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Human Action

November 1, 1998

Human Action: The Scholar's Edition

Fifty years ago, Ludwig von Mises shocked the economics profession and elite opinion with a massive, revolutionary treatise on economics, the culmination of his life's work. It was (and remains) the most comprehensive, systematic, forthright, and powerful defense of the economics of liberty ever written.

It appeared at time when Western intellectuals were looking to positivism as the savior of social science, and socialism as the ideal economic system. Thus, the attacks began immediately. John Kenneth Galbraith condemned it. The New York Times dismissed it. The American Economic Review denigrated it. The New Republic sneered at it. The Progressive denounced it.

But the pile-on didn't work.

In time, Human Action would become academic bestseller and sweep all before it. A total reconstruction of market theory from the bottom up, it recruited a whole new generation of free-market economists, and changed history. Even today, the breadth and scope of this great work has yet to be matched. What does the book cover? In a word, everything.

After the dust settled, it was Murray N. Rothbard who had it right in 1949. He wrote of Human Action: "Every once in a while the human race pauses in the job of botching its affairs and redeems itself by producing a noble work of the intellect.... To state that Human Action is a ‘must' book is a greater understatement. This is the economic Bible of the civilized man."

Indeed, this Scholar's Edition is the original, unaltered treatise that shaped a generation of Austrians and made possible the intellectual movement that is leading the global charge for free markets. Made available for the first time in decades, exclusively through the Ludwig von Mises Institute, this edition is superior to the others (one later edition was throughly botched, while another eliminates important passages and introduces ambiguities and diversions).

The Scholar's Edition contains crucial passages on the unworkability of the Nazi barter system, as well as important insights on monopoly theory, that were cut in later editions. Later editions also added some uncharacteristically favorable remarks about conscription that did not appear in the first edition. Only the original is a seamless whole, the most sustained and rigorous argument ever made for the free economy.

Even from a bookmaker's perspective, The Scholar's Edition is head and shoulders above the rest. Using extraordinary materials and the best of modern technology, combined with ancient standards of craftsmanship in the tradition of Oxford University's Clarendon Press, this magnificent work is produced for the ages. That's why it is:

• Printed on stunning pure white, acid-free Finch Fine 50 lb. paper;

• Carefully set in the classic, readable, and beautiful Jansen typeface, including a massive 1954 index prepared under Mises's supervision;

• Covered in spectacular dark azure Odyssey cloth from the Netherlands, the finest natural-finish, moisture-resistant book fabric in the world;

• Protected by a strong slipcase from the famous Old Dominion company, covered in matching Odyssey cloth and featuring old-fashioned thumb-cuts for easy handling;

• Secured by the finest caliper Binders Board;

• Graced with antique-stone endpapers from Ecologic Fibers;

• Casebound with the strongest Smyth-sewn signatures;

• Fitted at head and foot with silken endbands, thick wrapped for durability;

• Complimented with a double-faced satin ribbon place marker, and portrait of Mises;

• Stamped with brilliant, real non-tarnishing gold foil from Japan's Nakai International;

• Produced at R.R. Donnelly's famed Crawfordsville Bindery, where America's finest books are assembled.

All told, The Scholar's Edition looks exactly like the classic work it is, ready for a lifetime (or two) of use. The introduction, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Jeffrey Herbener, and Joseph Salerno—based on newly discovered archives—tells of the tragic and glorious history of this seminal work, and of its bright future as the manifesto of liberty.

Human Action: The Scholar's Edition is the foundation of every library of freedom. You will want a treasured copy in your collection. And if you want to send a copy as a glorious gift to a friend or family member, we'll wrap and box it appropriately at no charge, and enclose a card in your name. The price for this thousand-page masterpiece is $65. It is now available for preordering from our on-line book catalog. Click here to order.


Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.

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