More Reviewer Comments for
The Good, The Bad and The Economy
This book is must reading for any educated person who wants to know how human economic systems came to be the way they are today. The author is an expert in development economics, behavioral economics, and economic prehistory, among other things. Putterman addresses two closely related subjects: the aspects of human nature that are relevant for long run economic development, and the ways in which large global inequalities emerged both across and within countries. He offers a more nuanced account of human nature than most economists would (or could) provide, and his account of economic history is both sweeping in scope and persuasive in its details. Putterman frequently raises questions that the reader had not yet thought to ask, and then answers them in illuminating ways. He closes on a note of cautious optimism about the human ability to create new institutions that might improve the lives of the many. Putterman writes in clear prose that requires no economic training on the part of the reader, which makes his achievement all the more impressive.
– Gregory Dow, Professor of Economics, Simon Fraser University
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If you have ever wondered what accounts for persistent wealth inequality between nations, how we got here and if there’s hope for a better world, you should read this book. What’s really fascinating, is the way the author combines insights and findings from economics, anthropology, history, psychology together with real life anecdotes to ask and then answer these fundamental questions. He steadily builds towards an intriguing and compelling thesis to explain why the world looks like it does and if and how we can change it. A must read for those of you interested in global inequality, mankind’s history of progress and human nature in general.
– George Athanasakopoulos, consultant, organizational behavior, New York
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Much like Jared Diamond did with his book “Guns, Germs and Steel”, Putterman synthesizes findings from several fields – from psychology to economics to evolutionary biology – to answer one of the world’s most difficult questions in a way that popular readers can easily understand. This book is for anyone who is curious about human nature, our potential, and our limitations. Putterman isn’t afraid to ask hard questions, and by doing so he will teach you about why the world is the way it is, why people are the way they are, and probably a lot about yourself! No matter what your background or interests, you’ll learn something new and interesting in this book.
– Erik Duhaime, Ph.D. Student, MIT/Sloan
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It is so refreshing to read economic analysis that focuses directly on the most important moral questions of the day. Louis Putterman’s approach is consistent with the original purpose of economics – to figure out how to put our house in order. So many economists do their work without considering context and purpose in a humane way. Putterman is not blinded by the beauty of mathematics or narrow concepts of efficiency. Those who miss reading him miss something deep, rich and meaningful.
– Richard Reibstein, lecturer and consulting in environmental law and sustainability
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I highly recommend this book. I found it compelling, well researched, easy to read and filled with lots of interesting facts and details.
To me, Putterman’s take on self-interest vs. cooperation and his explanation of income inequality go right to the core of economics. The author’s exploration of these issues are based on a firm grasp of the historical evolution of different economies and how that explains their differing economic status as well as their varying philosophies on work, altruism and making money. This is by far the best book I have read on the subject and I devoured it in 2 nights.
Putterman obviously knows his stuff.
– Todd Samalin, Atlanta
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As Putterman rightly recognizes: “understanding the economics of everyday life–how we respond to our own needs, to nature’s scarcities, and to the continuous tensions between the need to work with others and the desire to grab and defend whatever we can get for ourselves–is critical to understanding what stands between us and the sort of world we’d like to see.” For anyone who is not content with just lamenting that the world is not “better” but rather hungry to understand why, this book is a must read.