A Great Book

Great Book:  Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations: A Story of Economic Discovery by David Warsh
This is one of the best books I’ve read in years.  Warsh tells the story of one idea—one very significant idea—in the history of economic thought.  The book is surprisingly readable, even the several chapters that explain how economists thought about growth prior to Paul Romer’s idea of “endogenous growth” which is the subject of the book.

Non-economists can enjoy Knowledge, especially if they are the sort who like economics.  There is but one equation, and though there are several passages about the use of mathematics in economics, the reader doesn’t have to know any math to understand the story.

For a person thinking about pursuing a Ph.D. in economics—or any other academic field—this book is must reading for an understanding of how the academic world works.

Beyond that, Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations explains a key to long run growth around the world.  The people of the world will be richer because one of the things that economic growth brings is more growth of technological knowledge, which will lead to even more economic growth.  And readers will be intellectually richer for reading Warsh’s book.

Business Strategy Implications:  Business leaders should be familiar with some of the key concepts discussed in the book, including non-rival goods, increasing returns, and network effects.  Knowledge doesn’t claim to be a primer on these topics, but it’s one way to get an understanding.

Other Blogs Posting on This Topic: Marginal Revolution thought it might be the best book of 2006.  Tim Harford reviewed the book for the Financial Times.  John Hagel comments on the book from a management perspective.