Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, New York: Oxford University Press, 2013, 288 pp.
(Note: This is an extended, remixed version of a book review I’ve written for a forthcoming issue of New Political Science).
In the context of the current financial crisis, it is fair to expect that any book taking as its title Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea should satisfy at least two criteria. On the one hand, the book should present a robust exposition of the basic genealogy of the concept. On the other, the book should try to offer an argument as to how this idea achieved such a preeminent position in guiding not only the decisions of key policymakers but also the everyday, commonsensical worldview of the very populations for whomthese decisions will have the most serious consequences. It is in terms of the former that Blyth’s book is strong.