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Primitive, Archaic and Modern Economies - Karl Polanyi
I usually don’t review books like this, but I enjoy them a lot.
I don’t review them normally because it seems that most people don’t care about old academic books. These books aren’t popular and don’t have catchy titles or covers, but they’re very interesting.
The 1960s-80s are my favorite time for books. Before that, academic writing was too dense and foreign for me. After the 80s, simplification has dominated.
I like simplification. It’s great to have a complicated subject digested for you. But, then you rely on the author more than you would by seeing the FULL case itself and making up your own mind.
In the 60s-80s, in general there was less need to come up with some grand unifying theory, or a simplicity that could be understood by anyone. So authors were more free to go into whatever length was necessary on any topic.
I rarely criticize books for being too long, but all the time I finish brisk modern books and I still want more. This book gave me more. Rather than presenting the simple conclusions, this book slowly walked through its case, and hardly made any conclusions.
Books like this were never popular with the public, but the public is also severely lacking in depth understanding they would get from a book like this.
Then, as now, these books are mostly published by university presses, and usually go unread by the public. But, you, the public, would benefit by picking up some boring titles and lackluster covers, because they’re among the best books.