Remembering Alice Amsden: Viva Alice!

Lyuba ZarskyAlice Amsden
World renowned development economist Alice Amsden passed away last week.

Alice Amsden was an intrepid thinker and I add my voice to the chorus of those inspired by her intellectual trailblazing. But I want to share a personal experience that sheds light on Alice’s inspiring character.

In the early 1980s, I was living in a fifth floor apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan with my partner, Peter Hayes. Alice lived down the hall. One morning, we were awakened by a loud commotion outside. I threw on my bath robe and peered out my door. I heard Alice yelling and saw that her door was open. I edged my way down the hall and in a second, a man flashed down the stairwell, clutching something under his arm. Alice screamed that she had been robbed and I should call the police—and then she tore down the stairwell in hot pursuit.

I went back to my apartment (no cell phones in those days) and called 911. The police arrived in a flash, brandishing their pistols as they mistakenly scoped out my apartment.  Alice appeared a few minutes later, breathing hard, grittily triumphant. She didn’t catch the robber but she had forced him to drop her beloved black leather jacket as he raced down Amsterdam Ave. Moreover, he didn’t get much, since she had pounced the minute she had come home and found him in her apartment, forcing him to scramble out the window to the roof of the building.

Alice was not only brilliant, she was one tough cookie. Viva Alice!

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