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Lionel Robbins
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Book description

By the time of his death the English economist Lionel Robbins (1898–1984) was celebrated as a 'renaissance man'. He made major contributions to his own academic discipline and applied his skills as an economist not only to practical problems of economic policy – with conspicuous success when he served as head of the economists advising the wartime coalition government of Winston Churchill in 1940–45 – and of higher education – the 'Robbins Report' of 1963 – but also to the administration of the visual and performing arts that he loved deeply. He was devoted to the London School of Economics, from his time as an undergraduate following active service as an artillery officer on the Western Front in 1917–18, through his years as Professor of Economics (1929–62), and his stint as chairman of the governors during the 'troubles' of the late 1960s. This comprehensive biography, based on his personal and professional correspondence and other papers, covers all these many and varied activities.

Reviews

'This impressive biography opens a window into the life of the person who was at the centre of the economics profession in Britain for four decades. It will be an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to understand what happened to British economics in the twentieth century.’

Roger Backhouse - University of Birmingham

‘Sue Howson has produced the definitive account of the life and work of one the most versatile economists of the twentieth century. An impressive achievement!’

William Barber - Wesleyan University

‘The legacy of Lionel Robbins is vast and deep, spanning economic analysis and policymaking, post-World War II reconstruction, the arts, and higher education. Susan Howson brings all of this to life in her painstakingly researched biography. Hers is an amazing achievement, and this book will be the starting point for all future research on this giant of twentieth-century British intellectual and social life.’

Steven G. Medema - University of Colorado

‘This biography of a leading figure in twentieth-century British academic and public life is far more than an authoritative account of the career of an exceptional economist. Susan Howson’s command over a remarkable combination of personal and public documentation has enabled her to make important contributions to the political and economic history of the period and the institutions and policies with which Lionel Robbins was intimately connected: the London School of Economics, the official conduct of war and post-war economic planning, the future of higher education, and the administration of the British arts scene from the perspective of the National Gallery and the Royal Opera House.’

Donald Winch - University of Sussex

'This is, no doubt, a decisive work on the life of Lionel Robbins, the economist who is probably safe to be viewed as having left a greater legacy on contemporary British society than on the history of economic thought … the book is not exclusively written for an audience of economists. Historians interested in British art policy, for instance, will surely profit from this book, and historians working on the US-UK negotiation during WWII will also gain another window to this high-profile, very complex, international policy-making process … It is, no doubt, a great work by a prominent historian; the scope is broad and the treatment of each issue is even-handed.'

Norikazu Takami Source: Journal of the History of Economic Thought

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