John Maynard Keynes

Robert Jacob Skidelsky, Author Viking Books $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-670-40810-8
For Keynes, surprisingly, philosophy took precedence over economics. His personal system of ethics, worked out while he was a member of a secret undergraduate Cambridge discussion group, stressed the freedom of individuals to pursue the good egoistically. Since money and morality are so closely interlinked for Keynes, a candid reappraisal of his life might prove instructive. Skidelsky's massive biography (of which this is the first half) peels away the establishment veneer to show us a Bloomsbury intellectual, a homosexual, a conscientious objector in World War I and a latecomer to economics who initially thought that the ""dismal science'' was of low value. Keynes used his position at the Treasury Department to push for the Allies to fight a limited war. Infatuated with statistics, he kept count in his diary of his sexual encounters with his lover, painter Duncan Grant. Almost too slowly, we watch the Bloomsbury esthete, who put friends and knowledge above all, transformed into the pioneer liberal economist. Billed as the first full-scale biography since Sir Roy Harrod's 1951 Life, this work, when completed, should show what connections, if any, link Keynes's life and his fiscal theories. Skidelsky, a university professor in England, is the author of The End of the Keynesian Era. Photos not seen by PW. (May 13)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1986
Release date: 05/01/1986
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