Heilbroner, Robert L(ouis) 1919-2005

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HEILBRONER, Robert L(ouis) 1919-2005

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born March 24, 1919, in New York, NY; died of a stroke, January 5 (some sources say January 4), 2005, in New York, NY. Economist and author. Heilbroner, the author of the bestselling The Worldly Philosophers, was known as a popularizer of economic studies. After completing his undergraduate education at Harvard University in 1940, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Placed in Army Intelligence, he was taught Japanese and assigned to interview Japanese prisoners during World War II. When he returned home, he went to work for his late-father's clothing chain, but decided he disliked the profession. Instead, he returned to school, enrolling at the New School for Social Research (now New School University) to study for a Ph.D. in economics. During this time, he published his most famous work, The Worldly Philosophers (1953; tenth edition, 1998), a book about important economists throughout history. The work's success convinced Heilbroner that he could make a career of writing. Becoming preoccupied with writing delayed the completion of his Ph.D. until 1963, but in the meantime he produced such books as The Quest for Wealth (1956) and The Making of Economic Society (1962; eleventh edition, 2002). As an economist, Heilbroner considered himself a radical conservative. This meant that while he felt government should usually not control a country's economy, there were times when it was appropriate for it to step in, such as during severe economic crises. He was sometimes criticized, as was fellow writer John Kenneth Galbraith, for not being scientific enough in his writing. Instead of a narrow, mathematical approach to economic analysis, Heilbroner favored a multidisciplinary view that took into consideration social, political, and other outside influences on the economy. Despite criticisms by some economists, others among his colleagues appreciated what he was doing as a writer and acknowledged his scholarship. In 1972 he was named Norman Thomas Professor of Economics at the New School. Among Heilbroner's many other books are The Limits of American Capitalism (1966), An Inquiry into the Human Prospect (1975; third edition, 1991), The Nature and Logic of Capitalism (1985), and Teachings from the Worldly Philosophy (1996).



Chicago Tribune, January 13, 2005, section 3, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2005, p. B10.

New York Times, January 12, 2005, p. A21.

Washington Post, January 13, 2005, p. B8.


New School University Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science,http://www.newschool.edu/gf/ (April 5, 2005).

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Heilbroner, Robert L(ouis) 1919-2005

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