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The Enduring Economist

Anu Kumar

By Anand Chandavarkar
Academic Foundation, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 346, Rs. 995.00


This is another book on Keynes and still not another book. It offers fascinating insights by a Keynes buff. This book has several thoughtful pieces on what Keynes wrote, the works on Keynes and also aspects of Keynes’s work that have not been highlighted. It relooks at Keynes’s contribution to different aspects of economics, at how he looked at the field of economics and how his writings can be looked at anew to study present day problems such as issues faced by developing economies. In all, it richly adds to all that we know of Keynes’s life and makes the journey of discovering Keynes a lively, engrossing one. It also has a review of a fascinating work of crime fiction by the economist and academic Murray Wolfson and the historian and writer Vincent Buranelli called ‘In the long run we are all dead’. As the story unravels, there is an indisposed president and his ambitious vice-president; soon followed by the mysterious death of an admirer, which of course brings up a whole host of suspects, among whom are included a neglected wife, a beautiful mistress, head of the Council of Economic advisers, a Keynesian economist and heading the board of governors of the federal reserve system a monetarist of the Chicago school. The review at the end of this collection makes a fitting coda to the Keynesian miscellany. This Keynes book follows a few others, especially the well-received trilogy of Robert Skidelsky and Paul Davidson’s work of 2007 but there is always room for more on Keynes, to explore yet another new or neglected facet of Keynes, a many-splendoured genius. Besides to date only about a third of Keynes’s papers have been published in the thirty-volume edition of Collected Writings of John M. Keynes. Most literature on him has covered the theme of Keynes the philosopher that includes the O’Donnell monograph in 1989, the ninth Keynes seminar (1989) followed by the work by Bateman and Davis (1991), Davis (1994) and then the Backhouse and Bateman in the Cambridge Companion to Keynes (2006). Works on Keynes vouch that he started life as a philosopher; philosophy provided the foundation of Keynes’ life and came before economics. As Skidelsky wrote somewhere about Keynes, ‘. . . the philosophy of ends came before the philosophy of means’. Most of these books, Chandavarkar points out, look at Keynes the mature philosopher and his work on probability and expectations. ...

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