Sandmo Publishes English Language History of Economic Thought

By Hallvard Lyssand

11 March 2011 17:05

(updated: 7 March 2016 17:06)

Sandmo Publishes English Language History of Economic Thought

"Economics Evolving, A History of Economic Thought" is the title of Professor Emeritus Agnar Sandmo's recently published history of economic thought.

In 2006, Professor Agnar Sandmo at NHH's Department of Economics published the book Samfunnsøkonomi - en idéhistorie, the first Norwegian language history of economic thought.

An English language history published by Princeton University Press and titled "Economics Evolving, A History of Economic Thought" is now available.

Not a direct translation

The Norwegian version of the book is the basis for the English version. Both books describe the history of economic thought and present important ideas, theories and theoreticians from the eighteenth century until the early 1970's. They also include a shorter discussion of later development.

"But the English version is not a direct translation of the Norwegian language version," Professor Sandmo says.

"If there was to be an English version, I wanted to write it myself, and it was necessary to rewrite parts of the book. For instance, the Norwegian version had a chapter about economic research in Norway, and parts of this material is not necessarily of interest outside Norway," Sandmo explains.

"In addition, the English version is expanded and new material has been added. For instance, the publishers wanted to expand the part of the book that deals with developments in the last 50 years and go further into detail," he continues, and adds:

"Writing the English version myself also gave me the chance to - hopefully - improve passages from the Norwegian version."

A larger market

"How does one get admitted to a publishing house like Princeton University Press?"

"I cooperated with my Norwegian publisher,Universitetsforlaget. We sent drafts of a couple of chapters so several publishers, and among those interested Princeton was the most attractive," the author explains.

With an English language book published by a major publishing house the potential market suddenly increases a lot compared to a Norwegian book.

"I've seen the marketing plan, and it's quite extensive. It covers everything from conferences to Amazon, and the student market is important to them. Princeton will clearly do their part, and it will be exciting to see how the book is received," says Sandmo.

"What about the competition in the field?"

"There are quite a few books about the topic and they are often written by authors who specialize in this field. I don't, and that may be both a weakness and a strength. I haven't spent my career studying the classics of Economics in great detail, but on the other hand this might give me a different perspective."

Both the English and the Norwegian version are meant to be accessible for both economists and laymen.

"My aim has been to write clearly enough to understand it myself," the author explains.

Long perspective

"During the years since the Norwegian book was published in 2006 there has been a major global economic crisis. Do you discuss the financial crisis in the English version?"

"It is mentioned, but not discussed in detail. We considered it, but I was skeptical. I try to establish a long perspective in the book, and felt that it would be wrong or at least premature to make an ongoing crisis a main topic, says Sandmo, and points out that the recent crisis, serious as it may be, historically is only one crisis among many.

"A book like this one has a long production period. If I had addressed events that took place while the manuscript was being written, the content could be out-dated by the time the book was finished," he adds.