Economic history is an important subject because we can learn a lot from the past. In fact many of our current theories are merely variations on ideas we had previously. This is a topic that is not only appealing to the economist but to all of us — economics is something that impacts everyone on the planet. Luckily there are some great economics history books available and we will mention just some of the best ones here.
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson (2009)
This is an easy to read text that looks at the history of finance from the very beginning. We learn how we progressed from bartering to using credit cards. This is a great introduction text for anyone interested in the history of economics. By the end of this book the reader will have a much better understanding of how we arrived at the position we are in today. This is a great book for those who like to read for pleasure as well as information.
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley (2010)
This book was only released relatively recently but it has already made a huge splash in the world of economics. It looks at the history of economics as being similar to evolution — an idea that some would see as quite controversial. Ridley isn’t just making wild speculations here but looks closely at the history of economics and other evidence to back his claims. This is an easy to read book and the reader will have a much better understanding of economics history when they are finished.
Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed (2009)
The Lords of Finances takes a look at one of the most historically important events in the history of economics — the great depression. This book is written in an engaging way that will have readers completely absorbed in the material. The book hopes to answer the question of what caused the great depression and what can be learnt from it. This is a remarkable book that has already received a lot of praise from those who have read it.
The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes (2007)
This is another book looking at the great depression and the lessons that can be learnt from it. The focus here though is more about providing the facts of what actually happened rather than providing the reader with a theory — this is nice because it allows you to make your own mind up. The other good thing about this book is that it involves the actual recollections of people who lived during that time. If you are interested in what happened during the 1920s in the United States then this book will give you plenty of facts about that time — it is also an enjoyable read.
Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Dick Hill (2010)
This book focuses on more recent economics history and the crash in 2007. It examines what could have caused such an economic disaster and the reader will feel a lot more informed about things by the time they have finished. As well as looking at the history of this event the book also attempts to predict what it will mean for our future.