Here's the review from the August 2012 issue of Choice:
"Currently The Instant Economist is the most readable and up-to-date summary of a typical US college principles of economics course. Following the traditional table of contents--from microeconomics through macroeconomics and international topics--and using original, helpful metaphors (and only two graphs), Taylor (managing editor, Journal of Economic Perspectives) takes the reader through the terminology, key concepts, and controversies dominant in today's economics profession. Noteworthy additions to the standard textbook canon are a chapter on personal investing and detailed accounts of the minimum wage, corporate merger, and inequality debates, introducing readers to the data issues that lie behind these controversies. The 36 short chapters reflect the book's origin in the author's Teaching Company recording, Economics; however, the book is a valuable stand-alone option. For supplementary coverage of the history of
economic thought and more complete institutional context, see Robert Heilbroner and Lester Thurow's Economics Explained (4th ed., 1998; 1st ed., CH, Oct'82). Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels of undergraduate students as well as general readers wanting a readable introduction to economics. -- M. H. Maier, Glendale Community College
And here's the review from the Library Journal:
"Taylor’s (managing editor, Journal of Economic Perspectives) volume can help conversationalists looking to raise the bar for their watercooler chats and casual readers who want to understand better the current economic condition of the United States. Taylor uses simple language with field-specific vocabulary to explain economic concepts, and each concept is successfully reinforced with a real-life—and usually entertaining—example. He hits all the subjects that might interest a layperson, such as division of labor, supply and demand, wages, competition and monopoly, inflation, banking, and trade, for a total of 36 petite chapters—just enough information to give the reader a basic but well-rounded understanding of the subject. VERDICT This highly readable, nonpoliticized look at some of the economic principles that shape our society, presented in an engaging, anecdotal fashion, is highly recommended for armchair economists and anyone with a general interest in the state of our economy. —Poppy Johnson-Renvall, Central New Mexico Community Coll. Lib., Albuquerque
As these reviews emphasize, the book is written for the general non-economist reader who would like to gain some insight into the terminology and structure of economic thinking. Those who are interested in knowing a bit more about the genesis of the book might check here.
As one of the reviews notes, this book was rooted in a course I several years ago for the Teaching Company, which is available here. Or if you are teaching or taking an introductory college-level course in economics, I of course recommend my Principles of Economics textbook, available here.