Christmas has handed within the traditional blur of social over-eating, however I’ve discovered time to retreat and end Hayek: A Life 1899-1950 by Bruce Caldwell and Hansjoerg Klausinger. Because the authors state, they meant this to be the definitive biography they usually have achieved this ambition. Not solely do these 700+ pages (plus references and so forth) represent solely the primary a part of Hayek’s life, as much as his transfer to the US, the account is predicated on deep analysis and familiarity with the mass of sources, main and secondary, obtainable.
Now ‘definitive’ additionally has its downsides, solely considered one of which is mustering the power to carry the guide as much as learn it. One other is that elements of it simply aren’t all that fascinating: I used to be held by the story of Hayek’s late-Austro-Hungarian empire childhood however actually by no means by his love life. This sadly contains his dreadful behaviour in divorcing his first spouse after the second world struggle in favour of his childhood sweetheart, which – because it’s the ultimate chapter of this quantity – leaves one with a really unfavorable impression of Hayek the human being. Nonetheless, it’s straightforward sufficient to skip these chapters.
Nonetheless, the opposite draw back – a minimum of for one not deeply immersed in Hayek or Austrian Faculty economics – is that it’s fairly laborious to comply with the thread of the mental narrative. Whereas ‘The Use of Knowledge in Society‘ is considered one of my all-time favorite economics articles, and I learn ‘The Road to Serfdom‘ again in my undergraduate days, this isn’t my background. So whereas I did take pleasure in studying this biography – significantly the part about Hayek’s mental formation within the early twentieth century Vienna of logical positivism, and people about his presonal/mental rivalries significantly with Keynes throughout his years in England – I’d be laborious pushed to present a capsule description of what I’ve discovered. So I’ll stay up for Quantity 2, the Chicago years, but in addition to the eventual concise one-volume model of this definitive work.