Grand Pursuit by Sylvia Nasar
The Story of Economic Genius

63%

17 Critic Reviews

Recounting history through great lives has always risky. Letting biographical detail substitute for cogent explanations is a mistake.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

In a sweeping narrative, the author of the megabestseller A Beautiful Mind takes us on a journey through modern history with the men and women who changed the lives of every single person on the planet. It’s the epic story of the making of modern economics, and of how economics rescued mankind from squalor and deprivation by placing its material fate in its own hands rather than in Fate.

Nasar’s account begins with Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew observing and publishing the condition of the poor majority in mid-nineteenth-century London, the richest and most glittering place in the world. This was a new pursuit. She describes the often heroic efforts of Marx, Engels, Alfred Marshall, Beatrice and Sydney Webb, and the American Irving Fisher to put those insights into action—with revolutionary consequences for the world.

From the great John Maynard Keynes to Schumpeter, Hayek, Keynes’s disciple Joan Robinson, the influential American economists Paul Samuelson and Milton Freedman, and India’s Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen, she shows how the insights of these activist thinkers transformed the world—from one city, London, to the developed nations in Europe and America, and now to the entire planet. In Nasar’s dramatic narrative of these discoverers we witness men and women responding to personal crises, world wars, revolutions, economic upheavals, and each other’s ideas to turn back Malthus and transform the dismal science into a triumph over mankind’s hitherto age-old destiny of misery and early death. This idea, unimaginable less than 200 years ago, is a story of trial and error, but ultimately transcendent, as it is rendered here in a stunning and moving narrative.
 

About Sylvia Nasar

See more books from this Author
Sylvia Nasar is the author of the bestselling A Beautiful Mind, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography. She is the John S. and James L. Knight Professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.
 
Published September 13, 2011 by Simon & Schuster. 578 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, History, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 02 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Grand Pursuit
All: 17 | Positive: 11 | Negative: 6

Kirkus

Excellent

This broad-sweep introduction adds an important historical dimension to current debates on the future of the American economy.

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WSJ online

Good
on Sep 10 2011

You may or may not agree that the word "genius" fairly describes the mental apparatus of each of her heroes, but you can't help becoming engrossed in their lives.

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LA Times

Good
on Sep 11 2011

The reader finishes Nasar's book wondering what brilliant and quirky thinker may fill in the next chapters of our economic history and come up with an idea that shakes our current economy out of its funk.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Good

...this book reminds us that we have the freedom to re-invent the economic forces that shape our lives...

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The Seattle Times

Below average
on Sep 10 2011

...the book has an irritating number of typos and factual errors...Such errors might be forgiven if the rest of the book were stronger or had more to say...Alas, it isn't and doesn't.

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The Daily Beast

Good
on Oct 14 2011

A surprising lesson of Nasar’s book is that countries have a lot of choices when it comes to managing their economies well.

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Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by RICHARD PARKER on Sep 06 2012

Recounting history through great lives has always risky. Letting biographical detail substitute for cogent explanations is a mistake.

Read Full Review of Grand Pursuit: The Story of E... | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

Chicago Tribune

Above average
on Oct 01 2012

The narrative culminates with four economist...Nasar shows how each was coming to grips with the same dynamic: Violent swings of inflation, deflation and unemployment that threatened the survival of capitalist democracies.

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Boston.com

Excellent
on Sep 25 2011

This is an utterly fascinating book on many levels - equally enjoyable for the serious thinker and the trivial pursuit buff...

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Cleveland.com

Above average
on Sep 25 2011

...the final chapter on Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen reads like a thin stretch toward uplift.

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Jacksonville.com

Above average
on Oct 15 2011

"Pursuit's" variations in pacing and narrative density are distracting...

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Business Week

Good
on Sep 08 2011

Nasar’s story is centered in London, and its appeal is enhanced by the inclusion of literary masters...

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New Statesman

Good
on Nov 10 2011

...Nasar presents, in Grand Pursuit, a drama of the shifting patterns of economic thought over the past two centuries which abounds in arresting vignettes.

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Mother Jones

Good
on Sep 09 2011

...like A Beautiful Mind, her best-selling bio of schizophrenic mathematician John Nash, this is a lively, instructive tome.

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London School of Economics

Below average
on Dec 04 2011

While Grand Pursuit follows the upswing in the standard of living for an ever-increasing proportion of the population Nasar does a poor job of linking the contributions of those she profiles with this progression.

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More

Good
on Aug 23 2011

...if there’s a way to be entertained as well as edified by what critic Thomas Carlyle called the dismal science, this riveting history is it.

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Library of Economics and Liberty

Below average
on Jan 07 2012

The economics gets short shrift: it's almost an afterthought. Moreover, she sometimes gets the history wrong, in important ways. As early as page 4, I got a little nervous.

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Reader Rating for Grand Pursuit
65%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 127 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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