Now I find another must-own. This is truly a model for non-fiction [of my taste]. This is the quality that I expect to find in every non-fic.
The Worldly Philosophers first of all is educational, very illuminating. I am not yet an expert to evaluate the author's interpretation of great men's ideas, and I am not at all certain whether his choice of economists to present is appropriate. Nevertheless, for every single philosopher, especially after reading the disappointing "Grand Pursuit," I find Heilbroner's argument amazingly convincing, clear and straightforward. He was able to get all those complex thoughts simple, but not overly so. He kept a perfect balance between each economist's thought and his personal life, between seriousness and wittiness. For his audience of purpose, which is newbie to the field, I guess I could not find a better book on economic doctrines.
I could not praise the main text more, but there is something else I want to mention, which is the very last chapter of the book. I am interested in the way Heilbroner call Economics as a type of philosophy. He points out the very thing that has been troubling my mind all this time as a Econs major: sometimes I dislike so much the mechanical math prevailing in the field. That's why the more I dig into it, the more frustrated I feel. No matter how much math is employed, Econs in my mind can never predict with definite like the speed of a ball falling in Physics. After all economics is about human behavior, and so far I could not even predict my own spending accurately. Why bothering to find laws when they are not laws at all? They are just "law-like," as the author said. What's the point? (Now, for some who wants simply to make money in financial market, or to run a business, they may never care for this question. But I do. Since there are times I hate the field dearly, and other times I am so fascinated by these men's beliefs)
The point is that Economics before 1950s was about the explanation, the vision of the society (capitalism & socialism alike). Economics could be considered an effort to make sense the world we live in (in realm of worldly matter - wealth), and then to guide us, to find our place in that world. Unfortunately, for now, the field tries to become a science. Still, I believe at heart (and hope) and Economics would stay to be the "worldly philosophy".