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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Richard Davenport-Hines Narrator: Robert Ian MacKenzi Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In Universal Man, noted biographer and historian Richard Davenport-Hines revives our understanding of John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946), the twentieth century’s most charismatic and revolutionary economist. Keynes helped FDR launch the New Deal, saved Britain from financial crisis twice over the course of two World Wars, and instructed Western nations on how to protect themselves from revolutionary unrest, economic instability, high unemployment, and social dissolution. Isaiah Berlin called Keynes “the cleverest man I ever knew”—both “superior and intellectually awe-inspiring.” Eric Hobsbawm, the twentieth century’s preeminent historian, considered him as influential as Lenin, Stalin, Roosevelt, Hitler, Churchill, Gandhi, and Mao. Keynes was nothing less than the Adam Smith of his time: his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936, became the most important economics book of the twentieth century, as important as Smith’s Wealth of Nations in inaugurating an economic era.

Keynes’ brilliant ideas made possible thirty-five years of prosperity after the Second World War, the most sustained period of rapid expansion in history. And now, in the wake of the 2008 global economic collapse, he is once again shaping our world. Every day we are likely to hear about “Keynesian economics” or the “Keynesian Revolution,” terms that testify to his continuing influence on both economic theory and government policies. Indeed, with the thorough discrediting of his opponents—Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, and other supporters of the notion that capitalism is self-regulating and needs no government intervention—nations across the world are turning to Keynes’ signature innovations: above all that governments must involve themselves in their economies to stave off financial collapse.

Previous biographies have explored Keynes economic thought at great length and often in the jargon of the discipline. Universal Man is the first accessible biography of Keynes and reveals Keynes as much more than an economist. Like many Englishmen of his class and era, Keynes compartmentalized his life. Accordingly, Davenport-Hines views Keynes through multiple windows: as a youthful prodigy, a powerful government official, an influential public man, a bisexual living in the shadow of Oscar Wilde’s persecution, a devotee of the arts, and an international statesman of great renown. Delving into Keynes’ experiences and thought, Davenport-Hines shows us a man who was equally at ease socializing with the Bloomsbury Group as he was persuading heads of state to adopt his policies. Exploring the desires and experiences that compelled Keynes to innovate, Davenport-Hines is the first to argue that Keynesian economics has an aesthetic basis.

In this book we come to understand not just the most endearingly influential economist of the modern era, but one of the most gifted and vital men of our times: a disciplined logician with a capacity for glee who persuaded people, seduced them, subverted old ideas, and installed new ones; a man whose high brilliance did not give people vertigo, but clarified and lengthened their perspectives. Engaging, learned, and sparkling with wit and insight, Universal Man is the perfect match for its subject.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Utterly absorbing…Davenport-Hines manages to pick out little-known stories, brilliant details and curiosities, relayed with affection…an accomplished biography.”


  • “With wit and grace, as well as a good deal of scholarly digging, the author looks at Keynes in seven distinct but overlapping guises…a story told in an incisive and thoughtful way…with persuasive artistry and conviction.”

    Financial Times

  • “A gracefully written biography…This is a delightful, detailed portrait, rich in interesting anecdote and encompassing the entire roster of Keynes’ accomplishments.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “An admiring and nuanced book filled with insights into this scholar and man of action in all his complexity.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “This book will suit a broad audience wanting to understand Keynes and the period in which he lived.”

    Library Journal

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About the Author

Richard Davenport-Hines is the acclaimed biographer of W. H. Auden and the Macmillan dynasty. He is also the author of Proust at the Majestic: The Last Days of the Author Whose Book Changed Paris and The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics. He is a regular contributor to the UK publications Literary Review, Sunday Telegraph, Spectator, Times Literary Supplement.