The Worldly Philosophers, the Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers by Robert L. Heilbroner is a must read for voters in this election year. With the economy in the shape it is in and the potential for things to get worse, every American should learn at least the basics of economics. Each political party is pushing its own brand of economic ideology and whoever succeeds in the 2012 elections will be able to put in place policies that will affect our nation for generations to come.
This book was published in 1953 and the copy I read, which I bought at a church rummage sale, is the revised 1986 edition so there may be copies with more recent revisions. It was used as a text book in many introductory economics classes over the years. Not only does it explain the evolution of economic thought but gives the biographies of the great economists: Adam Smith, Malthus, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and more. It's a very informative and entertaining book.