Peter Gordon, an urban/regional economist and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Southern California, has posted a brief review of Madmen. Describing Madmen as a “superb read” and “pure joy,” Professor Gordon’s review emphasizes one of the book’s subtle yet important points: if the ideas of economists and philosophers do matter, then we should have a good grasp of the history of those ideas. This is essentially why we include a history of philosophy and economics in Chapters 2 (The Never-Ending Quest for Good Government), 3 (Economists Join the Battle of Political Ideas), and 4 (Public Choice: How We Choose Bad Policies and Get Stuck with Them, or Not). While our main purpose is to deploy this history of ideas to understand political change and the role of political entrepreneurs, we will certainly take as deep praise the association made in Professor Gordon’s conclusion:
Mark Blaug’s Economic Theory in Retrospect has long been the go-to book to learn about the origins of many key ideas in the field. I would pair it with Leighton and Lopez.
Professor Blaug passed away in November, 2011, after a long and successful career that began as a Ph.D. student of George Stigler. Wayne and I benefited greatly from Professor Blaug’s work while writing Madmen, and we are honored to be mentioned in his company.