Henry Hazlitt wrote this book following his stint at the New York Times as an editorialist. His hope was to reduce the whole teaching of economics to a few principles and explain them in ways that people would never forget. It worked. He relied on some stories by Bastiat and his own impeccable capacity for logical thinking and crystal-clear prose. As just one example, this is the book that made the idea of the “broken window fallacy” so famous.
This is the book to send to reporters, politicians, pastors, political activists, teachers, or anyone else who needs to know. Written for the non-academic, it has served as the major antidote to fallacies in the popular press, and has appeared in dozens of languages and printings. It’s still the quickest way to learn how to think like an economist. And this is why it has been used in the best classrooms more than sixty years.
Hazlitt’s short book Economics in One Lesson is a must read for all Americans. Even if you do not have a particular aptitude for economics, the lessons it teaches are simple and practical. Although written over 50 years ago, the examples which Hazlitt uses are still very relevant today. He focuses this book on dispelling many economic fallacies which Americans have come to believe are true. I believe that in today’s tumultuous economy it is necessary for the common American to have at least a decent understanding of how economics works, and this book does more than that. I promise that anyone who puts forward the effort to read this short book will be ready to debate economics with their peers. It is an ageless classic, and will make you yearn for more and more lessons in economics.
My favorite aspect of the book: No matter what example or economic fallacy that Hazlitt refers to in the book, he always ties it in with the one lesson he is trying to teach: that people tend to view only the short term effects of economic decisions, and they tend to ignore the long term effects on the whole community. I also love the way that Hazlitt writes in such an easy to understand prose.
My least favorite part: Hazlitt tries his hardest to exclude his particular views on the government in his book, but unfortunately some of them become apparent through his economic teachings. This still may be good though, as exposing yourself to all the different views on economics is vital to understanding the science and art.
Joey’s Rating: 4 stars