

This is one of the best audio books I've purchased so far. I believe it should be required reading and that the principles should be taught early in the educational system. There is a lot of information that explains a lot of economic problems - poverty and unemployment, for example - that could be eliminated through policy adjustments or eliminations. The concepts are so clearly conveyed, in fact, that it's difficult to fathom how or why any great society would implement contradictory regulations.

The narrator spoke at a pace and pitch that facilitated ease of reception of the material (this is subjective, I suppose).

57 people found this helpful

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  • Jeff M
  • 03-12-17

Astonishing brilliance

Would you consider the audio edition of Basic Economics, Fifth Edition to be better than the print version?

I haven't ready the print version. But this translates well into audio; there are no charts or graphs in this economic tome. It's simple logic, presented clearly.

What did you like best about this story?

It's hard to argue with this guy. I have to be careful and not simply accept what he says at face value. Surely there are counter points! But how can you argue with history? That's his brilliance. History repeats itself, and Sowell uses history to demonstrate fallacy. Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it

What about Tom Weiner’s performance did you like?

He has a clear voice. I would imagine reading an economics book is difficult. He does a fine job

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

When I listen to the brilliant words of Thomas Sowell I feel my mind opening up to truth. Thank you, Thomas Sowell.

Any additional comments?

This should be required reading to anyone who votes. I admit I wish I knew someone who could present counter points to this; surely there must be a counter to his obvious brilliant analysis of the fallacy of anything other than free, open markets. He makes everything seem so self evident!

42 people found this helpful

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  • Palmetto Bob
  • 13-05-17

Phenomenal Primer

Superior book on basic economics. Dr Sowell explains principles and gives examples that even an ol' boy with a Nebraska education can understand. Highly recommend this book to everyone, most especially to voters and potential voters. Politicians won't read it so we must...and then hold them accountable.

34 people found this helpful

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  • DWR
  • 10-02-15

Excellent Book on Basic Economics

Not really a "story" but it does tell the history and continuing effect of economics on our lives.

Thomas Sowell presents Economics in a very easy to understand and well illustrated way. This is the 5th edition so is up to date with current examples. There is a lot of information and a plethora of quotable quotes, so probably warrants additional listens to absorb it all.

Tom Weiner is perfect for this type of a book as he reads as one would expect an "expert" in this field might read.

A great book that I will definitely listen to again.

27 people found this helpful

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  • helenjones
  • 14-07-18

Not a Basic Economics Book

I am surprised by the flying-colour ratings. Like many others have pointed out, this book is not well supported by data and it is not a "basic economics" book as the title claims. It is a Libertarian economics book, yet nowhere in the book is this context stated. The author does not give the reader any overview of the different branches of economics. The author's claims are at best supported by anecdotes, and often not at all. Because I do not know anything about economics before this book, I found it difficult to distinguish what are commonly accepted facts and what are Libertarian-only perspectives in this book. Yet, the author claims everything that he presented in this book to be "facts".
The narrator is good enough for me. Some comments said that the narrative is too slow and dull. But - may be it is because I am a non-native speaker, the pace suites me well.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Jordan
  • 03-05-19

Propaganda

I didn't Google this guy before buying and it was a fatal mistake. It becomes evident his agenda within two chapters. Literally says it's wrong to consider anything a need. It's like a brainwashing exercise in EXTREME lazefare capitalism.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Tiffini Anderson
  • 15-12-19

This book is as biased as it gets.

There are so many logical fallacies in this book I had to give up. This is the least objective spin to reach a predetermined goal of any book on economics I've read. Avoid.

22 people found this helpful