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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

The Spectre at the Feast

Capitalist Crisis and the Politics of Recession

ISBN 9780230230743
Publication Date June 2009
Formats Hardcover Ebook Paperback Ebook 
Publisher Palgrave

After a long feast of prosperity in the western world, the crisis in the financial markets has conjured up an old spectre – the spectre of capitalist crisis, which many thought had been finally exorcised. On past experience, a full-blown capitalist crisis would bring with it the threat of slump, collapse, polarisation, conflict, and even war, spreading to all parts of the global economy - hence the great efforts being made to contain the present downturn. This important new book by a leading authority sets the financial crisis of 2007/8 in historical context and assesses its global consequences, how far it might go, and what is to be done.

ANDREW GAMBLE is Professor and Head of Department of Politics, University of Cambridge. His many books include Britain in Decline, The Free Economy and the Strong State and Between Europe and America also published by Palgrave Macmillan. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Academy of Social Sciences and was awarded the Sir Isaiah Berlin Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Political Studies by the UK Political Studies Association in 2005.

Introduction: The Road to Excess
From Boom to Bust
Crises of Capitalism
Globalization and neo-liberalism
The Politics of Recession
The Global Impact
What is to be Done?.


I was particularly excited by Andrew Gamble's The Spectre at the Feast - both a superb dissection of the economic crisis that broke last year and a profound analysis of the implications for the future. Gamble rates this as a major crisis of capitalism, comparable with those of the 1930s, the late 1970s and early 1980s. As such, it is political as well as economic, and has created an opening for new ideas, new programmes and a new politics. But the choice between these will depend on the outcome of political struggles and on the intellectual daring and tactical skill of the leaders engaged in them. The left has a better chance to escape from the iron cage of market fundamentalism than at any time in the past 30 years - provided it has the courage to seize the opportunity. Gordon Brown and Barack Obama, please note. This book is a must for both men's Christmas stockings' - David Marquand, New Statesman
'Andrew Gamble...makes a convincing and determined effort to peel back the layers of the crisis...and skilfully paints a picture of a system, described as capitalist or free market, that is prone to crisis, political argument and rebirth...Gamble is right. It is all about politics, and the wreckage of a failed political system on both sides of the Atlantic shows the depths of the failure.' - John Whitelegg, Times Higher Education 'What I liked most about this book was the accessible way he explained not only the economics of the situation but also the politics behind it.' - The Herald'A book to bring us down to earth.' - Sunday Business Post'Timely and accessible, a must read for anyone interested in the competing explanations of the current financial crisis and possible solutions.' - Professor Herman M. Schwartz, University of Virginia, USA
'Andrew Gamble is our most formidable exponent of the classical tradition of political economy…He writes with exemplary clarity in limpid English, enlivened with flashes of dry humour… I have learned more from him than from any other political analyst of our generation…The Spectre at the Feast is Gamble at his best…a book that should be compulsory reading in every finance ministry and central bank…and the best starting point for the long road to reconstruction that the left now has to take.' - David Marquand, New Statesman 'A very timely, eloquent and learned introduction to the nature and causes of capitalist crises. It delivers just what students and citizens need to help navigate through these trying economic times.' - Professor Jonathon W. Moses, NTNU, Norway and Visiting Scholar, University of Washington, USA
'A highly readable account of the current global crisis, its likely trajectories and possible consequences, embedded in a brief but informed overview of theories of capitalist crisis. I really like the book and, in particular, the clear way in which it draws out the roots of the crisis in the neo-liberal response to the collapse of Keynesianism in the 1970s.' - Professor Henk Overbeek, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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