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History of Political Economy 35.1 (2003) 170-171

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A Biographical Dictionary of Dissenting Economists. Edited by Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer. 2d ed. Cheltenham, U.K.: Edward Elgar, 2000. xiv; 722 pp. $225.00.

I reviewed the first edition of this dictionary when it appeared in 1992. The changes to that edition seem quite modest. As with the first, the second contains a combination of autobiographical and biographical entries, the latter generally (although not always) dealing with those deceased. Slightly over a half of the entries are autobiographical. The editors state that many of the previous entries have been updated, but do not indicate which or how many. A quick checking did find that most of the autobiographical entries have been brought up to date with references to recent work, although in some cases the changes are very minor. A small number of contributors of autobiographical entries to the first edition have since passed away, and in most of these cases, but for some reason not all (see the entries on Adolph Lowe and Alec Nove), the editors have added a note and references to published appreciations of the individual's life and work. Perhaps unsurprisingly the biographical entries show fewer changes, but it was still a disappointment that most authors did not incorporate newer work into their entries. Some did update the list of secondary references, but some did not even do that, and in a few cases obviously outdated bibliographical data (such as items listed as “forthcoming” in 1992) were left unchanged.

In addition to this slightly patchy updating, some new entries have been added; I located 11, taking the total number from 89 to 100. The new entries are from Athanasios (Tom) Asimakopulos, Amiya Bagchi, Luiz Belluzzo, Ben Fine, Celso Furtado, Makoto Itoh, Harry Magdoff, Prabhat Patnaik, Anibal Pinto Santa Cruz, Maria da [End Page 170] Conceição Tavares, and Shigeto Tsuru. These entries do significantly enhance the international character of the dictionary but do not touch the overall focus or, as I'll explain in a moment, bias of the volume. As I noted in my review of the first edition, the dictionary defines “dissent” as dissent from neoclassicism, but excludes Austrian school dissenters altogether, and has a significant underrepresentation of those in the institutionalist tradition, a bias that the new edition does nothing to correct.

The overall strengths and weaknesses of the dictionary are unchanged from the first edition. Its weakness lies in the editors' interpretation of “dissent” and the resulting omissions and biases in the dictionary's coverage, while its strengths lie in the high quality of the entries themselves. If your library lacks the first edition, the second would be a useful addition, but if not, the value added over the first edition is probably too small to justify the price of $225.


Malcolm Rutherford ,
University of Victoria



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pp. 170-171
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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Archived 2005
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