“Bernays’ honest and practical manual provides much insight into some of the most powerful and influential institutions of contemporary industrial state capitalist democracies.”—Noam Chomsky
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”—Edward Bernays, Propaganda
A seminal and controversial figure in the history of political thought and public relations, Edward Bernays (1891–1995), pioneered the scientific technique of shaping and manipulating public opinion, which he famously dubbed “engineering of consent.” During World War I, he was an integral part of the U.S. Committee on Public Information (CPI), a powerful propaganda apparatus that was mobilized to package, advertise and sell the war to the American people as one that would “Make the World Safe for Democracy.” The CPI would become the blueprint in which marketing strategies for future wars would be based upon.
Bernays applied the techniques he had learned in the CPI and, incorporating some of the ideas of Walter Lipmann, became an outspoken proponent of propaganda as a tool for democratic and corporate manipulation of the population. His 1928 bombshell Propaganda lays out his eerily prescient vision for using propaganda to regiment the collective mind in a variety of areas, including government, politics, art, science and education. To read this book today is to frightfully comprehend what our contemporary institutions of government and business have become in regards to organized manipulation of the masses.
This is the first reprint of Propaganda in over 30 years and features an introduction by Mark Crispin Miller, author of The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder.
Since the mission of Books of Liberty is to help you find content to free your mind, you can’t go wrong with clicking on personal freedom and seeing where it takes you. Topics that are likely to be correlated with personal freedom include education and critical thinking, entrepreneurship or other means of achieving financial freedom, physical and mental wellbeing, and for the parents out there we have books on peaceful parenting and some reading ideas for your own young readers.
Shedding more light where once was dark, this topic includes a wide array of critiques surrounding the function of the State, but mostly around policy critiques and warfare. As it relates to the State’s functioning, everything from central planning, coercion and government expansion through to propaganda, taxation and the act of voting are discussed.
The State apparatus and its institutions, the CIA, FBI, NSA, and other alphabet soup organizations – they are all brought to account together with their counterparts in the military-industrial complex and the deep state. The Supreme Court, criminal justice system and the prisons are not immune to critique. And the filth of politics and lobbying are described in great lengths.
Policy critiques cover everything from abortion to welfare. It all starts with state intervention in the affairs of private individuals and foreign intervention (which includes the seemingly benevolent foreign aid) in the affairs of other groups of people. More specifically, US foreign policy and US military intervention are popular policies to critique.
Some of the other more common topics include: drugs, eminent domain, environmentalism, poverty, protectionism, muh roads, slavery, and other forms of public policy. Needless to say, these and other policies lead to ridiculous levels of government spending, itself a valid topic to critique.
And of course, the most destructive activity perpetrated by the State is warfare. The wars abroad and at home are discussed at length. Of the ‘traditional’ wars, World War I and II and the so-called American ‘Civil War’ (always in quotation marks) feature in the most number of books, some of which include discussions on genocide and war crimes. But then there are also the wars on amorphous, undefined entities, such as: the war on drugs, which leads to domestic violence, militarization and a police state; and the war on terror, which brought us torture, more terror and the ever-increasing drone warfare.
A note from the curator: The State is thoroughly critiqued within Liberty Classroom and the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program. In full transparency, I have no direct experience in homeschooling but I have heavily researched Ron Paul’s program and found it to be an outstanding alternative to the public school system (a system where you would never hear a critique of the State).
I am a very satisfied Master Member of Liberty Classroom and have taken the Introduction to Government course that is available through the Ron Paul Curriculum. Between this course and others available through Liberty Classroom, you can’t get a better or more thought out exposition critiquing the State and all its failures or faulty premises (and in a way that is suitable for the younger ages too). I’ll disclose that Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our links.
We find topics about the law, laws and legislation, justice, law enforcement and judicial systems fascinating, especially when combined with anarchy, as this seems to be one of the last bastions on the road to understanding an anarchist system and how legal order and property rights would be maintained.
Administrative law, regulations, and licensure as we know them today are artefacts of the State that are critiqued in our featured books, but so are dozens of other legislative issues, such as: labor laws (child labor, labor unions, minimum wage), issues relating to the US Constitution or the Articles of Confederation (e.g. the commerce clause, nullification, fugitive slave laws, gun control / second amendment), civil rights issues, Obamacare, Prohibition, and even earlier established legal concepts, such as the Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus.
A note from the curator: One of the reasons I am a very satisfied Master Member of Liberty Classroom is that I have access to courses like US Constitutional History and others featuring topics related to the law. In full disclosure, Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our link.
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.
As part of your overall personal freedom, achieving financial freedom allows you to live relatively unencumbered by the burdens of life. While difficult to realize and rare to find, this can be achieved through hard work and consistent dedication (or sheer luck, for some). Either through entrepreneurship, finance and investing or by building streams of passive income, the opportunities presented within the books tagged here form a good starting point on the path to success.
Investing and understanding the world of finance is a critical part of achieving and maintaining financial freedom. Whether you invest in precious metals (such as gold or silver), design a Permanent Portfolio, take an interest in money management or retirement planning, or whether you just want to know more about student loans, you will find that info here.
Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of capitalism and the free market system and books on this topic are well represented. You can find books that provide insight to the entrepreneurial mindset, which, in my view, can be equally applied to those who are employed, which will increase your success in that context too. But for those looking to bootstrap or start a business of their own, we would recommend the resources here discussing everything from marketing, public relations, copy writing and sales to books about competition, e-commerce or social media.
Don’t be shocked to find Austrian Economics books here, detailing the theoretical side of entrepreneurship and the place of the entrepreneur within the market process. A strong foundation will help those entrepreneurs in practice.
Within the business section you can also find books on the business organization (contrasting to bureaucracy of the State), on decision making, business growth, accounting, etc. While decision making may sometimes be covered in a book completely unrelated to business, it would be tagged to business if the benefits of such content can be applied to those entrepreneurs needing to make decisions for their venture. Likewise, entrepreneurial mindset can often be tagged to books describing characteristics that would prove valuable to an entrepreneur, even if they don’t relate directly to the entrepreneurial space.
A note from the curator: One thing I was always curious about: why is this never taught at school?! By providing your homeschoolers the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program, they will learn Personal Finance in the 8th grade, Business in grades 9 and 10 and will be exposed to topics to help their entrepreneurial mindset throughout the years. You may see throughout the site banners promoting this program and Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our links. I only wish I had learned these things at a young age and got a head start in life.
It should come as no surprise that the education topic is chock-full of great material. Given the range of items it covers, you will see why it is the third most popular topic on this site. The two largest topics you’ll find within education are your "how to" books and those that bust myths and misconceptions. These two categories assist you greatly in your long path of autodidacticism (self-directed learning). Both the "how to" and the myths and misconceptions books cover a wide range of interests, helping you educate yourself (and others) in pretty much every other topic on this site. Case studies are also well represented and learning from them is a good way to help bring clarity to a subject.
However, in addition to books that educate, a large number of books discuss the education system itself, such as higher education and college alternatives, or the public school system and public school alternatives (whether it be homeschooling, Montessori, a Sudbury School approach, or other forms of unschooling).
For those homeschooling or otherwise teaching young ones, resources exist on reading (including debates between whole-word / look-say and phonics), and for the older student and certainly for the self-directed learners out there, you will find resources on the trivium method that provides a systematic approach (of grammar, logic and rhetoric) to learning any subject effectively, and you will find plenty of study guides on a variety of subjects.
A note from the curator: The Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program is promoted throughout the site and in full disclosure Books of Liberty will get an advertising fee for those purchases made through our links. While I do not have direct experience in homeschooling, I have researched Ron Paul’s program extensively and found it to be an outstanding alternative to the public school system and very recommended for those who go down the homeschooling route.
The "for parents" topic is a very important component of Book of Liberty. After all, for those who have kids, if you would like to affect change in the world one of the most important roles you have in this context is being a responsible steward of your children. Raising a strong, moral, peaceful individual can have tremendous positive impact.
The non-aggression principle is best displayed through its application in interpersonal relations, of which peaceful parenting is one such strategy. Like many other topics covered by books on this site, this too can be controversial and in no way are we prescribing behavior or applying judgment. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but we do encourage the same rigor and logical consistency to be applied to your relationships with others in your life as we apply to the relationship between the individual and the State.
Topics such as homeschooling, Montessori, or other forms of unschooling can be found when browsing the "for parents" topic, as well as books for young readers. If you have a young reader at home, consider browsing this section for inspiration on books for them to read.
A note from the curator: If you are a parent of a 5-11 year old (or know someone who is) The Tuttle Twins series of books would make a great addition to their library. Similar to the advertising fees we get from books purchased through Amazon, the creators of The Tuttle Twins support Books of Liberty with a small advertising fee for purchases made through our links, and I would not promote these books if I didn’t highly recommend them myself.
Same goes for the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program, who support Books of Liberty through advertising fees for those who purchase through our links. I haven’t gone through a homeschool program and my daughter isn’t old enough for school yet, so I can’t speak from personal experience but I have heard nothing but tremendous positive feedback from homeschooling parents for Ron Paul’s program and I am happy to be recommending it.
If there is one thing that we’re willing to bet on, it’s that there are topics within the pages of Books of Liberty for which you are very passionate. And wouldn’t it be great if you could convince just a few more people to see things the way you do on these subjects? If there is one tool in your tool-belt that you need in order to achieve this aim, it’s improved communication skills.
With techniques such as nonviolent communication, or NVC (for which we have many books and study guides), or other means of empathic connection you can reach a meeting of the minds on almost anything. In addition to convincing an "opponent" in a debate, this may significantly improve interpersonal relations, parenting, help with conflict resolution and is an important social skill to have.
In order to strengthen your arguments, you will utilize critical thinking and problem solving techniques to help frame your ideas, apply logic consistently and remove cognitive biases, and you will learn to identify others’ use of logical fallacies or fear and manipulation.
Then, with the power of empathic connection you will use your rhetoric to its full potential, whether through writing, debating, negotiation, public speaking or other forms of communication.
A note from the curator: Regarding almost any topic found on Books of Liberty, the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program provides exemplary teaching on the subject. From my research (admittedly not through my own personal experience) I found that Ron Paul’s program comes highly recommended for those who want their kids to acquire superior written and other communication skills. From courses on English and Report Writing to Public Speaking and Using Wordpress, your homeschooler will learn how to communicate on a variety of platforms.
Liberty Classroom is another excellent resource that, as Master Member I enjoy and thoroughly recommend, if for no other reason than their Introduction to Logic course, which I’ve sat through and is terrific! This and many other great courses will help you communicate clearly and master debates.
In full disclosure, both the Ron Paul Curriculum and Liberty Classroom support Books of Liberty through advertising fees for those who purchase through our links, but I would recommend them wholeheartedly regardless.
Between education, entrepreneurship, communication skills and other such important topics, personal development forms a key component of one’s path to personal freedom. No human is perfect and while we ought to balance the recognition of this fact with self-esteem and acceptance of our nature, there is room for improvement in us all (and if nothing else, there is room for us to at least maintain our level of awesomeness).
I've included books covering important components of personal development and tools to increase your efficiency. These include productivity and time management methodologies (such as the highly recommended Getting Things Done or GTD), leadership skills, creativity, resilience, organizational skills and many more, all of which require the formation of great habits, self-discipline and willpower. Other intriguing topics like stoicism and minimalism are covered too.
Topics related with personal development include physical and mental wellbeing as well as psychology.