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It is very good to see a history of thought book come out that goes beyond Keynes v. Hayek issue and apparently even beyond the history of macroeconomic thought issue (which really is what a lot of people seem to have in mind when they say "history of economic thought").

Out of curiosity - would you say that it is a strongly Austrian tinged history or that it is a more general history? In other words, is it analogous to Heilbroner/Blaug or Skidelsky's ventures into history of thought? I like both approaches all three authors, don't get me wrong - just curious what this is more like.

All I know is that most of the history of economic thought books that have come out in the past year or two have not been that great, so I'm really excited for White's book. I ordered it a few days ago.

I really, really liked the sample chapters published as working papers (they don't seem to be available anymore?). If the final product is anything like those the book is going to be a real page turner. It did not feel anything like a "strongly Austrian tinged" viewpoint on the history of ideas.

I have used much of the book in manuscript form for the past two years in my Policy Issues in the History of Economic Thought course. It is a great teaching tool. I don't know what it means to say "strongly tinged." It is is an Austrian viewpoint. It doesn't present all viewpoints as equally good. But one can have additional readings for more perspectives.

For example, I use a lot of Keynes's social or policy-oriented writings. (Of course, most of those just reinforce the view that Keynes was pretty superficial in his views about the state.) I also use Smith, Mill, Say and others.

I don't believe in teaching history of thought without using any primary sources. However, some students find the English of these older economists difficult and requiring a lot of attention.

Many students have told me that the course really opened their minds relative to what they are exposed to in other NYU economics courses.

Ya - I didn't mean anything bad by that. Everything I've read of Larry's has been fantastic. A lot of history of thought can be written with a very decisive sense of choosing sides, but then you can also write it without doing that. That's all I was wondering. I'm sure it's a fantastic book.

re: "However, some students find the English of these older economists difficult and requiring a lot of attention."

You know what has always bothered me - especially about Smith and Mill? It isn't so much their English as that they take so long to make a point (Marx is worse than any of them on this)! And I can imagine that being a stumbling block for students. Keynes is nice because while he runs on a little he is always good at summing up a thought. Ricardo, I thought, was quite good at summing things up succinctly too.

We have to profs at American that alternate the history of thought class. The one I had in the fall only used primary sources. My understanding is that the other one uses a mix. I liked that. The liability is, of course, that you cover less ground if you read a lot of primary sources straight through. But you get an awful lot out of those you do get through.

btw - the example I gave Gene Callahan on my question of style was Rothbard vs. his advisor, Dorfman. Both men had a masterful command of the history of thought and were great writers.

If you're not sure what I mean by "a tinge", to the exposition, though, I'm not sure what illustrates my point better than the Rothbard/Dorfman comparison.

:)

PJ O'Rourke's book on Smith's Wealth of Nations is excellent, short and funny!

We could use more short and funny books.
BTW the early Austrians were interesting (funny?) in some ways.
http://catallaxyfiles.com/2012/04/28/those-dang-austrians/

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