Top 20 Heterodox Economics Books

25 Nov, 2014 at 12:51 | Posted in Economics | 8 Comments


  • Karl Marx, Das Kapital (1867)
  • Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899)
  • Joseph Schumpeter, The Theory of Economic Development (1911)
  • Nikolai Kondratiev, The Major Economic Cycles (1925)
  • Gunnar Myrdal, The Political Element in the Development of Economic Theory (1930)
  • John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory (1936)
  • Paul Sweezy, Theory of Capitalist Development (1956)
  • Joan Robinson, Accumulation of Capital (1956)
  • John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society (1958)
  • Piero Sraffa, Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities (1960)
  • Johan Åkerman, Theory of Industrialism (1961)
  • Axel Leijonhufvud, Keynes and the Classics (1969)
  • Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, The Entropy Law and the Economic Process (1971)
  • Michal Kalecki, Selected Essays on the Dynamics of the Capitalist Economy (1971)
  • Paul Davidson, Money and the Real World (1972)
  • Hyman Minsky, John Maynard Keynes (1975)
  • Philip Mirowski, More Heat than Light (1989)
  • Tony Lawson, Economics and Reality (1997)
  • Steve Keen, Debunking Economics (2001)
  • John Quiggin, Zombie Economics (2010)



  1. These are classics, and books that all economists should read. However, I would be reluctant to call Schumpeter or Leijonhufvud’s books heterodox. Schumpeter’s cycle theory is supply determined, by technological shocks, and S and I are adjusted by the rate of interest. Even if there are heterodox neo-Schumpeterians, which are more keen than the master on the role of the State, I don’t think the book goes with the others. Same for Leijonhufvud, which ultimately says Keynes is about imperfections, reversing the adjusting velocity in Marshall, with prices rigid in the short-run. I would have instead Kaldor’s Further Essays on Economic Theory, 1978, which has the supermultiplier and the Kaldor-Verdoorn effect. And also Hicks’s The Crisis in Keynesian Economics or his last book A Market Theory of Money, which are closer to post-Keynesianism than Leijonhufvud. My two cents. Nice list!

    • Thanks for your comments Matias!
      What books are on a list of this character, hinges, of course, a lot on how we define heterodoxy and the listmaker’s own idiosyncratic likings. To me, and most other economists too, I guess, Schumpeter ‘s “Th of Ec Dev” has to be considered a heterodox book. On Leijonhufvud’s 1969 book I have to agree that it’s more doubtful and that I perhaps weigh in later developments of Leijonhufvud’s views that has taken him even further away from the mainstream orthodox position. Although I still disagree with Axel on the status of Keynes’s liquidity theory, there is no way of denying that his book perhaps more than any other in the period opened up mainstream economists’ eyes for the fact that there was a huge gap between the economics of Keynes and that of the “Keynesians”.
      Keep up the good work on your blog (one of my favourites)!

  2. Excellent list! Any list of economics books that includes something by Veblen is one to be taken seriously. I live about 20 km from Veblen’s childhood home and extensively recorded its restoration in the early 1990s. I have given many guided tours to the repaired home. The best part of this activity is that I have met some of the finest Veblenian scholars—most of whom consider themselves heterodox economists. From them, I got an excellent list on the basics in USA Institutionalism and have read many of them over the years. So for your consideration I would suggest you add:
    Almost anything by Clarence Ayres—the premiere Veblen scholar from the University of Texas-Austin. I especially enjoyed “The Theory of Economic Progress” and “The Industrial Economy: Its Technological Basis and Institutional Destiny.”
    I also recommend the writings from the giants at the University of Wisconsin, These include Richard T. Ely and John R. Commons. Wisconsin was incredibly important to the history of progressive economic thought including the education of Veblen.
    Also, if you must include only one book by Veblen, might I suggest it be: “The instinct of Workmanship?” It’s my favorite mostly because it was Veblen’s favorite.
    The link to my web page on the Veblen restoration can be found here:

    • Interesting sidenote: C. Wright Mills went for being a student of Ayres at Texas to grad school at Wisconsin-Madison. Apparently the path to economic and sociological enlightenment was pretty obvious in the immediate post-war era USA.

  3. Keynes is heterodox??

    • Nice!!

      When Keynes writes about:

      1) the non-value of speculation/stock market
      2) Gives hints of the nationalisation of the banking system
      3) Explains the importance of the DEMAND,
      4) Tries to teach that “economics” has to serve the well being of humans…

      …he is heterodox.

      For the rest, yes, he seems…quite orthodox.

      Best regards,

      Raphaël Erkoreka

  4. Thanks for the helpful list. I do think Polanyi deserves a place; not sure who I would displace (Keen because I am older?)

  5. Why has heterodox become a synonym for Keynesian, neo-Keynesian or pro-intervention? There are also some extremely good and influential orthodox books, The Theory of Money and Credit – Ludwig von Mises, which laid the foundation for much work on the credit cycle, now more relevant than ever.

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