Murray Rothbard (1926-1995) earned the antagonism of Ayn Rand and other Objectivists for his anarchism as well as other aspects of his libertarian thought. Some of those criticisms have been just and some have been unjust. In any case, his many massive contributions to the cause of individual liberty—his treatise on economics, Man, Economy, and State earned a qualified thumbs up from none other than Ludwig von Mises—extend far beyond any problematic assertions of political theory, as the recent republication of his four-volume monumental study of early American history should remind us.
"Against those on the right who see the American Revolution as a 'conservative' event, and those on the left who want to invoke it as some sort of proto-socialist uprising, Rothbard views this period as a time of accelerating libertarian radicalism," notes the new publisher of the series, the Mises Institute. "Through this prism, Rothbard illuminates events as never before. The volumes were brought out in the 1970s, but the odd timing and uneven distribution prevented any kind of large audience. They were beloved only by a few specialists, and sought after by many thanks to their outstanding reputation. The Mises Institute is pleased to be the publisher of the newly available set."
Jim Powell, in a review for Laissez Faire Books, adds: "Many hardships experienced in colonial America, Rothbard shows, were due to common property and government interference. He explains the failure of price controls and the failure of government efforts to subsidize fishing. He tells how taxes and restrictions crippled business enterprise. He exposes government officials who seized the property of peaceful people and tried to conquer other colonies."
"Rothbard exults in chronicling the exploits of libertarian heroes and heroines like Roger Williams (in his early years) Anne Hutchinson, Samuel Adams, and Thomas Paine. Rothbard hails courageous slaves who revolted and escaped from their masters....Talking about how private companies promoted settlement in America, he writes that 'the cleansing acid of profits was to dissolve incipient feudalism and land monopoly.'"
"These volumes will probably give you more pleasure than anything else written about American history. They are just delightful. Highly recommended."
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22 May 2009