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IMO, among Thomas Sowell's small library of outstanding contributions, Knowledge and Decisions easily ranks as the finest. This is the 1996 edition, which simply adds a substantial preface to the original 1980 edition as far as I can tell.
The first half of the book is a brilliant, seminal, and timeless treatment of the nature of knowledge, how it is obtained, validated, transmitted, coordinated and acted upon. Sowell analyzes social, economic, and political structures and institutions in terms of their decision making processes and incentives as opposed to their intentions and hoped for results, and explains in a truly fundamental way how complex societies work.
The second half of the book examines specific trends and issues in the social, political, economic, and legal arenas. At the time of its publication, this was the current events section. Of course, the world has changed in many profound (and superficial) ways since 1980, so this section today is more historical in nature.
But since one of the great strengths of Sowell's work is its basis in and exposition of global and world historical experiences and perspectives, section two retains its interest and force, and is an effective reminder of the failures of centralized decision making structures that were viscerally evident a generation ago (especially via communism), but whose implications are largely forgotten today. As the saying goes, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
All in all, this is a great book that stands the test of time quite easily.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful
Great insight, and a new way of thinking for me, really enjoyed it, even the dense high level English.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Thomas Sowell should be far more widely read and recognized as one of the best commentators on the economics and politics of our times.
an incredible work. demands repeat listens/reads. Robertson Dean is the perfect person to read sowell's work, couldn't imagine it being read by anybody else.