The Next Fifty Things

“Endlessly insightful and full of surprises — exactly what you would expect from Tim Harford.”

Bill Bryson

In Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy, I presented a selection of fifty radical inventions that changed the world.

Now, in this new book, The Next Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy, I’m back with another array of remarkable, memorable, curious and often unexpected ‘things’ – inventions that teach us lessons by turns intimate and sweeping about the complex world economy we live in today.

They range from the brick, blockchain and the bicycle to fire, the factory and fundraising, and from solar PV and the pencil to the postage stamp.

For a glimpse at some of the inspirations behind the book, check out my history-of-technology reading list.

“Harford has a way of putting an unusual spin on everyday inventions… a lively introduction to some of the most ingenious, yet often overlooked inventions that have changed the way we live.”

The Times

Witty, informative and endlessly entertaining, this is popular economics at its most engaging.

The Daily Mail

Praise for the first book:

“His zest for his subjects makes them hard to resist; his lively, humorous style and wide-ranging curiosity make hard topics go down easily.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Britain’s answer to the Freakonomics folk… the book is constantly surprising. It brims with innovations I didn’t know about, as well as ones I thought I knew about but did not.”

The Times

“Remarkably readable… Harford has a talent for seeing the unintended consequences of unconnected inventions… very clever book.”

Toronto Star

“Harford’s richness of detail bespeaks skill both as an economic analyst and as a popular commentator.”

Times Literary Supplement

“Harford always seems to ask the right questions.”

The Spectator

“Prodigious skills as an economic storyteller”

New York Times

“Harford effortlessly leaps across time and continents… fantastically enlightening.”


“Packed full of intriguing details and bizarre facts, this witty and engaging book offers the most fun you’re likely to have when studying the development of modern economics.”

The Daily Mail

“Britain’s answer to Malcolm Gladwell… it is in the narrative details that even the not-so-monumental inventions begin to sing.”

Business Standard

Praise for the radio series:

“Easily some of the best radio of recent years.”

The Times

“I love these fact-filled micro-documentaries, steeped in history… A masterclass in socioeconomic storytelling.”

The Financial Times

“A marvel of brevity, clarity and original thinking.”

The Daily Telegraph

“Superbly informative.”

The Sunday Times

“They are real masterpieces of brevity and audio storytelling… brilliant sideways glances… I’ve been surprised by every episode.”

Monocle Arts Review

“This is what BBC radio is for. The series is utterly compelling and low-key… Just brilliant ideas, told simply. A wonderful, wonderful programme.”

The Times

“50 Things is an education and a delight.”

The Radio Times

“Harford’s script is immaculate and so is his presentation.”

The Times of India

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