‘This is a fascinating, readable, and quirky set of mini-biographies of some leading, and more obscure economists, united in having interesting lives and deaths. [Frank] manages to tell us something new about Keynes, List, Schumpeter and Thunen; and introduces us to the innovative Schmolder, the Nazi economist Stackelberg, the brave Soviet agricultural economist Chayanov and Richard Cantillon whose sophisticated monetary economics dates from three hundred years ago.’
‘This is a gem of a book. Engaging and short biographies of famous and not-so-famous economists whose death can illuminate their life and work. Full of economic insights explained in plain prose that will appeal to anyone interested in the dismal science. A thoroughly enjoyable read.’
Dr Toke Aidt, University of Cambridge
‘Björn Frank has written an ingenious and darkly humorous set of portraits of seminal economic thinkers. Weaving together ideas and biography, he includes stories of economists who have been neglected in the English-speaking world while finding a fresh take on the well-known giants. Elegant, original and highly entertaining.’
Niall Kishtainy, author of A Little History of Economics
‘By using their death as a lens through which to examine their lives, Björn Frank has created a novel, entertaining, and informative way to introduce readers to the work of almost twenty economists from the past two centuries. This compact work melds economic analysis with biography to shed new light on some of the discipline’s most influential research and theories. While several famous figures appear – Keynes, Marx, Coase – the book also includes many who will be new to non-economists. Newly-published from the German, In the Long Run We’re All Dead also has the merit of bringing to people’s attention several of that country’s economists whose reputation has undeservedly faded over time.’
Phil Thornton, author of The Great Economists: Ten Economists Whose Thinking Changed the Way We Live
No one grows up dreaming of becoming an economist. Until the late nineteenth century, economics couldn’t even be studied at university and was the preserve of polymathic figures whose radical curiosity drew them to an evolving discipline that was little understood and often derided. Each of the thirteen chapters of this book tells the story of just such a figure. Each of their extraordinary lives is worthy of fiction, and the manner of their deaths, oddly, often illuminate their work.
In the Long Run We’re All Dead shows us how these great economists developed their theories for which they became famous, even if, tragically, much too late for them to enjoy their fame. And these often-complex ideas – of Utilitarianism, of Social Costs, of the Endowment Effect, to name just a few – are explained here with reference to the lives of their creators in a style that is engaging, irreverent, and comic. Though what Frank tells us about these lives is true, this is also a book of imaginative speculation that considers how economists’ principles might be applied to problems of today and of the future.
‘In the long run’, said John Maynard Keynes, we are all dead’. A blandly straightforward statement but one, when uttered by perhaps the greatest economist of the twentieth century, intriguingly gnomic too. Keynes is but one of the eccentrics, radical, unconventional, and often revolutionary thinkers whose lives Björn Frank entertainingly recounts.
BJÖRN FRANK is Professor of Economics at the University of Kassel, Germany. His recent publications include the ‘economic thriller’, Money Clotting, published in 2017.
JAMIE BULLOCH is a historian and has worked as a professional translator from German since 2007. His works include translations of Paulus Hochgatterer and Alissa Walser.