The Great Crash 1929

The Great Crash 1929
John Kenneth Galbraith

In the 1997 Introduction to this classic work, first published in 1955, the author gives as one reason for its durability the way it keeps getting revived whenever “another speculative episode – another bubble or the ensuing misfortune – has stirred interest in the history of this, the great modern case of boom and collapse.” It’s an angle that worked for me. What also works is Galbraith’s sly demythologizing of capitalism’s captains (I particularly like his account of the “no business” meeting), and his inimitably cool style. In our own time the moral of the story has only grown in resonance: “Long-run salvation by men of business has never been highly regarded if it means disturbance of orderly life and convenience in the present.” One should never discount the influence of comfort on inertia.

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