10 books like A Theory of Economic History

By Sir John R. Hicks,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like A Theory of Economic History. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The New Jim Crow

By Michelle Alexander,

Book cover of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

I thought I knew a decent amount about mass incarceration, but this book showed me just how much I didn’t know. It also deepened my commitment to fighting for anti-racist laws and enhanced my longstanding interest in defending the rights of incarcerated people. The New Jim Crow inspired me to read and write more about criminal justice issues and awakened my interest in prison abolition and restorative justice. I especially admire, and have sought to emulate, Alexander’s passion; it’s always impressive when an author’s justifiable anger spurs her to write a more extensive and rigorous book than someone who cared less would have produced.

The New Jim Crow

By Michelle Alexander,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The New Jim Crow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists motivated by Michelle Alexander's unforgettable argument that 'we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.'


The Strange Career of Jim Crow

By C. Vann Woodward,

Book cover of The Strange Career of Jim Crow

This succinct and persuasive study of the profound failure to integrate the freed slave population in the U.S. after 1865 is a rare example of a scholarly work’s direct influence on governments and the process of reform.  The author’s premise and analysis is that popular and local official antipathy to emancipation led to enforced, violent segregation (Jim Crow) that was constitutionally affirmed in the 1896 Plessy case.  The book’s three editions follow the history of civil rights reform from the 1950s to the 1970s and the Supreme Court’s gradual dismantling of the Plessy rule. While Jim Crow law has been overturned, versions of real-life Jim Crow conditions remain.

The Strange Career of Jim Crow

By C. Vann Woodward,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Strange Career of Jim Crow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Strange Career offers a clear and illuminating analysis of the history of Jim Crow laws and American race relations. This book presented evidence that segregation in the South dated only to the 1880s. It's publication in 1955, a year after the Supreme Court ordered schools be desegregated, helped counter arguments that the ruling would destoy a centuries-old way of life. The commemorative edition includes a special afterword by William S. McFeely, former
Woodward student and winner of both the 1982 Pulitzer Prize and 1992 Lincoln Prize. As William McFeely describes in the new afterword, 'the slim volume's social consequence far…


The College Dropout Scandal

By David Kirp,

Book cover of The College Dropout Scandal

This is a positive book that shows how education can help Blacks and other minorities get an education that will help them stay out of mass incarceration. It is good to have a positive program as we attempt to deal with American racism.

The College Dropout Scandal

By David Kirp,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Higher education today faces numerous challenges, from quality to cost. But the fact that fewer than sixty percent of college freshmen graduate in six years and fewer than forty percent earn an associate degree in three years turns few heads. The dropout problem is especially acute for black and Latino students, those from poor families, and those who are first in their families to go to college. In short, millions of students are leaving college without a degree,
saddled with debt, and little to show for it.

In The College Dropout Scandal, David Kirp outlines the scale of the problem…


Feudal Society

By Marc Bloch,

Book cover of Feudal Society

An English translation of a book published in French in 1940 (La société féodale). One of the truly great books on medieval society, it brought the richness and diversity of the Middle Ages alive for me in ways that have stayed with me throughout my career as a scholar and author. It also introduced me to History as written in France, again something that has always inspired me.

Feudal Society

By Marc Bloch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Marc Bloch said that his goal in writing Feudal Society was to go beyond the technical study a medievalist would typically write and 'dismantle a social structure.' In this outstanding and monumental work, which has introduced generations of students and historians to the feudal period, Bloch treats feudalism as living, breathing force in Western Europe from the ninth to the thirteenth century. At its heart lies a magisterial account of relations of lord and vassal, and the origins of the nature of the fief, brought to life through compelling accounts of the nobility, knighthood and chivalry, family relations, political and…


Wealth Explosion

By Stephen Davies,

Book cover of Wealth Explosion: The Nature and Origins of Modernity

The great fact of economic history is that we all used to be poor, and now most of us are not. 200 years ago, almost 90 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty, today around 9 percent does. This is the story of that remarkable transformation and what made it possible. Of course, there are many good books on this, and I have greatly enjoyed for example Joel Mokyr, Deirdre McCloskey, and David Landes, but this is a powerful, short book by a great historian, that manages to weave together economic, political, technological and intellectual factors into a very compelling narrative of progress and its preconditions over the past one thousand years.

Wealth Explosion

By Stephen Davies,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How did the modern dynamist economy of wealth and opportunity come about? This major new analytical work emphasizes the often surprising, fundamental and continuing processes of innovation and transformation which has produced the world we live in now. / Today we live in a social and economic world that is fundamentally different from the one inhabited by our ancestors. The difference between the experience of people living today and that of all of our ancestors back to the advent of agriculture is as great as that between them and their hunter-gatherer forebears. The processes of transformational changes could have started…


What's Luck Got to Do with It? How Smarter Government Can Rescue the American Dream

By Edward D. Kleinbard,

Book cover of What's Luck Got to Do with It? How Smarter Government Can Rescue the American Dream

Ed Kleinbard was a treasured colleague, a brilliant commentator, and a giant in the field of tax policy. In his final year of life, perhaps fittingly, Kleinbard devoted himself to a book on the role of luck in economic outcomes, which opens with a quote from Stendhal. “Waiting for God to reveal himself, I believe that his prime minister, Chance, governs this sad world just as well.” The book argues that luck, and particularly existential luck (to whom and in what circumstances you are born), are paramount in determining economic outcomes. Within that context, Kleinbard makes a strong case for the role of public insurance in areas like health care, education, and childcare; he also emphasizes the importance of a progressive income tax system. 

What's Luck Got to Do with It? How Smarter Government Can Rescue the American Dream

By Edward D. Kleinbard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What's Luck Got to Do with It? How Smarter Government Can Rescue the American Dream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The American dream of equal opportunity is in peril. America's economic inequality is shocking, poverty threatens to become a heritable condition, and our healthcare system is crumbling despite ever increasing costs.

In this thought-provoking book, Edward D. Kleinbard demonstrates how the failure to acknowledge the force of brute luck in our material lives exacerbates these crises - leading to warped policy choices that impede genuine equality of opportunity for many Americans. What's Luck Got to Do with It? combines insights from economics, philosophy, and social psychology to argue for government's proper role in addressing the inequity of brute luck. Kleinbard…


The Billionaire Raj

By James Crabtree,

Book cover of The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India's New Gilded Age

American author Mark Twain had described the last decades of the 19th century as the Gilded Age in the United States, a period when on the surface everything appeared to be glittering like gold concealing the filth and ugliness that lay beneath. British journalist and academic James Crabtree, now based in Singapore, believes that the last few decades in India closely resembles the Gilded Age of the US. His 357-page book is filled with dozens of anecdotes about some of India’s most wealthy individuals such as Mukesh Ambani, Gautam Adani, and Vijay Mallya. His meetings with them and his detailed descriptions of their lifestyles and demeanour make for racy reading. 

A disclaimer: Crabtree has described in flattering terms his meeting with this writer and referred to some of my articles and books.

The Billionaire Raj

By James Crabtree,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A colorful and revealing portrait of the rise of India’s new billionaire class in a radically unequal society

India is the world’s largest democracy, with more than one billion people and an economy expanding faster than China’s. But the rewards of this growth have been far from evenly shared, and the country’s top 1% now own nearly 60% of its wealth. In megacities like Mumbai, where half the population live in slums, the extraordinary riches of India’s new dynasties echo the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers of America's Gilded Age, funneling profits from huge conglomerates into lifestyles of conspicuous consumption.  

James Crabtree’s…


Moneyless Society

By Matthew Holten,

Book cover of Moneyless Society: The Next Economic Evolution

Moneyless Society, conceptually, is a curious read. Tracking how money affects us all and its presence as a centralized decay against society is another curious concept. I enjoyed reading Moneyless Society for the context of why change needs to be made. Surrounded by the author’s intent in publication is a group of individuals committed to making change. I may quote in my own volumes that money is necessary as a tool but that does not mean you can’t argue otherwise. Moneyless Society is a great feel-good economic story through history into potential change.

Moneyless Society

By Matthew Holten,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

IT'S TIME FOR AN ECONOMIC EVOLUTION.The evidence is all around us: Humans are squandering natural resources and destroying the environment. There is no real debate about climate change. And with an ever-widening wealth gap, inequality is destabilizing many regions and worsening famine, disease, and civil unrest.

We must change, fast - and yet we hesitate.

Moneyless Society: The Next Economic Evolution explores how capitalism throttles Earth's capacity to sustain life and undermines our deep longing to live in peace and prosperity. Fortunately, it also provides a blueprint to innovative thinking and new structures to replace our outmoded monetary system. In…


The Affluent Society

By John Kenneth Galbraith,

Book cover of The Affluent Society

Written in a much easier to digest, more fluid style than many books of its time, Galbraith’s classic is an optimistic reminder that good business, good people, and good societies are not antithetical. The Affluent Society is a check on the idea that unfettered growth—without also strengthening the environmental and social structure around it—is an empty pursuit. As Galbraith says when speaking about social infrastructure, “the conflict between security and progress, once billed at the social conflict of the century, doesn’t exist.” This simple idea, to use a phrase coined by Galbraith himself, should be “conventional wisdom.” 

The Affluent Society

By John Kenneth Galbraith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

John Kenneth Galbraith's international bestseller The Affluent Society is a witty, graceful and devastating attack on some of our most cherished economic myths.

As relevant today as when it was first published over forty years ago, this newly updated edition of Galbraith's classic text on the 'economics of abundance', lays bare the hazards of individual and social complacency about economic inequality.

Why worship work and productivity if many of the goods we produce are superfluous - artificial 'needs' created by high-pressure advertising? Why begrudge expenditure on vital public works while ignoring waste and extravagance in the private sector of the…


Bourgeois Equality

By Deirdre Nansen McCloskey,

Book cover of Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World

In the last couple of centuries, the human race became fabulously rich. McCloskey shows that this wasn’t because of capital accumulation, expanded trade, or colonial exploitation. Rather, a new respect for the liberty and dignity of ordinary working folk begot enormous innovation. We need to stop sneering at the bourgeoisie. She is a wonderful storyteller, and this big book (the last of three big volumes) is a fast read. I discovered that a lot of the history I learned in high school about the rise of the modern economy was wrong. She also offers some important insights into how capitalism makes us better people. I’m not as suspicious of regulation as she is, but she gets so much right that it hardly matters. 

Bourgeois Equality

By Deirdre Nansen McCloskey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bourgeois Equality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There's little doubt that most humans today are better off than their forebears. Stunningly so, the economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey argues in the concluding volume of her trilogy celebrating the oft-derided virtues of the bourgeoisie. The poorest of humanity, McCloskey shows, will soon be joining the comparative riches of Japan and Sweden and Botswana. Why? Most economists from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to Thomas Piketty say the Great Enrichment since 1800 came from accumulated capital. McCloskey disagrees, fiercely. "Our riches," she argues, "were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling…


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