My class is currently reading Hischman's The Passions and the Interests (Princeton, 1977). I have enjoyed reading Hirschman since my graduate student days when Don Lavoie introduced me to his work when Don was contemplating a move from comparative economic systems as his main field of study to development economics. Ironically, Don didn't stress Hirschman's development work, but instead his broad ranging essays in the history and methodology of economics.
One of the thing that is striking about Hirschman is how he packs so much into such little space. He doesn't write huge books, yet he does produce "weighty" books; they are pithy and profound.
I would nominate the following as Hirschman books which must be read by economists: Exit, Voice and Loyalty (Harvard, 1970); The Passions and the Interests (Princeton, 1977); Rival Views of Market Society (Harvard, 1986); and A Propensity to Self-Subversion (Harvard, 1995).
I also developed a fascination with Kenneth Boulding during graduate school (some might think that was because I was able to be his student, but actually I was fascinated with Boulding prior to the opportunity to get to know him). I first became enamored with Boulding through reading his 1971 essay "After Samuelson, Who Needs Smith?", but that quickly gave way to reading as much of his work as I could get my hands on. Boulding also wrote profound books that were not particularly hefty. My list of Boulding favorites would be: A Reconstruction of Economics (1950); The Image (1956); Conflict and Defense (1962); Evolutionary Economics (1981); and Three Faces of Power (1989).
But reading Boulding is a totally different experience than reading Hirshman. Boulding's argumentative style is more meandering, Hirschman's more direct.
It is not clear to me that there is any economists/political economists who is as pithy and profound as Hirschman. What do you think? And who would you nominate for such an award either ancient or modern?