100 books like Slavery and American Economic Development

By Gavin Wright,

Here are 100 books that Slavery and American Economic Development fans have personally recommended if you like Slavery and American Economic Development. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Collapse

Mordecai George Sheftall Author Of Blossoms In The Wind: Human Legacies of the Kamikaze

From my list on how culture makes us do self-destructive things.

Why am I passionate about this?

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up expecting to spend that day – and the rest of my academic career – leisurely studying the interplay of culture and individual temperament in second language acquisition. As the rest of that terrible day unfolded, however, my research up to that point suddenly seemed very small and almost decadently privileged. Recruiting the rudimentary cultural anthropology toolbox I had already amassed, I took a deep breath and plunged into the rabbit hole of studying the role of culture in human conflict. Twenty-two years later, using my Japan base and relevant language skills, my research has focused on the Japanese experience in World War II.

Mordecai's book list on how culture makes us do self-destructive things

Mordecai George Sheftall Why did Mordecai love this book?

Have you ever encountered an idea in a book that made such a lasting impression on you that, almost like the “flashbulb” memory of a life – or world-changing event, you can remember the exact circumstances of where you were when you first read it?

Jared Diamond’s Collapse – which I picked up at an airport bookshop as “light reading” for a long flight – ended up providing me with just such an experience. The book holds that culture can fatally inure us, like so many slowly (and initially comfortably) boiling frogs, to the existential threat of environmental destruction, particularly in the context of the overexploitation of natural resources.

Diamond’s account of the last days of Easter Island civilization is particularly harrowing, and has haunted me ever since.

By Jared Diamond,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Collapse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive is a visionary study of the mysterious downfall of past civilizations.

Now in a revised edition with a new afterword, Jared Diamond's Collapse uncovers the secret behind why some societies flourish, while others founder - and what this means for our future.

What happened to the people who made the forlorn long-abandoned statues of Easter Island?
What happened to the architects of the crumbling Maya pyramids?
Will we go the same way, our skyscrapers one day standing derelict and overgrown like the…


Book cover of A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World

Joshua L. Rosenbloom Author Of Quantitative Economic History: The Good of Counting

From my list on understanding the modern capitalist economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been studying, writing, and teaching economic history for nearly four decades. I was drawn to the field because it let me combine my passion for understanding how the past and present are connected with my fascination with the insights derived from the natural sciences. When I started studying economic history, the discipline was still relatively new, having grown out of pioneering research in the 1950s and 1960s by a small band of innovative scholars. During my career, I have met many of these intellectual giants personally, and I have watched the discipline of economic history mature and grow in both its methods and intellectual scope.

Joshua's book list on understanding the modern capitalist economy

Joshua L. Rosenbloom Why did Joshua love this book?

The British Industrial Revolution is the single most important event in shaping the modern world. Since 1800 the standard of living in Western Industrial nations has increased nearly 40-fold, and in the last half-century, this prosperity has spread more widely. Writing in an engaging style, Clark offers a unique and provocative account of these changes and their causes.

By Gregory Clark,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Farewell to Alms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why are some parts of the world so rich and others so poor? Why did the Industrial Revolution - and the unprecedented economic growth that came with it - occur in eighteenth-century England, and not at some other time, or in some other place? Why didn't industrialization make the whole world rich - and why did it make large parts of the world even poorer? In "A Farewell to Alms", Gregory Clark tackles these profound questions and suggests a new and provocative way in which culture - not exploitation, geography, or resources - explains the wealth, and the poverty, of…


Book cover of Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

This is a landmark book in political economy and economic history. 

Douglass North won the Noble Prize in Economics in part for the study of institutions in economic history. 

This was his final work (coauthored with Wallis and Weingast). And while the lessons of North's earlier work on institutions have been incorporated into the wider body of scholarship in economic history and development economics, I think the lessons of this book haven't been fully absorbed.  

The fundamental idea is that all societies face "the problem of violence". They have to deter individuals from resorting to violence in order to take what they want. But the means through which society limits violence vary and are often detrimental to long-run economic growth. There is thus a "natural" form of government that is common throughout history, capable of producing social order but not widespread prosperity.

Achieving sustained economic growth in the long-run requires…

By Douglass C. North, John Joseph Wallis, Barry R. Weingast

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Violence and Social Orders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All societies must deal with the possibility of violence, and they do so in different ways. This book integrates the problem of violence into a larger social science and historical framework, showing how economic and political behavior are closely linked. Most societies, which we call natural states, limit violence by political manipulation of the economy to create privileged interests. These privileges limit the use of violence by powerful individuals, but doing so hinders both economic and political development. In contrast, modern societies create open access to economic and political organizations, fostering political and economic competition. The book provides a framework…


Book cover of The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves

Joshua L. Rosenbloom Author Of Quantitative Economic History: The Good of Counting

From my list on understanding the modern capitalist economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been studying, writing, and teaching economic history for nearly four decades. I was drawn to the field because it let me combine my passion for understanding how the past and present are connected with my fascination with the insights derived from the natural sciences. When I started studying economic history, the discipline was still relatively new, having grown out of pioneering research in the 1950s and 1960s by a small band of innovative scholars. During my career, I have met many of these intellectual giants personally, and I have watched the discipline of economic history mature and grow in both its methods and intellectual scope.

Joshua's book list on understanding the modern capitalist economy

Joshua L. Rosenbloom Why did Joshua love this book?

The modern world is defined by the relentless pace of technological change. But what is technology and how in the world does progress occur? Economists often treat the process of innovation as a “black box” out of which new products and processes emerge. Arthur opens the lid of this box and provides an eye-opening set of insights about how things work inside the box, and how that affects the rate and direction of innovation.

By W. Brian Arthur,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“More than anything else technology creates our world. It creates our wealth, our economy, our very way of being,” says W. Brian Arthur. Yet despite technology’s irrefutable importance in our daily lives, until now its major questions have gone unanswered. Where do new technologies come from? What constitutes innovation, and how is it achieved? Does technology, like biological life, evolve? In this groundbreaking work, pioneering technology thinker and economist W. Brian Arthur answers these questions and more, setting forth a boldly original way of thinking about technology.

The Nature of Technology is an elegant and powerful theory of technology’s origins…


Book cover of Basic Economics

Michael Muthukrishna Author Of A Theory of Everyone: The New Science of Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going

From my list on changing how you see the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of economic psychology at the London School of Economics with affiliations in developmental economics and data science. Before that, I was at Harvard in Human Evolutionary Biology. During my PhD, I took graduate courses in psychology, economics, evolutionary biology, and statistics. I have undergraduate degrees in engineering and in psychology and took courses in everything from economics and biology to philosophy and political science. As a child, I witnessed the civil war in Sri Lanka; a violent coup in Papua New Guinea; the end of apartheid in South Africa, living in neighboring Botswana; and London’s 7/7 bomb attacks. I’ve also lived in Australia, Canada, USA, and UK.

Michael's book list on changing how you see the world

Michael Muthukrishna Why did Michael love this book?

This is probably the best lay introduction to economics that I've read. If you have opinions about the vices or virtues of capitalism, liberalism, socialism, or inequality, it offers a rigorous discussion of the underlying considerations.

Sowell is probably best known for his discussions on race, but in Basic Economics, his ability to explain, well, basic economic intuitions and thinking, really shines. Anyone opining on policy should read it.

By Thomas Sowell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this fifth edition of Basic Economics , Thomas Sowell revises and updates his popular book on common sense economics, bringing the world into clearer focus through a basic understanding of the fundamental economic principles and how they explain our lives. Drawing on lively examples from around the world and from centuries of history, Sowell explains basic economic principles for the general public in plain English. Basic Economics , which has now been translated into six languages and has additional material online, remains true to its core principle: that the fundamental facts and principles of economics do not require jargon,…


Book cover of The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World

Selwyn Parker Author Of The Great Crash: How the Stock Market Crash of 1929 Plunged the World into Depression

From my list on economics and investment.

Why am I passionate about this?

Selwyn Parker is an award-winning journalist, author, speaker and pianist. In journalism he focuses on transformational contemporary issues like the new era in energy, the upheaval in banking, the revolution in transportation and the fast-moving world of investment. However most of his dozen books – novels and non-fiction -- are rooted in landmark historical events whose effects still register today.

Selwyn's book list on economics and investment

Selwyn Parker Why did Selwyn love this book?

Apart from revealing and sometimes dismaying insights into the workings of the White House, this legendary chairman of the US Federal Reserve presents a tour d’horizon of the economic thought that underpins the creation of wealth. As such, it should be obligatory reading for anybody interested in how nations prosper (or don’t), how governments routinely make disastrous interventions even if they aim to act for the right reasons, why Adam Smith continues to influence our lives (even though we don’t know it), and why capitalism is so foolishly demonised by banner-waving grandstanders.

By Alan Greenspan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Alan Greenspan's The Age of Turbulence is the essential guide to what is happening in the world, and where we're heading, from the ultimate expert.

Alan Greenspan wielded more power than the presidents he worked for, from Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton to George Bush and his son. He was in the command room of the world economy for longer than any other single figure. One word from him could send markets into freefall.

Now Alan Greenspan, the legendary former chairman of the Federal Reserve, gives us a unique insider's view of the world over his lifetime, from stock market…


Book cover of The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War

Larry Allen Author Of The ABC-Clio World History Companion to Capitalism

From my list on seeing world history thru the lens of economics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up listening to my grandfathers tell stories about the Great Depression (1930s). My cousins would want me to go out and play, but I wanted to stay indoors and listen to the stories. The Depression proved my grandfathers were not the best cotton farmers, but they were good storytellers, and I ended up an economics professor. Along the way, I ran across a thought from renowned British philosopher Francis Bacon: “Histories make men wise, poets, witty, mathematics, subtle;” Modern economics has gone in for subtlety, and maybe is a little too careless of wisdom. This thought sent me delving deeper into economic history, and I ended up writing five books in economics history. 

Larry's book list on seeing world history thru the lens of economics

Larry Allen Why did Larry love this book?

Here is a stimulating and suggestive book, in 18 close-packed chapters, rich in fresh and illuminating insights. The scope, depth, and harmony of this book, strengthened with minute elaboration and carefulness, make it a work of permanent value. Missed here is the dogmatic readiness to force many intricate and diverse things to accommodate themselves to a few simple formulas. The book’s very descriptive title reveals its subject, which is presented with the utmost clearness, thoughtful intelligence, and adequacy of analysis, It is a welcomed reminder that time is the greatest innovator, spawning economic developments missed by the blind mechanisms of theoretical formulas. There is the accuracy of knowledge throughout, thoroughness in setting it forth, and admirable clearness. 

By Robert J. Gordon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, motor vehicles, air travel, and television transformed households and workplaces. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end? Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth challenges the view that economic growth will continue unabated, and demonstrates that the life-altering scale of innovations between 1870 and 1970 cannot be repeated. Gordon contends that the nation's productivity growth will be further held back by the…


Book cover of Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era

Malcolm Rutherford Author Of The Institutionalist Movement in American Economics, 1918-1947: Science and Social Control

From my list on the economic mind in America from 1880 to 1960.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was contemplating a topic for my PhD thesis, it struck me powerfully that American economics was severely under-studied, and that this applied even more so to those associated with “American institutional economics.” My research soon indicated to me that the literature that did exist was lacking in coverage and badly misleading. During my research in archives, I uncovered some real gems—just one example was the archives of the Robert Bookings Graduate School, an institution largely forgotten, but famous at the time. This was exciting and inspired me to continue on to provide a major re-evaluation of American economics in the interwar period.    

Malcolm's book list on the economic mind in America from 1880 to 1960

Malcolm Rutherford Why did Malcolm love this book?

Mary Furner’s book presents what is the common view of progressives as liberal reformers, but there is another side to progressive social science that is less liberal. 

The progressive era social science literature is replete with racism and with arguments about racial and other forms of inferiority derived from eugenics.

The vast amount of immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe gave rise to concerns about the undermining of American standards, both biological and economic, including theories of “race suicide.” 

Leonard’s book has generated a great deal of discussion, and while there is no doubt that many progressives displayed eugenic and racist ideas, it needs to be stressed that such views were not limited to progressives, but included many of those with conservative and even free-market views in other areas.     

By Thomas C. Leonard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Illiberal Reformers, Thomas Leonard reexamines the economic progressives whose ideas and reform agenda underwrote the Progressive Era dismantling of laissez-faire and the creation of the regulatory welfare state, which, they believed, would humanize and rationalize industrial capitalism. But not for all. Academic social scientists such as Richard T. Ely, John R. Commons, and Edward A. Ross, together with their reform allies in social work, charity, journalism, and law, played a pivotal role in establishing minimum-wage and maximum-hours laws, workmen's compensation, antitrust regulation, and other hallmarks of the regulatory welfare state. But even as they offered uplift to some, economic…


Book cover of A Most Enterprising Country: North Korea in the Global Economy

Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland Author Of Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights Into North Korea

From my list on the North Korean economy.

Why are we passionate about this?

We teamed up about fifteen years ago around a common interest in the political economy of North Korea; Haggard is a political scientist, Noland an economist. Both of us had spent our careers focused on Asia but looking largely at the capitalist successes: Japan and the newly industrializing countries of Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. But what about the anomalous cases in the region that did not get on the growth train? The “Asian miracle” was hardly ubiquitous…what had gone wrong? North Korea was clearly the biggest puzzle, and we ended up researching and writing on the famine, refugees, and the complexities of international sanctions. 

Stephan and Marcus' book list on the North Korean economy

Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland Why did Stephan and Marcus love this book?

The title of this book is doubly surprising. Is North Korea enterprising? And North Korea “in the world economy”? Isn’t it the hermit kingdom? Hastings picks up a theme that was central to our work on the famine: that the socialist sector in North Korea has undergone a secular decline while households and entrepreneurs have constructed a complex market economy that is partially above ground, partly below it. But Hastings goes further, showing how that market economy is integrally tied to China. And the book has the added attraction of focusing attention on lucrative black markets that range from amphetamine to counterfeited one hundred dollar bills. 

By Justin V. Hastings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Most Enterprising Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

North Korea has survived the end of the Cold War, massive famine, numerous regional crises, punishing sanctions, and international stigma. In A Most Enterprising Country, Justin V. Hastings explores the puzzle of how the most politically isolated state in the world nonetheless sustains itself in large part by international trade and integration into the global economy. The world's last Stalinist state is also one of the most enterprising, as Hastings shows through in-depth examinations of North Korea's import and export efforts, with a particular focus on restaurants, the weapons trade, and drug trafficking. Tracing the development of trade networks inside…


Book cover of Rethinking Economics: Lectures and Seminars on World Economics

Lorraine Flower Author Of Heartful Business: Leading with the World in Mind

From my list on leading business consciously to create a better world for all.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love businesses and have been lucky enough to work for and with some great ones in my career in senior leadership positions. For me, leadership is an extraordinary privilege, so we have a responsibility to do it well and keep learning and improving ourselves and the organisations we lead. My journey into more conscious leadership began over 30 years ago, well ahead of the current movement, and it has progressively become the passion driving my work to help leaders and organisations contribute to building a better world. This passion also drives my service with a number of spiritual communities, including Sundial House and the Community of Living Ethics.

Lorraine's book list on leading business consciously to create a better world for all

Lorraine Flower Why did Lorraine love this book?

You might think this book is a bit left field in the arena of leadership, given its title. I think it cuts to the heart of the big question all leaders, whether of organisations or nations, should be considering, that of economics and economy.

What really resonated with me is the exploration of the subject from holistic and spiritual, or consciousness, perspectives and how this encourages thinking more deeply about the confines and constraints our economic systems place on us, the compromises that ensue in decision-making and, most importantly, the choices we need to consider more carefully from an ethical and human values standpoint.

This is a topic central to human survival and well-being, a must-read for leaders.

By Rudolf Steiner, Peter Clemm (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

14 lectures in Dornach, July 14-August 6, 1922 (CW 340)
6 seminars in Dornach, July 31-August 5, 1922 (CW 341)

“In this age of social, economic, and ecological disruption, many people are beginning to realize that perhaps the most important root causes for this crisis originate in an economic thinking that is increasingly out of touch with the social, ecological, and spiritual realities of our time. How, then, can we rethink and redefine the fundamental economic concepts that frame our discussions and shape our key institutions in society today? This is the big question on the table today. Rudolf Steiner’s…


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