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Publisher's Summary

In this fifth edition of Basic Economics, Thomas Sowell revises and updates his popular book on commonsense economics, bringing the world into clearer focus through a basic understanding of the fundamental economic principles and how they explain our lives. Drawing on lively examples from around the world and from centuries of history, Sowell explains basic economic principles for the general public in plain English.

Basic Economics,which has now been translated into six languages and has additional material online, remains true to its core principle: that the fundamental facts and principles of economics do not require jargon, graphs, or equations and can be learned in a relaxed and even enjoyable way.

©2014 Thomas Sowell (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Basic Economics, Fifth Edition

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    3 out of 5 stars

Basic Fundamentals with a Helping of Bias

I bought the book hoping to brush up on my understanding of the fundamentals of economics, as I haven't studied the technical details of economics since my time in university in the early 2000's. I was interested when the book began, I was underwhelmed when the author had to explain supply and demand (ok, i get it. build a solid foundation so that readers / listeners can start from the same footing). I became suspect when the consistent message was that government intervention ruins pricing, profits and competitiveness. Minimum wages wreck employment. Rent controls ruin the housing market ("High rental prices allow the youth the chance to decide to continue to live at home."....???). Competition for employees is what actually improved working conditions for the masses over time, not unions (?). You start to pick up on what the author has on his agenda and perhaps the full story isnt being told. Once I got to the part explaining that high unemployment in Newfoundland is due solely to high minimum wages, my suspicions were confirmed (Nfld has one of the lowest minimum wages in the country, and anyone with any familiarity of Nfld can speculate other plausible reasons for unemployment in the area). Once that threshold was crossed, it feels as though everything requires fact-checking and a skeptical reception. Half-way into the book, and still no mention of the environment, quality of life, living standards, wealth inequality etc. Fiscal conservatives, titans of industry and libertarians will absolutely love this book. For those about to dive in - know that some of the fundamentals presented in the book will be true, but you should feel as though you'll need to hear other explanations for the effects observed & measured in the economy, and explanations for outcomes are not transparently discussed here. It's like if a scientist published a journal article, had a good explanation of methods, had a good explanation of results, but then decided to detour and spin their own explanation for why the results were observed when there are reasonable, plausible alternative explanations and downstream effects omitted from the discussion.

7 people found this helpful

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Strongly recommended

Highly informative, very interesting, thoroughly supported. A must listen/read for any aspiring student, professional, or informed citizen.

4 people found this helpful

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Tomas Sowell rocks!

If the masses in Western society read or listened to this book and then debated intelligently about Government policy and it’s implications, we would be so much better off.

4 people found this helpful

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A must read for any informed voter

Few books have altered my ideology and beliefs more so than Basic Economics. My only regret is having not purchased this book sooner. In fact, if I could purchase a billboard in every city of the world for one day it would simply read ‘Buy Basic Economics’. If hotels had these in every room not only would our material standards of living be higher, but our ability to not get caught up on “words” and instead focus on the “things” the words are describing, would apply more glue to the social cohesion of society than any ascetic set of beliefs or realization of undefined ideals such as “equality”. In the first 3 chapters of this book I was better able to understand what happened to the material standards of living in the USSR than I was having finished all 3 volumes of The Gulag Archipelago. It just makes sense. Sowell does a phenomenal job restraining from any jargon, graphs, mathematical equations, and the likes. Yet the take away is so vivid and profound that no other books has yet to surpass it in my own experience. Those who have already read Henry Hazzlit, Keynes, Hayek, Mises, etc. Can still learn much from the cogency with which Sowell writes, and from the numerous real world examples he provides again and again. Sowell could have written a comprehensive economic treatise; a work of art for intellectuals of generations yet to come, but instead wrote this. Sacrificing high falutinency for cogency and mass appeal, Sowell is no doubt one of the most important public intellectuals of the post-war era.

3 people found this helpful

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Required listening

A remarkable, easy to listen to, important book that should be in everyone's library. This changed the way I thought about the world, and is one of the main reasons I went to university to study Economics. The audio isn't amazing, but the content is enlightening.

2 people found this helpful

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enlightening

I thought I understood economics until I listened to this book. Worth the time spent

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Intelligence only makes a difference if you think

I am a scarce resource with alternative uses, and so are you. This book is a paradigm-changer.

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Insightful and educational

This is an amazing work. Well written and narrated. I feel like I’ve evolved after reading this and would highly recommend it to everyone. This book isn’t propaganda or a manipulation of statistics or anything other than a work that is geared towards giving the reader the tools and principles that they need to know in order to draw their own conclusions.

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A must read for anyone and everyone

I have nothing negative to say about this book. It works perfectly as an audiobook, given the lack of any figures or tables. Everything is conveyed perfectly through easy to understand examples. It's not a textbook, but a primer: meant to introduce concepts in a clear way prior to more detailed study. It's also everything that the average citizen needs to understand why the economy works as it does, why some policies are counterproductive, and why you probably shouldn't trust most politicians proposing economic policy.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Vic
  • 2019-09-30

Cannot finish

I am not criticizing the contents, but this textbook is not suitable to be heard as an audio book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Héctor Jiménez
  • 2020-03-02

Basic Economics

1. The author says that other people opinions are emotional and not rational, but he himself uses words such as “idiot”, “stupid”, “silly” or “hysterical” to describe these opinions, which shows that he also is being emotional (at least when speaking about them). 2. The author says that some people only use press articles and not factual data to support their points of view, but he also makes use of press articles to illustrate what he says. 3. The author says that people testifying in monopoly court cases put forward the argument that a company seeking to monopolize the market begin with low prices to put competitors out of this market and afterward(s) this company raises its prices. He criticizes these people because they always fail to show any real-life cases of such monopolies. Nonetheless, he also fails to show any example of, for example, a medical services free market that without any intervention by the state has demonstrated to have higher quality services and lower prices at the same time. 4. The main reason I give only one star to this book is that the 2008 economic crisis clearly proved deregulation (of which he shows to be is a strong advocate in this book) to have been the main incentive to financiers to provoke the real state bubble that finally exploded causing the crisis. Despite this global crisis, the author insists on defending deregulation as a whole. The “bankers” knew that they obtained a commission each time they made a subprime loan and each time they sold or resold a packet of mixed securities. They became richer because they knew there would be no punishment for doing what they did, but they did know that at the end many people would lose their houses, their pensions, their savings, and more. If there had been regulations against the predatory behavior of these financiers, if punishments had already been enacted by the US congress, they would have never dared to act in such an unethical manner. Although it is true that in some cases the intervention of the state through regulation causes negative results, it is also true that in some other cases no regulation at all causes serious long-lasting damage.

68 people found this helpful

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  • M. Kunze
  • 2018-02-10

The most eye-opening book I have ever read

A fantastic book by a brilliant author, fantastically read by a brilliant orator. To anyone who thinks "economics does not interest me", I say: Give this book a try regardless. I promise that, unless you have read other economics books before, this one will feel truly earth shattering. It is well-written, well-researched, easily understandable by everyone and enormous in its educational value. Grab it while you can.

43 people found this helpful

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  • Jeff M
  • 2017-12-03

Astonishing brilliance

Would you consider the audio edition of Basic Economics, Fifth Edition to be better than the print version?

I haven't ready the print version. But this translates well into audio; there are no charts or graphs in this economic tome. It's simple logic, presented clearly.

What did you like best about this story?

It's hard to argue with this guy. I have to be careful and not simply accept what he says at face value. Surely there are counter points! But how can you argue with history? That's his brilliance. History repeats itself, and Sowell uses history to demonstrate fallacy. Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it

What about Tom Weiner’s performance did you like?

He has a clear voice. I would imagine reading an economics book is difficult. He does a fine job

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

When I listen to the brilliant words of Thomas Sowell I feel my mind opening up to truth. Thank you, Thomas Sowell.

Any additional comments?

This should be required reading to anyone who votes. I admit I wish I knew someone who could present counter points to this; surely there must be a counter to his obvious brilliant analysis of the fallacy of anything other than free, open markets. He makes everything seem so self evident!

20 people found this helpful

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  • Palmetto Bob
  • 2017-05-13

Phenomenal Primer

Superior book on basic economics. Dr Sowell explains principles and gives examples that even an ol' boy with a Nebraska education can understand. Highly recommend this book to everyone, most especially to voters and potential voters. Politicians won't read it so we must...and then hold them accountable.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Trenton
  • 2015-10-04

Phenomenal!

People say that is all the time, but this REALLY NEEDS to be required reading (listening in this case), and here is why:

Mr. Sowell expertly explains economics in this 25 hour long monster in a way that everyone can understand and enjoy. Everything he says is very well supported either using simple logic, hypothetical situations and many real world international and domestic examples.

Even if you don't agree with his explanations, you will still come out of this book with a better understanding of economics as you would have to come up with a logical reason to disagree with him, because his beautiful explanations and examples are essentially devoid of emotion, which is a very good thing.

Some of my favorite things of the book are:
- His often repeated statement is his definition of economics: Utilization of scarce resources which have alternative uses.
- His explanation of the difference between prices and costs.
- His examples of the effects of price controls.
- The absolute lack of mudslinging towards liberals, he actually operates under the assumption of people encouraging government intervention all with the best of intentions.
- His reminders how economists are known for being boring because of splashing cold water on policies due to cold hard boring facts.

This thing is almost 25 hours long, takes a while to listen to but it is like music to your ears. It's economics pure and simple and is fascinating.

Thomas Sowell for president! (Hey he's only 85, that isn't too old is it?)

83 people found this helpful

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  • d
  • 2017-09-29

Economics does not need to be esoteric.

This properly named book explains complicated economic concepts in simple language that anyone can understand. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the fundamental forces at work in economics and to a certain degree, society as a whole.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Tiffini Anderson
  • 2019-12-15

This book is as biased as it gets.

There are so many logical fallacies in this book I had to give up. This is the least objective spin to reach a predetermined goal of any book on economics I've read. Avoid.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Alaa Alaeddin
  • 2019-10-18

Bias and barely teaches

I have my degree in economics and a masters in finance. My brother is 18 and wanted us to read this book together so that I can discuss the book with him as we listen. I have never come across a more bias or more misleading book in my entire time studying economics. Couldn’t even finish it. The reader does a fantastic job but the material is worse than bad

8 people found this helpful

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  • Jordan
  • 2019-05-03

Propaganda

I didn't Google this guy before buying and it was a fatal mistake. It becomes evident his agenda within two chapters. Literally says it's wrong to consider anything a need. It's like a brainwashing exercise in EXTREME lazefare capitalism.

7 people found this helpful

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  • B. Davis
  • 2015-03-17

Great Publication

This is one of the best audio books I've purchased so far. I believe it should be required reading and that the principles should be taught early in the educational system. There is a lot of information that explains a lot of economic problems - poverty and unemployment, for example - that could be eliminated through policy adjustments or eliminations. The concepts are so clearly conveyed, in fact, that it's difficult to fathom how or why any great society would implement contradictory regulations.

The narrator spoke at a pace and pitch that facilitated ease of reception of the material (this is subjective, I suppose).

47 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-11-21

Thomas Sowell

You are responsible for your own education. Educate yourself. This book is one you should listen to at least once a year.