Jennifer Burns: Milton Friedman’s Life and Legacy
Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes were the most influential economists of the 20th century in capitalist countries. But it was Friedman’s work that was instrumental in the definitive turn toward free markets that defined the 1980s, as his defenses of freedom and capitalism resonated with audiences around the world. So it’s no wonder that the final decades of the last century have sometimes been called “the Age of Friedman”—or that some analysts have sought to hold him responsible for both the rising prosperity and the social ills of recent decades.
Jennifer Burns, in Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative, the first full biography to employ archival sources, tells Friedman’s extraordinary story with the nuance it deserves. She provides lucid and lively context for his groundbreaking work on everything from why dentists earn less than doctors, to the vital importance of the money supply, to inflation and the limits of government planning and stimulus.
She traces Friedman’s longstanding collaborations with women, including the economist Anna Schwartz, as well as his complex relationships with political and economic leaders, such as Federal Reserve Chair Arthur Burns and Treasury Secretary George Shultz. Burns also details Friedman’s direct interventions in policymaking at the highest levels. But most important, Burns explores his key role in creating a new economic vision and a modern American conservatism.
Join us for an important discussion with Jennifer Burns about America’s first neoliberal—and perhaps its last big conservative.
A Humanities Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.
This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.
Photo by Katya Mizrahi Photography.
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Associate Professor of History, Stanford University; Research Fellow, Hoover Institution; Author, Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative
In Conversation with George Hammond
Author, Conversations With Socrates