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Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movementby Brian Doherty
Synopses & Reviews
On Wall Street, in the culture of high tech, in American government: Libertarianism—the simple but radical idea that the only purpose of government is to protect its citizens and their property against direct violence and threat— has become an extremely influential strain of thought. But while many books talk about libertarian ideas, none until now has explored the history of this uniquely American movement—where and who it came from, how it evolved, and what impact it has had on our country.
In this revelatory book, based on original research and interviews with more than 100 key sources, Brian Doherty traces the evolution of the movement through the unconventional life stories of its most influential leaders— Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, and Milton Friedman—and through the personal battles, character flaws, love affairs, and historical events that altered its course. And by doing so, he provides a fascinating new perspective on American history—from the New Deal through the culture wars of the 1960s to today's most divisive political issues. Neither an exposé nor a political polemic, this entertaining historical narrative will enlighten anyone interested in American politics.
"Modern libertarians see themselves as the loyal opposition to the totalitarian tendencies of centralized power, in an American tradition reaching back to the anti-Federalists. Doherty's astute history shows where that consensus comes from and where it fractures along personal, political and practical lines. As a procapitalist and antistatist philosophy, libertarianism has had its greatest impact in economics. But Doherty shows that modern libertarianism since the 1940s, and increasingly since the 1980s, has been politically and ideologically influential, too. Whether believers in a small state regulating only contracts and national defense, or no state at all (like self-described "anarcho-capitalist" Murray Rothbard), libertarians have rooted themselves in a number of institutions — from schools, publications and think tanks to the Libertarian Party, the country's third-largest ticket. Reason magazine senior editor Doherty conveys an insider's understanding in clear, confident prose. However, his sympathies resist questioning the fundamental assumption uniting diverse ideas, personalities and institutions: the belief in the power of completely unfettered markets to bring about the best possible society. Though partisan and sometimes hagiographic, Doherty's well-researched history avoids polemics in outlining a vital political orientation that cuts across the political spectrum." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This illuminating, lively history of an influential political movement—told through the life stories of its standard bearers— casts new light on the intellectual and political history of postwar America
In this revelatory book, based on original research and interviews with more than 100 key sources, Doherty traces the evolution of the Libertarian movement through the unconventional life stories of its most influential leaders to provide a fascinating new perspective on American history.
About the Author
Brian Doherty is a senior editor at Reason magazine. His articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in dozens of magazines, newspapers, and books, including the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, and The Weekly Standard. He is also the author of This is Burning Man: The Rise of a New American Underground. He lives in Los Angeles.
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