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  • The Price of Peace

  • Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes
  • Written by: Zachary D. Carter
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 22 hrs and 50 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (43 ratings)

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The Price of Peace

Written by: Zachary D. Carter
Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
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Publisher's Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An “outstanding new intellectual biography of John Maynard Keynes [that moves] swiftly along currents of lucidity and wit” (The New York Times), illuminating the world of the influential economist and his transformative ideas

“A timely, lucid and compelling portrait of a man whose enduring relevance is always heightened when crisis strikes.”—
The Wall Street Journal

WINNER: The Arthur Ross Book Award Gold Medal • The Hillman Prize for Book Journalism
FINALIST: The National Book Critics Circle Award • The Sabew Best in Business Book Award
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Jennifer Szalai, The New York TimesThe EconomistBloombergMother Jones


At the dawn of World War I, a young academic named John Maynard Keynes hastily folded his long legs into the sidecar of his brother-in-law’s motorcycle for an odd, frantic journey that would change the course of history. Swept away from his placid home at Cambridge University by the currents of the conflict, Keynes found himself thrust into the halls of European treasuries to arrange emergency loans and packed off to America to negotiate the terms of economic combat. The terror and anxiety unleashed by the war would transform him from a comfortable obscurity into the most influential and controversial intellectual of his day—a man whose ideas still retain the power to shock in our own time.

Keynes was not only an economist but the preeminent anti-authoritarian thinker of the twentieth century, one who devoted his life to the belief that art and ideas could conquer war and deprivation. As a moral philosopher, political theorist, and statesman, Keynes led an extraordinary life that took him from intimate turn-of-the-century parties in London’s riotous Bloomsbury art scene to the fevered negotiations in Paris that shaped the Treaty of Versailles, from stock market crashes on two continents to diplomatic breakthroughs in the mountains of New Hampshire to wartime ballet openings at London’s extravagant Covent Garden. 

Along the way, Keynes reinvented Enlightenment liberalism to meet the harrowing crises of the twentieth century. In the United States, his ideas became the foundation of a burgeoning economics profession, but they also became a flash point in the broader political struggle of the Cold War, as Keynesian acolytes faced off against conservatives in an intellectual battle for the future of the country—and the world. Though many Keynesian ideas survived the struggle, much of the project to which he devoted his life was lost. 

In this riveting biography, veteran journalist Zachary D. Carter unearths the lost legacy of one of history’s most fascinating minds. The Price of Peace revives a forgotten set of ideas about democracy, money, and the good life with transformative implications for today’s debates over inequality and the power politics that shape the global order.

LONGLISTED FOR THE CUNDILL HISTORY PRIZE

©2020 Zachary D. Carter (P)2020 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“Zachary D. Carter has given us an important, resonant, and memorable portrait of one of the chief architects of the world we’ve known, and know still. As Richard Nixon observed, we’re all Keynesians now—even if we don’t realize it. Carter’s powerful book will surely fix that.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hope of Glory

“A brilliantly wrought, beautifully written life of one of the most captivating intellects of the twentieth century.”—Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance

The Price of Peace is a towering achievement. Carter blends a nuanced and sophisticated financial history of the twentieth century with the intimate personal drama and political upheaval of an epic novel. . . . A masterful biography of a unique and complex social thinker.”—Stephanie Kelton, author of The Deficit Myth

What listeners say about The Price of Peace

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Overall fine, some glaring holes

The narrator is very stiff I wish this book were read by a Brit. The whole story sounds off with that American accent. (Perhaps this is a misguided stand in for the American author?) Otherwise largely interesting and worth a listen to learn more about the man, his philosophies, and the era. It did bother me in the early chapters that the author consistently overlooks that the US *is* an empire, with colonial properties. And that Woodrow Wilson, who supposedly disliked empire, did nothing to stop it and much to prop it up. Some awkward mis-contextualization around that topic, but otherwise enjoyable.

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Great read, if missing a few key points/opinions

Unquestionably thorough detail of Keynes.

One of the great thinkers of the 20th century, this work is an important look at his life, contributions to economics, and perhaps more importantly, his philosophy on democratic rule.

My only complaint would be that the end of the book is somewhat opinionated. Whereas most of this read is informed by the opinions of great economic thinkers, the last two chapters are essentially the author’s point of view with little else. He seems to fail to understand a basic principle of economics, in that decisions must be made in a setting of scarcity and incomplete information.

There is no mention to the fact that the Obama administration spent a significant amount of political capital passing the ACA, making it more difficult for them to bail out homeowners in addition to banks. This type of prisoners dilemma is faced by all administrations, though the author seems to think that they can have their cake and eat it too.

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A Hidden Gem on Audible Book

The book is exceptionally well-suited for a general audience, particularly for individuals like myself who lack prior knowledge of Keynes or his economic theory. It offers a comprehensive and detailed exploration of Keynes's life, ranging from his time in Bloomsbury to his later years at Bretton Wood. For those intrigued by the history of economic thought, this book is indispensable. Unlike focusing on mathematical formulas, it delves deeply into ideas, illustrating their evolution over time and examining the scholars who interpret them.

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must read

loved and hated this book. I loved the historical narrative so pleasingly clarified by the author. I am no economist, however i have a strong opinion on where the ills of the current state of affairs in the world lie. I now fully understand how the world arrived here and who is responsible for the two huge barriers to human prosperity and happiness. Income inequality and the rise of authoritarianism.

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Fascinating and wonderful story!!

Very well written and very well read. Memorable and perfect for our times.
I did not expect this biography to give such insight; well worth the time!

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