During Black History Month, many people recommend black authors and promote their books. When non-fiction books by black authors are recommended, however, it is rare to see books on economics, money management, or the value of markets and liberty. Fortunately, there are many great black authors who’ve written extensively on these subjects. I specifically recommend books from three experts in economics and personal finance.
These authors write with amazing clarity, making complex ideas accessible for non-economists. I’ll briefly share why I like them and why I think that everybody – and especially those in middle and high school – would benefit from reading their work.
Dr. Thomas Sowell
Dr. Sowell is one of my favorite economists, and is perhaps the top black economist in history. Sowell has written over a dozen books and hundreds of columns on economic topics. He has been writing for decades and his work is as relevant now as it has ever been. One of Sowell’s most recent books, Discrimination and Disparities, uses empirical evidence brilliantly to “challenge the idea that different economic outcomes can be explained by any one factor, be it discrimination, exploitation or genetics.” This book is timely and should be read by anybody who wants to make sure the policies they advocate for won’t have unintended negative consequences.
Dr. Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions helps explain politicians who may ignore the consequences of their actions and instead pass policies consistent with their vision, even when the policies are proven to be bad for society.
I have read several of Sowell’s other books and also highly recommend Basic Economics, which is a great introduction to the subject; The Quest for Cosmic Justice, which examines the downside in pursuing laws in the name of social justice; Economic Facts and Fallacies (the title is all the summary you need); and A Conflict of Visions, which helps explain politicians who may ignore the consequences of their actions and instead pass policies consistent with their vision, even when the policies are proven to be bad for society.
Hogan is a popular radio host and has written two bestselling books on personal finance. I highly recommend Retire Inspired and Everyday Millionaires. Retire Inspired clearly illustrates a key fact – one’s retirement is not based on an age, but a financial number. It lays out easy-to-digest strategies on how to retire.
Everyday Millionaires presents information on a study of over 10,000 millionaires. One of my favorite facts that Hogan presents is that only 21% of millionaires received any inheritance – which counters a common myth that the only way to become a millionaire is inheriting money. This book clearly shows that almost anybody can become a millionaire through intentional saving and investing. Everyday Millionaires should be required reading for middle and high school students for two reasons. The first reason is obvious – the personal finance lessons. Hogan writes clearly and his lessons could help youth understand the basics of savings and investing.
The second reason is for the message it sends. Reading Hogan’s books will convince you that you can “retire inspired,” as he phrases it, regardless of whether you are in a high-paying or low-paying job. This is crucial and the world needs this message to be communicated more often. If you pay significant attention to the news – especially cable news – you might think it is impossible to get ahead anymore. Hogan proves this message is wrong, and as he likes to say “The American Dream is Alive and Well”.
If you pay significant attention to the news – especially cable news – you might think it is impossible to get ahead anymore. Hogan proves this message is wrong, and as he likes to say “The American Dream is Alive and Well”.
Dr. Walter Williams
Dr. Williams, a Philadelphia native, passed away in late 2020. He is perhaps best known for guest hosting for the Rush Limbaugh show. He wrote several books, however, that are worth reading. Race and Economics: How Much can be Blamed on Discrimination was written in 2011. But it is well written and the lessons are timely. He argues that free-markets are necessary to combat discrimination and discusses, in detail, how certain government actions have harmed black citizens. Liberty Versus the Tyranny of Socialism discusses … well … I think the title says it all, right? And his autobiography, Up from the Projects, is interesting and also has good lessons.
I think it is important for people of all races to read from authors of all races. Chris Hogan, Dr. Thomas Sowell and Dr. Walter Williams have written some great books on economics and personal finance. You will not only be better informed by reading their work, but inspired by the lessons they provide.
Matthew Rousu is Dean and Professor of Economics in the Sigmund Weis School of Business at Susquehanna University. His views don’t necessarily represent the views of his employer.