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Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius Audiobook, by Sylvia Nasar Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Sylvia Nasar Narrator: John Bedford Lloyd, Anne Twomey Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2011 ISBN: 9781442340152
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (420 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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In a sweeping narrative, the author of the mega-bestseller A Beautiful Mind takes us on a journey through modern history with the men and women who changed the lives of every single person on the planet. It’s the epic story of the making of modern economics, and of how it rescued mankind from squalor and deprivation by placing its material fate in its own hands rather than in Fate.

Nasar’s account begins with Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew observing and publishing the condition of the poor majority in mid nineteenth-century London, the richest and most glittering place in the world. This was a new pursuit. She then describes the efforts of Marx, Engels, Alfred Marshal, Beatrice and Sydney Webb, and Irving Fisher to put those insights into action—with revolutionary consequences for the world.

From the great John Maynard Keynes to Schumpeter, Hayek, Keynes’s disciple Joan Robinson, the influential American economists Paul Samuelson and Milton Freedman, and India’s Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen, she shows how the insights of these activist thinkers transformed the world—from one city, London, to the developed nations in Europe and America, and now to the entire world.

In Nasar’s dramatic account of these discoverers we witness men and women responding to personal crises, world wars, revolutions, economic upheavals, and each other’s ideas to turn back Malthus and transform the dismal science into a triumph over mankind’s hitherto age-old destiny of misery and early death.

This idea, unimaginable less than 200 years ago, is a story of trial and error, and ultimately transcendent, rendered here in stunning narrative. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Nasar is a superb writer...The book is a kind of portrait gallery of economic thinkers, each artfully set down in his or her time and place...You can’t help becoming engrossed in their lives.” 

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Nasar brilliantly brings to life game-changing economists from Marx to Hayek and from Sidney Webb to Milton Friedman, tracing the evolution of modern economic thinking through the richly detailed stories of the men and woman who reshaped how we think of life’s possibilities...This is an utterly fascinating book on many levels...No lesser mind could have written a book so rich, so compelling, so important, and so much fun.” 

    Boston Globe

  • “A fascinating excursion into the economic ideas and personalities that have deposited most of us at a standard of living unparalleled in human history.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “One of the many wonderful things about Nasar’s book is that in it, economic genius isn’t limited to the usual suspects…Even when exploring famous economic minds, Nasar brings out the humanity in the dismal science.”


  • Grand Pursuit is a history of economics which is full of flesh, bloom, and warmth. The author demonstrates that there is far more to economics than Thomas Carlyle’s ‘dismal science’...A wonderful book. Grand Pursuit deserves a place not only in every economist’s study but also on every serious reader’s bedside table.”


  • “A timely reminder of the importance of the so-called dismal science...Written almost as a novel and aimed at those without a background in economics, the book charts capitalism’s evolution through the eyes of the people who invented it...It is compellingly written, full of detail and vivid anecdotes, and with a refreshing focus on people rather than prices.” 


  • “Anne Twomey has a reassuring, somewhat husky voice that is well suited to the material, [and]...John Bedford Lloyd has a full, deep voice that...makes the narrative fresh and vital.”  


  • A New York Times bestseller
  • Winner of the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science & Technology

Listener Reviews

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  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Olegs | 2/18/2014

    " An interesting insight into the lives of most prominent economists over the last 150 years. Still a bit chaotic, poorly structured and intellectual ideas are sacrificed in favour of private affairs. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachel | 2/17/2014

    " Very good. Many historical analogies as well as literary (Dickens). Heady book, I recommend to any former MBA. Extremely interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annita | 1/25/2014

    " A book on economics which begins with Jane Austen and Charles Dickens has this reader's attention. Page 64 and I'm already engrossed in familiar characters' perspectives as each views economic and political issues from withing the historical time and environment each lived. At page 64, the reader is introduced to the influences and circumstances of Dickens and Carlyle, Engel and Marx,Malthus, Kant, Mayhew, John Stewart Mill, Sidgwick, Keynes and Marshall. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Louise | 1/25/2014

    " Great history of economics, Reads like an historical novel. I really learned a lot. Written by author of "A Beautiful Mind". "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gary | 1/11/2014

    " I loved his book. A caveat, however. This is not really a book about economics per se. It is a history of economic thought told in the form of a series of mini-biographies. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ramakant | 1/10/2014

    " Great work by Sylvia Nasar. I strongly recommend this book. It is a must read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael | 1/4/2014

    " A readable overview of some of the key developments in modern political economics and the players involved. No major insights, but still worthwhile. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert | 1/4/2014

    " Fantastic and interesting read. It takes a different approach by focusing more on the people than on their ideas and also by covering only the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century. It has no mention of Ricardo or Adam smith or any modern economists. Still a gripping read "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Peter | 12/8/2013

    " Fantastic insights into aspects of the lives of the great economists, but it really doesn't hang together as a coherent story. A lot of awkward shifting from one 'scene' to another. Still really enjoyed it though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Walker*Management*Library | 12/4/2013

    " Recommended by Miguel Palacios "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rosanna | 12/3/2013

    " Loved this. It is a combination of biographical information as well as economic theories, and I learned a great deal (though I've unfortunately forgotten most of it). My favorite unexpected section was on Beatrix Potter. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David | 10/24/2013

    " A little dry, or at least not as engaging as I had hoped. And only a few pages on Friedman. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alison | 8/4/2012

    " Glad it ended with Amartya Sen. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Smh624 | 6/22/2012

    " In the end a very uneven book. I liked the first two acts much better than the third. The book became oddly incoherent. A worthwhile survey of economic thinkers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jonathan | 5/29/2012

    " A complete history of economics through the lives of its most important frontiersmen. Much of the last 200 years of modern history - and perhaps most of human history - gains a certain logical progression when viewed through an economic lens. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeff | 9/28/2011

    " Good history of the progress of economic thought during the past few centuries. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian | 9/20/2011

    " A nice perspective on the history of economic theory--good to know just how young it is (like most social sciences it comes from the late 18th century). Also good to see how much twentieth century social welfare was grounded in solid economics, and how little we appreciate that now. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Yogi | 9/10/2011

    " Who knew that economists save lives? "

About the Author

Sylvia Nasar, a former economics correspondent for the New York Times, is the Knight Professor of Journalism at Columbia University. She lives in Tarrytown, New York.

About the Narrators

John Bedford Lloyd, Earphones Award–winning narrator, is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, has appeared in many major motion pictures, including The Bourne Supremacy, Crossing Delancey, The Abyss, The Manchurian Candidate, and Philadelphia. His television credits include Suits, Pan Am, Law & Order, Spin City, and The West Wing.

Anne Twomey is an accomplished actress of both stage and screen. Her Broadway credits include Orpheus Descending with Vanessa Redgrave, To Grandmother’s House We Go, and Nuts, for which she received a Tony nomination and a Theatre World Award. Her many television appearances include guest roles on Seinfeld, Law & Order: SVU, Spin City, and the Christopher Reeves’ movie-of-the-week Rear Window. She has also appeared in the films Picture Perfect and Orpheus Descending. Her audiobook narrations have won her five AudioFile Earphones Awards.