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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mind of a Great Economist, 19 Sep 2010
Graham Mummery (Sevenoaks, Kent England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Essays in Biography (Paperback)
Readers of Keynes' The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money may be forgiven for wondering why economists rate his writing style so highly. The "General Theory", though his most significant work in economics, does not show his mastery of English prose to good effect, being obscure and rough in many places. Looking at this volume, however, and the beautiful Essays in Persuasion will leave readers in no doubt.

There are three sections in this volume. The first to political matters. Keynes was in the British delegation that negotiated the Treaty of Versailles. He resigned from it in disgust and wrote a devastating polemic on it in The Economic Consequences of the Peace - The Original Classic Edition. This is not in here. What is, is a pen portrait of the leading protagonists there. It is equally devastating, and should be required reading for any conference attendor as an object lesson in how personal failings can wreck important poitical decisions. Other essays show Keynes assesment of other political figures such as Churchill to be of equal insight- especially as it comes nearly fifteen years before the latter was prime minister.

The second section concerns itself with pen portraits of various economists from the past including Keynes' Tutor at Cambridge, Alfred Marshall as well as one of Thomas Malthus. These show Keynes thoughts on many economic matters, not least his skepticism of mathematical modeling, and how economics is about uncertainty and risk.

The final section includes one of the last essays that Keynes wrote on Isaac Newton: a remarkable mind on another. In it Keynes discusses a number of alchemical manuscripts which he had obtained written by the great scientist, concluding that Newton was "not the first of the age of reason but the last magician."

All in all some wonderful reading, which again makes me wonder why more of Keynes writings are not more widely avaiable. There surely needs to be a "Keynes reader" as we have for many other great thinkers.
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Essays in Biography
Essays in Biography by John Maynard Keynes (Paperback - 11 July 2012)
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