Friday, April 6, 2007

The "Other" Great Economist

If pressed to name the great economist of the first half of the 20th century, I think most people with even a passing knowledge of the field might mention John Maynard Keynes. Fewer would mention Joseph Schumpeter. This is interesting because probably as many people are familiar with Schumpeter's phrase "creative destruction" as are familiar with Keynes' bromide about "the long run."

I admit I came to familiarity with Schumpeter late, initially through mention in Robert Heilbronner's The Worldly Philosophers. But I found him interesting and managed to work my way through his last work (finished by his wife, actually), The History of Economic Analysis. Being a student of history first, I can hardly be faulted for finding his call for more historical analysis within economics an appealing idea.

Now there is a new biography about this important but overshadowed figure titled Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction by Thomas McCraw. (I do not say "overshadowed" to diminish Keynes' contribution. I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Skidelsky's three-volume biography of Lord Keynes, and learned much. But one wonders whether Schumpeter's star would have shone brighter had he published first.)

While I have not read the Schumpeter biography, I mean to and will promise to review it. There is an interesting and readable review of McCraw's book by David Warsh on his blog. If you're not familiar with Schumpeter, I encourage you to first read Warsh's review, and then consider picking up the book.

I'll look forward to your comments when I post my review. Or if you've already read it, please feel free to comment now.

Posted by TSchilling at April 6, 2007 11:04 AM

I read another good review in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. I thought it looked interesting as well. Please let us know how it goes.
P.S. I love the subscription service with your blog; in case you were wondering how I commented so soon after you posted.

Posted by: Amanda G. at April 6, 2007 11:45 AM

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