I just finished another fantastic book, New Ideas from Dead Economists by Todd Buchholz.
I really enjoyed the book and found it to be a great resource. For background on the book, Mr. Buchholz goes through every major idea in economics thinking of the modern world. There is a heavier emphasis on recent thinking, but he still provides good background on the factors that lead up to these modern concepts. The highlight of the book, though, was the structure. Most economics books that I have read are a study of one idea (monetary policy or Keynesian Economics, for example) or an analysis of one event in the context of one of these ideas.
New Ideas is different. It tells the story of all the major thoughts and how one leads into others. It primarily does this by telling the story of the main person who developed, made famous, or worked on each major new idea. I really enjoyed this structure because it helped solidify the concepts in two ways. The first, by humanizing them. It is easier to remember the esoteric ideas when you understand the person who was developing them, their life and their times.
Secondly, weaving the ideas one into the others helps them make more sense. When you try to grasp the ins and outs of the monetary versus fiscal policy debates from a standing stop it can be tough. But in this book we start with simpler ideas, ideas that modern people tend to take for granted, like supply and demand. From these simple concepts, more complex ideas are built. And even as someone who has a fairly solid grasp on modern economic thought, seeing how each built upon the other, and/or was a modification of the ideas that came before, made a huge difference in enhancing my understanding
The only thing that I did not like about the book was some political commentary. The first part of the book was fairly academic and focused on relating the facts of the ideas and the people. By the end of the book, when discussing the modern economists, Mr. Buchholz clearly colors his writing with his opinions on which things are right or wrong. This made the book more difficult to finish as I had to work to extract facts from the narrative and understand what was an accepted fact and what was an assumption made by the author.
All in all, however, I would consider this a great book as an introduction to economic thought and would encourage anyone who wants to understand these things to start here.