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John Kenneth Galbraith

His Life, His Politics, His Economics

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) was one of America’s most famous economists for good reason. From his acerbic analysis of America’s “private wealth and public squalor” to his denunciation of the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, Galbraith consistently challenged “conventional wisdom” (a phrase he coined). He did so as a witty commentator on America’s political follies and as a versatile author of bestselling books—such as The Affluent Society and The New Industrial State—that warn of the dangers of deregulated markets, corporate greed, and inattention to the costs of our military power. Here, in the first full-length biography of Galbraith and his times, Richard Parker provides not only a nuanced portrait of this extraordinary man, but also an important reinterpretation of twentieth-century public policy and economic practices.

“Whatever you may think of his ideas, John Kenneth Galbraith has led an extraordinary life. . . . Doing justice to this life story requires an outsize biography, one that not only tells Mr. Galbraith’s tale but sets it on the broader canvas of America’s political and economic evolution. And Richard Parker’s book does just that.”—Economist

“Parker’s book is more than a chronicle of Galbraith’s life; it’s a history of American politics and policy from FDR through George W. Bush. . . . It will make readers more economically and politically aware.”—USA Today

 “The most readable and instructive biography of the century.”—William F. Buckley, National Review

      

“The story of this man’s life and work is wonderfully rendered in this magnum opus, and offers an antidote to the public ennui, economic cruelty, and government malfeasance that poison life in America today.”—James Carroll, Boston Globe


862 pages | 53 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2005

Biography and Letters

Economics and Business: Economics--History

Reviews

"I was initially skeptical about the book’s 820 pages . . . but every detail is justified and every digression fascinating. . . . Reading Parker’s comprehensive account of the 20th century’s economic battles, I can’t help thinking that this ought to be Galbraith’s moment."

Thomas Frank | New York Times Book Review

“The most readable and instructive biography—certainly of the century. . . . . The book is deeply and intimately informative.”

William F. Buckley | National Review

“Wonderfully rendered. . . . Offers an antidote to the public ennui, economic cruelty, and government malfeasance that poison life in America today.”

Boston Globe

“Parker’s book is more than a chronicle of Galbraith’s life; it’s a history of American politics and policy from FDR through George W. Bush. . . . It will make readers more economically and politically aware.”

USA Today

"[This] work is no less than the intellectual history of economics from the disintegration of orthodoxy during the Great Depression to the rise and fall of the Keynesian alternative. The book is a well-written, even indispensable, guide to the intellectual controversies that marked the discipline of economics over the past one hundred years."

Gregory R. Zieren | The Historian

"[Parker] turns Galbraith’s life into a remarkably well-written and deeply researched tale of one of the most influential economists of the century. As should any excellent buiography, it not only traces the life of the subject but also situates that life in the broader context of events. . . . The result is a rich and detailed economic and political history of the Unted States in the 20th century, with Galbraith at the center of it."

Steven Horwitz | Research in the History of Economic Thought & Methodology

Table of Contents

Introduction: On First Coming to Cambridge
1. Growing Up in Special Places
2. Harvard in the 1930s
3. American Agriculture and the New Deal
4. Getting Ready for Keynes
5. Going to the Temple
6. Moving On—Toward War
7. Now Comes War
8. Luce, Keynes, and "The American Century"
9. Surveying the Consequences of War
10. A New War Beginning
11. Back to Harvard: New Economics and New Voices
12. Stevenson and the Liberals
13. The Affluent Society: Parting Company with the Mainstream
14. Kennedy, Sputnik, and "Liberal Growthmanship"
15. On the New Frontier
16. India
17. Tragedy, Triumph, Tragedy
18. The New Industrial State
19. Collisions
20. Galbraith and Nixon: Two Keynesian Presidents
21. The Price of Hypocrisy
22. The Great Unraveling
23. The Economics of Joy
24. Joy Fades
25. Century’s End
Conclusion: The Galbraith Legacy
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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