Keynes’ Amazon Bulldog

by Kieran Healy on November 9, 2006

I came across “The Cambridge Companion to Keynes”: in the bookshop yesterday and went to add it to my Amazon wishlist this morning. When I looked it up in the catalog I saw that it had a rating of only 2 stars and my first thought was: I bet _that_ guy is responsible! And I was right. A while ago I was poking around in the literature on Keynes and Post-Keynesianism and anytime I checked a book on Amazon there would be a review from “Michael E. Brady”: Typically, it would be a long, desnely-written single paragraph of criticism, complete with page references to the literature and especially to Keynes’s works.

In fairness, his “complete list of Amazon reviews”: (333 of them at current count) shows he is perfectly capable of writing a generous review. But he does have a couple of bees in his bonnet. “He”: “doesn’t”: “like”: people who Get Keynes’ Macroeconomics Wrong at all. Even beyond the macro stuff, however, he gets very annoyed at critics of Keynes’ “Treatise on Probability”:, whom he sees as slavishly following the “allegedly mistaken”: (and ad hominem) views of Frank Ramsey. In a way, Brady’s own reviews on this topic can be read as an effort to undo the effects of what “he clearly thinks”: of as the worst book reviews of all time, namely Ramsey’s 1922 and 1926 comments on Keynes’ _Treatise_, whose malign effects have propagated down through the literature. A true believer. Here is “his own book”: on Keynes.



anon 11.09.06 at 7:33 pm


It’s a bit ungracious of you, after all that, not to point out that that guy’s book is also available on Amazon. Three stars.



Kieran Healy 11.09.06 at 7:39 pm

Not on purpose. I hadn’t seen it.


talboito 11.09.06 at 7:41 pm

Its my understanding, that while Ramsey does criticize Keynes, he passes that quickly to lay out his theories regarding subjective probability.


radek 11.09.06 at 9:13 pm

Ay, this guy should be quoted;

One can conclude that, without Keynes, the contribution of Cambridge University, England to Keynesian economics is the null set.

Ramsey never read these chapters. Neither did Mellor or any other economist, philosopher, or psychologist in the 20th century .(Be the first to read those chapters in the 21st !)

There is nothing new, innovative, or interesting that would merit purchasing this book. One should consider instead buying a copy of The General Theory.

All of Keynes’s discoveries, however, were ignored by the ignorant Ramsey

The scary part is that at times he actually seems to know what he’s talking about.


John Emerson 11.09.06 at 10:27 pm

I’ve run into the guy several times. He’s a reviewing machine and always expresses himself effectively and with absolute confidence. Only after you’ve read several of his reviews do you realize that he’s slightly nuts. (He’s actually like a very effective PR man hired by Keynes, Inc. or perhaps an outreach minister of The Church of Keynes.)


Jake 11.09.06 at 10:37 pm

I was under the impression that one economist who took Ramsey’s criticisms of Keynes very seriously was Keynes himself. Keynes certainly took Ramsey very seriously, encouraging him to do work in economics.


Daniel 11.10.06 at 1:27 am

I have read Michael Brady’s book and it is pretty good.


yabonn 11.10.06 at 4:47 am

Let’s witness, fellow commenters, the delicate dance of the mating economists.

Here, Kieran, too delicate for a frontal approach, tries to drag Mr Brady in CT’s comments, to see if they could scratch together the itch of his Amazon reviews – do not think these a trifle thing! For it is of these little matters that, often, love is born.

Will Mr Brady answer the call? Stay tuned, dear commenters, stay tuned.

(Still no tag for these “author comments in the thread he’s talked about” situations?)


Matthew 11.10.06 at 7:11 am

It reminds me of happy-go-lucky Oliver Kamm, who, before he was famous, spent considerable amounts of time writing negative reviews of all books by Noam Chomsky! I’m not sure if he was such a serious scholar of the linguist and bugbear… He still maintains this obsession of course.


yabonn 11.10.06 at 7:30 am

Ugh. Now i mixed my Timberites. Apologies, Kieran.

So it’s sociologist mating dance, or something.

… At least it’s Friday.


jimbo 11.10.06 at 10:40 am

The man “received his doctorate in economics from U.C. Riverside in 1983” and no one ever taught him about paragraph breaks?


tebbitt 11.10.06 at 3:29 pm



learnfromeconomichistory 11.10.06 at 7:14 pm

Watch out for a new scholarly book on Keynes – ‘John Maynard Keynes and International Relations: Economic Paths to War and Peace’, by Donald Markwell, just published in Britain by Oxford University Press, and soon to appear in the US. A historical topic with lots of contemporary resonances (e.g. discussions of globalization, economic nationalism v free trade, international economic governance proposals, reconstruction after wars, etc).

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