Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy by Tim Harford

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Harford’s contagious delight in his subject reminds readers not to take for granted the impact of objects and ideas so familiar they’re easy to overlook.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

A lively history seen through the fifty inventions that shaped it most profoundly, by the bestselling author of The Undercover Economist and Messy.
 
Who thought up paper money? What was the secret element that made the Gutenberg printing press possible? And what is the connection between The Da Vinci Code and the collapse of Lehman Brothers? 

Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy paints an epic picture of change in an intimate way by telling the stories of the tools, people, and ideas that had far-reaching consequences for all of us. From the plough to artificial intelligence, from Gillette’s disposable razor to IKEA’s Billy bookcase, bestselling author and Financial Times columnist Tim Harford recounts each invention’s own curious, surprising, and memorable story. 

Invention by invention, Harford reflects on how we got here and where we might go next. He lays bare often unexpected connections: how the bar code undermined family corner stores, and why the gramophone widened inequality. In the process, he introduces characters who developed some of these inventions, profited from them, and were ruined by them, as he traces the principles that helped explain their transformative effects. The result is a wise and witty book of history, economics, and biography.
 

About Tim Harford

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Tim Harford is the Undercover Economist and Dear Economist columnist for the Financial Times. His writing has also appeared in Esquire, Forbes, New York magazine, Wired, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. His previous books include The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life. Harford presents the popular BBC radio show More or Less and is a visiting fellow at London's Cass Business School. He is the winner of the 2006 Bastiat Prize for economic journalism and the 2010 Royal Statistical Society Award for excellence in journalism.
 
Published August 29, 2017 by Riverhead Books. 334 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good
on Aug 06 2017

Harford’s contagious delight in his subject reminds readers not to take for granted the impact of objects and ideas so familiar they’re easy to overlook.

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NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Roger I. Abrams on Sep 23 2017

A great popular writer like Tim Horford should broaden his focus. He has the talent to make much of modern life understandable and accessible.

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Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Robert Collison on Oct 06 2017

Like Malcolm Gladwell (to whom he’s sometimes compared), Harford has a talent for seeing the unintended consequences of unconnected inventions.

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