Reading list

Economics Undergraduate Reading List

Verso Books 6 September 2016

Economics Undergraduate Reading List

Remember kids! "Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks." Get ready to go back to school by reading Verso's Economics 101 syllabus. 

Companion to Marx’s Capital Volume 1 & Volume 2
By David Harvey

“No short review can do justice to this outstanding book ... Essential.”
– Michael Perelman, Choice

This is a must-read for anyone wanting a fuller understanding of Marx's political economy.

Watch Harvey’s complete 13-video lecture course “Reading Marx’s Capital” here.

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste

By Philip Mirowski

“It is hard to imagine a historian who was not an economist (as Mirowski is) being able to encompass the economics of the second half of the 20th century in its diversity and technicality.” —London Review of Books

After the financial apocalypse, neoliberalism rose from the dead— stronger than ever. Once neoliberalism became a Theory of Everything, providing a revolutionary account of self, knowledge, information, markets, and government, it could no longer be falsified by anything as trifling as data from the “real” economy. 

The Making of Global Capitalism
By Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch

“Indispensable guide to the history and practice of American Empire.”  — Naomi Klein

“A must read for everyone who is concerned about where the future of capitalism might lie.”  — David Harvey

“The most important leftist book of the year, and probably the decade.” — Charles Mudede

In this groundbreaking work, Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin demonstrate the intimate relationship between modern capitalism and the American state. The Making of Global Capitalism identifies the centrality of the social conflicts that occur within states rather than between them. These emerging fault lines hold out the possibility of new political movements that might transcend global markets.

Utopia or Bust
By Benjamin Kunkel

“For anyone who cares about historical necessity, the crisis of capitalism, and our fate.” — Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers

This introduction to contemporary Leftist thinkers engages with the revolutionary philosophy of Slavoj Žižek, the economic analyses of David Graeber and David Harvey, and the cultural diagnoses of Fredric Jameson. Discussing the ongoing crisis of capitalism in light of ideas of full employment, debt forgiveness, and “fictitious capital,” Utopia or Bust is a tour through the world of Marxist thought and an examination of the basis of Western society today.

Late Capitalism (only available in North America)
by Ernest Mandel

"This volume is, indeed, one of the major contributions of the last decade to Marxist economics.” — Choice

“I recommend this book for the grandeur of its vision, and for its innumerable, suggestive hypotheses which might lead future investigators towards fruitful research in many areas.” — Contemporary Sociology

A landmark in Marxist economic literature Late Capitalism it is a central guide to understanding the nature of the world economic crisis today. It represents, in fact, the only systematic attempt so far ever made to combine the general theory of the “laws of motion” of the capitalist mode of production developed by Marx, with the concrete history of capitalism in the twentieth century.

Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism

By Wolfgang Streeck

"Reminds one of Karl Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte." 
 Jurgen Habermas

The financial and economic crisis that began in 2008 still has the world on tenterhooks. The gravity of the situation is matched by a general paucity of understanding about what is happening and how it started. In Buying Time, Wolfgang Streeck places the crisis in the context of the long neoliberal transformation of postwar capitalism that began in the 1970s. He analyses the subsequent tensions and conflicts involving states, governments, voters and capitalist interests, as expressed in inflation, public debt, and rising private indebtedness. 

Against the Troika: Crisis and Austerity in the Eurozone
by Heiner Flassbeck and Costas Lapavitsas

“Lapavitsas is fascinating and thoughtful.” 
 Financial Times

The Eurozone is in a deep and prolonged crisis. It is now clear that monetary union is a historic failure, beyond repair—and certainly not in the interests of Europe’s working people. Against the Crisis proposes a radical anti-capitalist blueprint for Eurozone withdrawal.

Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All
By Costas Lapavitsas

“This book is a profound and panoramic study of the most powerful but destructive economic force of our time"  Ha-Joon Chang

Financialization is one of the most innovative concepts to emerge in the field of political economy in the last three decades, although there is no agreement on what exactly it is. Profiting Without Producing defines financialization in terms of the fundamental conduct of non-financial enterprises, banks and households. Its most prominent feature is the rise of financial profit, in part extracted directly from households through financial expropriation. 

Historical Capitalism: With Capitalist Civilization
by Immanuel Wallerstein

Historical Capitalism, published here with its companion essay Capitalist Civilization, is a concise, compelling beginners’ guide to one of the most challenging and influential assessments of capitalism as a world-historic mode of production.

Religion and the Rise of Capitalism
by R. H. Tawney

“Tawney [is] part of a tradition that gives us hope and vitality, and charts a way out of the trap of orthodoxy. Now is the time for that tradition to be rediscovered.”  Jon Cruddas, New Statesman

By examining the period that saw the transition from medieval to modern theories of social organization, Tawney clarifies the most pressing problems of the end of the century. In tough, muscular, richly varied prose, he tells an absorbing and meaningful story. And in his new introduction, which may well be a classic in its own right, Adam Seligman details Tawney’s background and the current status of academic thought on these issues, and he provides a comparative analysis of Tawney with Max Weber that will at once delight and inform readers. 

Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, Volume II: Economic Writings 2
by Rosa Luxemburg
Edited by Peter Hudis and Paul Le Blanc
Translated by Nicholas Gray and George Shriver

“One cannot read the writings of Rosa Luxemburg, even at this distance, without an acute yet mournful awareness of what Perry Anderson once termed ‘the history of possibility.’”  Christopher Hitchens

The second volume in Rosa Luxemburg’s Complete Works, entitled Economic Writings 2, contains a new English translation of Luxemburg’s The Accumulation of Capital: A Contribution to the Economic Theory of Imperialism, one of the most important works ever composed on capitalism’s incessant drive for self-expansion and the integral connection between capitalism and imperialism. This new translation is the first to present the full work as composed by the author. It also contains her book-length response to her critics, The Accumulation of Capital, Or, What the Epigones Have Made Out of Marx’s Theory—An Anti-Critique. Taken together, these two works represent one of the most important Marxist studies of the globalization of capital.

A History of Gold and Money: 1450-1920

by Pierre Vilar
Translated by Judith White 

For much of human history, the motive force behind war, conquest, social conflict and world exploration has been the drive to acquire gold. From the ancient world of Croesus to the wealthy dynasties of Renaissance Italy, from the earliest European explorations into Africa, America, and Asia to the gold rushes of the nineteenth century and the banking crises that lay beyond them, Pierre Vilar depicts the awesome power of avarice to structure the world in which we live. The insidious power of gold and money is the subject of this enlightening and entertaining history.

The Verso World History Series provides attractive new editions of classic works of history, making landmark texts available to a new generation of readers. Covering a timespan stretching from Ancient Greece and Rome to the twentieth century, and with a global geographical range, the series will also include thematic volumes providing insights into such topics as the spread of print cultures and the history of money.


Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed
by Paul Mason

“A page-turning account … Mason is refreshingly clear-eyed—and angry.” Will Hutton, The Guardian

A fully updated new edition of an acclaimed report on the global financial crisis.

Meltdown is the gripping account of the financial collapse that destroyed the West’s investment banks, brought the global economy to its knees, and undermined three decades of neoliberal orthodoxy. Covering the development of the crisis from the economic front line, BBC Newsnight journalist Paul Mason explores the roots of the US and UK’s financial hubris, documenting the real-world causes and consequences from the Ford factory, to Wall Street, to the City of London. In this fully updated new edition, he recounts how the credit crunch became a full-blown financial crisis, and explores its impact on capitalist ideology and politics in our new age of austerity.


New Old World
by Perry Anderson

“This is a hugely ambitious and panoramic political book, of a sort rarely attempted in our era of quick leader biographies and reheated histories of the Second World War.”  Andy Beckett, The Guardian

A magisterial analysis of Europe's development since the end of the Cold War.

The New Old World looks at the history of the European Union, the core continental countries within it, and the issue of its further expansion into Asia. It opens with a consideration of the origins and outcomes of European integration since the Second World War, and how today's EU has been theorized across a range of contemporary disciplines. It then moves to more detailed accounts of political and cultural developments in the three principal states of the original Common Market—France, Germany and Italy. A third section explores the interrelated histories of Cyprus and Turkey that pose a leading geopolitical challenge to the Community. The book ends by tracing ideas of European unity from the Enlightenment to the present, and their bearing on the future of the Union. The New Old World offers a critical portrait of a continent now increasingly hailed as a moral and political example to the world at large.

More reading lists:

Philosophy Undergraduate Reading List
Art and Aesthetics Undergraduate Reading List
Race and Ethnicity Undergraduate Reading List
History Undergraduate Reading List
Political Theory Undergraduate Reading List
Feminism and Gender Undergraduate Reading List
Cities and Architecture Undergraduate Reading List


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