Cover image for The literary book of economics : including readings from literature and drama on economic concepts, issues, and themes
The literary book of economics : including readings from literature and drama on economic concepts, issues, and themes
Watts, Michael.
Publication Information:
Wilmington, Del. : ISI Books, 2003.
Physical Description:
xxv, 348 pages ; 25 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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PN6071.M55 L58 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In one of the most innovative approaches to economics and literacy ever published, Watts presents a cogent explication of free market theory by exploring the effects of particular economic concepts offered in great works of literature and drama.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Watts (economics, Purdue) has compiled an excellent anthology of materials culled from literature, poetry, and drama that exemplify a wide range of economic perspectives. Organized under 21 broad categories such as "Property Rights and Incentives" and "Markets, Prices, Supply and Demand," the book groups writings by such luminaries as Mark Twain, Upton Sinclair, Ayn Rand, John Steinbeck, Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, and Charles Dickens, showing how the characters in their works grappled with basic economic challenges in their lives. The point is that there is an intersection of economics and great literature that makes for a compelling teaching tool. The problem with such a book, of course, is that the selection is entirely dependent on what the editor was able to find and how much of the original was excised. For the most part, Watts has been fairly adroit in assembling authors who encompass the complete economic realm. Some of the selections taken out of context seem too short to make any significant point, but most of them are skillfully used and serve the author's intent well. Overall, Watts manages to make the "dismal science" seem less dismal, and students of economics everywhere will enjoy the results. Recommended for all academic libraries and business collections.-Richard Drezen, Washington Post/New York City Bureau (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Over the years, Watts (economist and director of the Center for Economic Education, Purdue Univ.) has ferreted out examples of economics embedded in classic literature and drama and contemporary works of fiction and nonfiction. In this anthology he has assembled, organized, and annotated many of these passages. Readers familiar with economic principles--opportunity costs, incentives, specialization, supply and demand, markets, elasticities, principal-agent problems, public goods, externalities, economies of scale--or conditions such as inflation and unemployment, or government actions like fiscal policy and protectionism, may be surprised to discover these basic concepts in the writings of William Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Robert Frost, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Tom Stoppard, Amy Tan, and Jon Krakauer. Watt's 78 literary selections, which illustrate the similarities, differences, and relationships between literary authors and economists, will serve as effective teaching tools for economics instructors and perhaps get them to venture out occasionally beyond the confines of their own familiar territory; humanists and literary critics can also benefit here from forays into the world of economics. At the very least, this volume also demonstrate convincingly to an intelligent general audience that the discipline is far from a "dismal science." ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Public and academic library collections, lower-division undergraduate through faculty. A. R. Sanderson University of Chicago