Do you ever wonder how the 2008 housing crisis happened? Do you support Obama? Then this is the book for you.

In Economix, Goodwin has done an admirable job outlining the entire history of western economic thought from Adam Smith to the present day. He explains, step by step, how economic thought has developed and changed over the centuries. Along the way he stops to elaborate and define major economic terminology such as capital, monopolies and stagflation. He introduces ideas in a clear and logical manor, referring back to things so that one can see how the theories continue to be relevant or not.

Throughout the book, Goodwin makes it clear that he is frustrated that economists did not see that economic theory did not take real world conditions into account and therefore continually failed. When he gets to talking about current events, Goodwin states his liberal bias clearly and explains the current economic climate from that view point. He is not above criticizing Democratic presidents as much as he does the Republican ones. Coming from an economic angle rather than a social or political one, Goodwin is fairly uniform in his criticism of governments’ economic policies, which all seem to leave out the human factor in favor of the bottom line.

This book may be written in a graphic novel format, but don’t be fooled — it is dense! While reading it, I started feeling so overwhelmed with data that I took notes just to remember all the main points, notes that ended up being three pages long. Despite this, Goodwin does a great job simplifying and explaining, getting in all the important economists and central theories he should. It’s just that every page then becomes really vital to understanding the whole. Don’t skip around and do plan on reading it twice.

The art is clear and easy to read, emphasizing and clarifying what the text is saying. The whole book is reminiscent of The Cartoon History of the Universe by Larry Gonick, in both scope and style. Goodwin is an animated character who regularly talks to you, the reader. There is ample humor, which reinforces when Goodwin is being a little ironic or sarcastic. For example, when talking of the Regan years, the text says, “Much of Reagan’s spending simply disappeared.” And the picture shows a man in uniform and a businessman fleeing a bank with large bundles of cash over their shoulders.

While its clear political views may not win it many favors, Goodwin has done such a good job presenting all the major economic theories and thinkers of the last 500 years that I feel this work has a place in every library and classroom.

Good for ages 16 and up (for complexity of ideas)

Economix: How and Why Our Economy Works (and Doesn’t Work), in Words and Pictures
by Michael Goodwin, David Bach, Joel Bakan
Art by Dan Burr
ISBN: 978-081098839
Abrams, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: (Age 16 and up)

  • Emma Weiler

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support!

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