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Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy

Narrated by: Roger Davis
Length: 9 hrs and 15 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (145 ratings)

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Summary

Based on the series produced for the BBC World Service)

A Financial Times and Bloomberg Business Week Book of the Year)

Who thought up paper money? How did the contraceptive pill change the face of the legal profession? Why was the horse collar as important for human progress as the steam engine? How did the humble spreadsheet turn the world of finance upside down?

The world economy defies comprehension. A continuously changing system of immense complexity, it offers over 10 billion distinct products and services, doubles in size every 15 years, and links almost every one of the planet's seven billion people. It delivers astonishing luxury to hundreds of millions. It also leaves hundreds of millions behind, puts tremendous strains on the ecosystem, and has an alarming habit of stalling. Nobody is in charge of it. Indeed, no individual understands more than a fraction of what's going on.

How can we make sense of this bewildering system on which our lives depend? From the tally stick to Bitcoin, the canal lock to the jumbo jet, each invention in Tim Harford's fascinating new book has its own curious, surprising and memorable story, a vignette against a grand backdrop. Step by step, listeners will start to understand where we are, how we got here and where we might be going next.

Hidden connections will be laid bare: how the barcode undermined family corner shops; why the gramophone widened inequality; how barbed wire shaped America. We'll meet the characters who developed some of these inventions, profited from them or were ruined by them. We'll trace the economic principles that help to explain their transformative effects. And we'll ask what lessons we can learn to make wise use of future inventions in a world where the pace of innovation will only accelerate.

©2017 Tim Harford (P)2017 Little Brown
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Good pick

The short chapters of 50 things is a good way to learn to look at things and enjoy our world. It also is diverse enough to teach something new to most people.

2 people found this helpful

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Just the podcasts

If you've heard the podcast, then you've heard this. No difference, don't waste a credit.

1 person found this helpful

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Great book, terrible accents

I love Tim Harford - I loved this book - but Roger Davis does terrible accents, especially the American ones. Listening to his accents is distracting, sounds like the voices we did in the playground when we were 7!
The book itself though is fun and informative, though not intended to be in anyway a logical list of Inventions in any chronological or importance.
I may have to get the book and read it myself to do it justice though

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Brilliant

An illuminating history of the modern economy told through 50 inventions. Well researched and well narrated. Very enjoyable listen.

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Fifty Reasons why this book is essential

How did the invention of the plough affect the roles of men and women in today's society? It wasn't a subject I had considered or wanted answered but it is an insight thrown into this often humorous book. Harford is well researched and opens a window on objects such as plough and more than a simple the x did this it traces the influences down through the ages.

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  • 31-03-20

really informative

will listen to this again as so much information to absorb. wish it had been read by the author as I prefer his voice.

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patronising / condescending

terrible narration - our garden bench could have done it better

writing - sounds like he's writing for people with learning difficulties

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Fascinating and thought provoking

A really interesting collection of stories about a wide variety of things, some obvious some completely new to me.. Harford is amusing, informative and intelligent.

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Thoughtful insight to the world around us

Enjoyed this book by Tim Harford, gives one a different outlook on the day to day things around us.

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Interesting book, horrible narrator

The book is interesting enough, but the narrator does horrible fake accents that give me a headache.

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  • Amazon Kunde
  • 24-08-18

50 Episodes of "Planet Money"

Feels just like 50 new Episodes of "Planet Money" were released all at once! =D
Is it Chrismas already? I want more! =D

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  • steveandtoni
  • 12-12-17

Loved this book

I found this book through provoking and really interesting

Great narration too

Highly r commended