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John Kenneth Galbraith

John Kenneth Galbraith was a multi-award winning economist who served as an advisor to several U.S. Presidents and held various positions in the Democratic presidential administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, President John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Dr. Galbraith commuted between academia and government work for half a century. He was editor of Fortune magazine (1943-48) and U.S. Ambassador to India (1961-63). He also wrote speeches for twice-defeated presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956, as well as President John F. Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy, and George McGovern.

Professor Galbraith initially taught at Harvard University, then at Princeton, before returning to Harvard in 1948. He remained active on the Harvard faculty until his retirement in 1975. He was known to receive standing ovations from his students for his often-brilliant opening lectures. But just as fellow economists sometimes criticized his economic theories as lacking in substantiating evidence, his students would occasionally grow weary of subsequent lectures that rehashed the generalities of his opening lecture without offering any real substance. He was the recipient of Canada's highest award, the Order of Canada, and two-time recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President Truman in 1946, and another from Clinton in 2000.

J. K. Galbraith always had a controversial reputation among many academic economists. Toward the end of his life, some of his theories were discredited. Even with his liberal tax-and-spend policies, he remained one of America's favorite economists. Many of his supporters felt his theories regarding the dangers of runaway and deregulated capitalism were proven correct by the 2008-10 financial crisis. The worldwide financial meltdown of 2008-10 caused more than a few folks to reexamine the liberal icon's work.

A prolific author, Galbraith wrote more than 30 books, and over 1,000 published papers, but is best remembered for his best-selling, seminal work, The Affluent Society (1958). While his books explained economic theory in a style that appealed to the general public like no economist before him, he often failed to win acceptance from fellow economists who were disdainful of the lack of concrete equations and corroborating numbers in his work. Other books include, The Great Crash, 1929 (published in 1955), The New Industrial State (1967), Ambassador's Journal: A Personal Account of the Kennedy Years (1969), Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went (1975), A Life In Our Times (1981), Balancing Acts: Technology, Finance and the American Future (1989), A Short History of Financial Euphoria (1990), and Name-Dropping: From F.D.R. On (1999).

Galbraith maintained a home for many years at 30 Francis Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also had a farm in Townshend, Vermont.

Established in 2007, and named in his honor, the John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award is awarded to Canadian authors for previously unpublished short stories.

Biographical fast facts

Date and place of birth: October 15, 1908, on Hogg Street, Iona Station, Ontario, Canada*

Date, time, place and cause of death: April 29, 2006, at 9:15 p.m., Mount Auburn Hospital, 330 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. (natural causes)

Wife: Catherine Merriam Atwater (m. September 17, 1937 - April 29, 2006) (his death)
Wedding took place at the Reformed Church, North Hempstead, New York, U.S.A.

John's widow, Catherine "Kitty" Galbraith, died of a heart attack at Mount Auburn Hospital, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 1st, 2008.

Sons: John Alan Galbraith (b. July 3, 1941, Columbia Hospital, Washington, D.C.)
Douglas Galbraith (b. 1943 - d. 1950 of leukemia)
Peter Woodard Galbraith (b. December 31, 1950, Boston, Massachusetts)
James Kenneth Galbraith

Father: William Archibald Galbraith (known as Archie Galbraith) (a farmer and schoolteacher)
Mother: Sarah Catherine Kendall Galbraith (known as Kate Galbraith)

Error corrections or clarifications

* John Kenneth Galbraith was born in the upstairs back bedroom of the family's two-story farmhouse on Hogg Street, Iona Station, Ontario, Canada.

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