Book Review: Grand Pursuit


Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius

By Sylvia Nasar

SIMON & SCHUSTER

In the 18th century, the storied British conservative Edmund Burke observed that “nine parts in ten of the whole race of mankind drudge through life.” Nasar, an economist herself, profiles a long list of notables—from novelist Charles Dickens to Nobelist Amartya Sen—who have applied their prodigious intellectual talents to improving the lot of that lower 90 percent. The result is less a cohesive history than an amusing pastiche of her characters’ insecurities and caprices, like Karl Marx’s bastard child and Friedrich Hayek’s lifelong crush on a cousin. Ultimately, she savages socialism and celebrates capitalism. Yet, like A Beautiful Mind, her best-selling bio of schizophrenic mathematician John Nash, this is a lively, instructive tome. “Before 1870 economics was mostly about what you couldn’t do,” Nasar writes. “After 1870, it was mostly about what you could.”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate