Milton Friedman: A Biography

In This Review

Milton Friedman: A Biography

By Lanny Ebenstein
Palgrave Macmillan, 2007
272 pp. $27.95

Although not as compelling or intellectually profound as Lord Robert Skidelsky's classic biography of John Maynard Keynes, Ebenstein's quick and serviceable biography of Keynes' great rival Milton Friedman provides the basic facts and an outline of the intellectual history of one of the twentieth century's dominant intellectual thinkers. In some ways, Friedman's journey was the opposite of Keynes'. A self-described "Norman Thomas socialist" when he first went to work for the Roosevelt administration on the New Deal in 1935, Friedman ultimately inspired political leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in their rejection of the political economy of the mid-twentieth century. Friedman was the son of poor Jewish immigrants from central Europe. Educated on scholarships and working his way up the American academic ladder from Rutgers to the University of Chicago by the force of his intellect and drive, he went on to articulate and defend the principles of the liberal society that welcomed him. A remarkable 2005 interview of Friedman by Nathan Gardels is included as an appendix; this glimpse into the still lively mind of the nonagenarian economist is alone worth the price of the book.

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