700 More Obligatory Pages
[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]
Last month I was plugging one 700-page libertarian tome; this month Im plugging another one. This time its Radicals for Capitalism, Brian Dohertys sprawling history of the 20th-century American libertarian movement. Here it is: the past hundred years of U.S. libertarian thought and activism in all its glory and strangeness, from Hayek to Heinlein, from Galt to Galambos. Theres even stuff in here that I didnt know (most notably the connection between FEE and LSD!).
As is inevitable in a book of this scope, there are some errors (confusing Menger with Böhm-Bawerk and Atlanta Hope with Atlanta Bliss; trusting Hayeks faulty memory of not having been Misess student stuff like that, nothing major), as well as some controversial choices of inclusion/exclusion, interpretation, and emphasis (dont expect much on Konkin, or Hoppe, or the Kelley/Peikoff split, for example), plus a few generalisations that paleolibertarians and/or left-libertarians, depending on the case, will bristle at. The book also focuses much more on what various libertarians have thought than on why they thought it understandable given that the book is long enough already, but it means few nonlibertarians venturing into its pages are likely to feel the pull of libertarian ideas. Nor, for similar reasons, is the reader given much sense of intra-movement disagreements on, say, immigration, abortion, intellectual property, and the like. The books biggest flaw is actually the index: over and over again I would have the experience of looking up a name in the index, finding it wasnt listed, and then later on discovering that the book nevertheless contained a discussion of the person in question after all. Trust not the index!
But these are mere quibbles. This is the definitive history of our movement in all its crazy diversity, meticulously researched and engagingly narrated. Enjoy. (And dont miss the endnotes! Theres another books worth of fascinating material in there!)
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