Economics: Work and Prosperity

Economics: Work and Prosperity

by Russell Kirk
1st Edition, ©1989, ISBN: 9781933859156
Trade Paperback, 398 pages
Price: $10.00

There are about as many definitions of economics as there are economists (more, if you count armchair economists and politicians). In Economics: Work and Prosperity, author Russell Kirk opts for a pretty standard summation: "Economics is the study of how goods are produced, distributed, and consumed." What is less standard is how he goes about illuminating that statement.

Not that there's anything experimental or fundamentally groundbreaking in his approach....which, in its way, is what makes it so unique. People are always trying to spruce up their field of study, to make it more interesting, but Kirk tells the tale of American capitalist economics precisely, clearly and with little decoration. Some would call that dry; those who've read the book would have to admit the facts and concepts are pretty compelling all by themselves.

The book begins with a definition of terms and a defense of studying economics. You won't find names like Keynes or Hayek or Heilbronner anywhere in the text, but you'll find thorough descriptions of the free market and stock exchange, distribution and specialization, and price controls. Kirk focuses on the supply and demand issue, but covers all the important concepts.

It's apparent that Kirk writes from a Christian perspective, but he rarely makes religious arguments. He encourages the consideration of ethics and virtue when studying or participating in the economy, but this is primarily a tool for instruction, and he limits himself to his area of expertise—the economy itself. We're often pretty down on A Beka books, but you have to give them some props for being the first to publish this text.

Students can easily read this on their own, but be aware that tests and other supplemental materials are no longer available; there aren't even review questions at the end of chapters. There is text and there are black and white illustrations (mostly photographs) and there is a glossary and index. Beyond that, students are on their own unless a parent or teacher is there to instruct and field questions. A Beka has produced a second edition, still in-print, which offers review questions, teacher's support, and tests/quizzes.

This is a high school text, though it probably works best as an introductory book before going on to something a bit more in-depth like Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics. The only problem with Kirk's book (that would be rectified by reading one like Sowell's) is that he pretty much ignores theory and ideological factors. Still, this is one of the best entry-level treatments of economic practice and structure we've seen.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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Exodus Rating
Summary: A brilliant conservative thinker provides a thorough introduction to the ins and outs of economic theory.

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