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Essays in Persuasion [Paperback]

John Maynard Keynes
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Jan 2009
Most of the essays in this book were first collected together in October 1931, immediately after Britain had left the gold standard. They reflected Keynes's attempts over the previous dozen years to influence public opinion and policy over the Treaty of Versailles, over which he had resigned from the Treasury in June 1919, reparations and inter-allied war debts, stabilisation policy, the gold standard and the shape of liberal politics in Britain. In 1972 the essays were reprinted but with the full texts of the pamphlets he had included — Can Lloyd George Do it?, The Economic Consequences of Mr. Churchill, A Short View of Russia, and The End of Laissez Faire. At that time, the full texts of his of his two post-1931 pamphlets — The Means to Prosperity and How to Pay for the War — were added. As a result the book contains examples of Keynes's finest writing on economic policy and politics.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (6 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393001903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393001907
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.7 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 542,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Book Description

This new edition of Keynes' classic text includes an Introduction by Donald Moggridge --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

DONALD MOGGRIDGE is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto. He was educated at Toronto and Cambridge. He was an editor of the Royal Economic Society's edition of The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes and has written extensively on Keynes and the history of economic policy in the inter-war period. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crash course in economics 18 Sep 2009
By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More successful in prophecy than persuasion? 27 May 2009
By Graham Mummery TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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In the introduction, Keynes humorously describes these writings as "croakings of a Cassandra more successful in prophesy than persuasion." And it is astonishing how right, with hindsight, he often was.

The books consists in the main of articles published in magazines and periodicals. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money may be more famous. It is more easily available. Yet it is not nearly as readable as this.

There are essays on the Treaty of Versailles additional to his famous Economic Consequences of Peace, The. There are his writings on the gold standard and why it needed to be abandoned. All these are of interest to those of us interested in economic history. Yet the general reader will probably enjoy most the essays at the end of the books on politics, Russia under the communists, the End of Laissez-Faire and one where he looks into the long term economic future. These latter are as timeless as it is possible for economic writings to be.

All of these, whether one agrees or not, provide fascinating insights into the issues. Here perhaps lies the greatest pleasure in reading this book. Keynes was one of the great minds of the twentieth century. Here one can encounters it at its most acute. Keynes has a reputation among economists for the beauty and elegance of his writing. In this book he lives up to it.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite mandarin prose and clear argument 30 May 1999
By A Customer
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Cassandra still Speaks. 16 Aug 2014
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I have read the 'Essays in Biography' which are clever but too subtle for me - I am not being disingenuous, he is habitually so circumspect there that I found it hard to divine what he really thought. Here though I was fascinated from first to last. A Cassandra yes - it and his heart effectively killed him - but a writer of elegance and obvious brilliance. Of course it helps if you are in agreement with his ideas on economics (emphatically I am); if not, his exposition of economics and various aspects of early 20th century world affairs (properly they are Western ones) are still invaluable. I usually scoff at 100 Best Books and such 'awards'; this is undoubtedly one of the best I have read on any subject and one that helps bridge the Two Cultures that C.P. Snow correctly lamented. An ideal present for anyone with a brain. Buy two, then you have at least one Birthday/Xmas present sorted now. The recipient will be delighted. The best book of its type that it has been my pleasure to read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Supping At The Table Of A Master 30 Oct 2011
By demola
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Arguably, Keynes is the most consequential economist in the history of the profession and how he thought and argued is a lesson in logic. This is a collection of essays that Keynes wrote for various publications. They dealt with issues of the day and you may well think none of it can be relevant today. I mean, people don't read Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice today, do they? If that's your thinking you can skip this book. But if somewhere in your heart is the desire to rise above the oatmeal that passes for financial commentary in today's newspapers and the drivel in the readers' commentaries section, then you need to sup at the table of a master and see how it's done. This should be on your reading list.
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