These Two Books Battle It Out on College Campuses

Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

Special Announcement: I’m happy to post my own schedule for next month’s FreedomFest: My Schedule at FreedomFest 2024 – MSKOUSEN.COM. I look forward to meeting many of you there! As Roberts Salinas wrote to me, “This is the best and most powerful line-up I’ve ever seen!” See you in Vegas!


“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” — John Maynard Keynes (1936)

The battle of ideas is being fought everyday in the classroom. It’s my favorite arena and calling in life, to educate the minds of our future generation.

In addition to writing my investment newsletter, I teach economics, business and finance at Chapman University. In the past, I’ve taught at a variety of schools, including Columbia Business School, Columbia University, Barnard College, Mercy College and Rollins College (in Winter Park, Florida). I’ve also given lectures at over 100 colleges and universities around the world.


As the first person to be appointed the Doti-Spogli Chair of Free Enterprise at Chapman University, my primary assignment is to teach the virtues of free-market capitalism around the country in classes, lectures, speeches, books, TV appearances and op eds in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere.

Last year, I gave 13 lectures in honor of Adam Smith, the father of free-market capitalism, and his “system of natural liberty.” The highlight was June 5, 2023, when I gave the Adam Smith lecture in Edinburgh, Scotland, the 300th anniversary of the Scottish economist’s birth.

A Tale of Two Books

My best case for free-market capitalism is found in “The Making of Modern Economics,” published by Routledge.


It’s the primary competitor of a classic: “The World’s Philosophers,” by Robert Heilbroner.

Which title is more appealing?

Both books are one-volume histories of the great economic thinkers, with chapters on Adam Smith, Marx and Keynes, among others.

Heilbroner’s title is clever and memorable, the best ever for a history of economic philosophy.


My title is more pedestrian and unmemorable.

The big difference is what’s inside the pages of each book.

Most readers don’t know that Heilbroner was a socialist. While he begins his book with “The Wonderful World of Adam Smith,” Heilbroner sees Adam Smith as naïve and overly optimistic about the benefits of free markets. His favorite economists are all critics of capitalism: Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblen and John Maynard Keynes.

My bias is in favor of Adam Smith, J. B. Say, the Austrians Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek and the Chicago school of Milton Friedman. 

In the early 1990s, I interviewed Robert Heilbroner for Forbes magazine after he renounced socialism: “The battle between socialism and capitalism is over: Capitalism has won! Socialism has been a great tragedy this century.” It takes a lot of guts for an academic professor to admit he’s wrong.


Your editor interviewing Robert Heilbroner for Forbes magazine.

Heilbroner never revised his “Worldly Philosophers” book after the downfall of Soviet socialist planning, but his book remains the classic tome in the study of the great economists, having sold several million copies.

Mine is the up-and-coming alternative, which is now in its fourth edition and used as a supplemental reading in economics classes, and is a fun book to read for laymen.

‘Your Book Is the Next Heilbroner!’

In fact, my original publisher Mike Sharpe made an interesting prediction. Despite being long-time friends with Heilbroner, he said, “Your book is the next Heilbroner!” It was quite a compliment, given his friendship with Heilbroner.

Last week, I was in Washington, D.C., for an interview with Epoch TV, hosted by senior editor Jan Jekielek. After the interview, Jan said he was talking to libertarian writer Jeffrey Tucker. Jeff has been involved in more libertarian organizations than anyone, having worked for the Mises Institute, Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) and now the Brownstone Institute.

‘This Book Is Hands-Down the Best, No Contest!’

Jan asked Jeff if he could recommend a single one-volume book that tells the history of the great economic thinkers. Here was Jeff’s response:

“When people ask for a history of economic thought, there is no contest: Mark Skousen’s ‘Making of Modern Economics’ is hands-down the best. From there, you can dig into original resources and so on. But for sheer intellectual adventure, this book is unmatched.”

Thank you, Jeff Tucker!

What makes my book unique? For one thing, it is the only history with portraits and photos of the great economists, and “tell-all” biographies. It has clever chapter titles, such as “It All Started with Adam” (Adam Smith, that is)… “Marx Madness”… “Out of the Blue Danube” (about the Austrian economists)… “The Keynes Mutiny”… and “Milton’s Paradise” (about Milton Friedman).

Friedman liked the title so much that he felt uncomfortable giving me a blurb for the book, but he told a friend, “All histories of economics are BS — before Skousen!”

“The Making of Modern Economics” is the only history that actually tells a story — it has a plot (the battle for economic freedom) and a hero (Adam Smith). His “system of natural liberty” comes under attack by the Marxists, Keynesians and socialists, and is often left for dead, only to be resuscitated by the Austrians and the Chicago school. In the end, free markets win out with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet central planning model.

Attention, Investors! Why Has Wall Street Outperformed All Other Stock Markets?

Why has the United States become the most prosperous nation on earth and Wall Street the best performing stock market? Because it best embodies free-enterprise capitalism! American exceptionalism has prevailed despite every effort by government to thwart its success (wars, depressions, inflation, regulation).

As Adam Smith himself wrote, “The uniform, constant and uninterrupted effort of every man to better his condition… is frequently powerful enough to maintain the natural progress of things toward improvement, in spite of both the extravagance of government, and of the greatest errors of administration.”

But there are no guarantees that American exceptionalism will last. The Economic Freedom Index for the United States has been in decline since the 9/11 terrorist attacks… There may come a breaking point.

Where to Buy ‘Making’ at a Discount

The book has been a big success, now in its fourth edition and published by Routledge. The fourth edition adds coverage of modern monetary theory, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, minimum wage debates, Schumpeter and socialism, Malthus and immigration and more.

Every economist is judged by whether they sought to improve upon the House that Adam Smith Built (French laissez-faire, Austrian, Chicago and Supply-Side schools) or wanted to tear it down and build their own new model (Marxists, Keynesians, socialists). I have chapters on each school of thought.

To find out what’s in each chapter, go here.

Harvard economist Greg Mankiw, who made Heilbroner’s “Worldly Philosophers” required reading in his famous Econ 10 class at Harvard, said this: “Mark Skousen’s provocative and engaging book demonstrates with style that economics is anything but the dismal science.”

I sometimes dream how the world would be different if Prof. Mankiw had required my book instead of Heilbroner’s to his thousands of Harvard students.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, says, “Mark’s book is fun to read on every page. I’ve read it three times, and recommend it to all my friends.”

Greg Feirman, manager of Top Gun Financial writes: “Skousen is a brilliant and prolific economist as well as writer of a popular financial newsletter, Forecasts & Strategies, for decades now. Because of his interest in financial markets, Skousen is an economist obsessed with the real-world applicability of his economic ideas. He has written over 20 books, including ‘The Making of Modern Economics’, the best history of modern economics around.”

The late great William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote, “I champion Skousen’s book to everyone. I keep it by my bedside and refer to it often. An absolutely ideal gift for college students.”

And Richard Rahn states, “Mark Skousen has produced the single best book on virtually all of those who have had a significant impact in economics. It’s a delight to read cover to cover.”

It’s now available in hardback, paperback, e-book and audiobook (beautifully narrated by Robertson Dean and costs only $16.25) at Amazon.

Routledge and Amazon charge over $50 for my book, “The Making of Modern Economics.” But I offer a major discount — only $37 — at my website, I autograph each copy and mail it for no additional charge if mailed inside the United States.

Move over, Heilbroner!

You Nailed It!

Why NBA Star Bill Walton Would Love FreedomFest

Last week, I finished listening to NBA star Bill Walton’s book “Back from the Dead.” It’s the best motivational book I’ve ever read. Bill survived over 100 surgeries and 2 ½ years flat on his back.

You can read it or listen to it on audiobook here.

At the end of his book, he looked forward to a new life. He wrote, “And now I’m going off in search of a new life. I want to become a student again in this great game. I want to read a book. I want to go to lectures and conferences. I want to watch a movie. I want to listen to great speakers and learn. I want to go back to a life of substance and depth — and get away from the shallow sound bites and snippets. I want to pay honor and tribute to my fallen heroes, mentors and role models.”

If Bill were alive today, he would love FreedomFest, because it has all those things and more: great speakers, authors, films and topics of substance and depth. We are also dedicating each room to fallen patriots who have passed away in the past year, including my original publisher Tom Phillips, Cato VP David Boaz and Chip Wood, our long-standing beloved MC at FreedomFest. We’re also dedicating a room to Bill Walton.

Full Schedule of FreedomFest Now Posted!

I’m happy to announce that after months of hard work by Valerie Durham and our staff, we have now posted the full schedule of speakers, panels, debates and breakout sessions on our FreedomFest website.

To see all we have to offer, go to 2024 Speaker Lineup – FreedomFest, click on “schedule” and then “expanded.”

Also, I have just posted my own schedule at FreedomFest: My Schedule at FreedomFest 2024 – MSKOUSEN.COM

Hope to run into you all at some of these events!

Dates are July 10-13 at the new Caesars Forum Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Our room block is filling up at various hotels in the area, and their special rates will end in two weeks! Check out Harrah’s, Caesars Palace and, for budget-minded attendees, the LINQ (only $129 a night!). Details at

Now is the time to sign up using code EAGLE50 to get $50 off the registration fee. The discount ends on July 1, when the full price of the conference kicks in.

To register, go to, email Hayley at or call her at 1-855-850-3733, ext. 201.

If you haven’t signed up yet, read this…

Over the years, I have met many subscribers who have always wanted to come to FreedomFest, but have never made it for one reason or another. This is the year to ACT!

Which reminds me of this story:

For years, Brett Iannuccillo, a longtime subscriber to my newsletter, wanted to come to FreedomFest. It seems that every year he had a conflict. Life was busy and FreedomFest passed by every year.

Well, he finally made it last year. He said he had the best time, and on the final day of the four-day conference, he came up on stage in Memphis for a photograph of all the attendees who bought a silver dollar, our official symbol of liberty and prosperity. It’s an annual tradition to be on stage with celebrity speakers, such as Fox News’ Kennedy, our emcee Steve Forbes and many others.

Brett is the one kneeling between me and Kennedy holding two silver dollars, with everyone else having a great time at FreedomFest.

His wife contacted us to tell us how much he loved “the greatest libertarian show on earth.” But then, she asked to change tickets to this year’s show in Vegas because, sadly, Brett died a month after FreedomFest in Memphis. I was glad he finally got to fulfill his wish to attend our big show.

FreedomFest is an incredible experience and life changing. The buzz you feel in the exhibit hall is unforgettable. For example, here’s your chance to talk to top experts at Main Street Capital, my favorite growth and income stock (up 15% this year), the only company which pays a monthly AND quarterly dividend. (It will pay another 30-cent dividend this week.)

We have an incredible line-up of first-time speakers, including Harvard Professor Steven Pinker and Lord Matt Ridley (the two top public intellectuals in the West), podcaster extraordinaire Tom Woods, actors Ice-T and Rob Schneider, Fox News co-host Emily Compagno (“Outnumbered”) and Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo, among many others.

And don’t forget our ever-popular Global Financial Summit, the Anthem Film Festival and, for the first time, the Presidential Debate organized by the “Free and Equal” Elections Foundation.

Plus, stop by our Eagle booth and meet in person our Eagle editors, Jim Woods, George Gilder, Roger Michalski, Paul Dykewicz and Jack Lizmi.

The exhibit hall is non-stop action, what John Mackey calls “The Trade Show for Liberty,” with all the freedom organizations and think tanks there, including Reason, FEE, FIRE, Free the People, Free State Project, Young Americans for Liberty, AIER and many more. Plus, several coin dealers, including Van Simmons, president of David Hall Rare Coins. Stop by and pick up a silver dollar, our symbol of liberty and sound money.

P.S. I will be holding a subscribers-only teleconference on 6/28 at 1 p.m. EST entitled “Is the Market Telling Us Who Will Win the Election?” The event is free to attend, but you must register here first. Don’t miss out!

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Dr. Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

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