An economic biography for economic theorists, particularly those on the right.

MILTON FRIEDMAN

A BIOGRAPHY

First post-mortem tribute to the most influential champion of the free market since Adam Smith.

Actually, Ebenstein (Economics and Political Theory/Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) refers to his subject throughout in the present tense, apparently not having had the opportunity to update his text since the economist’s death, on Nov. 16, 2006. Born in 1912, Milton Friedman was a puissant teacher and leader of the so-called Chicago School of economic theory. He also splendidly fit the modern job description of a public intellectual. With just a nod to his personal life, this tribute lauds Friedman as philosophical technician and theoretical guru of modern day laissez-faire. Perhaps, posits the author, he is the Karl Marx of libertarianism. Ebenstein quickly covers the economist’s early academic years and break for service as a WWII mathematician, before really getting going with Friedman’s return to the University of Chicago in 1946. He uses examples from scholarly writings to illustrate the economist’s evolution from possible early liberal tendencies to full-blown libertarianism. Readers will find summaries of Friedman’s thoughts on statistics, political economics, price theory and consumption function, savings and investing, supply and demand, permanent and transition income, money and banking. The influential 1963 text A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960 presented a revisionist view of the Great Depression, arguing that the New Deal was “the wrong cure for the wrong disease.” Regarding welfare, Friedman concluded, “government should not provide for the indigent, unemployed, elderly, sick, and disabled.” The free-market hero, with the help of wife Rose, wrote potently. He promoted his ideas in a PBS series. He supplanted John Maynard Keynes in the hearts of many theorists, won a Nobel and influenced generations with his powerful intellect. Ebenstein, clearly persuaded by the libertarian views of his revered subject, finds little fault with his hero in this dry hagiography executed with as much verve as an economist can muster.

An economic biography for economic theorists, particularly those on the right.

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-4039-7627-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2007

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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