100 books like A Theory of Economic History

By Sir John R. Hicks,

Here are 100 books that A Theory of Economic History fans have personally recommended if you like A Theory of Economic History. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and Tahira Rehmatullah Author Of Waiting to Inhale: Cannabis Legalization and the Fight for Racial Justice

From my list on social justice and the need for transformative change.

Who are we?

As a duo, we’re a mix of things. For Akwasi, I’m a changemaker, professor, and academic. My work examines the intersections of race, crime, and criminal justice, and my current research spans criminal justice institutions and various aspects of drug legalization in Canada and beyond. For Tahira, my career has been less than linear, with experiences spanning the investment, cannabis, and consumer sectors as an investor and entrepreneur. I realized my forte lies in sitting in the middle, streamlining complexity, and remaining dedicated to the people who need help most. Together, we’re committed to shaping the future of business and policy by integrating diverse perspectives and lived experiences.

Akwasi and Tahira's book list on social justice and the need for transformative change

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and Tahira Rehmatullah Why did Akwasi and Tahira love this book?

Michelle Alexander doesn’t need another recommendation for her book, but we’ll do it anyway because it’s that good!

We love books that amp us up and make us feel smarter after we’ve read the last page. Like the wool has been uncovered from our eyes, we would argue it may be one of the best books about civil rights, but since we haven’t read them all yet, we’ll lean on how well-written, alarming, and inspiring it is.

Even though we thought we knew a little about a lot of things, this book showed us how much more there is to learn and share.

By Michelle Alexander,

Why should I read it?

7 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.'


Book cover of The Strange Career of Jim Crow

Eric Nellis Author Of Shaping the New World: African Slavery in the Americas, 1500-1888

From my list on African slavery in the Americas.

Who am I?

I taught American, European, and World History at the University of British Columbia for over 30 years. I was constantly reminded of the dynamics and consequences of slavery and how a history of black America should be more prevalent in understanding the development of American culture, institutions, and identity over time. In writing two books on colonial America and the American Revolution, the roots of America’s racial divide became clearer and the logic of permanence seemed irresistible. My Shaping the New World was inspired by a course I taught for years on slavery in the Americas. Compiling the bibliography and writing the chapters on slave women and families helped to refine my understanding of the “peculiar institution” in all its both common and varied characteristics throughout the Americas.

Eric's book list on African slavery in the Americas

Eric Nellis Why did Eric love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of The College Dropout Scandal

Peter Temin Author Of The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy

From my list on racial and economic inequality in the USA.

Who am I?

Peter Temin is an economist and economic historian, currently a professor at MIT and the former head of the Economics Department. His research interests include macroeconomic history, the Great Depression, industry studies in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and ancient Rome. 

Peter's book list on racial and economic inequality in the USA

Peter Temin Why did Peter love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of Feudal Society

Mark Koyama Author Of How the World Became Rich: The Historical Origins of Economic Growth

From my list on politics and economics in preindustrial societies.

Who am I?

I've always been fascinated with history. The study of economic history allows me to combine my passion for understanding the past with a rigorous and systematic set of analytical tools. In my own work I'm interested in understanding the economic, political, and institutional transformations that have created the modern world. The books I've selected here help us better understand quite how different the past and they have proven to be invaluable to me as inspirations. 

Mark's book list on politics and economics in preindustrial societies

Mark Koyama Why did Mark love this book?

Marc Bloch was one of the greatest historians of the 20th century. He was also hero of the French Resistance, tortured and executed by the notorious Nazi Klaus Barbie. Feudal Society (2 volumes) is perhaps his best book. 

It is often said that the past is a foreign country, and it is true that the world of the Middle Ages is alien to us in many respects. What Bloch does is to provide a systematic examination of all aspects of that world, that is he examines it it from a legal, a sociological, an anthropological, an economic, and a political perspective. 

In so doing, he paints a remarkable portrait of a coherent, self-contained society. The economy was basic, laws and politics were personalized, but it was a social and political order that made sense in its own terms. More recent historians have criticized specific aspects of Bloch's vision of feudalism…

By Marc Bloch,

Why should I read it?

4 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…


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

Johan Norberg Author Of Open: The Story of Human Progress

From my list on to make you grateful you live today.

Who am I?

I did not use to believe in human progress, but thought there must have been good old days behind us – until I studied history and understood that my ancestors did not live ecologically, they died ecologically, at an early age. Since then I’ve been obsessed with progress, what makes it possible and how we can spread it to more people. I am a historian of ideas from Sweden, the host of a video series on innovations in history, New and Improved, and the writer of many books on intellectual history and global economics, translated into more than 25 languages.

Johan's book list on to make you grateful you live today

Johan Norberg Why did Johan love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future

Dennis W. Johnson Author Of American Public Policy: Federal Domestic Policy Achievements and Failures, 1901 to 2022

From my list on understanding public policy challenges and failures.

Who am I?

Much of my academic work has been focused on American domestic public policy. Previously, I wrote a ground-breaking book called The Laws that Shaped America, which focused on 15 key laws in American history. My latest book, American Public Policy: Federal Domestic Policy Achievements and Failures, 1901 to 2022, focuses on what we have accomplished, but even more importantly on what we have failed to do. And, boy, do we have work to do: inequality, climate change, immigration, racial injustice, gun violence, drug addiction, and more. I’m passionate about what good government can accomplish, and, like so many, sadden by what we have failed to accomplish.

Dennis' book list on understanding public policy challenges and failures

Dennis W. Johnson Why did Dennis love this book?

This Nobel Prize-winning economist gets right to the heart of America’s problems: the growing divide between the rich and the rest of society.

We can see the toll declines in the standard of living have taken: malnutrition, drug abuse, shortened life expectancy, lack of access to much-needed health care, desperation and increased economic insecurity among the poor and a shrinking middle class in America.

Stiglitz convincingly shows how Federal Reserve policies, budgetary policies of Congress, and globalization have increased the widening gap, but also offers hope for a more economically just future.

By Joseph E. Stiglitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The top 1 percent of Americans control some 40 percent of the nation's wealth. But as Joseph E. Stiglitz explains in this best-selling critique of the economic status quo, this level of inequality is not inevitable. Rather, in recent years well-heeled interests have compounded their wealth by stifling true, dynamic capitalism and making America no longer the land of opportunity that it once was. They have made America the most unequal advanced industrial country while crippling growth, distorting key policy debates, and fomenting a divided society. Stiglitz not only shows how and why America's inequality is bad for our economy…


Book cover of It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism

Mark E. Leib Author Of Image Breaker

From my list on Jewish life and ethics.

Who am I?

I started studying Judaism as an adult in 1982, and in the 40 or so years that have passed since then I’ve read voraciously on the subject and have discussed it at length with Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform rabbis from Boston to Tampa. I’ve come to see over that time that Judaism’s objective is to shape conscientious, caring human beings who will bring light and compassion to the earth in spite of all the forces that want to keep trouble and insensitivity there. The books that I’ve listed are among the best in communicating the Jewish vision for the planet. I think you’ll learn much from them.

Mark's book list on Jewish life and ethics

Mark E. Leib Why did Mark love this book?

This may seem an unusual choice – and its title is entirely misleading – but what Sanders describes is what the U.S. might look like if it translated Biblical values into policy and law.

Sanders’s real subject is justice – social, economic, racial, and environmental. He describes a compassionate society in which all have access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and in which no one is condemned to suffer because of the accidents of birth.

Significantly, Sanders backs up all his suggestions with explanations of how they could be translated into reality. Read this even if you didn’t vote for him!

By Bernie Sanders,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

'Galvanizing and uplifting' The Guardian

'Bernie Sanders has changed US politics forever' Owen Jones

It's OK to be angry about capitalism. It's OK to want something better. Bernie Sanders takes on the 1% and speaks blunt truths about a system that is fuelled by uncontrolled greed, and rigged against ordinary people. Where a handful of oligarchs have never had it so good, with more money than they could spend in a thousand lifetimes, and the vast majority struggle to survive. Where a decent standard of living for all seems like an impossible…


Book cover of The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them

Francis J. Teal Author Of The Poor and the Plutocrats

From my list on inequality and the disagreements over the cause.

Who am I?

I have worked on the problems of poverty, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, for much of my professional life. I worked at the Centre for the Study of African Economies, which is part of the Department of Economics at Oxford University, from 1991 until my retirement in 2012. I continue to work both with the Centre and the Department as a Managing Editor of Oxford Economic Papers and Chief Editor of the Journal of African Economies. My recent book The Poor and the Plutocrats grew out of this background where I wanted to understand the links between very poor countries and those of much richer ones.

Francis' book list on inequality and the disagreements over the cause

Francis J. Teal Why did Francis love this book?

The papers in this book follow on from an article in Vanity Fair, "Of the 1%, for the 1%, by the 1%". Mimicking Abraham Lincoln’s famous definition in his Gettysburg Address.

A central argument that runs throughout the book is that the growing inequality in the US is chosen, not by its peoples, but by its government. The implication is that the rising inequality and its causes are a threat to US democracy. The book sees a great divide opening between the mass of its citizens and a plutocratic class whose income, and relative position, continues to improve. The book documents how governments have pursued policies that only benefit the 1%.

By Joseph E. Stiglitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Great Divide, Joseph E. Stiglitz expands on the diagnosis he offered in his best-selling book The Price of Inequality and suggests ways to counter America's growing problem. With his signature blend of clarity and passion, Stiglitz argues that inequality is a choice-the cumulative result of unjust policies and misguided priorities.

Gathering his writings for popular outlets including Vanity Fair and the New York Times, Stiglitz exposes in full America's inequality: its dimensions, its causes, and its consequences for the nation and for the world. From Reagan-era to the Great Recession and its long aftermath, Stiglitz delves into the…


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

Kimberly Clausing Author Of Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital

From my list on big economic policy debates.

Who am I?

I became an economist because I realized that economics was a powerful tool that would help society solve vexing problems. While economics has limits, it has so much to offer in terms of better policy design for tackling everything from climate change to economic inequality. My life’s work has been devoted to both economic research and helping others understand the insights of economics. I spent many years in academia teaching economics and writing papers, and I authored Open in an attempt to make the complexities of international economics more transparent. I’ve also had the chance to work firsthand on some of these issues in the early part of the Biden Administration at the US Treasury.

Kimberly's book list on big economic policy debates

Kimberly Clausing Why did Kimberly love this book?

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. 

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…


Book cover of The Myth of American Inequality: How Government Biases Policy Debate

Clifford F. Thies Author Of Global Economics: A Holistic Approach

From my list on the global economy.

Who am I?

I am the Eldon R. Lindsey Chair of Free Enterprise and Professor of Economics and Finance at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. Most of my writing is academic, including in the Independent Review, Journal of Markets and Morality, and Presidential Studies Quarterly recently. Before pursuing my doctoral degree, I served in the U.S. Army and worked for an insurance company.

Clifford's book list on the global economy

Clifford F. Thies Why did Clifford love this book?

This recommendation is more technical than my previous recommendations.

The authors reconstruct many measures of income and income inequality to show that the widening gap indicated by official statistics is an artifact of certain assumptions underlying these statistics.

First, and most importantly, regarding those who are dependent on the social safety net, "income" includes only cash benefits dispensed by the government, not the cash value of non-cash benefits; and, for those who are taxpayers, "income" is defined as before-tax income, not after-tax income.

Second, monetary values are incorrectly corrected by the CPI (the authors propose using the chained-linked CPI).

The book might be considered to present an agenda for further research on the specifics it addresses and similar concerns.

By Phil Gramm, Robert Ekelund, John Early

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2022: Politics

Everything you know about income inequality, poverty, and other measures of economic well-being in America is wrong. In this provocative book, a former United States senator, eminent economist, and a former senior leader at the Bureau of Labor Statistics challenge the prevailing consensus that income inequality is a growing threat to American society. By taking readers on a deep dive into the way government measures economic well-being, they demonstrate that our official statistics dramatically overstate inequality. Getting the facts straight reveals that the key measures of well-being are greater than the…


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