Veteran readers of Laissez Faire Books knew Roy A. Childs, Jr. very well. From 1984 until his death in 1992, Roy was Laissez Faire Books: he was its editor, chief reviewer, and overall animating spirit. To thousands of readers all over the world, Roy's passing meant the stilling of a unique and much-admired voice.
But some of Roy's fans may be unaware of his earlier career as a libertarian writer and lecturer, or of the immense influence his essays and talks exercised on the libertarian movement. Now Joan Kennedy Taylor has made available to us, and to future generations, the best of Roy's written thought. This is a true labor of love—Joan was Roy's dearest friend—but it is also a work of scholarship. Roy's many devoted friends, as well as libertarians everywhere, are indebted to Joan for her many months of conscientious editorial work.
Liberty Against Power consists of nineteen of Roy's essays. They range in time from an attack on the draft written when Roy was in his late-teens, to the prelude to an unfinished "refutation" of anarcho-capitalism composed in his last years.
The theoretical essays—on libertarianism and its traditions, on authentic capitalism, on civil liberties as property rights, and on behalf of the totally voluntary society as against Ayn Rand and Robert Nozick—are powerful polemics. Other essays deal with more specific topics on which Roy was a recognized libertarian authority, such as aspects of U.S. foreign policy and the war on drugs. Ayn Rand's death in 1982 furnished the occasion for a thoughtful analysis of her enduring legacy and her place in the libertarian movement, perennial concerns of Roy's. The editor has appropriately included pieces on music—Roy's great love—and on a couple of his favorite authors. Like all the essays in this exciting book, they brim with what Joan Kennedy Taylor rightly calls Roy's "unquenchable enthusiasm." The volume is accompanied by a perceptive preface by another of Roy's friends, Dr. Thomas Szasz, and an informative introduction by the editor, sketching Roy's life and career.
Liberty Against Power is a fitting memorial to a great libertarian and a great man. In its pages you will hear Roy's voice. Whether you knew him in the flesh or not, listening to Roy speak out in the cause of liberty will be an illuminating, moving, and ever-fresh experience. To use one of Roy's favorite reviewer-expressions: This book sizzles.
— Ralph Raico
"Roy was a kind, loving, generous and benevolent man. He was gifted intellectually to a very high degree... I cannot think of him without warmth and affection."
— Nathaniel Branden
"Roy always reminded me of the great 19th century journalist-writers, a kind of combination of Walt Whitman and William Leggett: a self-taught man with a huge appetite for life, for experience, for art, for truth, for the well-turned phrase and the polemical thrust."
— David Kelley
"Roy desperately, passionately wanted the forces of freedom and liberty to prevail... He had a soul of pure gold and we shall miss him dearly."
"Though I seldom saw Roy, I often communicated with him, always to my benefit. He was a rare human being whose contribution to our common cause will be greatly missed."
— Milton Friedman
"Roy was not like us. He valued neither health nor wealth. Roy loved liberty like a lover loves his beloved. The lover finds happiness in loving rather than in being loved. Roy found happiness in loving liberty. It was not possible to love liberty, to know Roy, and to not love him."
— Thomas S. Szasz
Copyright © 2000, The Daily Objectivist - Reprinted with permission of The Daily Objectivist and Davidmbrown.com.
8 Dec 2008