Robert J. Mayhew

Why I looked at this book

Malthus is well known for his predictions of the problems of population outstripping food supply, and is seen as a forerunner of many of today's environmental movements. But the fact is that Malthus was largely wrong, since food supplies have kept up with population growth. To judge him though, and to see how much what he said applies to today's world, it is vital to have an accurate idea of what he really said. At a couple of centuries distance it is all to easy attribute ideas to someone, and to give them credit or blame for things they had little to do with. For instance, how much was Malthus responsible for claims that it was no good trying to eliminate poverty? I'm looking to this book to answer such questions.

First impressions

The book starts with a look at Malthus' tombstone, and how it's much less prominent that one might expect for such a well known person. In the prologue Mayhew tells us why we should be passionate about Malthus, arguing that he put things into focus and was a highly significant figure in the development of modern thought. This seems a bit over the top at times, particularly since the book then seems to get a bit lost in a discussion of 18th Century fiction such as Tristram Shandy. I guess it's better than having dry statistics of births and deaths, but it's hard to see what author is getting at sometimes. Maybe this is just because I'm looking at a short sample, and I hope the book settles down as I get into it. ~
Coming soon:
Reviews Elsewhere
Why not follow the Twitter feed?
In 1930, John Maynard Keynes wrote Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, predicting an age of leisure in a couple of generations. Why aren't we there yet? That's just one of the questions asked in
The People's Economics