updated 1/10/2005 10:13:16 PM ET 2005-01-11T03:13:16

Robert Heilbroner, an economist and the author of the best-selling book “The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers,” has died at age 85.

Heilbroner died Jan. 4, according to the Web site of the New School University, where he was a professor emeritus at the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science division and where he spent his career. The cause of death was not given, and a phone message left for a school spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

“The Worldly Philosophers,” first published in 1953, provides a history of world economists from Adam Smith to John Maynard Keynes. A 1999 story in The New York Times called it “a ‘Profiles in Courage’ of the great thinkers who shaped modern economics.”

Heilbroner, who attended New York’s Horace Mann School for Boys, graduated from Harvard University in 1940 and briefly worked in the federal Office of Price Administration before serving in the Army during World War II.

He then began studying at the New School while working as a freelance writer and earned a doctorate in economics for his book “The Making of Economic Society” after joining the school’s economics faculty, the Web site said.

Heilbroner also wrote “The Limits of American Capitalism,” “An Inquiry in the Human Prospect” and more than 20 other books.

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