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Economics is not a field that is known for good writing. Charts, yes. Sparkling prose, no.
Except, that is, when it comes to Deirdre Nansen McCloskey. Her conversational and witty yet always clear style is a hallmark of her classic works of economic history, enlivening the dismal science and engaging readers well beyond the discipline. And now she’s here to share the secrets of how it’s done.
Economical Writing is itself economical: a collection of thirty-five pithy rules for making your writing clear, concise, and effective. Proceeding from big-picture ideas to concrete strategies for improvement at the level of the paragraph, sentence, or word, McCloskey shows us that good writing, after all, is not just a matter of taste—it’s a product of adept intuition and a rigorous revision process. Debunking stale rules, warning us that “footnotes are nests for pedants,” and offering an arsenal of readily applicable tools and methods, she shows writers of all levels of experience how to rethink the way they approach their work, and gives them the knowledge to turn mediocre prose into magic.
At once efficient and digestible, hilarious and provocative, Economical Writing lives up to its promise. With McCloskey as our guide, it’s impossible not to see how any piece of writing—on economics or any other subject—can be a pleasure to read.
About the Author
Deirdre Nansen McCloskey is distinguished professor emerita of economics and of history, and professor emerita of English and of communication, at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"The book delights because it demonstrates—clearly, persuasively, enjoyably—the importance of paying attention to rules and rhythms in one’s writing. . . . Style guides that succeed in encouraging writers to rethink approaches, to try something new, or to disrupt staid routines are style guides we need. Writers should check out Economical Writing, and editors should recommend it. Your future readers will be thankful."
— Journal of Scholarly Publishing
"You don’t have to be an economist to benefit from the book, but it will certainly help many economists – we are not famed for clarity and elegance of expression. . . . [McCloskey] is always a model of clarity. . . . Highly recommended for all who write as part of their work or for pleasure. Pretty much everybody?"
— Diane Coyle
"This slim volume should be required reading for all professionals and students, and its audience need not be limited to economists. . . . McCloskey has written a provocative book that has led me to re-think my own approach to writing. If more economists were to spend the short time necessary to read this book, both the writing and the reading of economics might become a more pleasurable experience."
— Southern Economic Journal
"If you want to be read (and who doesn't) and be remembered (better yet), Economical Writing is for you. This entertaining volume will teach you how to write meaningful and joyful economics. A dose of McCloskey banishes the dismal from the 'dismal science.' McCloskey is the Strunk and White of economics, and Economical Writing should be required reading for all economists."
— Claudia Goldin, Harvard University
"McCloskey has written the best short guide to academic prose in the language. Is this language English and not the Academic Official Style? Does McCloskey write with a sense that is also a sense of humor? All true. Buy and believe."
— Richard Lanham, University of California, Los Angeles
"McCloskey tells economists to say what they have to say clearly and economically, and then shows them how. Students can learn to write so that the professor will know what they mean and, more important, professors can learn to write so that the rest of the world will know what they mean."
— Howard S. Becker, University of Washington