Not many academic economists are household names. But when I was young, Milton Friedman was. The high-priest of Monetarism and intellectual descendant of Friedrich Hayek, his theories were much admired by right-wing politicians such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Meanwhile Paul Samuelson made his mark with his bestselling economics textbook which was the standard text for decades. I used it myself at school.
Nicholas Wapshott has a brilliant eye for the narrative that unlocks the subject for the general reader. In the case of Samuelson and Friedman, Wapshott’s springboard is the column in Newsweek magazine that the two economists shared, or rather alternated for the thick end of twenty years. The dialogue between the arch-Keynesian and the apostle of free markets makes for an exhilarating intellectual journey, told with great clarity and enormous brio by a writer who can make even economic history fun.