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 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.
"This book is a descriptive and critical bibliography of works on the philosophy of individualism. I have applied the term ""individualism"" in a broad sense. T he bibliography includes books which explain the processes and advantages of free trade, free enterprise and free markets; which recognize the evils of excessive state power; and which champion the cause of individual freedom of worship, speech and thought.
Such a compilation seemed to me to be increasingly urgent because so few writers and speakers on public questions today reveal any idea of the wealth, depth and breadth of the literature of freedom. What threatens us today is not merely the outright totalitarian philosophies of fascism and communism, but the increasing drift of thought in the totalitarian direction. Many people today who complacently think of themselves as ""middle-of-the-roaders"" have no conception of the extent to which they have already taken over statist, socialist, and collectivist assumptions—assumptions which, if logically followed out, must inevitably carry us further and further down the totalitarian road."
Henry Stuart Hazlitt (November 28, 1894 – July 9, 1993) was a libertarian philosopher, an economist, and a journalist for various publications including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and Newsweek. He was the founding vice-president of the Foundation for Economic Education and an early editor of The Freeman magazine, an important libertarian publication. In 1946 Hazlitt wrote Economics in One Lesson, his seminal text on free market economics, which Ayn Rand referred to as doing a "...magnificent job of theoretical exposition." Hazlitt is credited with bringing his ideas and those of the so-called Austrian School to the American economics scene and his work has influenced the likes of economist Ludwig von Mises, novelist and essayist Ayn Rand, and 2008 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee and congressman, Ron Paul.
Hazlitt was a prolific writer, authoring 25 works in his lifetime.
Ludwig von Mises said at a dinner honoring Hazlitt: "In this age of the great struggle in favor of freedom and the social system in which men can live as free men, you are our leader. You have indefatigably fought against the step-by-step advance of the powers anxious to destroy everything that human civilization has created over a long period of centuries... You are the economic conscience of our country and of our nation."