JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITHorder the book
his LIFE his POLITICS his ECONOMICS

John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics

John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics
John Kenneth Galbraith was America's most famous economist for good reason. A witty commentator on America's political follies and a versatile author of bestselling books that warn prophetically of the dangers of deregulated markets, corporate greed, and inattention to the costs of our military power (among them The Great Crash: 1929, The Affluent Society, and The New Industrial State), Galbraith always made economics relevant to the crises of the day. This first full-length biography is, in Richard Parker's hands, an important reinterpretation both of public policy and of how economics is practiced.

Born in 1908 and raised on a small Canadian farm, Galbraith began to teach at Harvard in his twenties. In 1938 he left to work in New Deal Washington, eventually rising to become FDR's "price czar" during the war. Following his years as a writer at Fortune, where he did much to introduce the work of John Maynard Keynes to a wide audience, he returned to Harvard in 1949 and began writing the books that would make him famous.

Over the years, Galbraith developed a distinctive way of "doing economics," and it made him a critic both of conservatives and of many liberal economists. Parker's vibrant, nuanced portrait is enlightening on Galbraith's engagement with his fellow economists and the politics they influenced--from the "Neoclassical Synthesis" and the New Frontier to monetarism, supply-siders, and the conservative revolution of the 1980s and 1990s. It is also a dramatic narrative about public policies and the people who create them, for Galbraith was often at the very epicenter of politics in his time.

From his acerbic analysis of the nation's "private wealth and public squalor" in the 1950s to his denunciations of the Vietnam War, Galbraith regularly challenged the "conventional wisdom" (a phrase he coined). Parker's account of Galbraith's friendship with John F. Kennedy, whom he served as ambassador to India, is filled with new insights and information about economic policy, about American policy in Asia, and about the heavy influence of the Pentagon's budget on every aspect of public affairs. Subsequent chapters, analyzing Galbraith's responses to the mistakes made by later administrations in managing America's wealth and power, offer a powerful critique of the Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton years. But Parker gives equal attention to the warm, lively, and nourishing friendships that shaped the private life of Kenneth and Kitty Galbraith and their high-spirited family.

This masterful chronicle gives color, depth, and meaning to the record of an extraordinary life.

updated 7 years ago