John Maynard Keynes: 1883-1946: Economist, Philosopher, Statesman null
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"The definitive study of the most important economist of his time." —Foreign Affairs
About the Author
- ASIN : 0143036157
- Publisher : Penguin Books (August 30, 2005)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 1021 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780143036159
- ISBN-13 : 978-0143036159
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Grade level : 12 and up
- Item Weight : 1.93 pounds
- Dimensions : 8.42 x 5.5 x 1.84 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #541,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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However, Keynes and his economics philosophies are about much more than what is talked about today. In fact, Keynes did believe in running budget deficits during recessions. However, he also believed that during boom times, governments should run surpluses to pay down the public debt--a point that is often overlooked by today's commentators.
Mr. Skidelsky presents an excellent overview of the life of one of the most influential thinkers in economics. I especially enjoyed the chapters that dealt with Dr. Keynes during the Second World War and how he helped that British manage the finances for the war.
Overall, the book is very good and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in economics or finance.
As to economic theory, I didn't learn much. Not at all because I was already up on Keynes and demand management and such. No, Skidelsky is not a professional economist- he does not spend his days at the university commons or the IMF cafeteria, chewing over the fundamental ideas of economic theory. So it just hasn't sunk into his bones so deeply that he can easily state the basics in clear, complete and simple terms. Of course, this may chalk up to my shortcomings as a reader, but I was motivated and re-read carefully, and quite frankly the mumbo jumbo didn't always add up.
Also, Skidelsky does spend much time thinking about Keyne's sexuality. Maybe that is a wise professional choice in that it would have required a lot of ethereal philosophising. Still, during his youth, Keynes was a committed and in many ways open homosexual. Next thing you know he marries a woman and lives happily with her for the next 20 plus years. It points up some fascinating questions about the range of human sexuality and its biological and social determinants. Skidelsky doesn't really ask them. Too bad. I mean, I ive in 2016 America when so many people easily accept the humanity of gay people, and so many others are uncomfortable with homosexuality, and so much is in flux. It would have been pretty timely but Skidelsky stays on the surface.
Top reviews from other countries
If the readers fairly new to Keynes I recommend reading some of Keynes' own work first, especially 'Economic Consequences of the Peace' and perhaps 'Essays in Persuasion' - together with the material in Skidelsky's book this should help bring the great man to life.
Despite being fascinated by the subject, this book took a while to read. The author goes to no particular effort to enhance the drama of the story, which I guess aids the understanding but means the books isn't as gripping or fast paced as it could be. Most of the book is ordered chronologically, with chapters jumping between Keynes' struggles to get his ideas accepted by both the political and academic elite, his social life, his philosophical and other personal interests, and the time he spent devoted to his wife, family and estate. This approach is great for giving us a taste of what it was like to be Keynes but it makes it harder to follow particular areas of interest. If youre interested in the man as an economist, I recommend you also read Minksy's 'John Maynard Keynes' for his analyses of Keynes' influence from a practical and political perspective, or Gordon Fletchers brilliant and very readable 'Keynesian Revolution and its Critics' for more on how Keynes' work was received academically. Skidelsky's work remains the no 1 choice for understanding Keynes as a man, for those interested in the period, and for folk interested in understanding important battle in the high level war of ideas that is an ever present feature of Western Civilisation.
One small area where Skidelsky maybe looses a little perspective is when recalling Keynes last year where he possibly focuses a little too much on the great mans failing health and declining skills. Although Keynes didn't enjoy resounding success in his negotiations with the Americans, he was in many ways at the peak of his powers during his last year, and he knew it to. As he said to Hayeck when reassuring him over worries of the state becoming too strong, Keynes advised he could change world wide public opinion in a flash if need be. Its tragic he died before he could spell out the specific policies hed advise to bring about a "moderate socialising of investment" - something he probably only had sufficient influence to do successfully by the mid 40s.
And that's about as far as I can fault this most excellent work. Skidelsky has a new book on Keynes' revival during the current downturn coming out in September. Cant wait!
In this book nothng is missing: the general context of the twenties, the international situation, the sexual and artistic dynamism of the times and the characters that embodied those movements. For the reader that would not be satisfied with the soft Economics approach I suggest to consult the three volumes referred. Notwithstanding the problems arised by Keynes are all in this book. Moreover, those issues and Keynes proposals of resolution are linked to the general aspects of Keynes life and his cultural and personal experiments.
Last but not least, for a non UK citizen Skildesky approach is even more impressive than for a common Britain one: it expresses why even today the UK has a set of so vibrant culture (design, fashion, etc) that in a certain sense was enacted at the epoch that the book tackles.