The first thing to say about this book is that much the most of it is a fantasy.
But there are bigger problems with the book that that.
Nicholas Wapshott grew up as a British journalist and his approach to truth and objectivity and getting the story right unfortunately reflects that worst of that dubious background. The ethic Wapshott brings to material is the ethic Mark Twain brought to the Western story — reality never gets in the way of the demands of the tale he is determined to tell.
But it’s even worse than that. The text is marred by all sorts of basic factual mistakes: John Bates Clark, we are told, was a German and a socialist; lecturers at the LSE who cut their teeth studying with British or German economists are described as “Hayek pupils”; Keynes is credited as the originator of econometrics; John Hicks is characterized as an unknown economist made famous by his work on Keynes; Thomas Wolfe’s “Me” Decade is transplanted from the 1970s to the 80s & 90s; GOP efforts to modestly slow the growth of Federal spending in the 1990s are described as “massive cuts” … these items are essentially picked at random — I could extend the list indefinitely.
And, irritatingly, a number of the footnotes and even short passages in the text read like a high school students cut and past borrowings straight out of Wikipedia. (I won’t embarrass the author by providing examples here, but anyone with a copy of the text can check for themselves, simply compare the short bios of important figures in the footnotes against what is written in Wikipedia.)
For now I leave you with this from economist Herbert Gintis’ Amazon review of the book:
“Read this for fun, dear reader, the same way you read People magazine. Don’t think you will get some deep insights in the the nature of modern political economy. You won’t.”
And this from another Amazon reviewer:
“I picked up this book in the hope that it would clarify the issues between the so-called Keynesians and the conservatives who frequently cite Hayek. Unfortunately, beyond a few oft-repeated cliches, there is no explanation in any detail of the similarities and differences between the apparently competing views. Technical terms are scattered throughout with little or no attempt to include the layman. We are told about sexual preferences, styles of dress, and the reactions of various groups to presentations, but the economic and philosophical content of this book is very weak. Who was the intended audience?”