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Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction (2007)

by Thomas K. McCraw

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1934102,971 (4.19)3
"Pan Am, Gimbel's, Pullman, Douglas Aircraft, Digital Equipment Corporation, British Leyland - all once as strong as dinosaurs, all now just as extinct. Destruction of businesses, fortunes, products, and careers is the price of progress toward a better material life. No one understood this bedrock economic principle better than Joseph A. Schumpeter. "Creative destruction," he said, is the driving force of capitalism." "Described by John Kenneth Galbraith as "the most sophisticated conservative" of the twentieth century, Schumpeter made his mark as the prophet of incessant change. His vision was stark: Nearly all businesses fail, victims of innovation by their competitors. Businesspeople ignore this lesson at their peril - to survive, they must be entrepreneurial and think strategically. Yet in Schumpeter's view, the general prosperity produced by the "capitalist engine" far outweighs the wreckage it leaves behind." "During a tumultuous life spanning two world wars, the Great Depression, and the early Cold War, Schumpeter reinvented himself many times. From boy wonder in turn-of-the-century Vienna to captivating Harvard professor, he was stalked by tragedy and haunted by the specter of his rival, John Maynard Keynes. By 1983 - the centennial of the birth of both men - Forbes christened Schumpeter, not Keynes, the best navigator through the turbulent seas of globalization. Time has proved that assessment accurate." "Prophet of Innovation is also the private story of a man rescued repeatedly by women who loved him and put his well-being above their own. Without them, he would likely have perished, so fierce were the conflicts between his reason and his emotions. Drawing on all of Schumpeter's writings, including many intimate diaries and letters never before used, this biography paints the full portrait of a magnetic figure who aspired to become the world's greatest economist, lover, and horseman - and admitted to failure only with the horses."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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Showing 4 of 4
Schumpeter, Joseph (Subject)
  LOM-Lausanne | Apr 30, 2020 |
Schumpeter, the Austrian economist who coined the term "creative destruction," lived through the first era of globalization and the crippling effect of poor policies that prolonged the Great Depression. While under the shadow of John Maynard Keynes for much of his later career, Schumpeter following has grown over the years. This is a well written, insightful book about a complex genius, whose work is more relevant than ever today ( )
1 vote beaurichly | Feb 25, 2012 |
Superb biography on a man who even though he died in the early 50's continues to influence a great many economists (and therefore government and business decision-makers) but is surprisingly little known among the general public. You don't need to be an economist or an MBA to follow this--a book that definitely should be read by anyone just even interested in 20th century history. ( )
  NellieMc | Jan 25, 2009 |
During my Graduate School days, I took a course on Economic history. It was there that I was introduced to Joseph Schumpeter and his [[ASIN:0195105591 History of Economic Analysis: With a New Introduction]]. My reaction to it remains the same today as it was then – a masterful piece of scholarship.

Thomas McCraw delivers a biography worthy of his subject. Beautifully-paced and throughly-researched, Prophet of Innovation conveys the originality and excitement of Schumpeter’s life.

Schumpeter’s thinking underwent three subtle shifts. His Pulitizer Prize winning biographer splits his treatment into three parts to correspond to those intellectual shifts. First, Schumpeter focused on capitalism’s economics. Despite his subject’s love for precision, McCraw spares the reader the math.

Secondly, he discusses capitalism’s social structures. Finally, in a tribute to the subject’s most satisfying thoughts, McCraw details its historical record.

Schumpeter's life was no less fascinating than his message. McCraw weaves the two into a story that captures Schumpeter’s energy and creativity. Prophet of Innovation is a biography worthy of the 20th century’s finest economic thinker.

Penned by the Pointed Pundit
March 22, 2008
4:31:05 PM ( )
2 vote PointedPundit | Mar 23, 2008 |
Showing 4 of 4
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"Pan Am, Gimbel's, Pullman, Douglas Aircraft, Digital Equipment Corporation, British Leyland - all once as strong as dinosaurs, all now just as extinct. Destruction of businesses, fortunes, products, and careers is the price of progress toward a better material life. No one understood this bedrock economic principle better than Joseph A. Schumpeter. "Creative destruction," he said, is the driving force of capitalism." "Described by John Kenneth Galbraith as "the most sophisticated conservative" of the twentieth century, Schumpeter made his mark as the prophet of incessant change. His vision was stark: Nearly all businesses fail, victims of innovation by their competitors. Businesspeople ignore this lesson at their peril - to survive, they must be entrepreneurial and think strategically. Yet in Schumpeter's view, the general prosperity produced by the "capitalist engine" far outweighs the wreckage it leaves behind." "During a tumultuous life spanning two world wars, the Great Depression, and the early Cold War, Schumpeter reinvented himself many times. From boy wonder in turn-of-the-century Vienna to captivating Harvard professor, he was stalked by tragedy and haunted by the specter of his rival, John Maynard Keynes. By 1983 - the centennial of the birth of both men - Forbes christened Schumpeter, not Keynes, the best navigator through the turbulent seas of globalization. Time has proved that assessment accurate." "Prophet of Innovation is also the private story of a man rescued repeatedly by women who loved him and put his well-being above their own. Without them, he would likely have perished, so fierce were the conflicts between his reason and his emotions. Drawing on all of Schumpeter's writings, including many intimate diaries and letters never before used, this biography paints the full portrait of a magnetic figure who aspired to become the world's greatest economist, lover, and horseman - and admitted to failure only with the horses."--BOOK JACKET.

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