The first two volumes of Robert Skidelsky's definitive and consummate biography of John Maynard Keynes were hailed as publishing events on both sides of the Atlantic. Already published to acclaim in Britain, this third and final volume covers Keynes's later years from 1937 to his death in 1946. During this period, Keynes's outstanding contribution to the financing of Britain's war effort, to the building of the postwar economic order, and his role in Britain's struggle to preserve its independence within the Atlantic alliance solidified the economist's lasting importance in twentieth-century history. Skidelsky lucidly explains Keynes's economic theories and masterfully evokes the complexities of his personality. The book abounds in lively anecdotes and memorable portraits, notably that of his devoted wife, Lydia Lopokova, whose eccentric but utterly logical post-Keynesian existence is charted in a delightful epilogue. Insightful and intelligent, this is a work that tells the story of a passionate and determined visionary and provides an invaluable overview of issues that remain at the center of international political and economic debate.
Robert Skidelsky, a professor of political economy at Warwick University, is also the author of Politicians and the Slump and Oswald Mosley.From Publishers Weekly:
"In the world of economics and finance," Skidelsky writes, "Keynes had come to occupy the same position as Churchill in the world of politics" during WWII, even though his position as adviser to the chancellor of the exchequer was unofficial and unpaid. In the third and final volume of this definitive biography, Skidelsky, professor of political economy at England's Warwick University, depicts the great Bloomsbury fiscal philosopher as a tireless wartime activist. Paradoxically, Skidelsky notes, "Keynes rates a single mention in [Churchill's] five-volume history" of WWII. Yet the two had complementary goals to finance and win the war, regain economic footing and preserve the British Empire. (The biography's subtitle, thus, is the only false note in the book.) The Brits and Americans clashed over this last point amid their broader economic rivalry. Keynes's shuttle diplomacy with Washington regarding Lend-Lease and postwar fiscal settlements, despite his ever-weakening heart (he died the year after victory), furnishes a tense if dense narrative. Keynes understood England's industrial inefficiency, and that his own efforts to resuscitate his country would hold back the hands of the global clock and swindle England's crucial ally. But he was always a prescient economist, realizing, among other things, that American policy in 1945, which favored Russia fiscally over Britain, risked Soviet domination of Europe. Despite some confusing chronologies, the biographer's prose is worthy of his subject. Another great merit is Skidelsky's charming evocation of Keynes's loyal wife, Lydia Lopokova, once a Russian ballerina. Readers shouldn't be daunted by pages of fiscal detail, which can be scanned. This elegant and accessible account lives up to the distinguished earlier volumes. Illus. not seen by PW. (Dec.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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