domenica, maggio 07, 2017

The Selected Letters of John Kenneth Galbraith Edited by Richard P.F. Holt

The Selected Letters of John Kenneth Galbraith Edited by Richard P.F. Holt and published last month by Cambridge University Press is a big book containing the best of the correspondence of the estimated economist, Nobel prize and Harvard professor.

Galbraith once wrote  "I write letters...not to persuade people for which such communications are largely worthless, but to please myself, to celebrate absurdity and because the truth on many letters is a most agreeable weapon."

If you want to understand the last century and part of the new one you can't avoid to read this book, because this man maybe "behind" the scenes, with his advice influenced many Presidents and was surely one of the pillars of the American economic system.

What wanted to do Galbraith was to tried to ending war, fighting at the same time poverty, trying to give a good life to everyone.

The work of  Mr.Holt for selected these letters has been massive because the correspondence of Mr. Galbraith was immense and it was thanks to his three sons, The John Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston  that this book was born. Other libraries visited by Mr.Holt the Schlesinger Library Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.


Yours faithfully. Faithfully  like also Sincerely the formulas with which John Kenneth Galbraith used to close most of his letters. He could have sent a letter to William Clinton, to some relatives, this one were his last favorite words for ending a letter.

Being an economist his letters went right to the point and never particularly warm in the most common sense of the word.
He was a man who loved to go right to the point without to lose time in other frivolous aspects.

His writing-style was colloquial with everyone. He was friend with Presidents, first ladies passing through many other President's advicers and counselors. He was very direct, exposing what he thought about a certain problem to the other person and what according to his point of view it was necessary to do for bettering a certain state of things. He could be the President of the USA, and in this case these counsels  more than precious, he could be  someone else.

These letters plenty of good informations, like when he wrote to John Kennedy (he called him Jack) about the problems of farmers or for the final President's acceptance speech at the 1960 Democratic National Convention.

He also did the editing work for the inaugural speech on January 20 1961  These words said by President Kennedy written by him: "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."

Born on October 15 1908 in Iona Ontario, Canada, graduated from Ontario Agricultural College he received a research stipend for working at the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics at the University of California at Berkeley accepting in 1934 a position at Harvard University. His work with agricultural economist John D.Black, who later became someone very important to him. His mentor. John D.Black grew up this excellent mind.

John Kenneth Galbraith was a prolific man. He published a lot of books, an autobiography, in 2000 he was awarded of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton. He died in Cambridge Massachusetts on April 29 2006.

At first we find the fresh correspondence with his family members while he was still studying. When he started to work, John Kenneth Galbraith in his correspondence appeared a bit worried about where to work exactly as anyone else in this world although later he found his place and became the most important economist of the world.

Also when he became old and started to complain that his health wasn't great, he loved to be the old one. A bright intellect and a person I think who wanted the best for his country and for the world.

Enjoy the reading.

I can tell you that you will find these letters  plenty of meaning. They're  an important window for everyone for understanding our past decades, economy, policy and interactions between this mind and his Presidents. Per decades Mr. Galbraith has been one of the main protagonists of economy.
He was a real great advicer. Please read the letters he sent to President Lyndon Johnson (he replaced President Kennedy when killed in Dallas on Nov 22 1963, because he was vice-president at that time) for understanding the dynamics of policy in Washington and his suggestions.

During the Vietnam War polemics with a conservative columnist of the Boston Globe Joe Alsop regarding his support at that war. These letters to the editor continued for a long time and Alsop always the main protagonist of these attacks.

But what appear more strong to me is his correspondence with Henry Kissinger in which Galbraith complain about the administration its behavior during the Vietnam War. According to Galbraith the biggest mistake entering in this war. This terrible chapter of history of the USA lived by Galbraith as a great problem because I guess he understood the consequences of the failure for the USA and he tried all his best to fight an intellectual pacific war with all the pro-war in the USA. Writing to newsmagazines, contacting other influential people, whatever he could do sometimes I guess just for writing down his personal impressions and de-stressing his mind.

This book is a treasure. A treasure of informations, a treasure of a life well spent, and a great legacy for the newest generations of politicians, economists and advisers.


I thank NetGalley and Cambridge University Press for this book.

 

Anna Maria Polidori

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