Over the last year I have taught briefly about the origins of modern finance, a topic that has fascinated Edinburgh sociologists, and magazine writers. In one of the courses I used excerpts from the recent book by Justin Fox, The Myth of the Rational Market. What surprised and pleased me in this book was the balance between the academic and the practitioner in making sense of the academization of finance, something that Donald MacKenzie does well, as does Peter Bernstein before anyone else. Fox starts with Irving Fisher and for his cast of characters the book is a history of economics.
Looking at the references, not many since this is a popular book, I could not find any many mentions of historians of economics, which worried me more than it bothered me. I emailed J. F. about it and he replied:
I read Ingrao and Israel’s ‘Invisible Hand’ (and I’m pretty sure I cited it in the endnotes), a few articles by E. Roy Weintraub, parts of Mirowski’s books and parts of economic histories/biographies of Jevons, Marshall, Hayek and others. But I’ve got to say I was often frustrated with these works; they would usually start off interesting but then veer off in directions that I didn’t see as important.
This, I think, is rather good. Even though there are no tips of the hat to us historians of economics in the preface or anywhere else, even though we go off on tangents that don’t seem to interest the journalist and the wider public, we are read, we are considered.