John Kenneth "Ken" Galbraith (properly /ɡælˈbreɪθ/ gal-brayth, but commonly /ˈɡælbreɪθ/ gal-brayth; October 15, 1908 – April 29, 2006), OC was a Canadian-American economist. He was a Keynesian and an institutionalist, a leading proponent of 20th-century American liberalism. His books on economic topics were bestsellers from the 1950s through the 2000s and he filled the role of public intellectual from the '50s to the 1970s on matters of economics.
Galbraith was a prolific author who produced four dozen books and over a thousand articles on various subjects. Among his most famous works was a popular trilogy on economics, American Capitalism (1952), The Affluent Society (1958), and The New Industrial State (1967). He taught at Harvard University for many years. Galbraith was active in Democratic Party politics, serving in the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson; he served as United States Ambassador to India under Kennedy. Due to his prodigious literary output he was arguably the best known economist in the world during his lifetime and was one of a select few people to be awarded the Medal of Freedom, in 1946, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000, for services to economics.
Galbraith was born to Canadians of Scottish descent, Archibald "Archie" Galbraith and Sarah Catherine Kendall, in Iona Station, Ontario, Canada, and was raised in Dunwich Township, Ontario. He had three siblings: Alice, Catherine and Archibald William (Bill). His early school years were spent at a one room school on Willy's Sideroad, which is still standing. The family farm is on Thomson Line. He went to school at Dutton High School. His father was a farmer and school teacher; his mother, a political activist. By the time he was a teenager, he had adopted the name Ken, and later disliked being called John. Both his parents were supporters of the United Farmers of Ontario in the 1920s. He was a very tall man, eventually growing to a height of 6'8" (203 cm).