Skidelsky, Robert 1939-

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SKIDELSKY, Robert 1939-

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "Ski-del-ski"; born April 25, 1939, in Harbin, Manchuria, China; son of Boris J. and Galia (Sapelkin) Skidelsky; married Augusta Mary Clarissa Hope, 1970, children: two sons. Education: Jesus College, Oxford, B.A., 1961; Nuffield College, Oxford, Ph.D., 1965. Religion: Church of England. Hobbies and other interests: Music, especially opera and piano; tennis and table tennis, ballet, cinema, squash.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Penguin Books Publicity, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Nuffield College, Oxford, Oxford, England, research fellow, 1965–68; British Academy, London, England, research fellow, 1968–70; Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, DC, visiting and associate professor, 1970–76; Polytechnic of North London, London, head of department of history, philosophy, and European studies, 1976–78; University of Warwick, Coventry, England, professor of international studies and political economy, 1978–; House of Lords, member, 1991–; Janus Capital Group, Inc., Denver, CO, director, 2001–. Visiting professor, Columbia University, 1973. Chair, Charleston Trust, 1987–; SDP, Policy Committee, 1988; Social Market Foundation, director, 1989.

MEMBER: British Academy (fellow), Royal Over-Seas League, United Oxford & Cambridge University.

AWARDS, HONORS: Samuel Johnson Award nomination, 2001, for John Maynard Keynes, Volume 3: Fighting for Freedom, 1937–1946; Wolfson Prize for History in the United Kingdom; Arthur Ross Book Award Gold Medal, Council of Foreign Relations, for Fighting for Freedom, 1937–1946; Lionel Gelber Prize for International Relations; Council of Foreign Relations Prize for International Relations.


Politicians and the Slump: The Labour Government of 1929–1931, Macmillan (London, England), 1967.

English Progressive Schools, Penguin (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England), 1969.

Sir Oswald Mosley, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1975, published as Oswald Mosley, Macmillan (London, England), 1975, 2nd edition, 1980.

John Maynard Keynes, Macmillan (London, England), Volume 1: Hopes Betrayed, 1883–1920, 1983, Viking (New York, NY), 1986, Volume 2: The Economist as Savior, 1920–1937, Viking (New York, NY), 1994, Volume 3: Fighting for Britain, 1937–1946, Macmillan (London, England), 2000, published as Fighting for Freedom, 1937–1946, Viking (New York, NY), 2001, three volumes bound together and abridged as John Maynard Keyes, 1883–1946: Economist, Philosopher, Statesman, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Interests and Obsessions (essays), Macmillan (London, England), 1993.

Keynes and the United States, College of Liberal Arts, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX), 1993.

The World after Communism: A Polemic for Our Times, Macmillan (London, England), 1995, published as The Road to Serfdom: The Economic and Political Consequences of the End of Communism, Penguin (New York, NY), 1996.

Keynes, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Contributor to books, including European Fascism, edited by S.J. Woolf, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1968, new edition, 1981, Random House (New York, NY), 1969; Essays on John Maynard Keynes, edited by Milo Keynes, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1975; and Three Great Economists, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997. Contributor to periodicals, including the Times, Times Literary Supplement, New Society, Encounter, and Spectator.


(With Vernon Bogdanor) The Age of Affluence, 1951–1964, Macmillan (London, England), 1970.

The End of the Keynesian Era, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1977.

(And author of introduction, with Michael Holroyd) William Gerhardie, God's Fifth Column: A Biography of the Age, 1890–1940, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1981.

(And author of introduction) Thatcherism, Chatto & Windus (London, England), 1988, B. Blackwell (Cambridge, MA), 1990.

Russia's Stormy Path to Reform, Social Market Foundation (London, England), 1995.

SIDELIGHTS: A professor of political economy, as well as a member of the British House of Lords, Robert Skidelsky is the author and editor of numerous works on political and economic issues. His highly acclaimed biographical works on John Maynard Keynes are among his most recognized publications. John Maynard Keynes is a voluminous, three-volume biography that presents multiple facets of the man, his work, and his world. Volume 1, Hopes Betrayed, 1883–1920, "is authoritative, documented, and readable—indispensable for anyone who wants to understand the young Keynes and the moral and philosophical problems that exercised his mind," according to Noel Annan in the New York Review of Books. Volume 2, The Economist as Savior, 1920–1937 "examines Keynes' personal, intellectual, artistic, money-making and political life … to indicate a remarkable disparateness," wrote Leonard Silk in the New Leader.

Hopes Betrayed, 1883–1920 "is freshly and vigorously written," Spectator contributor Norman Stone further remarked. Jose Harris, writing for the London Review of Books, described the book as "a study that can be recommended to a wide variety of readers. There are plenty of Bloomsbury tidbits and bawdy stories for those who like them, while, for intellectual and social historians, Skidelsky's Cambridge will be indispensable. For those who worry about the fate of civilisation, this is on more than one level a profoundly serious and thought-provoking book." Stone complimented the book's "discussion of the philosophical atmosphere of Cambridge around 1900," but less positively commented: "Homosexuality was a constant, unremitting theme in Keynes's early life, as Skidelsky makes abundantly (and perhaps excessively) clear." David Cannadine praised Skidelsky in the New Republic for writing a "most vivid and plausible picture" of the young Keynes and stated: "To deal with the Cambridge background, the cultural context, the emotional involvements, the economics and the individuals, requires an array of accomplishments and a degree of expositional skills that few historians can boast. It is a measure of Skidelsky's real achievement that he triumphantly surmounts these obstacles."

Writing about the second volume on Keynes by Skidelsky, The Economist as Savior, 1920–1937, Nicolas Sanchez wrote in America that it is "comprehensive in explaining Keynes's role as a political and social figure" and "superbly discusses Keynes's major academic books." In his review in the New Republic, Alan Ryan commented that this volume "reads like the work of an old and intimate friend" and added: "It is admiring, but not uncritical; relaxed and unhurried, but incisive…. A splendidly open account…. Deeply pleasurable to read, evocative as well as instructive and a book that asks to be taken on several levels—as a portrait of Keynes first and foremost, but also as a portrait of a governing class; and an essay on the sociology of knowledge; and an account of an unlikely but wonderfully successful marriage; and an exploration of the money-making temperament."

Skidelsky completed his major work in 2000 with the publication of the third volume of John Maynard Keynes titled Fighting for Britain, 1937–1946 in England and released as Fighting for Freedom, 1937–1946 in America. Here, Skidelsky concludes his look at this influential economist during his later years, beginning with the economist's admittance to a hospital for heart problems, his work through World War II, and ending with his death in 1946. Writing in Quadrant, Graeme S. Dorrance called the effort "vibrant" adding, "it takes one effortlessly through the final stages of a career that revolutionized economics, but never lets Keynes' wider cultural and personal interests remain in the background for long." Steven J. Mayover, writing in the Library Journal, called the book "a scholarly, highly detailed, well-written, and provocative tome." The entire three volumes of the biography were published in an abridged version as John Maynard Keyes, 1883–1946: Economist, Philosopher, Statesman. In a review of this edition, a Contemporary Reviews contributor noted: "The author succeeds in giving readers the fullest picture possible of Keynes as well in one volume as he did in three, perhaps even more so." Oswald Mosley, "a disciple of Keynes," as New Statesman contributor Stephen Koss noted, is the subject of another biography by Skidelsky. Mosley was an influential political and economic figure in British history and is associated with fascism. Oswald Mosley is "a patient and painstaking biography," according to Anthony Howard of the New York Times Book Review. According to Koss, the book "is not, in any sense, an official biography, although the author received valuable assistance and, one gathers, a degree of encouragement from his subject." Ross praised Skidelsky's presentation of Mosley's economic thought and considered the study "resourceful in its research, shrewd in its assessments of people and events and courageous in its readiness to censure or praise." A New Yorker reviewer recognized the presence of both "sorrowful compassion for his subject" and "intellectual self-confidence," noting that the book "is loaded with donnish and quarrelsome asides." In the Times Literary Supplement, John Vincent argued that there is a lack of accessible hard evidence "about Mosley as a person or the BUF [British Union of Fascists] as an organization," and the reviewer advised that Oswald Mosley is "not a book about Mosley but a book about Mr. Skidelsky's interpretation of Mosley." Vincent remarked that "some may feel Mr. Skidelsky has given his readers a too favourable and selective an impression, not of Sir Oswald, but of the Fascism that Sir Oswald claimed to control."

In addition to his biographies, Skidelsky has written several books about economics and politics in general. His Politicians and the Slump: The Labour Government of 1929–31, for instance, centers on British political history. A reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement commented: "Mr. Skidelsky's book, as others have pointed out, is fortunate in its occurrence. The measures and problems of 1967 have a lot in common with those of 1931." Writing in the Spectator, Jo Grimond explained that "Mr. Skidelsky's theme is that, in 1929, the division in British politics lay not between capitalism and socialism but between the conservatism of the Tory and Labour parties supported by the bureaucracy and business, on the one side, and the Liberal party and certain other progressive groups such as that led by Mosley, on the other side." Grimond went on to praise the book and described it as "a tragedy written round the mismanagement of British government which still continues today." A Choice contributor concluded that Politicians and the Slump is a "valuable … useful supplement and to some extent a corrective to the more favorable treatment of this period by" a couple different publications.

More recently, in 1996, Skidelsky's economic and political lens focused on the late-twentieth century with Road to Serfdom: The Economic and Political Consequences of the End of Communism. Herbert Stein observed in the New York Times Book Review that "Skidelsky has admirably organized a large body of information into a plausible story that is surely true in the main. It deserves attention." Stein also wrote that "Skidelsky's discussion of the collapse of Communism and the sequel up to now is the most informative part of the book."



America, July 16, 1994, Nicolas Sanchez, review of John Maynard Keynes, Volume 2: The Economist as Savior, 1920–1937.

Business Week, December 24, 2001, review of John Maynard Keynes, Volume Three: Fighting for Freedom, 1937–1946.

Choice, November, 1969, review of Politicians and the Slump: The Labour Government of 1929–31.

Contemporary Review, May, 2004, review of John Maynard Keynes, 1883–1946: Economist, Philosopher, Statesman, p. 316.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2001, review of Fighting for Freedom, 1937–1946, p. 1409.

Library Journal, November 15, 2001, Steven J. Mayover, review of Fighting for Freedom, 1937–1946, p. 76.

London Review of Books, December 1, 1983, Jose Harris, review of John Maynard Keynes, Volume 1: Hopes Betrayed, 1883–1920.

New Leader, December 27, 1993, Leonard Silk, review of The Economist as Savior, 1920–1937.

New Republic, June 23, 1986, David Cannadine, review of Hopes Betrayed, 1883–1920, p. 32; April 18, 1994, Alan Ryan, review of The Economist as Savior, 1920–1937.

New Statesman, March 21, 1975, Stephen Koss, review of Oswald Mosley.

New Yorker, August 18, 1975, review of Oswald Mosley.

New York Review of Books, July 19, 1984, Noel Annan, review of The Economist as Savior, 1920–1937.

New York Times, January 20, 2002, Sylvia Nasar, review of Fighting for Freedom, 1937–1946.

New York Times Book Review, May 11, 1975, Anthony Howard, review of Oswald Mosley, p. 7; February 25, 1996, Herbert Stein, review of Road to Serfdom: The Economic and Political Consequences of the End of Communism.

Quadrant, October, 2001, Graeme S. Dorrance, review of Fighting for Britain, 1937–1946, p. 81.

Spectator, December 15, 1967, Jo Grimond, Politicians and the Slump; December 10, 1983, Norman Stone, review of Hopes Betrayed, 1883–1920.

Times Literary Supplement, December 14, 1967, review of Politicians and the Slump; April 16, 1970; April 4, 1975, John Vincent review of Oswald Mosley, p. 350.


BusinessWeek Online, (December 24, 2001), Michael J. Mandel, review of Fighting for Freedom, 1937–1946.