100 books like The Rise and Fall of Economic Justice and Other Essays

By C. B. Macpherson,

Here are 100 books that The Rise and Fall of Economic Justice and Other Essays fans have personally recommended if you like The Rise and Fall of Economic Justice and Other Essays. 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 Affluent Society

Mark R. Reiff Author Of On Unemployment: A Micro-Theory of Economic Justice: Volume 1

From my list on what causes economic injustice.

Why am I passionate about this?

F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed, “there are no second acts in American lives.” But I am on my third. I started out in the theatre, then became a lawyer, and then a political philosopher. What drove each move is that I was always outraged by injustice and wanted to find a better way to fight against it. For me, reading, writing, and teaching political philosophy turned out to be that way. The books on this list provide important lessons on how certain economic policies can cause injustice while others can cure it. Each has been around for a long time, but they are as relevant today as when they were first written. 

Mark's book list on what causes economic injustice

Mark R. Reiff Why did Mark love this book?

How can a society as rich as ours leave so many people behind?

Published in 1958, this book opened my eyes to the importance of economic justice—I first read it in the late 1970s when I was nineteen.

But it is still mind-blowing today, for neither the wrongheadedness of prevailing economic policy nor the solutions that are available for us to do better have changed.

By John Kenneth Galbraith,

Why should I read it?

3 authors 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…


Book cover of Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy

Mark R. Reiff Author Of On Unemployment: A Micro-Theory of Economic Justice: Volume 1

From my list on what causes economic injustice.

Why am I passionate about this?

F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed, “there are no second acts in American lives.” But I am on my third. I started out in the theatre, then became a lawyer, and then a political philosopher. What drove each move is that I was always outraged by injustice and wanted to find a better way to fight against it. For me, reading, writing, and teaching political philosophy turned out to be that way. The books on this list provide important lessons on how certain economic policies can cause injustice while others can cure it. Each has been around for a long time, but they are as relevant today as when they were first written. 

Mark's book list on what causes economic injustice

Mark R. Reiff Why did Mark love this book?

A renowned economist and Harvard professor with a bit of a cult following, Schumpeter provides a realistic evaluation of what capitalism is and whether it can survive if it does not do more to help a wider range of people.

First published in 1942, Schumpeter’s fear was the rise of socialism, but what he had to say about the failings of capitalism back then applies with equal force today.

Schumpeter was the originator of the term “creative destruction” to describe how capitalism works, and Part II of the book was the inspiration for my paper, “Can Liberal Capitalism Survive?”

The book has never been out of print. 

By Joseph A Schumpeter,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Joseph Schumpeter’s classic Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy explains the process of capitalism’s 'creative destruction' — a key principle in understanding the logic of globalization." — Thomas L. Friedman, Foreign Policy

In this definitive third and final edition (1950) of his prophetic masterwork, Joseph A. Schumpeter introduced the world to the concept of “creative destruction,” which forever altered how global economics is approached and perceived. Now featuring a new introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning Schumpeter biographer Thomas K. McCraw, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy is essential read­ing for anyone who seeks to understand where the world economy is headed.

“If Keynes was the…


Book cover of A Guide to Keynes

Mark R. Reiff Author Of On Unemployment: A Micro-Theory of Economic Justice: Volume 1

From my list on what causes economic injustice.

Why am I passionate about this?

F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed, “there are no second acts in American lives.” But I am on my third. I started out in the theatre, then became a lawyer, and then a political philosopher. What drove each move is that I was always outraged by injustice and wanted to find a better way to fight against it. For me, reading, writing, and teaching political philosophy turned out to be that way. The books on this list provide important lessons on how certain economic policies can cause injustice while others can cure it. Each has been around for a long time, but they are as relevant today as when they were first written. 

Mark's book list on what causes economic injustice

Mark R. Reiff Why did Mark love this book?

I would have recommended John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, which is one of the great masterworks of the twentieth century, but reading Keynes himself can be difficult.

Hansen’s book is the best summary available despite being more than 70 years old. And understanding Keynes is essential if you want to understand how certain economic policies continue to lead us astray.

Hard to find, but not impossible. 

By Alvin H. Hansen,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Just Economy: Principles of Political Economy Volume IV

Mark R. Reiff Author Of On Unemployment: A Micro-Theory of Economic Justice: Volume 1

From my list on what causes economic injustice.

Why am I passionate about this?

F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed, “there are no second acts in American lives.” But I am on my third. I started out in the theatre, then became a lawyer, and then a political philosopher. What drove each move is that I was always outraged by injustice and wanted to find a better way to fight against it. For me, reading, writing, and teaching political philosophy turned out to be that way. The books on this list provide important lessons on how certain economic policies can cause injustice while others can cure it. Each has been around for a long time, but they are as relevant today as when they were first written. 

Mark's book list on what causes economic injustice

Mark R. Reiff Why did Mark love this book?

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1977, Meade was on the moderate left.

He wanted a more just economy but did not advocate jettisoning capitalism. Here he gives his analysis of various economic problems, what causes economic injustice, and how to make this right.

The book can get technical at times, but his analyses and proposed solutions are as relevant today as they were when they were first presented.

Meade’s work was one of the inspirations for John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, the most important work of liberal political philosophy of the twentieth century. 

By James E. Meade,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in 1979, this fourth part of Principles of Political Economy applies the tools of economic analysis to the distribution of income and property. Professor Meade considers the problems of making interpersonal comparisons of welfare and of distinguishing between the efficiency and distributional aspects of changes in social welfare. He analyses the possible criteria for redistribution as between rich and poor members of the same generation, as between present and future generations, and - in the context of demographic policies - as between the born and the unborn. Special attention is given to the social factors (such as assortative…


Book cover of The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism

Peter T. Leeson Author Of WTF?! An Economic Tour of the Weird

From my list on economics and political economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Peter T. Leeson is the author of the award-winning The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates and Anarchy Unbound: Why Self-Governance Works Better than You Think. He is the Duncan Black Professor of Economics and Law at George Mason University. Big Think counted Peter among “Eight of the World’s Top Young Economists.”

Peter's book list on economics and political economy

Peter T. Leeson Why did Peter love this book?

A key insight of economics is the power of markets to organize human affairs. The Machinery of Freedom takes that insight to the limit. How might society work if even governmental functions were organized using markets? Friedman’s answer will surprise and challenge you. And whether you come away convinced or not, you will come away with a better understanding of markets.

By David Friedman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book argues for a society organized by voluntary cooperation under institutions of private property and exchange with little, ultimately no, government. It describes how the most fundamental functions of government might be replaced by private institutions, with services such as protecting individual rights and settling disputes provided by private firms in a competitive market. It goes on to use the tools of economic analysis to attempt to show how such institutions could be expected to work, what sort of legal rules they would generate, and under what circumstances they would or would not be stable. The approach is consequentialist.…


Book cover of The Great Demarcation: The French Revolution and the Invention of Modern Property

Wim Klooster Author Of Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History

From my list on the Age of Revolutions.

Why am I passionate about this?

To an Atlantic historian like me, the era of revolutions is one of the most dramatic historical periods, which erased many of the structures on which the Atlantic world had been built for centuries. It raised many hopes, which were often defeated, but lasting advances were made nonetheless.  

Wim's book list on the Age of Revolutions

Wim Klooster Why did Wim love this book?

The French revolutionaries not only transformed property, they disentangled it from public power, creating a distinction between a private realm and a public one and between state and society. Blaufarb shows that at stake was much more and much more complex than historians have thought. He argues that without this multiple demarcation, free elections would have been impossible and universal human rights could not have been defined.    

By Rafe Blaufarb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What does it mean to own something? What sorts of things can be owned, and what cannot? How does one relinquish ownership? What are the boundaries between private and public property? Over the course of a decade, the French Revolution grappled with these questions. Punctuated by false starts, contingencies, and unexpected results, this process laid the foundations of the Napoleonic Code and modern notions of property.

As Rafe Blaufarb demonstrates in this ambitious work, the French Revolution remade the system of property-holding that had existed in France before 1789. The revolutionary changes aimed at two fundamental goals: the removal of…


Book cover of Ours: The Case for Universal Property

James K. Boyce Author Of Economics for People and the Planet: Inequality in the Era of Climate Change

From my list on the political economy of the environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I started teaching a course on the Political Economy of the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, little had been written that made the connection between environmental quality and economic inequality. Happily, this has changed over the years. The books recommended here mark the rise of a new environmentalism founded upon recognition that our impact on nature is interwoven closely with the nature of our relationships with each other.

James' book list on the political economy of the environment

James K. Boyce Why did James love this book?

Universal property – property that is inalienable, individual, and belongs in equal measure to all – is a game-changing idea whose time is coming.

Introduced alongside conventional (private and state) property, it can serve the twin goals of reducing inequality and protecting the environment.

For example, by treating the biosphere’s limited capacity to recycle carbon emissions as universal property, and charging for use of this resource, we can both protect climate stability and provide universal basic income via climate-protection dividends.

Peter Barnes has been a leading voice for universal property, following in the footsteps of Tom Paine and Henry George. Do yourself a favor: read this thought-provoking book, and share it with your family and friends.

By Peter Barnes,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Economic Analysis of Property Rights

David Emanuel Andersson Author Of Property Rights, Consumption and the Market Process

From my list on understanding how societies develop.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been curious about why societies develop, which is why I was drawn to the social sciences as a student. I first encountered attempts to explain development in economics, but found that mainstream models were too neat and abstract to account for my everyday observations. Why are there no entrepreneurs in the models, and why do most economists assume that property rights are unambiguous? I eventually discovered that non-mainstream economic theories and some of the other social sciences are more concerned with reality. Eventually I developed an eclectic framework with a focus on entrepreneurship, institutions, and spatial agglomerations as factors that shape socio-economic development. 

David's book list on understanding how societies develop

David Emanuel Andersson Why did David love this book?

I make use of the basic concepts that Barzel introduced in this book, but deviate more from conventional neoclassical economics.

Economic property rights are about effective control over resources, and not necessarily about legal rights. A key insight is that a resource consists of an open-ended number of attributes and therefore that control over a resource can become more complex as the number of attributes increases.

There is also a tendency for control to change hands as market participants discover more valuable uses of resources. 

By Yoram Barzel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Economic Analysis of Property Rights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a study of the way individuals organise the use of resources in order to maximise the value of their economic rights over these resources. Property rights and all forms of organisation result from people's deliberate actions. In the tradition of Coase, this study offers a unified theoretical structure to deal with exchange, rights formation and organisation which traditional economic theory assumes away. A person's economic property rights over an asset are defined here as the person's ability to gain from the asset by direct consumption or by exchange. It is prohibitively costly to measure accurately all assets' attributes;…


Book cover of Wealth, Land, and Property in Angola: A History of Dispossession, Slavery, and Inequality

Ana Lucia Araujo Author Of The Gift: How Objects of Prestige Shaped the Atlantic Slave Trade and Colonialism

From my list on the material culture of the Atlantic slave trade and colonialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a historian of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade who was trained with a PhD in History and a PhD in Art History, and who's interested in how slavery is memorialized in the public space as well as in the visual and material culture of slavery. I was born and raised in Brazil, the country where the largest number of enslaved Africans were introduced in the era of the Atlantic slave trade and that still today is the country with the largest Black population after Nigeria, the most populous African country. I believe that studying the history of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery helps us to remedy the legacies of anti-Black racism today.

Ana's book list on the material culture of the Atlantic slave trade and colonialism

Ana Lucia Araujo Why did Ana love this book?

Mariana Candido’s book brings to light the importance of land ownership among West Central Africans, by contesting the work of historians who up to here have basically agreed with the claims of European conquerors and colonizers who stated that West Central African land was plentiful and empty, therefore available to be occupied by the newcomers.

Drawing on detailed archival research, the book also us how West Central African men and women acquired and owned land and movable property. Candido brings to light how West Central African communities were consumers of European and Asian goods, and therefore connected to other parts of the world.

The book shows how men and women in Angola accumulated wealth, and also how during the rise of colonialism they were deprived of this wealth.  

By Mariana P. Candido,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Exploring the multifaceted history of dispossession, consumption, and inequality in West Central Africa, Mariana P. Candido presents a bold revisionist history of Angola from the sixteenth century until the Berlin Conference of 1884-5. Synthesising disparate strands of scholarship, including the histories of slavery, land tenure, and gender in West Central Africa, Candido makes a significant contribution to ongoing historical debates. She demonstrates how ideas about dominion and land rights eventually came to inform the appropriation and enslavement of free people and their labour. By centring the experiences of West Central Africans, and especially African women, this book challenges dominant historical…


Book cover of Capital and Ideology

Tom Malleson Author Of Against Inequality: The Practical and Ethical Case for Abolishing the Superrich

From my list on economic inequality and how to fix it.

Why am I passionate about this?

There are many big problems in the world today–racism, war, climate change, unaccountable governments, exploitative corporations, and so on. But when you scratch the surface of almost any serious problem, what you find is that the root of the problem is inequality: a minority of people are rich and powerful, while those who suffer the most are typically poor and powerless. I’m so passionate about inequality because, in my eyes, it constitutes the heart and soul of what’s wrong with our world and the key to making things better.

Tom's book list on economic inequality and how to fix it

Tom Malleson Why did Tom love this book?

Thomas Piketty rose to international fame for his 2014 Capital in the Twenty-First Century. But this book is even better. At a whopping 1000 pages, it’s a magnum opus. A phenomenally interesting panoramic of inequality across human history.

With intricate detail and voluminous evidence, Piketty documents the rise and fall of inequality throughout the ages, depicting the ways in which ideologies have worked to bolster or undermine it. Anyone who reads this book will walk away with a far richer understanding of some of the core dynamics underlying human history.  

By Thomas Piketty, Arthur Goldhammer (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller
An NPR Best Book of the Year

The epic successor to one of the most important books of the century: at once a retelling of global history, a scathing critique of contemporary politics, and a bold proposal for a new and fairer economic system.

Thomas Piketty's bestselling Capital in the Twenty-First Century galvanized global debate about inequality. In this audacious follow-up, Piketty challenges us to revolutionize how we think about politics, ideology, and history. He exposes the ideas that have sustained inequality for the past millennium, reveals why the shallow politics of right and left…


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