How can politicians parade around in such abysmal ignorance of economic science? Look at what they say about gas prices, minimum wages, and housing mortgages, and you can’t but stare in disbelief.
It’s hardly a new development. No matter how far back you look, you find statesmen who imagine themselves to be so wonderful, powerful, and competent that they can subvert the laws of economics. Try as they might, they just can’t seem to bend those supply and demand curves to their liking.
The main job and highest calling of an economist, wrote Murray Rothbard, is to be a relentless pain in the neck to politicians, to constantly remind those in charge that there are forces operating in the world that are more powerful than their illusive dreams. Their legislation doesn’t achieve its stated aims, and often backfires to create the opposite effect.
What can we say about this job of an economist? Speaking truth to power is subversive. It is dangerous to those in power. It requires courage and commitment. It requires the willingness to take risks. It is also heroic because it helps protect the lives and property of people from the despotic plans of kings, presidents, legislatures, and judges.
Murray Rothbard set out to celebrate the advent of economic science and its practitioners, and their contribution to the progress of humanity. The result was a mighty treatise: An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought. It has been on Barron’s summer reading list three years in a row, and for a reason. It puts new life into the history of economic ideas, from the ancient to the modern world. The research is original, the prose fire hot, and the ideas revolutionary. No one else has tackled the subject in such a compelling way.
The insights in these volumes are countless. Every page, every paragraph, bursts with intellectual energy and the author’s fiery passion to tell the reader the remarkable story of economics. Many reviewers have remarked that Rothbard’s accomplishment seems super-human. He seems to have read everything. His originality is overwhelming. His passion for liberty and integrity in science is evident. His disdain toward those who sell out to the state is manifest as well.
Rothbard worked on these volumes in the ten years before his death in 1995. He also gave a series of lectures on his ongoing research. As a result, we all had very high expectations. But nothing could have prepared us for what eventually appeared. When they first appeared, the publisher priced them at $200+ and yet they still sold. Through a special arrangement, the Mises Institute is able to provide both volumes in gorgeous hardcover for $47.
Look no further than the reviews posted by readers on our site:
"Reading this book is like whizzing through history on that stupendous time machine, at far greater speeds than any mere white knuckle roller-coaster ride."
"Rothbard’s two-volume book is simply stupendous. And I haven’t even got to the second volume yet, where the good Professor sets up and then destroys Karl Marx and all the fools who ever followed him, including, alas, your humble former-socialist reviewer . God bless you, Murray Rothbard."