How a 700-page economics book surged to No. 1 on Amazon
“Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” at first glance, seems an unlikely candidate to become a best-seller in the U.S. After all, it’s 700 pages long, translated from French, and analyzes centuries of data on wealth and economic growth.
But the book, from economist Thomas Piketty, is now No. 1 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list, thanks to rave reviews and positive word of mouth. Beyond that, however, the book has something else going for it: “Capital” has hit a nerve with Americans with its message about income inequality.
An economics book becoming a best-seller is “unusual, and it speaks to the fact that Piketty is addressing a really fundamental issue,” said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute. “He has his finger on a great dynamic, and is changing the terms of our discussion. Rather than asking why low-wage workers are not doing well, it focuses on the wealthy and the role of capital.”
Capital in the 21st Century
By Steven Pearlstein
To see long excerpts from “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” at Google Books, click here.
“Capital in the Twenty-First Century”
A book by Thomas Piketty. Translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer
Just when you thought Karl Marx had finally lost all political and economic relevance, a brilliant French economist has come along to pick up where the German philosopher left off—correcting for many of Marx’s mistakes, updating his analysis in light of subsequent experience and unearthing a bounty of modern economic data to support a theory about capitalism’s inherent and self-destructive contradictions.
The economist is Thomas Piketty, a professor at the Paris School of Economics, who with Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley has recently turbocharged the debate about income inequality. Piketty and Saez gathered data from tax returns that confirm the story of stagnant middle-class incomes over the last 30 years while revealing how much the super-rich have pulled away from everyone else.
In its magisterial sweep and ambition, Piketty’s latest work, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” is clearly modeled after Marx’s “Das Kapital.” But where Marx’s research was spotty, Piketty’s is prodigious. And where Marx foresaw capitalism’s collapse leading to a utopian proletariat paradise, Piketty sees a future of slow growth and Gilded Age disparities in which the wealthy—owners of capital—capture a steadily larger share of global wealth and income.
(image via Image by Harvard University Press)