The Economic Consequences of the Peace

by John Maynard Keynes, C.B. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe. 1920. 8vo, viii+ 298 pp. $2.25.
OF all the books tossed up by the deluge of ink that is following the recent deluge of blood in Europe exceedingly few will ever find an Ararat. This book by Mr. Keynes promises to be among the rare survivors. The author possesses information, insight, and style. He was the representative of the British Treasury at the Peace Conference and a member of the Supreme Economic Council of the Allied Powers. Not only had he the opportunity, but he was under the necessity, of mastering the details of the Treaty and of assimilating the flood of economic information that poured into Paris from every corner of Europe.
The author approached this task with the training of an economist ripened by long experience in the British Government service. But this was not all. A routine mind might have assembled and sorted these facts indefinitely, and have left them dead lumber. Happily Mr. Keynes has that gift of insight and expression that makes such data winged messengers of truth.
One chapter of dramatic power will seize the attention of the reader, and may give permanent interest to the book long after the special problems with which it deals have ceased to occupy the public mind. This contains a remarkable picture of the Council of Four at work, which combines the composition of an artist with the convineing reality of a photograph. Nowhere hitherto has the story of the Council been told so briefly and yet so comprehensively, so vividly and yet with such restraint.
Nor is there in recent economic literature a better or more readable survey, in a few words, of European economy before the war than is contained in the second chapter; and we doubt whether a truer summary of economic conditions in Europe after the war could be written to-day than is presented in chapter six. The analysis of the Treaty is lucid, and its economic provisions, revealed in clear and unsparing interpretation, will startle and perhaps appal lay readers — though these chapters tell only what many students already knew and pondered upon in silence.
Thoughtful readers will finish the book devoutly wishing that it might be studied with care by every American citizen. It treats of questions of immediate, practical, and supreme interest for our people. We are as blind as we were four years ago to the approach of events that promise to affect our individual lives and fortunes, the happiness and security of our homes, and the tranquillity of our country as profoundly, perhaps, as did the war itself. Mr. Keynes has flung a stormwarning to the winds, where all may see.
V. s. c.