Study Guide to Human Action: A Treatise on Economics
Robert P. Murphy
This is the first-ever Human Action Study Guide, and congratulations to Robert Murphy for being the only person in 60 years to complete this much-needed task that has been attempted many times before.
This Guide is spiral bound and 380 pages, complete with summaries, notes, and study questions written by Amadeus Gabriel, a top student of the Misesian approach. Throughout, its pagination is keyed to the Scholars Edition published by the Mises Institute.
Human Action is the core text of the Austrian School and the most rigorous and extended defense of the free economy ever written. And the Guide, years in preparation, opens it up as never before. (You can find the book here.)
Everyone knows of the difficulty of the book, which is matched only by its centrality to a thorough understanding of economic logic and the free society. Even Mises himself hoped for a guide to be written. Many people tried but didn't make it to the end or became frustrated with the sheer difficulty of the task. Only Murphy managed it, and he does it with great authority and attention to detail, even as it makes the book newly accessible.
Part of the genius here is the structure: summary: "Why it Matters," "Technical Notes," and "Study Questions". The writing is exactly what you would expect from Murphy. As with Man, Economy, and State, he has come to the rescue. It is crystal clear, very precise and always interesting.
Another feature: students and professors will use this book constantly as a one-stop reference for the Austrian School. Here is a remarkable and singular accomplishment.
Author's explanation of the text stucture:
"The format of this study guide is straightforward. Each chapter starts with a summary that follows the numbered section headings and italicized subheadings as they appear in Mises’s text. Then it provides an explanation of “Why It Matters,” giving historical context and/or explaining the role that the chapter serves in the book. (One of the joys of writing this study guide was my discovery that there was a very systematic arrangement of the chapters and parts of the book, which I had not noticed during prior readings.)"
"The next section provides “Technical Notes,” which address difficulties in Mises’s arguments, and clarifies subtle points. When relevant, this section also relates Mises’s work to mainstream economics, for the benefit of graduate students or professors. Finally, each chapter ends with a detailed list of “Study Questions,” the bulk of which had been independently prepared by Amadeus Gabriel. I was very pleased to learn of Mr. Gabriel’s efforts, because his questions ensure that the reader is grasping the essential points . . . I hope the present guide encourages more people to read what is arguably one of the most important books written in the 20th century."
-Robert Murphy, from the preface