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John Maynard Keynes: Volume 2: The Economist as Savior, 1920-1937 Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140238069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140238068
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,407,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Keynes (1883-1946), in Skidelsky's view, was a practical visionary whose achievement was to align economics with changes taking place in ethics, politics and society in a post-WW I world cut adrift from Victorian certitudes, its economy in shambles. This magisterial, gracefully written biography, the second volume in the acclaimed life of the English economist, charts Keynes's metamorphosis from Bloomsbury aesthete and college administrator to self-professed world savior who sought a remedy for the failures of capitalism in active government intervention in the market and monetary policies. Keynes's marriage to Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova in 1925 gave him emotional ballast. His decisive role in shaping the policies of David Lloyd George's Liberal coalition and his influence on FDR's New Deal are skillfully related here. Skidelsky, a British professor of international studies, critiques Keynes's technocratic, "anti-democratic bias" and reassesses Keynesian economics' relevance in this penetrating biography. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This second volume of Skidelsky's planned trilogy of Keynes (Vol. 1: Hopes Betrayed, 1883-1920 , LJ 9/15/86) thoroughly covers the crucial period when Keynes's analytic powers matured even as capitalist economies weakened and collapsed. Because Keynes knew many of the major intellectual and political figures of the time, this is also a compelling intellectual history of the philosophy, science, and arts and letters of the generation shaped by World War I. Skidelsky excels in his discussion of the genesis and import of the major Keynesian works, culminating in the General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936). He details the evolution of Keynes from a dilettantish English don in the early 1920s to the savior of capitalism in its darkest hour. He does a masterful job of uncovering the real Keynes. Those who thought they knew all about one of the pivotal intellects of the 20th century will be fascinated. Highly recommended.
- Richard C. Schiming, Mankato State Univ., Minn.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Walter Stevens on February 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
A great book about a great man. The development of Keynes' thought is handled well, although some more discussion around possible sources of some of his ideas would have been welcome. Several books about his Bloomsbury freinds have emerged recently, and it is interesting to compare perceptions. I'm uncomfortable with Skidelsky's analysis of Keynesian theory which strikes me as too much of a shoe-horning of Keynes into a classical framework, but I'm hardly an expert. All in all a book to be savoured, and an essential item in one's library.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on May 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
The second part of Prof. Skidelsky's magnificent biography of J.M. Keynes is nearly totally concentrated on economic issues. Keynes' personal life was perfectly settled after his marriage with a Russian ballerina. He continued to be in contact with the Bloomsbury group, which 'remained subversive by habit, but was anxious to retain their dividends and beauftiful houses'.
In fact, this book centres on the question how Keynes came to write the 'General Theory' and its defense of governmental intervention (public investments) in the economic cycle in order to break the capitalistic slump. He proved that in a laisser-faire system an equilibrium could be formed at a far lesser level than 'natural' unemployment: 'There is work to do, there are men to do it. Why not bring them together!'
We discover that Malthus was a real influential precursor with his proposition to prop up insufficient demand by public works and that Richard Kahn made a decisive contribution with his multiplyer effect.
Prof. Skidelsky characterizes perfectly the 'General Theory' as a complex psychological drama with as main characters the life-denying rentier, the businessman and his fantasies and the victimized working class.
Keynes' ultimate nightmare was a world were making money triumphed over making things, which is actually happening. Financial transactions are dwarfing the industrial ones and there are many more investment trusts than industrial companies in the US.
The discussions after the publication of the 'General Theory' are fascinating. In fact, the debate is still red hot: inflation/deflation, the influence of the (inter)national banks, savings and (un)employment.
This book is not an easy read. I recommend readers to (re)read some parts of the 'General Theory'. But this work is a fascinating tale about the (r)evolution of the ideas of the greatest economist of all times.
I have only one minor remark: Ibsen is a Norwegian, not a Swede.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen R. Laniel on December 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
John Maynard Keynes apparently had a life full of brilliant ideas, and the evolution from one idea to another is a brilliant story. I'm not quite sure how I know this, because the second volume of Robert Skidelsky's Keynes biography doesn't really convey it. But I do know it, somehow.

The main thing I've learned from this book is that I should go and read Keynes himself. Whenever Skidelsky quotes Keynes at any length, I breathe fresh air and I'm reminded that life can, indeed, be a wonderful place. For the remaining 95% of the book, I'm plodding through perfectly serviceable but unengaging prose. Skidelsky doesn't explain Keynes's economics well enough for intelligent non-specialists to really get the point. He explains Keynes's social life decently well, but one can consume only so much about country vacations and "Bloomsberries" before mentally consigning the lot of them to an eternity of bad food and cattiness.

The jacket insists that Skidelsky has told an amazing love story, presumably the one between Keynes and Lydia Lopokova. I don't know quite which biography that reviewer was reading. Certainly not this one.

I'm told there's a condensed version of the Keynes bio: one volume instead of three. That may be worth your time. It depends on what you want. The life of Keynes doesn't actually seem all that interesting on its own -- no more interesting than any other smart person's life, and substantially less interesting than Bertrand Russell's (with whose life Keynes's overlaps). As for the content of Keynes's ideas, those certainly are worth the time, but I just can't see that Skidelsky -- condensed or otherwise -- is the man to teach these to us.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Emmett Brady on October 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend the second volume of Skidelsky's three volume study of the life of John Maynard Keynes for the general reader.The general reader will be rewarded with a 5 star performance.Skidelsky masterfully weaves an incredible amount of material about the private and public life of Keynes in a manner that will provide the nonspecialist,general reader with many hours of reading pleasure.Unfortunately,the same cannot be said for the specialist seeking a technical analysis and evaluation of Keynes's scientific contributions to philosophy,applied probability,applied statistics,decision science and economics.It is in this area that Skidelsky fumbles the ball just as it appeared that he was going to go all the way and score a touchdown.This is most likely due to the fact that he is a historian with little or no training in philosophy,mathematics,statistics,probability and economics.Let me catalog the technical problems .First,Skidelsky confuses the 12th-13th century debate between the nominalists and the realists(Platonists) with the realist versus idealist debate of the 19th-20th century between,among others,G.E.Moore and Bertrand Russell(the realists of the 20th century who would be supporting the nominalists in the 12th century),on the one hand and J.M.E.McTaggart and F.H.Bradley,on the other hand,who would be supporting,in general,the realists of the 12th century.(See Skidelsky's extremely confusing discussion on pp.74-77).Second,Skidelsky is completely confused about the nature and construction of Keynesian probabilities.Keynesian probabilities,in general,are intervals.They require the use of two numbers ,not one.The first number is called a lower bound.The second number is called an upper bound.Keynes's approximation method has absolutely nothing to do with ordinal rankings.Read more ›
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