Tributes Paul A. Samuelson Lord Robbins Jeffrey T. Young History of Economics Society, USA    

Tribute: Lord Robbins

Well, then, I can just enumerate three ways in which one can actually arrange the subject [the history of economic thought]. First of all you can discuss individual theories and their history. Viner’s Studies in the Theory of International Trade [1937] is a classic example of that. Cannan’s Production and Distribution [1924] is another good example. Secondly, you can study the evolution of individual thought as, for instance, you will have, par excellence I would say, in the work of an ex-student of this School, Professor Samuel Hollander, now of the University of Toronto, whose book on Adam Smith [1973] is the answer to a prayer to anyone who is bewildered by Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and whose forthcoming book on Ricardo [1979] is an answer, so to speak, to collective prayer. It is almost a book to put an end to prayer about Ricardo it’s so good (pp. 9-10).

I recommend to you Professor Samuel Hollander’s [1973] book on Adam Smith. He’s one of our most distinguished academic alumni, and I am now reading his recently published book on Ricardo, and it makes me feel sorry for you that you have to listen to me rather than to Professor Hollander, who is so good. He really surpasses all previous historians of economic thought, especially on Ricardo [1979], but his book on Adam Smith is quite first rate. All of you who are specialising in this subject are recommended to read the relevant chapters of his books, at any rate. He gives you a good deal of background history so far as Adam Smith is concerned, and when you get on Ricardo, although it’s pretty stiff reading and it’s 679 pages, I think, there are chapters in it which really throw a new light on Ricardo (p. 143).

Comments by Lord Robbins to LSE students in A History of Economic Thought: The LSE Lectures, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998
Lionel Robbins (1898-1984) taught at the London School of Economics from 1929 to 1961, directed the economic section of the British War Cabinet during World War II, and served as chairman of the Financial Times from 1961 until 1970. His best-known work is An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science. He became a life peer in 1959 and a Companion of Honour in 1968.