Books / Digital Text

Shawn Ritenour and Tom Woods discuss The Mises Reader here.

The Mises Reader Unabridged edition can be found here.

From the Introduction by Shawn Ritenour ...

During my time in college, while I was still working through Human Action, I sought out other more accessible books by Mises. This was years before the advent of the internet and I had to turn to that ancient institution called the library and I discovered that our college library had a collection of shorter essays by Mises published by Libertarian Press in a collection entitled Planning for Freedom and Sixteen Other Essays. This book proved to be a more accessible introduction to Mises’s thought. I began reading it during my free time and did not stop until I had come to the end. Planning for Freedom turned out to be the first book by Mises that I read completely. As I read, I began to put together an economic and political philosophy that revolved around private property. It was the writings of Mises that provided me the intellectual foundation to evaluate and integrate what I was being taught in school. Looking back on those years, I have grown to appreciate the wisdom expressed in the sentiment by Mark Thornton that one of the best ways to become introduced to the work of Ludwig von Mises is through some of his shorter, more popular works. While sacrificing nothing in the way of sound economic theory, they are more accessible and in any event are not as intimidating as Mises’s 881-page magnum opus.

In The Mises Reader, I have sought to bring you the best of both worlds. An attempt has been made to acquaint the reader with the broad spectrum of Mises’s ideas and analyses in a way that is more accessible and less daunting. The selections include, therefore, several shorter, more popular works side-by-side with excerpts from longer, more scholarly and technically difficult works. It is my hope that this book will provide a user-friendly gateway into the brilliance of Mises, because we desperately need his wisdom as much now as in any other time in our history.

The work of Ludwig von Mises is an important guide for thoughtful citizens because he strongly, yet matter-of-factly sets forth economics as the pursuit of truth. Not the truth of the passing fancy, nor the so-called “small t-truth” that is always in danger of being refuted by the latest bit of empirical data; but economic truth that will stand for all ages. Misesian economic theory is a triumphant response to the epistemological relativism of today because it is economics developed in light of reality.

Upon reading the works of Mises, one is immediately set forth on the right road, because Mises begins where economics must begin — human action. All of his economic theorems and corollaries are deduced from the non-controversial axiom that people engage in purposeful behavior. This immediately sets his theories on intellectual bedrock. ...

Ludwig von Mises truly was an intellectual giant among men and, as Murray Rothbard saw, his thought and causal-realist framework is the best alternative to the economic paradigm of our age. In the contemporary fog of the modern academy, Mises serves as a lighthouse, warning unsuspecting students of the perils of bad economics and statist economic policies, while illuminating students to the principles of the free society.

The Mises Reader is intended to give a taste of the many facets of Mises’s thought in a way that accessibly communicates most of his key contributions to the social sciences. It therefore includes excerpts from his larger and more technically demanding works side-by-side with shorter, more introductory articles and lectures. The finished product is sort of an intelligent person’s guide to the work of Ludwig von Mises. It is especially suitable for those with an interest in Mises, but find jumping right into Human Action, Socialism, or The Theory of Money and Credit rather daunting. The hope is to give the reader a survey of Mises’s insights in a format that nourishes his intellectual soul, while also whetting the appetite for his larger corpus of work. Those ready to dive into deeper Misesian waters are encouraged to pick up The Mises Reader Unabridged which contains all of the material in The Mises Reader plus over 125 pages of additional material, primarily from his more scholarly works. It is hoped that together these two volumes will foster a rising generation of citizens more thoroughly acquainted with sound economics and the principles of the free society. ...

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