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The Ludwig von Mises Institute

Advancing Austrian Economics, Liberty, and Peace

Advancing the scholarship of liberty in the tradition of the Austrian School

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Literature Library


The Free Man's Library

The Free Man's Library

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.

Publication Information NY: Van Nostrand, 1956
Updated 6/25/2011