The tale reads as a classic fall from grace. In the 1960s and 1970s, historians investigated the economy. They were serious and politically relevant. But then the discipline fell to the beguiling ways of cultural and social history. Fractured and fragmented, scholars wandered off like cats into various alleyways, pawed at incomprehensible theories, and lost track of the common reader. There is hope, however, because in the past decade or so a new movement has arisen to lead historians out of the obscure alleyways and back to the main path: the economy, so long neglected.