Suggested Readings

This list is not a reference for citations as in academic books, where entries justify arguments. It is a list of works that clarify ideas and it is a list of suggested readings. Scan through to find what interest you. This list contains no journal articles, and it does not contain many hard-to-find items. If the book is hard to find, I say so. I did not revise this list in 2012.

Bookstores have at least five broad categories of books on economics:

(1) What economists call economics, such as on rationality.

(2) Histories of economic thought, such as what Adam Smith said about the need to support a military despite the detriment to free trade.

(3) Histories of the economy, such as the growth of the cotton industry in the United States and its influence on the cotton industry in England. This category includes the history of business.

(4) Business, including case studies such as how Toyota overcame Ford and General motors, and including quasi-theoretical quasi-inspirational works such as how to be a better CEO. This category ranges from what is taught in business schools to what hopeful mid-level executives read on a commuter train.

(5) How to get rich, such as what kind of stock to buy during a recession.

This book has been primarily about topic (1), with some of topics (2) and (3) as needed, so this bibliography is on those topics. It contains nothing of topics (4) and (5).

This book is intended for readers that are not comfortable with mathematics so I had to choose works that have little mathematics in them. Yet economists rely on mathematics a lot, so the selection cannot be full or fully representative. I do not try to be up to date. I choose works that were best and easiest to read, and many of those were written in decades past. As much I can, I suggest original works. Modern readers dislike the styles of writing that prevailed before about 1960 but a modern reader will find that many pre-modern writers had clear and effective styles in their own ways. Some entries are intended for people that read the short book while some are intended for people that read the long book. All the entries are still useful and accessible to anybody who read only the short book. Most of the items can be found in used bookstores or in public libraries. Some hard-to-find items have to be searched in academic libraries. You can find background in some of the websites that I list. You can find books on particular topics by looking up the topic in a library website or on the Internet or by looking up a book listed here to see what other books are recommended along with it. You cannot read all the suggestions here unless you intend to become an economist. Read at least one short history, Schneider’s book, and a textbook; and then pick and choose.

Basic Histories

Read one of the following two books. Heilbroner’s book is about 250 pages long. It gives a history of major economists and it explains their ideas. This book was enormously popular in the 1960s and 1970s, and so is easy to find in used bookstores. It is often incorrectly shelved under “philosophy” rather than “economics”, so look in both places.

Heilbroner, Robert. 1961. The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers. New York: Simon and Schuster

The following book also is short and clear:

Fusfeld, Daniel. 1977. The Age of the Economist: The Development of Modern Economic Thought (Third Edition). New York: Scott, Foresman and Company

I recommend nearly all Heibroner’s books, including those he co-authored with Lester Thurow. He has a book on microeconomics and one on macroeconomics, which might serve in place of textbooks. Fusfeld wrote a good textbook too.

Before going on to a textbook, this short book by an anthropologist is a useful summary of microeconomics, and it gives a taste of how economic ideas work when applied to non-Western societies:

Schneider, Harold K. 1989 (1974). Economic Man: the Anthropology of Economics. Salem, WI: Sheffield Publishing Company

Good System.

Get a sense of how capitalism works well. The Conservative websites listed toward the end of this bibliography convey the idea but also tend to over-praise capitalism. Because I am a science geek, I think of capitalism in terms of technology and inventors. This recent book is a tour through inventors and marketers without being too romantic.

Evans, Harold. 2004. They Made America. New York: Little, Brown

People as Strategists.

A good way to appreciate people as strategists is to see how economists look at everyday life and how they see strategy in seemingly non-strategic situations. Two examples are enough for here.

This book is funny, and was quite popular when it came out.

Levitt, Steven D. (with Stephen J. Dubner sometimes credited too). 2005. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. New York: William Morrow

This book is also good for game theory. It is short, clear, fun, and has almost no math. It looks at strategy almost entirely in terms of competition in which what one person gains another loses. It does not cover the strategies of one person seeking goods and avoiding costs, and the strategies of many people acting together. But it is still an excellent introduction.

Dixit, Avinash K. and Barry J. Nalebuff. 1991. Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life. New York: W. W. Norton and Company

This book is mainline economics that stresses utility. But it has little math, and is well written. It suffers from being written before the evolutionary view of human nature became current, so that it gets caught in problems about utility; but still it inspired generations of economists, political scientists, sociologists, students of the family, and students of religion. Refer to its bibliography for more reading.

Becker, Gary S. 1976. The Economic Approach to Human Behavior. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Economics and Everyday Life.

This set applies economics to everyday life from how people wait in line to what the Fed does. They are good complements to this book.

Becker, Gary S. 1997. The Economics of Life: From Baseball to Affirmative Action to Immigration, How Real-World Issues Affect Our Everyday Life. New York: McGraw-Hill

Friedman, David D. 1996. Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life. New York: Harper Busines

Landsburg, Steven E. 1993. Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life. New York: Free Pres

Wheelan, Charles. 2003. Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science. New York: W.W. Norton


Now get a standard textbook on economics, and read it at the depth that you wish. All libraries have some standard texts by such writers as Samuelson, Baumol, Fusfeld, and McConnell. Beginning in the 1980s, publishing companies routinely split texts into Micro and Macro. Either the combined version or the split versions will do, but, if you read a Macro text, you should read a Micro text too, and vice versa. Avoid texts that show a bias unless the author is “upfront” and tries to show other ways of thinking too. The best way is to go through several texts, which is not hard. Do not be afraid to put down one text and move to another until you find one you like. All texts have graphs but you can get the major ideas anyway. You can get books on economics cheaply at thrift stores. The price of academic books increased sharply since the 1980s, so I do not recommend buying from a regular bookstore unless a book really looks good. It is often easier to pay $1 at a thrift store than to go to the library, and you can donate the book back when you are done.

Detailed Histories

After the textbook, read a history of economic thought longer than Heilbroner or Fusfeld. Here is one venerable standard of moderate length:

Roll, Eric. 1992. History of Economic Thought. New York: Prentice Hall

The following is the standard history of economics. It is well written, accurate, and not very mathematical. Blaug has a high opinion of Adam Smith, which is good. This book is long but well worth the effort.

Blaug, Mark. 1996. Economic Theory in Retrospect (Fifth Edition). New York: Cambridge University Press

The following book pertains only to the period before the Great Depression but it is still a solid introduction to the major ideas that came before Keynes. It set the standard for evaluation of economists and their ideas.

Schumpeter, Josef. 1954. History of Economic Analysis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Although not a comprehensive history, Stigler’s book is worth looking at because the author pioneered ideas about the price system.

Stigler, George J. 1965. Essays in the History of Economics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Murray Rothbard was the leader of Austrian economics in the 1960s through 1990s, so his book has an agenda. You will see why some Austrians do not hold Adam Smith in high regard. Even so, Rothbard’s history is worth the effort when you are ready.

Rothbard, Murray N. 1995. Economic Thought before Adam Smith: An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, Volumes 1 and 2. Brookfield, VT: Edward Elgar

Collections of Articles

Although not the same as a history of economics, collections of articles often do the same job. The articles are in the original words of economists, which is good. Usually the articles are not so heavily mathematical that they are hard to read. You will find classic articles such as about cigarettes used as money among prisoners of war.

Rima, Ingrid H. (editor). 1970. Readings in the History of Economic Theory. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Paul Samuelson was one of the framers of modern neoclassical economics after World War II. This book is his idea of what was important. It contains seminal articles in Keynesian ideas and macroeconomics. When you are up to it, consult collections of Samuelson’s own works.

Samuelson, Paul (editor). 1973. Readings in Economics. New York: McGraw-Hill

The following by Blaug might be the current modern standard for collections of historical pieces.

Blaug, Mark (editor). 1990. History of Economic Thought. Brookfield, VT: E. Elgar

Blaug, Mark (editor). 1991. The Historiography of Economics. Brookfield, VT: E. Elgar.

The following series looks scary but is not. In 1942, the American Economics Association (AEA) began a series of 13 volumes under the general editorship of Howard S. Ellis, originally published by Blakiston Press of Philadelphia. The original title of each volume was usually listed as some variation on “Blakiston Series of Republished Articles in Economics”. Later the publisher R.D. Irwin took over the series, so the title changed. The volumes were edited by leading economists or by young economists who went on to fame. Most articles are not mathematical. I give full citations because the volumes are listed in various ways in various libraries. I give the Library of Congress number and the ISBN if available. The Auburn University library call number for the series is HB 31 .A52.

Hoover, Edgar Malone and Joel Dean (editors).1942 (1973). Readings in the Social Control of Industry, Volume 1 of the general series. Philadelphia: Blakiston (1942). Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press (1973). ISBN: 0518100014. LC: HD 3616 .U47 A62 1973

Somers, Harold M. (editor). 1944 (1980). Readings in Business Cycle Theory, Volume 2 of the general series. Philadelphia: Blakiston (1944). New York: AMS Press (1980). ISBN: 0404153305. LC: HB 3711 .A426 1980

This third volume is one of the best introductions to general equilibrium theory, and it explains the relation of other topics in economics to questions of wealth and income distribution.

Fellner, William and Bernard F. Haley (editors). 1946 (1973). Readings in the Theory of Income Distribution, Volume 3 of the general series. Philadelphia: Blakiston (1946). New York: AMS Press (1973). ISBN: 0404153321. LC: HB 601 .A46 1980

Ellis, Howard Sylvester (editor). 1949. Readings in the Theory of International Trade, Volume 4 of the general series. Philadelphia: Blakiston. LC: Hf 1007 .A5

Lutz, Friedrich A. and Lloyd W. Mints (editors). 1951 (1983). Readings in Monetary Theory, Volume 5 of the general series. Philadelphia: Blakiston (1951). New York: Garland (1983). ISBN: 0824052714 (alk. Paper). LC: HG 221 .R28 1983

Stigler, George J. and Kenneth E. Boulding (editors).1952.Readings in Price Theory, Volume 6 of the general series. Chicago: R.D. Irwin. LC: HB 221 .A45

Smithies, Arthur and J. Keith Butters (editors).1955. Readings in Fiscal Policy, Volume 7 of the general series. Homewood, IL: R.D. Irwin. LC: HJ 257 .A82

Heflebower, Richard B. and George W. Stocking (editors). 1958. Readings in Industrial Organization and Public Policy, Volume 8 of the general series. Homewood, IL: R.D. Irwin. LC: HC 106.5 .A5947

Musgrave, Richard A. and Carl S. Shoup (editors). 1959. Readings in the Economics of Taxation, Volume 9 of the general series. Homewood, IL: R.D. Irwin. LC: HJ 2240. A6

Gordon, Robert Aaron and Lawrence R. Klein (editors).1965. Readings in Business Cycles, Volume 10 of the general series. Homewood, IL: R.D. Irwin. LC: HB 3711 .A426

Caves, Richard E. and Harry G. Johnson (editors). 1968. Readings in International Economics, Volume 11 of the general series. Homewood, IL: R.D. Irwin. LC: HF 1411 .R4 1968

Arrow, Kenneth J. and Tibor Scitovsky (editors). 1969. Readings in Welfare Economics, Volume 12 of the general series. Homewood, IL: R.D. Irwin. LC: HB 99.3 .R4

Keep in mind that “welfare” above does not mean payments to poor people but means the benefit that people in general derive from the economy. Along with Gerard DeBreu, Kenneth Arrow gave the modern formulation of general equilibrium, so Volume 12 is about the formal ideas of general equilibrium and their implications for the general welfare.

Fox, Karl A. and D. Gale (editors). 1969. Readings in the Economics of Agriculture, Volume 13 of the general series. Homewood, IL: R.D. Irwin. LC: HD 1411 .F66

General Advice on Specific Topics

To find books on specific topics in economics such as the economics of labor, I suggest going to the nearest academic library and looking for textbooks on those topics or similar books on those topics. I also suggest looking up the topic on an Internet book-selling site such as Amazon. Pay attention to suggestions by readers, and not just to the books on sale now. Nearly every major subject in economics has a text. I do not suggest any texts. Some topics are so contentious and have such huge bibliographies that I decided to suggest only one book, or two books in that field, from which you can go on to the rest.

Key Books In History

Of the influential books in economics, the four most important non-mathematical books are as below. Smith’s book is massive but still worth reading. Ricardo’s book will seem quaint until you have read moreeconomics. You might not see right away why Keynes’ book caused so much fuss but eventually you will.

Smith, Adam. 1776 (1965). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (unabridged). New York: Modern Library

Ricardo, David. 1819 (1817, 1820). The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. New York: Dutton Everyman’s

Mill, John Stuart (Stephen Nathanson, editor). 2004 (originally several editions in the middle 1800s). Principles of Political Economy with Some of Their Applications to Social Philosophy. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing

Keynes, John Maynard. 1936 (1953). The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich

For an entertaining recent commentary on Smith:

O’Rourke, P.J. 2007. On the Wealth of Nations. New York: Grove Press

History of Capitalism

Along with histories of economics, it is important to get a history of capitalism. Many have been written, most of which promote a particular point of view. This book provides a backdrop against which we can understand why capitalism is distinct.

Finley, M.I. 1973. The Ancient Economy. Berkeley: University of California Press

This series is well worthwhile: Braudel, Fernand. 1981 – 1984. Civilization and Capitalism,15th – 18th Century, 3 volumes. New York: Harper and Row

A shorter version is: Braudel, Fernand. 1973. Capitalism and Material Life. New York: Harper and Row

We need to know what capitalism developed from: Little, Lester K. 1978. Religious Poverty and the Profit Economy in Medieval Europe. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press

The movement off the farm to factories in growing cities was an important event in the development of modern capitalism. Sometimes capitalists forced this movement, as in what is called “enclosure” in England in the 1700s. This book gives a mainstream account that should allow the reader to make up his/her own mind about the role of the carrot and the stick in the development of capitalism:

Deane, Phyllis. 1965. The First Industrial Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

We need a feel for the religions and ideals that go into capitalism. Max Weber gave the dominant view in which Protestantism was key. I think he is wrong. Tawney gives the general background. The books listed after Weber challenge Weber’s view. See also Rothbard above.

Tawney, Richard Henry. 1962. Religion and the Rise of Capitalism: A Historical Study. Gloucester, MA: P. Smith

Weber, Max. 1988. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Gloucester, MA: P. Smith Robertson, H.M. 1973 (1933).

Aspects of the Rise of Economic Individualism: A Criticism of Max Weber and His School. Clifton, NJ: Augustus Kelley

Samuellson, Kurt. 1957. Religion and Economic Action: A Critique of Max Weber. New York: Harper and Row

This book looks at background ideas in another way: Marx, Leo. 1964. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. New York:Oxford University Press

Religion still plays a role in economic theory although many economists would not recognize it.

Nelson, Robert. 1991. Reaching for Heaven on Earth: The Theological Meaning of Economics. Savage, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers

Nelson, Robert. 2001. Economics as Religion. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press

North, Gary. 1976. An Introduction to Christian Economics. Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press

Take a level-headed look at “captains of industry” without romanticizing them too much. H.W. Brands has written many good books on American history, in which he emphasizes the relation between economics and politics.

Brands, H.W. 1999. Masters of Enterprise: Giants of American Business from John Jacob Astor and J.P. Morgan to Bill Gates and Oprah Winfree. New York: Free Press

Selections from Two Overlooked People: Hume and Malthus

Because of their importance for ideas about money, economic balance, and population, it helps to read a

little of Hume and Malthus. Hume is easy to read. Malthus is short and engaging but unfocused.

Hume, David (Eugene Rotwein, editor). 1970. Writings on Economics. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press

Malthus, Thomas Robert. 1970. The Pamphlets. New York: Augustus Kelley

Malthus, Thomas Robert. 1827. Definitions in Political Economy. New York: Augustus Kelley

This book is a classic. It greatly influenced Darwin. The argument is wrong technically but right generally.

Malthus, Thomas Robert. 1978 (1959). Population: The First Essay. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press

See also: Peterson, William. 1979. Malthus. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

The Development of Corporate Capitalism and Organized Labor

This book explains the change in management in the 1800s and how that change created modern corporate capitalism:

Chandler, Alfred D. Jr. 1977. The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University

It is important to look not only at firms but also at working people in modern corporate capitalism.

Himmelfarb, Gertrude. 1983. The Idea of Poverty: England in the Early Industrial Age. New York: Random House

Thompson, E.P. 1963. The Making of the English Working Class. New York: Random House

Garraty, John A. 1978. Unemployment in History: Economic Thought and Public Policy. New York: Harper

General Equilibrium

Nearly all books on general equilibrium depend on mathematics. In the 1990s, general equilibrium was popular in texts, so if you can find a text from that period, likely it will discuss general equilibrium and games. Volumes 3 and 12 of the American Economic Association series mentioned above are really about general equilibrium and the distribution of wealth that results from general equilibrium or from modifications of general equilibrium.

An excellent short book with only simple mathematics is:

Katzner, Donald W. 1989. The Walrasian Vision of the Microeconomy: An Elementary Exposition of the Structure of Modern General Equilibrium Theory. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press

The best accessible commentator on general equilibrium is E. Roy Weintraub.

Weintraub, E. Roy. 1993. General Equilibrium Analysis: Studies in Appraisal. Ann Arbor, MI: University of

Michigan Press

This book explains questions of fairness:

Hahn, Frank. 1984. Equilibrium and Macroeconomics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

This book does as the title indicates. It is not too technical.

Hansen, Bent. 1970. A Survey of General Equilibrium Systems. New York: McGraw-Hill

These books are technical but not mathematical, and show the links between Classical and modern ideas:

Walsh, Vivian Charles and Harvey Gram. 1980. Classical and Neoclassical Theories of General Equilibrium. New York: Oxford

Walsh, Vivian. 1996. Rationality, Allocation and Reproduction. Oxford: Clarendon Press of Oxford University Press

The following book was key to my young understanding of economics. It has a lot of moderate-level mathematics, but, if you can handle it, you will learn much. Other similar books can play the same role. Look for “intermediate microeconomics”.

Henderson, James M. and Richard E. Quandt. 1958. Microeconomic Theory: A Mathematical Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill

Price System

Works on the price system are relevant to general equilibrium. One of the best-known theorists of the price system is George Stigler. A sampling of his works is a good place to begin. Also, see above under histories.

Stigler, George. Kurt R. Leube and Thomas Gale Moore (editors). 1986. The Essence of Stigler. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press of Stanford University

Stigler, George. 1987. The Theory of Price, Fourth Edition. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company

Austrian economics stresses the integrity of the price system, and the fact that it arises out of the interplay of free actors. See Ludwig von Mises in the section on Austrian economics below.


We need to understand Mercantilists so that we can understand modern people who advise exceptions to the free market and/or expansion ideology. Look also at the pamphlets and other works of Mercantilists cited in these books.

Magnusson, Lars (editor). 1993. Mercantilist Economics. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publisher

Eklund, Robert B. Jr. and Robert D. Tollson. 1997. Politicized Economies: Monarchy, Monopoly and Mercantilism. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press

Classical Economics

The best introduction to Classical economics is through a history of economics, and through the books of Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, and Mill listed above. Samuel Hollander wrote a series of books on Classical economics, of which the following is one. I also liked his book on Adam Smith.

Hollander Samuel. 1987. Classical Economics. New York: Basil Blackwell

O’Brien, D.P. 1975. The Classical Economists. Oxford: Clarendon Press

This book is in English despite the title.

Cantillon, Richard. Higgs, Henry (editor and translator). 1931. Essai Sur La Nature Du Commerce En

General (Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General). London: Macmillan and Company

Spontaneous Unplanned Persistent Order

This book is short, clear, and to-the-point:

Hamowy, Ronald. 1987. The Scottish Enlightenment and the Theory of Spontaneous Order. The Journal of the History of Philosophy Monograph Series. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press

Schneider, Louis. 1967. The Scottish Moralists: On Human Nature and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Schneider, Louis. 1987. Paradox and Society: The Work of Bernard Mandeville. New Brunswick, CN: Transaction Books

Force, Pierre. 2003. Self-Interest Before Adam Smith: A Genealogy of Economic Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Say’s Law

Still the standard work deservedly is:

Sowell, Thomas. 1972. Say’s Law: An Historical Analysis. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

Marginality Theory

Modern textbooks do not use marginal utility theory to explain consumer choice but instead use a related idea called “indifference curves”. They do use marginality theory (marginal revenue and marginal cost) to explain the theory of the firm. It is better to understand marginality theory before going to indifference curves. You can get a pretty good idea of marginality theory in general from any textbook. Specific works are:

Page, Alfred N. (editor). 1968. Utility Theory: A Book of Readings. New York: John Wiley and Sons

Kauder, Emil. 1965. A History of Marginal Utility Theory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

Howe, Richard S. 1989. The Rise of the Marginal Utility School 1870 – 1889. New York: Columbia University Press

On whether people actually gain from market-like exchange, try this:

Ray, Arthur J. and Donald B. Freeman. 1978. “Give Us Good Measure”: an economic analysis of relations between the Indians and the Hudson’s Bay Company before 1763. Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Profit and Interest

Neoclassical economics seems to avoid questions about the origin of profit and of interest, and instead wishes to develop models based only on the rates of profit and interest. The following books stick to basic questions. Some of them are classics that require a bit of algebra.

Knight wrote the key book, and he explains the role of the entrepreneur also. His book requires no mathematics, and I strongly recommend it. It ranks just below Smith, Ricardo, and Cantillon.

Knight, Frank H. 1921. Risk, Uncertainty and Profit. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company

This is a good short summary, also with no mathematics:

Obrinsky, Mark. 1983. Profit Theory and Capitalism. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press

Two general works:

Lamberton, Donald McLean. 1965. The Theory of Profit. Oxford: Basil Blackwell

Wood, Adrian. 1975. A Theory of Profits. New York: Cambridge University Press

The following are some classics on profit and interest. Fisher exemplifies the neoclassical tendency to avoid questions of origin to instead stick to questions of rate. Still, his work is precise, clear, and nearly definitive.

Fisher, Irving. 1965 (1905). The Nature of Capital and Income. New York: Augustus Kelley Fisher, Irving. 1907 (1982). The Rate of Interest. New York: Garland Publishing

Fisher, Irving. 1930 (1954). The Theory of Interest: As Determined by Impatience to Spend Income and Opportunity to Invest It. New York: Kelley and Millman

Conard, Joseph W. 1959. An Introduction to the Theory of Interest. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press Lutz edited the book on money in the Blakiston series.

Lutz, Friedrich August. 1968. The Theory of Interest. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company

Also try:

Kellison, Stephen G. 1970. The Theory of Interest. Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin, Inc.

Austrian economists stress the role of personal time preference in setting the rate of interest and stress the “roundaboutness” of capital in producing a yield and a profit. A good best introduction to their point of view is in a collection of essays by one of the early developers:

Fetter, Frank A. (Murray Rothbard, editor). 1977. Capital, Interest, and Rent: Essays in the Theory of Distribution. Kansas City, MO: Sheed Andrews and McMeel, Inc. Subsidiary of Universal Press Syndicate

Imperfect Competition

The best short explanations of imperfect competition are found in textbooks. More detailed explanations require mathematics. The real question is the impact of imperfect competition on the economy as a whole, and there is still no good simple model of that. So I cite Chamberlin’s basic work, which is still easy to read and understand.

Chamberlin, Edward. 1962. Theory of Monopolistic Competition: A Re-Orientation of the Theory of Value, Eighth Edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Kuenne, Robert E. (editor). 1967. Monopolistic Competition Theory: Studies in Impact. New York: Wiley

Joan Robinson was contemporary with Chamberlin and wrote on this subject, although she was influenced by Marxist ideas. Look her up in a library catalog.

Marxists have developed models of the impact of imperfect competition on the economy as a whole but I cannot go into them in this bibliography. The basic works are by Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, and Michal Kalecki (Luxemburg makes an appearance in the movie “Reds” with Warren Beatty, and in the book “Ten Days that Shook the World” on which the movie is based). Their work is accurate to some extent but not accurate enough, and here is not the place to evaluate alternative approaches. Kalecki is quite intelligent but hard to read, and his interpreters do not usually help.

Labor and the Class System

This topic is contentious and large. It requires input not just from economists but also from sociologists and educators, into which I cannot go here. I lean on experiences of the reader for validation. If the reader disagrees, or just does not “get it”, then listing many books will not help. See also corporations above, Gary Becker above and below, Barbara Ehrenreich below, and Gintis et al. below. See the website for Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor, especially data on persistent differences in income and on the qualifications for various kinds of occupations.

The literature on the situation of working people and on relations between working people and capitalists is huge. To simplify, I give you one book to start with. Ehrenreich has written good books on this topic.

Ehrenreich, Barbara. 2002. Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. New York: Holt Paperbacks

Here are some places to go next:

McNulty, Paul J. 1980. The Origins and Development of Labor Economics. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press

Darity, William Jr. (editor). 1984. Labor Economics: Modern Views. Boston: Kluwer-Nijhoff Publishing

Wermel, Michael T. 1939.

The Evolution of the Classical Wage Theory. Morningside Heights, NY: Columbia University Press

Lester Thurow is a frequent writing partner of Heilbroner. He also did pioneering work in labor economics.

Two of his relevant books are:

Thurow, Lester C. 1970. Investment in Human Capital. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth

Thurow, Lester C. 1969. Poverty and Discrimination. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution

The following books are not only about but also about all the tensions that grow in a society with structured markets.

Thurow, Lester C. 1975. Generating Inequality: Mechanisms of Distribution in the U.S. Economy. New York: Basic Books

Thurow, Lester C. 1980. The Zero-Sum Society: Distribution and the Possibilities for Economic Change. New York: Basic Books

Some economists argue that discrimination is irrational because it gives no advantage to the discriminators and it costs both discriminators and people discriminated against – discrimination diminishes total welfare. Some argue that discrimination is rational in that discriminators take benefit (wealth) from discriminated people to keep for themselves.

From a Conservative position, Thomas Sowell considers the strategic aspects of discriminating and of getting discriminated against. He has written much on relations between strategy, education, and ethnicity. Whether one agrees with him or not (I largely do), he is well worth reading. Here is only one of many books that he has written.

Sowell, Thomas. 1981. Markets and Minorities. New York: Basic Books

See also:

Atkinson, Anthony Barnes. 1975. The Economics of Inequality. Oxford: Clarendon Press


This one book is not a diatribe against welfare. Gilens, Martin. 1999. Why Americans Hate Welfare. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Please see the entry for David Hume’s essays in a section above. See the books written and edited by Lutz, and the work by Fisher.

Contemporary controversies begin with the Monetarists of the 1950s, led by Milton Friedman. But it is best to place those controversies into the context of deeper arguments about money and how it is backed up, for which Austrians are the best source:

Von Mises, Ludwig. 1980. Theory of Money and Credit. Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Classics Von Mises, Ludwig. 1990. Money, Method, and the Market Process: Essays. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute

A short statement of Milton Friedman’s position is in:

Friedman, Milton. Kurt R. Leube (editor). 1987. The Essence of Friedman. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press of Stanford University

More technical statements are in:

Friedman, Milton. 1953. Essays in Positive Economics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

From there, the controversy was summarized in:

Dean, Edwin (editor). 1965. The Controversy over the Quantity Theory of Money. Boston: D.C. Heath

These articles are simple without too much mathematics:

Boorman, John T. and Thomas M. Havrilesky (editors). 1972. Money Supply, Money Demand, and Macroeconomic Models. Boston: Allyn and Bacon

Here is a reminder that modern money is about finance, finance entails big business, big business has developed, the role of money cannot be neutral, and people have known this all for a while:

Edwards, George W. 1967 (1938). The Evolution of Finance Capitalism. New York: Augustus Kelley

The interpretation of a Liberal iconoclast:

Galbraith, John Kenneth. 1975. Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

The historian H.W. Brands (see above) knows well the period around President Andrew Jackson when America went through great anguish over money. This book is part of a popular series and so is not laden with jargon:

Brands, H.W. 2006. The Money Men: Capitalism, Democracy, and the Hundred Years’ War Over the American Dollar. The Enterprise Series. New York: W.W. Norton

Keynes and Macroeconomics

Keynes discovered macroeconomics on his own but other people had had the same ideas earlier, only the other people were forgotten. Knut Wicksell and Michal Kalecki had similar ideas about the same times as Keynes but they do not get the same recognition because he did not write in English and he did not write with as gracefully. Keep in mind Keynes’ self-proclaimed debt to Malthus. Here are some other predecessors:

Spengler, Joseph J. 1980. French Predecessors of Malthus: A Study in Eighteenth-Century Wage and Population Theory. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Cochrane, James L. 1970. Macroeconomics Before Keynes. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Company Keyne’s “General Theory” is referenced above. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a flood of popular books explaining him. Two standards are:

Hansen, Alvin H. 1953. A Guide to Keynes. New York: McGraw-Hill

Lekachman, Robert. 1966. The Age of Keynes: The Life, Times, Thought, and Triumph of the Greatest Economist of Our Age. New York: Random House

Once beyond this simple level, macroeconomics tends to get complicated and mathematical quickly. An early, manageable example is:

Weintraub, Sidney. 1966. A Keynesian Theory of Employment Growth and Income Distribution. New York: Chilton Books

This example is complicated but charming too. It is an amazing comprehensive system. I have no idea how true it is.

Patinkin, Don. 1989. Money, Interest, and Prices: An Integration of Monetary and Value Theory, Second Edition, abridged. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Growing Disparity of Wealth

Interest in this topic increased rapidly since the collapse after 2007, and the discovery of the 1% and the 99%. I do not give any selections from recent material because I have not had a chance to digest it yet.

Before 2007, the best critics of the Practice are Right Wing authors who feel betrayed by the Republican Party and by what they feel is bad for business: increasing national debt, the undermining of the middle class, and the increasing wealth and power of the already-wealthy.

An outstanding example is Kevin Phillips. He is able to place these conflicts in the long history of England and America.

Phillips, Kevin. 1993. Boiling Point: Republicans, Democrats, and the Decline of Middle-Class Prosperity. New York: Random House

Phillips, Kevin. 2002. Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich. New York: Broadway Books

The following is excellent background on many issues.

Phillips, Kevin. 1999. The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics, and the Triumph of Anglo-America. New York: Basic Books

Just to prove that Phillips is not alone:

Wolff, Edward N. 1995. Top Heavy: A Study of the Increasing Inequality of Wealth in America. New York: Twentieth Century Fund Press

A good way to appreciate this problem is to go to the web sites of Conservative institutions such as the American Enterprise Institute and go through their online publications.


This is a large book but it is by the key figure in the field in the latter half of the 1900s and it is pretty easy to read. Nearly all the mathematics is in an appendix.

Rostow, Walt W. 1990. Theories of Economic Growth from David Hume to the Present: With a Perspective on the Next Century. New York: Oxford University Press

Austrian Economics

The best way to appreciate Austrian Economics is to go to the web page for the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Auburn, Alabama. The web page is run through the name of the current director, Lew Rockwell:

The daily articles tend to be repetitive and short on evidence, but the archived sources are excellent. The “straight economics” pieces are usually argued well and fairly accurate. This site also shows the links between Libertarianism and Austrian economics.

You can always get a bibliography and a list of representative Austrians from the website, but the best-known Austrians after the founders are as below. The Institute maintains a selection.

Ludwig von Mises

Fredrich von Hayek

Murray Rothbard

World System

Whether or not the regular economy is embedded in any larger systems is a huge topic in itself, and it is inevitably bound up with Marxism, so I do not go into it. Here are a few basic works:

A non-Marxist reference point:

Scott, John. 1997. Corporate Business and Capitalist Classes. Oxford: Oxford University Press

A Marxist reference point: Foster, John Bellamy. 1986. The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism: An Elaboration of Marxian PoliticalEconomy. New York: Monthly Review Press

See the entire catalog of Monthly Review Press.

Frank, Andre Gunder. 1969. Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America: Historical Studies of Chile and Brazil. New York: Monthly Review Press

Frank, Andre Gunder. 1978. World Accumulation 1492 – 1789. New York: Monthly Review Press

Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1976. The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century. New York: Academic Press

Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1980. Mercantilism and the Consolidation of the European World-Economy, 1600-1750. New York: Academic Press

Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1983. Labor in the World Social Structure. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications

Since the 1970s, probably the largest topic in social and cultural anthropology has been the absorption into the world system of people who had lived outside of mainstream capitalism – the so-called “tribal” people. The dominant ideas are rooted in Marxism even if particular studies depart from orthodox Marxism. Little of the work uses mainstream neoclassical economics. The best insight into this work comes from the journals of anthropology in the United States published by the American Anthropological Association: “American Anthropologist” and “American Ethnologist”. Also, find the Society for Economic Anthropology on the Internet and look at their list of publications.

I cannot sample all the books on the bad reputation of capitalism in general and of corporations in particular. The diamond industry is an example. It is a near monopoly, and the harvesting of diamonds (raw material) has brought little benefit to the native people where the diamonds are found. Keep in mind that the diamond industry is not typical of capitalism or of corporations even if it does show some of the worst aspects.

See the movie “Blood Diamond” starring Leonardo Di Caprio.

Gberie, Lansana and Ralph Hazelton and Ian Smillie. 2000. Heart of the Matter: Sierra Leone, Diamonds and Human Security. New York: Diane

Ian Smillie is a global activist for peace and economic justice who has written many useful books.

Roberts, Janine. 2003. The Secret World of the Diamond Cartel. New York: The Disinformation Company

Campbell, Greg. 2004. Blood Diamonds. Boulder, CO: Westview Press

The NGO “Global Witness” produced a report on the diamond industry called “A Rough Trade” but this report can be hard to get. “Global Witness” publishes the book version of Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth”.

Particular Economists

When I give the names of economists without citing representative publications, either I have given publications above or I intend the reader to go to an online catalog to choose items that interest the reader. For Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises, see above. For John Maynard Keynes, see above.

Paul Samuelson was the key young figure in the development of the neoclassical synthesis, and wrote the most influential textbook ever in economics. He is the best example of a postwar Liberal. He was highly adept at mathematics but the following book has many non-mathematical works. For a long time, he wrote columns in Newsweek. If you can find collections of those columns, they are still worth reading for the underlying philosophy even if the topics are dated. He and Milton Friedman debated for decades.

Samuelson, Paul Anthony. 1983. Economics from the Heart: A Samuelson Sampler. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Milton Friedman was the leader of non-Austrian Conservative economics from after World War II until the 1990s. He was adept at mathematics but some of his technical arguments can be understood anyway. He was a Monetarist in that he stressed the role of money and he blamed abuse of money by the state for many problems in the economy. His Conservative stand goes deep, and can be appreciated regardless of what the reader thinks about Monetarism.

See “Money” above for “The Essence of Friedman”

Friedman, Milton. 1953. Essays in Positive Economics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Friedman, Milton with the Assistance of Rose D. Friedman. 1962. Capitalism and Freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Friedman, Milton and Rose Friedman. 1980. Free To Choose: A Personal Statement. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Friedman, Milton. 1983. Bright Promises, Dismal Performance: An Economist’s Protest. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Hirsh, Abraham and Neil de Marchi. 1990. Milton Friedman: Economics in Theory and Practice. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press

John Kenneth Galbraith is the Liberal opposite of Friedman. He feared large business firms and he did not believe that they would routinely deliver utility to consumers. His books are almost entirely non-mathematical. Some of his worst fears have not come true but his arguments are still worth reading. His writing is always witty and engaging.

See above for his book “Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went”

Galbraith, John Kenneth and Nicole Salinger. 1978. Almost Everyone’s Guide to Economics. New York: Bantam

Galbraith, John Kenneth. 1984. The Affluent Society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

Galbraith, John Kenneth. 1972. Great Crash, 1929. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock are economists who have written about the strategies of politics, moral life, and social life in the same way as economists write about strategically pursuing any material good. They pioneered in seeing politics in terms of strategic state officials and their clients, and seeing privileges in terms of imperfect competition and rent.

Buchanan’s collected works go to many volumes. This presents one look:

Buchanan, James. 1994. Ethics and Economic Progress. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press

Tullock, Gordon. 1989. The Economics of Special Privilege and Rent Seeking. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers

Gary Becker pioneered in the application of strategic thinking to family life and to aspects of everyday life. His books on those topics are repeated from above. His work came before modern evolutionary theory was applied to people yet overlaps many of the same topics, so it is interesting to read him both for links and contrasts between the two kinds of theories. He sees utility where biologists would see reproductive success.

Becker, Gary S. 1957. Economics of Discrimination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Becker, Gary S. 1975. Human Capital. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Becker, Gary S. 1976. The Economic Approach to Human Behavior. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Becker, Gary S. 1991. A Treatise on the Family. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Becker, Gary S. 1996. Accounting for Tastes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press Becker, Gary S. 1997. The Economics of Life: From Baseball to Affirmative Action to Immigration, How Real-World Issues Affect Our Everyday Life. New York: McGraw-Hill

Becker, Gary S. 2000. Social Economics: Market Behavior in a Social Environment. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press It is not possible to list Marx or Marxist economists.

John Roemer let go of the labor theory of value so that he could explain deeper Marxist ideas, such as exploitation, in strategic terms that would make sense to most neoclassical economists. He uses only a little mathematics.

Roemer, John. 1986. Value, Exploitation, and Class. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers Roemer, John. 1996. Theories of Distributive Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

This book is also relevant to the evolution of the capacity for morality:

Roemer, John. 2001. Political Competition: Theory and Applications. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Current State of the Economy

Most people that are not taking a course in college read about economics so that they can understand the current economy better, often so they can get rich. As mentioned above, that is not the topic covered in this book or bibliography. Still, once people get basic economics, it is easier to understand “the situation of the economy”, and people get curious. Books, and articles in journals, are quickly dated. Magazines such as Time and Newsweek do a pretty good job, as do most major newspapers such as the New York Times and the Manchester Guardian. Most of this material can now be found on the Internet for free or for a small fee. The best thing is to get on the Internet and to search important topics in the economy, such as the Fed or the current prime interest rate. All of the major Internet interfaces, such as MSN, Yahoo, Google, or Ask, provide financial news and provide space for financial commentators. Once you find one piece or one commentator, you will be drawn into chains of pieces and commentators. Most of the information is pretty good if you take it in the context of what you have learned here. The initial pieces in a series often are free, but, if you wish to go deeper, you might have to pay because that is how those people make their living.

Nearly all trade associations and labor associations have their websites in which they offer their ideas about the current state of their profession and the economy. Begin with the AFL-CIO and the National Association of Manufacturers, or with the United Automobile Workers and General Motors.

Human Nature

After about 1980, sociobiology (the biological theory of social relations) boomed and then fractured into specialties. The best books for a general overview are thus earlier books by pioneers. You cannot correctly understand biological ideas about humans without some background in animals. This section deals with general topics of the evolution of human nature. The next section deals with the evolution of the capacity for morality, so see some of the basic books listed in that section as well.

Wilson, E.O. 1975. Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Robert Trivers. 1985. Social Evolution. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings

Richard Dawkins gained fame by stressing the importance that genes play in evolution and by drawing parallels between genes and ideas. (He calls ideas “memes” when he uses ideas in this way). His books are on the strong end of reductionism. They are also well written.

Dawkins, Richard. 1976 (revised 1989). The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Dawkins, Richard. 1986. The Blind Watchmaker. London: Longmans

Dawkins, Richard. 2004. The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, with additional research by Yan Wong. New York: Houghton Mifflin

For Darwinism applied to people, find the Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES) and the journals “Human Nature” and “Politics and the Life Sciences”. Look for references in the articles. There are now so many articles and books that it is not possible to pick out a representative small sample. Here is a mixture of popular books and more serious books.

Despite the title, the book below does not argue that religion can be reduced to genes. It is a charming non-technical survey of biochemistry, genetics, and spirituality.

Hamer, Dean. 2004. The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired Into Our Genes. New York: Doubleday

Not only did physical traits evolve, but so also did behavior; and many animals have at least some mind.

The following is a professional survey that is also fun and simple enough for the non-professional. It clarifies similarities and distinctions between humans and non-humans. See also the many excellent books by Frans de Waal.

Hauser, Marc. 2000. Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think. New York: Henry Holt and Company

Although an anthropology book, the following book is written with a general audience in mind, is quite accessible, argues strongly that there is a human nature, gives some idea of what important aspects of human nature might be, and gives some idea of how to look for those aspects and how not to look.

Brown, Donald E. 1991. Human Universals. Philadelphia: Temple University Press

A short, readable, charming account of human evolution:

Dunbar, Robin. 2004. The Human Story: A New History of Mankind’s Evolution. London: Faber and Faber

John Maynard Smith is technical but not too hard. He introduced game theory into modern evolutionary

theory. He makes a good foundation. The first book has some college math.

Maynard Smith, John. 1982. Evolution and the Theory of Games. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Maynard Smith, John. 1993 (1975). The Theory of Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Some useful books in chronological order are below. MATT Ridley writes popular books on evolution at a high level of quality and skill. His style is engaging and graceful. He is not the same as MARK Ridley; see below.

Ridley, Matt. 1993. The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature. New York: Macmillan

Dennet, Daniel C. 1995. Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life. New York: Simon and Schuster

This book has articles on the application of evolutionary theory to specific human groups. It has a section with several articles on the demographic transition to small families.

Cronk, Lee and Napoleon Chagnon and William Irons (editors). 2000. Adaptation and Human Behavior: An Anthropological Perspective. Hawthorne, NY: De Gruyter

Miller, Geoffrey. 2000. The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature. New York: Doubleday

Nesse, Randolph (editor). 2001. Evolution and the Capacity for Commitment. New York: Russell Sage Foundation

These two books are too technical for most readers but are some of the few books that jump the gap between evolution and economics. The Gintis et al. book is part of a series worth looking at. The whole series is also useful for game theory (see below). Gintis et al. explains the idea that people are predisposed to think well of each other until disappointed, which the contributors call “strong reciprocity”. Several articles point out the implications for policy, such as for welfare.

Gintis, Herbert and Samuel Bowles, Robert Boyd, and Ernest Fehr (editors). 2005. Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press

Nicita, Antonio and Ugo Pagano (editors). 2001. The Evolution of Economic Diversity. London: Routledge

Seabright, Paul. 2004. The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life. Princeton: Princeton U. Press

Berreby, Daniel. 2005. Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind. New York: Little Brown

Boyd and Richerson stress the importance of learning and culture. This book is clearly written, with no mathematics. It has advanced ideas but it is accessible. It goes along with the Gintis et al. book above.

Richerson Peter J. and Robert Boyd. 2005. Not By Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

MARK Ridley is not the same as MATT Ridley. This book provides many excerpts from the texts in the development of modern evolutionism. After you become somewhat familiar with the basics of evolution, I recommend all his books.

Ridley, Mark (editor). 2004. Evolution, Third Edition. Oxford: Blackwell

Evolution of the Capacity for Morality

As soon as sociobiology gained prominence, scientists and philosophers became interested in the implications for morality. The topic got caught up in disputes between creationism versus evolution, between religious fundamentalists versus staunch atheists, and over the role of religion in causing modern problems such as terrorism. Some moral philosophers who have learned biology (Richard Joyce) do good work, but their work is too technical and too focused on issues to be suitable for general readers. Proponents of evolution tend to dislike religion in general, blame religion for its role in modern problems such as terrorism, and stress that people can be moral without believing in God. I offer a few books that give the basic ideas. It is important to have a firm basis in ideas about morality, ethics, and religion before tackling this subject. I cannot give any suggestions here better than to consult textbooks from the local thrift store. Read a lot of Aristotle, Hume, and Kant. It helps to look up the books by Dawkins or Dennett on an Internet buying service such as Amazon for comments by readers and for suggestions for related books.

Although now dated, the following two books get much of the credit for beginning the modern debate on biology and morality.

Alexander, Richard D. 1987. The Biology of Moral Systems. New York: de Gruyter

Wilson, E. O. 1978. On Human Nature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

The following books are in chronological order.

This book is a classic. It introduces game theory, the special game “prisoner’s dilemma”, and the special strategy “tit for tat”. Axelrod gives tit for tat too much credit, but he explains well, he is not far off, and the background is invaluable.

Axelrod, Robert. 1984. The Evolution of Cooperation. New York: Basic Books

This book is a classic. It goes further into game theory, explains commitment, and explains how commitment is fundamental to emotions. It is well written.

Frank, Robert H. 1988. Passions Within Reason: The Strategic Role of the Emotions. New York: Norton

For more on game theory so as to make better sense of Axelrod, Frank, and Maynard Smith, read Williams and Sigmund, cited in the section on Game Theory below. The large majority of the following book is explanation, but Ridley also gives his political conclusions at the end of the book.

Ridley, Matt. 1996. The Origins of Virtue. New York: Viking Press Sober and Wilson have an unusual point of view that stresses the role of groups in evolution.

Sober, Elliot and David Sloan Wilson. 1998. Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish

Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard U. Press

Hinde, Robert A. 2002. Why Good is Good: The Sources of Morality. London: Routledge

The following books are also relevant to how the capacity for morality evolved:

Hinde, Robert A. 1999. Why Gods Persist: A Scientific Approach to Religion. London: Routledge

Boyer, Pascal. 2001. Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought. New York: Basic


The next two books explain why some evolutionists dislike religion. I do not include entries for why somereligious people dislike evolution.

Dawkins, Richard. 2006. The God Delusion. New York: Houghton Mifflin

Dennet, Daniel C. 2006. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. New York: Viking (Penguin)

Game Theory

Explanations of game theory jump from the basic to the difficult without a lot of intermediate steps. The basic books here might help. Introductory game theory stresses competition in which one player gains only what the other loses.

Williams wrote a good, easy, basic-arithmetic-only introduction. The words “compleat” and “strategyst” are spelled as in the title.

Williams, J. D. 1986 (1966). The Compleat Strategyst: Being a Primer on the Theory of Games of Strategy. New York: Dover Publications

This book was listed above, but bears repeating. It is simple, short, and clear.

Dixit, Avinash K. and Barry J. Nalebuff. 1991. Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life. New York: W. W. Norton and Company

After Williams, read John Maynard Smith, Robert Axelrod, and Robert Frank, all listed just above. See also the series of which Gintis et al. (see above) is a part.

Binmore’s book is a comprehensive introduction. The math is usually not too hard, but can get a bit detailed. You can read it before Maynard Smith, Axelrod, and Frank, or after. Its bibliography contains a lot of material to go on to, some of which is basic and simple.

Binmore, Ken. 1992. Fun and Games: A Text on Game Theory. Lexington, KY: Heath

Sigmund’s key book explains why game theory matters, and why simple is often good. It is the most important book after any basic books. It is short and clear and it requires little formal math but it does require a little mathematical imagination.

Sigmund, Karl. 1993. Games of Life: Explorations in Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Although not about game theory as such, the following book explains why simple action often works well enough so that we should not get too complicated. You will need that idea if you continue on in game theory, economics, or evolution.

Gigerenzer, Gerd and Peter M. Todd and the ABC Research Group. 1999. Simple Heuristics that Make Us Smart. New York: Oxford University Press