The best books about how economists agree and disagree amongst one another

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an economics professor at Victoria University of Wellington. As a previous Secretary of the New Zealand Treasury and Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, I have had quite a bit of experience watching economists’ ideas succeed and fail in the real world. I have written a number of books about policy economists and their lives in peace and wartime. (And a couple of novels too!)


I wrote...

Economists at War: How a Handful of Economists Helped Win and Lose the World Wars

By Alan Bollard,

Book cover of Economists at War: How a Handful of Economists Helped Win and Lose the World Wars

What is my book about?

This is the story of seven remarkable economists who used their skills to help their countries fight their battles during the world wars of 1935 to 1955, including the Chinese-Japanese war, the Second World War, and the Cold War. They were finance ministers, academics, advisers, and central bankers. There is good and bad economic thinking, good and bad policy, good and bad moral positions, as the economists were called on to finance the military, identify vulnerabilities in the enemy economies, and help reconstruction. 

It was no easy ride: they suffered threats, imprisonment, trial, and assassination. Though quite different personalities, they all believed in the power of economics, and they all showed it could make a difference to economic, political, and military ends.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers

Alan Bollard Why did I love this book?

Lively writing on the lives of 16 economists, this is a classical introduction to the evolution of ideas from the early classical economists to John Maynard Keynes. It must be good – first written in 1953, it has now sold 4 million copies, and is the second-most-read economics text after Samuelson’s Economics. I like the way it presents economists as people in their time.

Book cover of Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

Alan Bollard Why did I love this book?

This is the story of four (European and American) central bankers fighting the dramas and crises during the lead-up to the Great Depression. When crisis looms, Bank of England Governor Montagu Norman puts on a disguise and boards a cruise ship to consult with his friend Benjamin Strong in New York. If only financial crises could still be fought that way today! I liked it because I used to be a central bank governor myself!

By Liaquat Ahamed,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Lords of Finance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

"Erudite, entertaining macroeconomic history of the lead-up to the Great Depression as seen through the careers of the West's principal bankers . . . Spellbinding, insightful and, perhaps most important, timely." -Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"There is terrific prescience to be found in [Lords of Finance's] portrait of times past . . . [A] writer of great verve and erudition, [Ahamed] easily connects the dots between the economic crises that rocked the world during the years his book covers and the fiscal emergencies that beset us today." -The New York Times

It is commonly believed that…


Book cover of Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius

Alan Bollard Why did I love this book?

Under the headings of hope, fear, and confidence, Nasar takes us through the lives, the ideas, the failings, and arguments of several dozen economists, in a lively journalistic fashion. From the last chaotic days of Joseph Schumpeter’s failing post-war Vienna to Joan Robinson’s 1950s propaganda trip to Stalin’s Moscow, she gives us an illuminating view of history and what economists did to try to improve it.

By Sylvia Nasar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grand Pursuit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An instant New York Times bestseller, in a sweeping narrative the author of the esteemed A Beautiful Mind takes us on a journey through modern history with the men and women who changed the lives of every single person on the planet. Grand Pursuit is the epic story of the making of modern economics, of how economics rescued mankind from squalor and deprivation by placing its material fate in its own hands.

A New York Times bestseller, this sweeping narrative from the author of A Beautiful Mind takes us on a journey through modern history with the men and women…


Book cover of The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order

Alan Bollard Why did I love this book?

This is the story of the momentous wartime meetings in New Hampshire that mapped out the new institutions that were to guide the global economy through the Cold War and after: the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It is an absorbing intellectual battle between arrogant British aristocratic John Maynard Keynes and the scrappy US Treasury official Harry Dexter White. (Spoiler alert: White won, but spoiled his reputation by likely being a Soviet spy.)

By Benn Steil,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Battle of Bretton Woods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When turmoil strikes world monetary and financial markets, leaders invariably call for 'a new Bretton Woods' to prevent catastrophic economic disorder and defuse political conflict. The name of the remote New Hampshire town where representatives of forty-four nations gathered in July 1944, in the midst of the century's second great war, has become shorthand for enlightened globalization. The actual story surrounding the historic Bretton Woods accords, however, is full of startling drama, intrigue, and rivalry, which are vividly brought to life in Benn Steil's epic account. Upending the conventional wisdom that Bretton Woods was the product of an amiable Anglo-American…


Book cover of The Marginal Revolutionaries: How Austrian Economists Fought the War of Ideas

Alan Bollard Why did I love this book?

This is a heavier read taking us through a group history of the Austrian School of Economics from the coffee houses of Imperial Vienna to the modern-day Libertarians. Economists such as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Joseph Schumpeter originated ideas that have had a big impact on economics and politics, and have been much debated ever since.

By Janek Wasserman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Marginal Revolutionaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A group history of the Austrian School of Economics, from the coffeehouses of imperial Vienna to the modern-day Tea Party

The Austrian School of Economics-a movement that has had a vast impact on economics, politics, and society, especially among the American right-is poorly understood by supporters and detractors alike. Defining themselves in opposition to the mainstream, economists such as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Joseph Schumpeter built the School's international reputation with their work on business cycles and monetary theory. Their focus on individualism-and deep antipathy toward socialism-ultimately won them a devoted audience among the upper echelons of business…


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Wealth Odyssey: The Essential Road Map for Your Financial Journey Where Is It You Are Really Trying to Go with Money?

By Larry R. Frank Sr., Maxwell Limanowski (editor), Peter Sander (editor)

Book cover of Wealth Odyssey: The Essential Road Map for Your Financial Journey Where Is It You Are Really Trying to Go with Money?

Larry R. Frank Sr. Author Of Wealth Odyssey: The Essential Road Map for Your Financial Journey Where Is It You Are Really Trying to Go with Money?

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Father Grandfather Business founder Planner and thinker Income and longevity researcher

Larry's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

What are you trying to do with your money?

Few of us take the time to analyze our financial needs and goals to answer that pressing question. In Wealth Odyssey, author Larry R. Frank Sr. uses his extensive financial background to provide a universal road map that will help you determine the wealth you need to support your chosen lifestyle.

Frank discusses such topics as the wealth rule, the earning-spending-saving formula, using debt wisely, and 
risk management. 

Wealth Odyssey is authored to be timeless; it does not matter what the market has done, or will do. This is a practical, no-nonsense guide that will help you develop a personal definition of wealth and create an effective strategy for long-term financial success.

Wealth Odyssey: The Essential Road Map for Your Financial Journey Where Is It You Are Really Trying to Go with Money?

By Larry R. Frank Sr., Maxwell Limanowski (editor), Peter Sander (editor)

What is this book about?

"Frank, a Certified Financial Planner in California, offers a concise, precise guide to "prudent thinking" about personal finances, along with simple tools to estimate how much is required for a comfortable retirement." "A sound guide designed to help people make sensible plans for a successful retirement" - Kirkus book review "First let me tell you Larry Frank knows his stuff. He has a procedure that many will find worth taking the time to implement.” " The book is full of good advice." - Armchair interviews "Larry Frank Sr, gives you a guidebook or "road map" for your financial goals or…


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