Monday, August 03, 2009

A Book Review Suggestion

The Hesitant Hand: taming self-interest in the history of economic ideas
Steven G. Medema, Professor of Economics, University of Colorado, Denver; pp 230, Princeton: Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-12296-2, £24.95

I received Steve Medema's book for review and shortly into it I realised that it is more than ‘just-another-book-on-economics-to-join-dozens more'. It is an excellent, unique book worthy of detailed consideration by economists, historians, political scientists, and social commentators trying to make sense of the way the world works by unravelling the past, recent past, and present at a time when events are throwing up questions about the central ideas that mould the actions of all of us, conscious of them or not.

Its central theme is the idea of self-interest and to what extent interpretations of that idea have shaped explanations, and expectations, of the behaviours ostensibly flowing from it.

The usual two-page review would not do justice to Medema’s scholarship, or his fluency as a writer (for ten years he was the editor of the Journal of the History of Economic Thought and those editorial skills are evident in his selection of which contributions to his book’s subject are crucial from those that are merely interesting).

Therefore, I propose to review ‘The Hidden Hand’ in several contributions to Lost Legacy.

I invite readers to add their comments and contributions as I go through it – it’s a long canter of a journey from Adam Smith’s predecessors to recent debates – and I invite your comments and contributions as my familiarity with some current scholarship is thin enough to warrant your assistance.

I have almost completed my first review-contribution and shall post it this week.



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