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3.8 out of 5 stars
Essays in Persuasion
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2003
To the interested layperson John Mayanrd Keynes is known as a villain/genius responsible for the theory of governmental deficit spending in a time of economic crises. This book in a concise and understandable manner, without recourse to ponderous mathematical formulas, makes a very convincing case for the necessity of governmental intervention.
When people are unwilling to spend and are hoarding cash, it is up to government to inject money into the system by means of expansionary monetary policy, either it is public works in the most dramatic case or reduced interest rates, intended to stimulate investment in a more commonplace scenario.
Fiscal prudence or austerity will not lift the economy out of the slump, for a very simple reason; if everyone is saving and no one is buying, then no one is able to sell and economy is pushed further into a recession.
Villilfied by countless conservatives as an endorsement of governmental intervention and subsequent domination of the people, the ideas proposed in the book are accepted by such respected institutions as the Federal Reserve and merit attention of a person, who would like to claim general economic awareness.
Apart from the the discussion on public spending, there are highly informative essays on German hyperinflation of the 1920s, ruminations on Gold standard and much more; all presented with great clarity and humor, that few if any economists have mangaged to imitate.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 1999
John Maynard Keynes at his most beguiling. A series of essays that have not lost their power despite the passage of 70 years or so. As a prose stylist Maynard Keynes could equal his friends Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster, and he does so in this volume. Perhaps the apogee of essay writing of the Oxford/Cambridge type, this volume has a charm that is absent from his longer works (General Theory, Tract on Monetary Reform, even the Economic Consequences of the Peace). For those people interested in hard edged macro theory, read elsewhere. For admirers of logic and clarity and the British tradition of enlightened common sense, Eureka! You have found it in this book.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2009
The publishers of this edition should be ashamed of themselves. The quality of this edition of Keynes' Essays In Persuasion is poor to say the least.
There are numerous typos.
The text is not justified properly; some words hang off lines, and there are irregular and gigantic spaces between words.
The table of contents is missing numbers.
There is no introduction to the author or the material.
The page numbers are inversed.
This is a low-quality, junior-high school effort edition, unworthy of the material it professes to have "beautifully produced." This edition is poorly edited.

Reading Essays In Persuasion is certainly worthy of your time, but this edition is not worthy of your money.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2009
Essays in Persuasion are a collection of articles and public letters published by Keynes in the 1920s and 30s. They treat mostly of economic subjects, beginning with the Versailles reparations and moving on to monetary manners, especially the return to gold, though the last fifth of the book is dedicated to political discussion (Keynes's view of Communism, the Liberal Party, hopes for a new culture in a future world of abundance...). They are a pleasure to read, spelled out with elegance and common sense and filled with humorous quips and witticisms.

This compendium is for anyone who doesn't have the skills or patience to read Keynes's General Theory. It lays out the essentials of Keynesian economic thinking, in particular on inflation and unemployment, while in passing making clear a number of economic terms and issues - for example how the gold standard worked and why, and the difference with the gold `exchange' standard, something that had completely escaped me. The Essays do require a minimal understanding of economic factors (interest and exchange rates, state and trade budgets, and how they relate), but they are not technical in style and are told in plain words; Keynes's public, after all, was the average newsreader or politician. A basic historical baggage also helps: why reparations were a difficult issue, the American loans, deflation and the incipient depression; here a good introduction is perhaps lacking. Nevertheless, this is accessible to all with this minimum culture, and it is both excellent economic education and mental exercise.

Finally, Keynes was a humanist, as the Essays show. He was the antithesis of the dry and unfeeling economist, and this makes for a refreshing and uplifting work. He was also human: one senses the anxiety rising as he recommended a tariff in 1931, or the misplaced relief at Britain's abandonment of the gold standard (a devaluation, with a similar effects to tariffs). And his modern relevance does not need underlining, with boom and bust and urgent monetary issues back to the fore.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Writing during the nineteen twenties and thirties, when the specter of socialism didn't yet haunt the Anglo-Saxon ruling elites, Keynes didn't feel his duty to sing eulogies to the free market; on the contrary, he felt his duty as an economist to propose ways through which modern society could supersede the "centrality of the money motive". The essays devoted to problems of politics in this collection, specially "A short view of Russia", "Economic perspectives for our grandchildren" and "Am I a Liberal?" are among the best things written from the liberal-conservative viewpoint on the ideological choices of our age. A must-read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2010
A very poor edition of some of Keynes' most important essays. No introduction, atrocious layout and glaring omissions. Almost a complete waste of money.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 7, 2011
Not exactly light reading, this book impacted me by two of it's main topics; the gold standard and inflation/deflation. I throughly enjoyed Keynes view of the devasting effect of deflation. He did a masterful job of writing about the severity of each price change and it's impact on society. I had noted that it was interesting reading Keynes' pespective of the Great Depression from England's point of view too. I was surprised about the amount of time and attention Keynes spent on the gold standard too. He made some valid points about how incredibly difficult it would be to enact and set values of currencies. In summary, this is a very well written book that is interesting and informative.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2009
I am not very happy with the book as the letters/print is not properly aligned on the pages. In fact, at some places it is so close to the margin that it feels that letters are missing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2013
For students wanting to learn Keynes' thoughts on economic theory, this is a solid, if somewhat dry, introduction to his analysis of importanteconomic concepts. He discusses the folly of the Treaty of Versailles, correctly warning it would lead to resentment and future disaster. He also discusses in depth inflation, deflation, the gold standard,and many other key concepts. This is so necessary today because there is a constant refrain from conservatives who denounce "Keynesianism," as socialism/Marxism/etc. when they don't know anything about his ideas.

A moderate background in the basics of economics is helpful, but one does not need to have a bachelor's degree or extensive knowledge to understand Keynes' concepts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2009
It is eye-opening to read original essays by John Maynard Keynes, a person whose economic philosophy was criticized for many years, but it turns out that philosophy is applicable to today's economic problems. He writes with a casual style, so not hard to understand.
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