Murray N. Rothbard has infuriated me! I learned exponentially more from this text than from every American history class I have ever taken and every history text book I was forced to purchase – combined. I paid $4 American (in 2014 dollars) for this collection on eBook. When compared to the several thousand I spent in college courses and American History text books, this has to be the greatest value ever. If Rothbard had only expanded his scope to include math, physical science, and engineering…well, I could have gotten my entire undergraduate education for less than $20. How dare he stick to the social sciences!
Seriously, Dr. Rothbard states in his preface that he set out to return the historical narrative to history, and he achieves his goal magnificently. Not only is his unique perspective integral in interpreting the events leading to the American Revolution, but he returns the “who, what, when, and where” back to history (and it’s his perspective that is so integral in clarifying the “why”). My introduction was no exaggeration, and I can honestly say I learned more facts of history from this text that any course I have ever taken. I must admit my knowledge of colonial American history was pretty poor to begin with, but I was astonished at how much I learned about the American Revolution (a period of which I though I was much more versed).
Further, his “Liberty versus Power” perspective provides for ultimate clarity when determining the motivations behind colonial & revolutionary period events. Many of the mythical figures of the revolution lose their sainthood Conceived in Liberty (... Check Amazon for Pricing. when checked through the prism of Rothbard’s perspective. To say the least, Ben Franklin and Murray probably don’t enjoy each others company at the Thursday night card game in the afterlife, as he shows Franklin to have been quite the opportunist – happy to take his turn at the public trough to enjoy the political largesse, and certainly no radical friend of liberty. Another spoiler, George Washington was NOT a military genius (I’ll give you a minute to catch your breath.), … but Rothbard’s keen insight is not reserved for the moderates and conservatives, either, as he is just as forthright concerning Jefferson, Henry, and the typically more libertarian forefathers. More importantly, I learned many new figures of American (and British) history, and their importance to the struggle for liberty. As one example, I knew of Ethan Allen before this book, but Murray’s coverage of Allen’s struggles against the State of New York in protecting the lands of his Green Mountain community was new to me. That Allen managed to help protect the lands of the settlers in the region from feudal New York oligarchs attempting to confiscate their property, without ever killing a single person in the struggle, is nothing short of astonishing.
This is a rather voluminous work, and he does get mired in meticulous descriptions in an effort to be as thorough as possible (in his goal of getting the who, what, when, where back in history), but overall well worth it. Beyond this, his economic genius allows him to understand the ramifications of policy that would escape traditional historians. For $4 you can’t go wrong, and to be honest it would be well worth much more to own this set in hardcover.
Reprinted from Amazon.com.
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