The Free Man's Library

The Free Man's Library

By:

Henry Hazlitt

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Summary

Henry Hazlitt did an incredible thing with this book. He created in a mere 180 pages an anthology of short reviews of 550 books on economics and politics, old and new, from the point of view of an Austro-libertarian.

Hazlitt wrote it because he believed in books and ideas, and wanted to share his knowledge as widely as possible. So he takes on the role here as a guide to the literature. The prose is pristine, with unflagging energy from the first to the last.

He covers great classics of historic libertarian thought like de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, Herbert Spencer’s The Man Versus the State, and Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations are characterized, along with a multitude of lesser and more ephemeral works.

There is some dated material here with Cold War era books, but that is perhaps 10% of the material here. And it is of historical interest. The rest feels as contemporary as when it was written. The book had a huge influence when it appeared, but it has been out of print for many decades.

It is doubtful that any review anthology this extensive or insightful will appear again.

Summary courtesy of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. The Mises Institute is the premier organization in support of the free market, peace and prosperity. They provide free educational material, books audio books, lectures and courses that free your mind. This site would not exist were it not for the generosity, hard work and dedication of the Mises Institute, its employees, fellows and its benefactors. Books of Liberty is eternally grateful to all of their work and efforts. Please consider supporting the Mises Institute in any way you can.

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Economics

The economics category, as expected, is very well represented within the pages of this site. Of all the economics books, around half are explicitly Austrian Economics texts, and (with a significant overlap) around half discuss monetary theory. You may search specifically for economic treatises or books about economists; you will find historical or theoretical accounts of financial crises; you will stumble upon recent books on crypto-currencies (like bitcoin), books covering topics like income or wealth inequality, as well as more technical subjects like price theory, monopoly, division of labor, public choice theory and others. Additionally, critiques of Keynesian economics are to be found throughout the books in this category.

Of the Austrian Economics books, the largest portion discuss The Austrian Business Cycle and praxeology or human action, but you will find many covering to one degree or another topics like time preference, capital and interest, subjective value, and economic calculation, to name a few.

And for those interested in currency or money, whether sound money or fiat money, you will find books arguing the benefits of the gold standard, debates on inflation and deflation, banking, central banks and the Federal Reserve specifically.

At the heart of the free market system of unregulated, voluntary trade stands capitalism and its emphasis on private property. Unsurprisingly, a large collection of books are available on this subject, many of which outline quite clearly the fundamentals and the outcomes of capitalism, especially in contrast to other economic systems like socialism. Additional related topics, such as free trade, decentralization, risk, uncertainty, and the market process can be found in such books.

A note from the curator: Liberty Classroom provides courses like: Austrian Economics Step by Step, two courses on the History of Economic Thought, and What’s Wrong with Textbook Economics, to name a few. With courses like these, how can you not become a fan of Liberty Classroom? I know I am.

And would you like your homeschoolers to learn economics right the first time around? The Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program covers 12th grade economics from teachers you can trust. In full disclosure, Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our links.


Literature

While all books technically fall under this topic, we’ve reserved this mostly as a way to easily filter through the many hundred titles to find works of fiction (whether it be science fiction or dystopian novels), humor, poetry or quotes. The great manifestos are clearly labeled, as are Festschrifts, which are collections of writings published in honor of a scholar. Finally, we've included a range of biographies and autobiographies that shed light on some key individuals.

A note from the curator: With a variety of literature homeschool courses the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program does not disappoint. Western Literature, American Literature and Classic Autobiographies are covered in the high school years. My experience of literature in public school was horrendous and I wish I had the curriculum and approach provided by Ron Paul’s program instead. Books of Liberty gets advertising fees for those who purchase through our links.


Other classifications

To make things easier to find, we created a few groupings that allow you to narrow down certain topics that include a large number of named individuals, geographical locations, or geopolitical entities. We created the topics: people and groups; areas and nations; economists; and politicians (who, within it, include also nation state leaders and US presidents).

And if you want a book that seems to have a wide variety of topics, you may just want to filter with the word smorgasbord and see what books come up.


Philosophy of Freedom

Within this topic you’ll find a wide variety of books, many of which we hold in the highest regard. These books are also associated with other topics, such as anarchist traditions and practical liberty. All your great libertarian manifestos, books that discuss individual liberty, the non-aggression principle, laissez faire, objectivism, etc. are found within.

Anarchist traditions would be a great shortcut to find books specifically calling out anarchist principles. The name "anarchist traditions" is purposefully broad, because in addition to anarcho-capitalism and voluntaryism, there are books on anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-communism or other forms of collectivist anarchism, as well as egoism and other schools of thought.

Practical liberty has a hodge-podge of awesome content, from the great anti-war and abolitionist books to theoretical treatises on private defense and private law; from whistleblowing and WikiLeaks to other forms of activism and civil disobedience; from secession to jury nullification and describing revolution and resistance. We’ve even thrown in some interesting "how to" books on affecting change to further one’s activist ends.

The topic of philosophy is closely associated, as many of the books tagged to the philosophy of freedom contain deep philosophical arguments from ethics and epistemology to political theory and religion. A wide variety of ideologies are represented and critiqued within the pages of the books linked here, covering the full political spectrum: whether it is Fascism versus Communism; Neoconservatism versus Progressivism or Liberalism; Nationalism and Nazism versus International Socialism and everything in between.

A note from the curator: You may see throughout the site banners promoting Liberty Classroom. As a very satisfied Master Member, I cannot recommend enough the courses within Liberty Classroom, all of which are imbued with the philosophy of freedom, including How Freedom Settled the West and History of Conservatism and Libertarianism. In full disclosure, Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our link.