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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393077489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393077483
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics 

Nicholas Wapshott. Norton, $28.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-393-07748-3
Wapshott masterfully recounts the clash between Hayek and Keynes. Wapshott offers a colorful look at the theories that epitomize the economic divide still shaping Anglo-American politics. Publishers Weekly.

 "Told brilliantly." Alan Caruba's Warning Signs.

"Mr. Wapshott has written an important book. It is compelling not only as a history of two distinctive thinkers and their influence, but as a narrative of political decision-making and its underlying priorities. Underlying Mr. Wapshott's analysis are vital questions for this moment in American history." Nancy F. Koehn, The New York Times

“I heartily recommend Nicholas Wapshott’s new book, Keynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern Economics.... Many books have been written about Keynes, but nobody else has told the story properly of his relationship with Hayek. Nick has filled the gap in splendid fashion, and I defy anybody—Keynesian, Hayekian, or uncommitted—to read his work and not learn something new.” (John Cassidy - The New Yorker)

“Nicholas Wapshott’s new book, Keynes Hayek, does an excellent job of setting out the broader history behind this revival of the old debates. Wapshott brings the personalities to life, provides more useful information on the debates than any other source, and miraculously manages to write for both the lay reader and the expert at the same time. Virtually every page is gripping, and yet even the professional economist will glean some insight...” (Tyler Cowen - National Review)

“Mr. Wapshott has written an important book. It is compelling not only as a history of two distinctive thinkers and their influence, but also as a narrative of political decision-making and its underlying priorities. Underlying Mr. Wapshott’s analysis are vital questions for this moment in American history: What kind of society do we want? And what do we owe to our fellow citizens and our collective future?” (Nancy F. Koehn - The New York Times)

“Nicholas Wapshott’s Keynes Hayek is a smart and absorbing account of one of the most fateful encounters in modern history, remarkably rendered as a taut intellectual drama. Wapshott brilliantly brings to life the human history of ideas that continue to mold our world.” (Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy)

“Nicholas Wapshott brings the Keynes-Hayek fight of the twentieth century back to life, making the clash both entertaining and highly relevant for understanding economic crises of the twenty-first century.” (John B. Taylor, Stanford University, Getting Off Track)

“In the fluency of his writing and his ability to make complex financial questions easily comprehensible, Nicholas Wapshott has done economics itself a great service, by opening the subject up to the general reader, as seen through the prism of one of the most important intellectual gladiatorial contests of modern times.” (Andrew Roberts, The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War)

From the Author

I reported the rise and reign of Margaret Thatcher at close quarters and wrote a great deal about her rejection of Keynes in favor of Hayek. Then I wrote a book about Reagan and Thatcher, whose political marriage was founded on a shared belief that Hayek was right. So the story of Keynes and Hayek is a subject that has been long on my mind. Nicholas Wapshott - interviewed in The New York Sun

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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I would recommend this book to anyone with even an interest in the study of economics.
P. Skibinski
It helps that Mr. Wapshott writes well because a reader needs no background or interest in economics to understand and enjoy this book.
Warren Miller
Underlying this debate are two opposing economic theories, which are the subject of this book.
S. J. Rattansen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

157 of 171 people found the following review helpful By Warren Miller on October 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who wants to know how the United States and Europe got into the financial mess that we're all in should read this book. It tells the story of the 1930s debates between two great economists: John Maynard Keynes ('Maynard' to his friends) and Friedrich August Hayek (called 'Fritz' by friends and family). These two giants of economics had diametrically opposed views of how things worked. They debated, argued, and took pot shots at one another in academic journals and through proteges, colleagues, and graduate students. That we in the U.S. have had to contend with the top-down hand of Keynesian economics for most of the last seventy-five years is due in no small part to telling differences in the personal styles of the two protagonists. Keynes was tall (6'6"), urbane, gregarious, and articulate. Hayek was short, bookish, introverted, and, shall I say, English-challenged - he spoke English with an accent so thick that listeners found him almost unintelligible. Except for his classic, "The Road to Serfdom," his writing is also tough going, even for those with a high tolerance for abstract turgidity. Author Nicholas Wapshott does his readers a favor by not citing chapter and verse from Hayek's literary pantheon.

Keynes's ideas prevailed, at least until the "stagflation" of 1973-74. They came out on top not only because of Keynes's winning persona but also because Hayek's prescription for curing the Great Depression--a "bottom up" approach for government to do nothing and to let the market work its will, find bottoms, and regain an upward path--were politically untenable. Doing nothing is often perceived as not caring. However, it beats doing the wrong thing. As some sage once said, "Don't just do something. Stand there.
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104 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Herbert Gintis on November 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is quite nicely written and has little trouble engaging the attention of the reader. The two eminent economists certainly had extremely divergent ideas, Keynes representing modern liberal interventionist social policy, and Hayek representing the classical laissez-faire position so characteristic of the Austrian school. The problem with the book is that the two figures really did not much interact, either in words or in real life, and each was preoccupied with a major battle that did not involve the other. Keynes' polemic was against the received wisdom in British and American economics, which held that economic downturns are self-correcting, provided the monetary authority maintained the value of the currency and did not run exorbitant deficits. Of course the Austrian school believed this too, but this school was practically unknown in Anglo-American circles. Hayek was concerned with business cycle theory, but his contributions were exceeding arcane and unpersuasive. Rather, Hayek was the dedicated enemy of central planning of the state socialist variety.

Hayek's major clash with the socialists occurred in the mid-1930's in the so-called economic calculation debates with the market socialists, most notably Oskar Lange. The market socialists clearly won this debate, in which all parties assumed the validity of neoclassical economic theory. Curiously, the great Josef Schumpeter concluded that socialism was inevitable (he develops this theme in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, 1942), while Hayek concludes (correctly) that it is neoclassical theory that is wrong. Hayek spent the next decade developing his own extremely cogent critique of central planning, writing his most important article: F. A.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Greying American on October 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nicholas Wapshott's Keynes Hayek brings clarity to the reader's understanding of 20th and 21st Century economic policy, both in the US and globally. Wapshott describes how Keynes became the well-known father of active economic governmental policies, and how those policies were applied to avoid economic catastrophe in the US and globally. Wapshott describes Hayek, who won the Nobel prize in economics but was a less well-known libertarian, and who became the champion of Milton Friedman and other modern leading Republican and conservative economists in the US, the UK and globally. The book shines a bright light on the differences between the Keynesian and Hayekian theories over the decades, and the their consequences, particularly in the US and UK following World War II. Wapshott's research shows the lip service given to conservative economic policy, but its abandonment during the run-up of enormous deficits in the US during the administrations of President Reagan and President George W. Bush. Kaynes Hayek is a must read, particularly in view of the stalemate between President Obama, who is trying to apply Keynsian theory to reduce unemployment, and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which appears to be applying a veto because of Hayekian theories. Similarly, Keynes Hayek is very informative on developments in the UK, where the Conservatives have brought Hayekian policies to the fore, but where the outcome has been at best questionable. Wapshott's book is a very well-written and timely read.
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