Keynes: The Rise, Fall, and Return of the 20th Century's Most Influential Economist Book Review

Not John Maynard, but rather his great-great-nephew, Skandar

Not John Maynard, but rather his great-great-nephew, Skandar

Keynes
The Rise, Fall, and Return of the 20th Century's Most Influential Economist
by Peter Clarke
Bloomsbury Press 2009
$20.00; 211 pages
ISBN 9781608190232

I received this book for free as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

This is a fun little book, and by little, I mean just long enough to cover the life of John Maynard Keynes, while still clocking in under 200 pages, not counting endnotes and bibliography. I find the life of Keynes fascinating, and I genuinely learned things by reading this biography. For example, Keynes' literary friends in his Bloomsbury circle were genuinely mystified that he chose to marry a ballerina. Also, he and his wife wanted kids, but suffered from infertility.

Yet, I'm not sure I can really recommend this book. I've had this book for eight years, and I've read it three times trying to review it. I think the problem is the material is not quite chronological, and not quite topical, but rather a kind of stream-of-consciousness combination of the two. It makes it really hard to form a coherent picture of the life and times of Maynard Keynes, which is the only reason I want to read a book like this. I took to making notes in the margin to document what year an event happened, so I could reconstruct a timeline of events that are close in time but spread across chapters.

If you just want a fun read with a few facts sprinkled in, then this probably won't bother you. On the other hand, if you like to place things in perspective, then this book makes that unnecessarily hard.

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