Jesse Norman was educated at Oxford University (BA) and at University College London (MPhil, PhD). Among other things he has run an educational project in Communist Eastern Europe, been a director at Barclays, and taught philosophy at UCL and Birkbeck College. His books and pamphlets include The Achievement of Michael Oakeshott (ed.),After Euclid, Compassionate Conservatism and The Big Society.
He writes and blogs prolifically in the national press.
In 2010 Jesse was elected as the MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, and as a member of the Treasury Select Committee.
In 2012 he was chosen as Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year, and as Backbencher of the Year. In 2013 he became a member of the Policy Board at 10 Downing Street.
His biography on Edmund Burke was published by HarperCollins in May 2013, and has been widely acclaimed.
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Buy it here.
Adam Smith is now widely regarded as ‘the father of modern economics’ and the most influential economist who ever lived. But what he really thought, and what the implications of his ideas are, remain fiercely contested. Was he an eloquent advocate of capitalism and the freedom of the individual? Or a prime mover of ‘market fundamentalism’ and an apologist for inequality and human selfishness? Or something else entirely? Jesse Norman’s brilliantly conceived book gives us not just Smith’s economics, but his vastly wider intellectual project. Against the turbulent backdrop of Enlightenment Scotland, it lays out a succinct and highly engaging account of Smith’s life and times, reviews his work as a whole and traces his influence over the past two centuries.
But this book is not only a biography. It dispels the myths and debunks the caricatures that have grown up around Adam Smith. It explores Smith’s ideas in detail, from ethics to law to economics and government, and the impact of those ideas on thinkers as diverse as Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek. Far from being simply an economist, Adam Smith emerges as one of the founders of modern social psychology and behavioural theory. Far from being a doctrinaire ‘libertarian’ or ‘neoliberal’ thinker, he offers a strikingly modern evolutionary theory of political economy, which recognises the often complementary roles of markets and the state.
At a time when economics and politics are ever more polarized between left and right, this book, by offering a Smithian analysis of contemporary markets, predatory capitalism and the 2008 financial crash, returns us to first principles and shows how the lost centre of modern public debate can be recreated. Through Smith’s work, it addresses crucial issues of inequality, human dignity and exploitation; and it provides a compelling explanation of why he remains central to any attempt to defend, reform or renew the market system.
“In this splendid book, Jesse Norman not only presents an excellent introduction to the life and ideas of Adam Smith, but also explains why – and how – Smith’s insights can help us solve some of the most difficult social and economic problems of the contemporary world. Smith loved lucidity and relevance, and I think he would have been very happy with Norman’s book.” – Amartya Sen
“This book is well-written, well-argued and intensely thought-provoking, and it will rightly raise Smith’s posthumous reputation. I hope some of the author’s parliamentary colleagues
summon up the moral and intellectual strength to read it.” – The Spectator
“The book is lucid, comprehensive and sympathetic. He defends Smith from his detractors, and even more importantly, rescues him from his most zealous, and therefore mistaken, admirers.” – Scotsman
PUBLISHER: Allen Lane
PUBLICATION DATE: 5th July 2018
EDMUND BURKE- Buy it here
Longlisted for the Orwell Prize and the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction; both conservative and subversive, Burke’s beliefs have never been more relevant, as MP Jesse Norman explains.
Philosopher, statesman, and founder of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke is both the greatest and most under-rated political thinker of the past three-hundred years. Born in Ireland in 1729, and greatly affected by its bigotry and extremes, his career constituted a lifelong struggle against the abuse of power.
Amid the 18th century’s golden generation that included his companions Adam Smith, Samuel Johnson and Edward Gibbon, Burke’s controversial mixture of conservative and subversive theories made him first a marginal figure, and finally a revered theorist – a hero of the Romantics. He warned of the effects of British rule in Ireland, the loss of the American colonies, and most famously, he foresaw the disastrous consequences of revolution in France. This he predicted, would trigger extremism, terror and the atomisation of society – a profound analysis that continues to resonate today.
In this absorbing new biography Conservative MP Jesse Norman gives us Burke anew, vividly depicting his dazzling intellect, imagination and empathy against the rich tapestry of 18th century Europe. Burke’s wisdom, Norman shows, applies well beyond the times of empire to the conventional democratic politics practised in Britain and America today. We cannot understand the defects of the modern world, or modern politics, without him.
‘Jesse Norman has brought back Burke in triumph. This is an overdue reassessment of a politician who was the father of the modern political party, a man who campaigned with equal brio and genius against British exploitation of India and the bloody tyranny of the French Revolution. Anyone who cares about politics will pounce on this book and devour it’ Boris Johnson
‘A must-read for anyone interested in politics and history … Superb’ Matthew D’Ancona, Sunday Telegraph
‘An excellent book, which unites biographical and political insights. The best short biography of Burke for nearly fifty years … and a pleasure to read’ Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government, Harvard University
‘[Norman] is a subtle historian of ideas. He does an excellent job of extracting from his subject’s speeches and writings why, in his view, Burke is the first and most important conservative thinker’ Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
‘An intriguing and illuminating picture of the thinker who more than any other exemplifies the contradictions of conservatism’ New Statesman
‘His new book on Edmund Burke seeks to contest the very nature of today’s Tory Party. All power to his elbow … quite brilliantly, Norman … [offers] an immense critique of the present … It is a patriotic tract and an act of great leadership. This is a very significant book’ Independent
‘Personable and thoughtful, [Norman] also has a cavalier streak … This absorbing book gathers pace, and relevance, as it goes along – an important contribution to the annals of conservative thought’ Observer
‘Norman is undoubtedly a fluent and deep thinker … his account of Burke’s life and career is as good as any of equal length on the subject … Admirable’ Spectator
‘Superb … Norman succeeds in elevating his subject, showing what is conservative about Burke, and why he matters today. Ironically, he makes such a strong case that it would seem perverse if only Tories took something from Burke’s legacy’ Financial Times
PUBLISHER: William Collins
PUBLICATION DATE: 8th May 2013