The Driver

Garet Garrett

Here is a treasure in the history of the pro-capitalist novel. Garet Garrett, author of The People’s Pottage, tells the story of an upstart Wall Street speculator financier, Henry Galt, a shadowy figure who stays out of the limelight as much as possible until he unleashes a plan that had been years in the marking: he uses his extraordinary entrepreneurial talent to acquire control of a failing railroad.

Through outstanding management sense, good pricing, excellent service, and overall business savvy, he out competes all the big names in the business, while making a fortune in the process. Garrett has a way of illustrating just what it takes to be a businessman of this sort, and how his mind alone becomes the source of a fantastic revenue stream.

But his successes breed trouble. The government conspires with envious competitors to regulate him using the Sherman Antitrust Act, calling him a monopolist who is exploiting the public.

This book tells the dramatic story of his success and his fight. A recurring literary motif through the book has people asking: “Who is Henry Galt?”

In one of many asides, this book contains one of the best explanations of the stupidity of “bi-metallism” that fixed the relationship between silver and gold. Indeed, the book is overall very sound on the money question, showing the inflationist populist movement of the late 19th century to be a pack of fools. Galt himself delivers some fantastic defenses of hard money and free markets, both in conversation and in front of the US Congress.

This book was written in 1922, and people in the know might detect some similarity here with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. She might have read it, or it might be a coincidence. In any case, the novel is brilliant and thrilling, one that provides an excellent lesson in how entrepreneurship works.

“The author, Garet Garrett (1878-1954), had the ability to make economic, financial, and management processes come alive in novel form,” writes Edward Younkins. “Not only is The Driver a novel of high finance and Wall Street methods, it also paints a portrait of an efficacious and visionary man who uses reason to focus his enthusiasm on reality in his efforts to attain his goals.”


The Driver by Garet Garrett
Meet the Author
Garet Garrett

Garet Garrett (1878–1954) was an American journalist and author who was noted for his critiques of the New Deal and US involvement in the Second World War.

Mises Daily Garet Garrett
There are many aspects of government. The one least considered is what may be called the biological aspect, in which government is like an organism with such an instinct for growth and self-expression that if let alone it is bound to destroy human freedom — not that it might wish to do so but that it could not in nature do less. No government ever wants less government — that is, less of itself. No government ever surrenders power, even its emergency powers — not really.
Mises Daily Garet Garrett
The work cumbersomely entitled, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, now commonly abbreviated as “The General Theory,” was published in 1936. Probably no other book has ever produced in so little time a comparable effect, writes Garet Garrett. It has tinctured, modified, and conditioned economic thinking in the whole world. Upon it has been founded a new economic church, completely furnished with all the properties proper to a church, such as a revelation of its own, a rigid doctrine, a symbolic language, a propaganda, a priestcraft, and a demonology. The revelation, although brilliantly written, was nevertheless obscure and hard to read, but where one might have expected this fact to hinder the spread of the doctrine, it had a contrary result and served the ends of publicity by giving rise to schools of exegesis and to controversies that were interminable because nothing could be settled. There was no existing state of society in which the theory could be either proved or disproved by demonstration — nor is there one yet.
Mises Daily Garet Garrett
One great discovers another: Garet Garrett reviews two books by Ludwig von Mises in this newly discovered essay from 1945. Garrett writes: Ludwig von Mises writes tragedy in the language of political economy. There is in man the very principle of frustration. Once, and perhaps for the first time, he did find the right way. Beginning with the optimistic social philosophy of 18th-century liberalism he discovered the solutions of the free market, free competition, free private enterprise — that is to say, capitalism — and how at the same time to put government in its place. After that he had only to go in a straight line toward a world of peace and unlimited plenty. For a while he did go in a straight line and there was the 19th century, in which political freedom and material well-being advanced together, inseparably and wonderfully. But the government, which he had put in its place, began to overtake him, offering to do him good and to help him on his way.
View Garet Garrett bio and works

NY: Dutton, 1922