Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

January 11, 2005

Robert Heilbroner has passed away

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:23 pm

Tyler Cowen reports that Robert Heilbroner has passed away, and links to an obituary. He was 85.

Tyler describes him as “among the most influential economic historians of the 20th century,” but I’d prefer to describe him as a historian of economics, rather than an economic historian. He was more well-known for work on the history of economists and economic thought, than on “economic history” as such.

His doctoral dissertation was published as Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers, which sold over four million copies. (For comparison: he has sold about 10,000 or 15,000 books for every time my dissertation as been downloaded!) It was both a popular book and a textbook; I was assigned it in a course taught by Craufurd D. W. Goodwin, and he is one of the leaders in the field.

3 Responses to “Robert Heilbroner has passed away”

  1. romy Says:

    that was his dissertation? i’m impressed.

    on the subject of dissertations … i was more than a little dismayed to learn mine is available for free download on the DAI site. i distinctly remember NOT giving authorization for that. if someone takes an interest in my work, so much the better, but i want to monitor how much access they have to it! especially as it is not published in book form (and also, as parts of it are really, truly, not good). can i ask UMI to make it stop? i know this is a lamentable tangent, but what do you think?

  2. Different River Says:

    Good question. The standard UMI agreement specifically gives them a “non-exclusive” right to publish your dissertation, subject to a 10% royalty ($10 minimum per calendar year to actually get paid). And of course, they offer free downloads to people at subscribing institutions (and the Library of Congress), and 10% of “free” is “free.” Unless you, or your university, had a special deal with them, you probably did give them permission.

    Of course, you could try sending them a letter revoking permission, but they aren’t real good at making exceptions, as I discovered: Their free downloads are PDF files of scanned images of dissertations. Scanning produced low-quality images in very large files. So, I included with my paper copy a CD with a PDF file, and instructions to make that available for downloading instead of the scanned image. They made the scanned image anyway. I played phone tag with them for a couple of months to try to get them to fix it, then I gave up.

    I bet if you asked, they could tell you how many people have bought paper and microfilm copies of your dissertation — but I’d be surprised if they kept track of downloading.

  3. romy Says:

    hunh, interesting. well, thanks for the info. :)

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Private: Robert Heilbroner has passed away

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:42 pm

Tyler Cowen reports that Robert Heilbroner has passed away and links to an obituary. He was 85. Tyler says he was one of the most influential economic historians of the 20th century, but I’d call him one of the most influential historians of economics instead.

His doctoral thesis sold over four million copies, and is still in print as Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers. It’s not only a popular book, it was used as a near-textbook in a course I took on history of economic thought taught by < href="http://www.econ.duke.edu/Econ/Faculty/Users/cgoodwin.html">Craufurd D. W. Goodwin, who is one of the top people in the field.

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