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John Maynard Keynes 1883-1946: Economist, Philosopher, Statesman [Paperback]

Robert Skidelsky
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Aug 2004
Robert Skidelsky's magisterial biography of John Maynard Keynes, now available in a definitive abridged volume


Product details

  • Paperback: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; 1 edition (6 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330488678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330488679
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 459,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"'In Robert Skidelsky's magnificently intelligent biography - in my opinion the greatest of the last century and, possibly, of this one too - Keynes has received the best tribute he could deserve' Mark Archer, Financial Times Magazine; 'As brilliant as his full-length version... this one-volume version can be strongly recommended to the many non-economists who are mystified but intrigued by the Keynes legend' William Keegan, Observer; 'Nobody who wants to understand one of the most extraordinary Englishmen of his time can do without this biography' Eric Hobsbawm"

Book Description

Robert Skidelsky’s three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes has been acclaimed as the authoritative account of the great economist-statesman’s life. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this abridged biography offers us a sympathetic account of the life and influences of a passionate visionary, and an invaluable insight into the formation of a new economic philosophy whose ideas remain even today at the centre of political and economic discussion. ‘In Robert Skidelsky’s magnificently intelligent biography – in my opinion the greatest of the last century and, possibly, of this one too – Keynes has received the best tribute he could deserve’ Mark Archer, Financial Times Magazine ‘As brilliant as his full-length version . . . this one-volume version can be strongly recommended to the many non-economists who are mystified but intrigued by the Keynes legend’ William Keegan, Observer 'Nobody who wants to understand one of the most extraordinary Englishmen of his time can do without this biography' Eric Hobsbawm

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive biography of Keynes 16 May 2008
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This tome (including more than 100 pages of notes and indices) is an abridgment of author Robert Skidelsky's original three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes. It is in all respects an extraordinary work. The author offers a portrait of Keynes not only as an economist but also as a philosopher and a statesman. He does not segregate these three dimensions, but rather shows how they interpenetrate and inform each other. He sets Keynes in the context of his time and circumstances. Skidelsky is unsparing in his treatment of the inconsistencies and contradictions in Keynes' life and character, but he is fair and balanced; he avoids sensationalism even in the treatment of the sensational. getAbstract finds that this book merits multiple readings and should intrigue not only economists but also anyone interested in the ideas and events of the 20th century.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skidelski on Keynes 19 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback
I have found this a very satisfying book to read. It is long and covers a lot of ground yet it is also a pleasure to read. Keynes and his thinking are described yet we also get a first rate insight into Cambridge University in the early 20th century, Europe between the two world wars, the Bloomsbury Group, early modern British philosophy and the many statesmen that Keynes met. This is an abridged version of a three edition original but I never felt that I was missing anything; it stands very well alone.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly human insight 26 Jun 2009
By Feyd
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book does a grand job of summing up a very complex and multi faceted man. Skidelsky has a knack for picking out just the right quote to illuminate the motivations and character of the various people involved in Keynes' story. Sometimes he adds his own speculations which I find very well judged and helpful in understanding the dynamics of the various events.

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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The abridged edition 28 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback
The book is a very enjoyable, and deatiled account of Maynard Keynes' life. At times touching, exciting, or fascinating, it maintains a light touch even when wading through the economic or political ideas that involved 'the master' in his remarkable life.

There are good pieces of personal information collated by Skidelsky when researching the book, and has been updated in light of modern research. Nevertheless, I am left feeling that perhaps I should have started the three-volume edition, so well written is it, but having already read a 1000 page book, would I want to re-read all that material?

I would recommend to prospective readers to try the three volume one, unless they are sure that they will be unable to finish it, as I am sure there will be much of interest in the full version. At times one can tell this is an abridgement, but that does not detract to any large degree from the excellent prose.

The book itself deal with all aspects of Keynes life: personal, political, academic; though the emphasis changes as the relative importance of these in his life change. Most of the book is narrative, although at times the author intersects it with some poignant analysis or reflection, and this works well.

Finally, this great book is very easy to read and has very uselful indexing and mini-biographies of the characters involved.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All you need to know about J M Keynes and more 30 Mar 2009
Format:Hardcover
This mammoth volume provides great insight into Keynes' life and works. The earlier part of the book works particularly well in separating the different and varied parts of Keynes life into distinct chapters - that is a style of autobiography that other authors would do well to copy. Such separation between activities becomes less clear later in the book when the focus is on Keynes' role in international negotiations. In the first part, especially, I had the impression that the author felt it necessary to make use of each and every document that he found - at times the level of detail is just too great (too much mundane information) - pity that the opportunity of publishing a combined volume was not used to reduce the bulk of the book - this might have enabled the reader to gain virtually the same understanding without as much distraction. Neverthless, it was well worth the read!
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