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What are your top-ten favorite liberty-oriented novels?

My personal list:
1. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
2. The Iron Web, by Larken Rose
3. Kings of the High Frontier, by Victor Koman
4. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein
5. Unintended Consequences, by John Ross
6. The Black Arrow, by Vin Suprinowicz
7. Island, by Thomas Perry
8. Pallas, by L. Neil Smith
9. Alongside Night, by J. Neil Schulman
10.The Great Explosion, by Eric Frank Russell

I'm not claiming that these are the 10 best liberty-oriented novels ever written -- just the best I've read, according to my own idiosyncratic tastes. Now let's see YOUR lists.

Update: Thanks to rmcc4444, for suggesting that this be known as The Iron Web / thread. If any of you have read Larken Rose's book, you'll see a neat double meaning in that. If you haven't -- do.

And here's my SECOND list of ten runners-up:

11. Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
12. The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson
13. The Survival of Freedom, (anthology of short stories) ed. by Jerry Pournelle and John Carr
14. Forge of the Elders, by L.Neil Smith
15. The Third Revolution, by Anthony F. Lewis
16. The LaNague Chronicles, by F. Paul Wilson (omnibus containing three novels: "An Enemy of the State," "Wheels Within Wheels," and "Healer")
17. The Education of Little Tree, by Forrest Carter
18. Infinity Hold, by Barry Longyear
19. The Rainbow Cadenza, by J. Neil Schulman
20. The Truth, by Terry Pratchett

I left off a few favorites that have already been named by other posters. (The Fountainhead, Molon Labe!, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and We the Living).

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Batman/Bruce Wayne is the

Batman/Bruce Wayne is the ultimate individual working to right the problems created by the state's inability to perform it's primary reason for existence, and by doing so forges a legend to lead people towards a new society, even if it means giving up Batman to do it.

Superman is corrupted by his own power and naivete into equating America the people with America the government and hence is a stooge for the fascist military/industrial complex.

If that's not a Rothbardian interpretation of the Superman/Batman dynamic, I don't know what is.

BTW, it took me a long time to figure out what I hated about Watchmen, even though I respect it as a narrative, I've come to despise it's unrealistic conflict. The resolution to the story is unsatisfying b/c his conflict is bogus. History vindicates this analysis b/c 2 years after Watchmen #12 was published the Soviet Union fell, thereby negating the infinitely aggressive relationship between the US and USSR which Ozymandias used as cover for his mass-murder scheme.

Economic law will always trump ideology... in the long run. Always. That's the fatal flaw in Moore's text and it renders his conflict moot and therefore the whole story is nothing more than an ego trip for Adrian/Ozymandias/Moore. Alan's Moore's carefully crafted No-Win-Scenario is nothing more than sophomoric masturbation. Rothbard would have laughed in his face.


Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under. -- H.L. Mencken

Blog: The Present in Plain Text
Listen to The Myo-Tonics on YouTube

In the long run. . .

I think Moore got that, but you may have missed it. Check out the final scene between Jon and Adrian. Adrian asks, "... I did the right thing, didn't I? It all worked out in the end." And Jon replies: "In the end? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing EVER ends." The Watchmen aren't gods; they have trouble running their own lives; clearly they aren't competent to run other people's lives. Adrian's grandiose plans end up killing millions of people. And does Adrian actually succeed in ending the possibility of nuclear war? "Nothing ever ends." The libertarian themes are there, more covertly than overtly. I liked the book, but it's nowhere near my top 10.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Oh, I didn't miss that

Oh, I didn't miss that conversation between John and Adrian. But, that is really nothing more than Adrian, who's sole purpose in life was to become and best the God that John actually was, asking God for forgiveness for the things he's done. "Nothing EVER ends," is John's only way of dispelling Adrian's hubris. He doesn't get that the means don't justify the ends. He is not John's equal for John can see the greatness in all things by virtue of their uniqueness.

That is overshadowed by the fact that Rorschach is killed by John to conceal everything because the fundamental view of humanity of Alan Moore is exactly as I described it earlier... needing to be governed by their betters, to stupid to handle the truth. Otherwise, he would have chosen a different conclusion to his story.

Someone with such a poor opinion of human beings cannot possibly believe they should be left alone to their own devices to figure out how to improve themselves. Like I said, a Marxist.


Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under. -- H.L. Mencken

Blog: The Present in Plain Text
Listen to The Myo-Tonics on YouTube

Excellent argument.

But I've got a different slant.
1. Jon is not petty -- or human -- enough to be annoyed by Adrian's hubris, let alone to LIE to put him down. I think he was just telling the truth.
2. I agree with you that Jon killing Rorschach shows that Moore has a dim view of human ability to handle the truth (is he wrong?) but NOT that Moore believes humans need to be governed by their betters. WHAT betters? He is an anarchist, perhaps by default: there ARE NO betters. Just us humans, each one of us the world's foremost expert on what each one of us needs and wants. That, in the end, is the message I took away from the book. It all comes down to the old Latin saying from which Moore took his title: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" -- Who will watch the watchmen? Who can be trusted with power? And Moore's answer is: no one. That is not, I submit, a Marxist answer.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Haha I can see that in Dark

Haha I can see that in Dark Knight for sure. Miller made Batman into a "Che Guevara" style revolutionary, brilliant!

I didn't really like Watchmen either, I thought it was very, very overrated. The movie was better than the novel, IMO.

Ventura 2012

Thanks for posting. Adding to

Thanks for posting. Adding to my reading list.

One of my all-time favorites is First Blood (Rambo). I'm not sure how liberty-themed it is compared to the others that you've listed.

The Audacity of Hope:

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama

Columbus, Ohio


Fiction. Don't know how liberty-oriented it is, tho. Maybe the same way 1984 is liberty-oriented.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

;-) The Part About Audacity Is True Enough.

Actually, the part about Barry's authorship is apparently fictitious ...



[ ... very interesting stuff here if you like crime/detective series ]

... and we know the predictable plot -- contrived climax, formulaic falling action, and bogus face down denouement -- even the tragic-comedy protagonist/antagonist himself -- ........ HOPELESS.

The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand


Thomas Jefferson: “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."

Viva La Revolucion!

Oh I Forgot

My Novel, "The Case Adventures of Sam Cohen, J.D." should also be on the list.

Can't Understand Why

"The Auctioneer" by Joan Samson is not on this list.

Because it's MY list, silly.

Let's see yours. You've recommended two that I've never even heard of, and both look like they're worth reading. MORE, please?

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Garet Garret's economic novels

I haven't read any yet myself but the Mises Institue has published a number of his novels online for free viewing. I hear he was a popular writer during his time.

Who is Garet Garrett by Jeffrey Tucker

The Driver

"...the story of an upstart Wall Street speculator financier, Henry Galt, a shadowy figure who stays out of the limelight as much as possible until he unleashes a plan that had been years in the marking: he uses his extraordinary entrepreneurial talent to acquire control of a failing railroad.

Through outstanding management sense, good pricing, excellent service, and overall business savvy, he out competes all the big names in the business, while making a fortune in the process. Garrett has a way of illustrating just what it takes to be a businessman of this sort, and how his mind alone becomes the source of a fantastic revenue stream."

The Cinder Buggy

"It covers the period between 1820 and 1870 and its dramatic technology march. The plot concerns an ongoing war between two industrialists, one the hero who is beaten in the first generation and the other who is malevolent but initially wins a first round in the competitive drive. The struggle continues through the second generation, which leads to a titanic battle over whether steel or iron would triumph and why."

"There has never been, before or since, economic fiction that can compare with the super-high quality standards set by Garrett in these smashing novels. The Cinder Buggy could easily be considered the best of his work in this area. It is a wonderful novel for anyone who loves, or wants to more deeply understand, American history, economic theory, and the place of technology in the molding of society.

But his successes breed trouble. The government conspires with envious competitors to regulate him using the Sherman Antitrust Act, calling him a monopolist who is exploiting the public.

This book tells the dramatic story of his success and his fight. A reoccurring literary motif through the book has people asking: "Who is Henry Galt?"

Harangue (The Trees Said to the Bramble Come Reign Over Us)

Who is Henry Galt? ;)

Excellent novel. I look forward to the other two. Thanks for reminding me to get to them. :)

just read Atlas Shrugged for

just read Atlas Shrugged for the first time. One of my new favorite books:) thread bookmarked for later.

Good books are good books

Moby Dick and Confessions of St. Augustine are my two favorite books.
I don't care if they are liberty propaganda or not...

But to play along, the Grand Inquisitor chapter is a must from The Brothers Karamazov.

Check out http://iroots.org/
"If you’re into political activism, at least for Ron Paul if not for anyone else, I strongly recommend spending some time with iroots.org." - Tom Woods

Liberty propaganda?

"Good books are good books" means what, exactly? Good by what standard and good for what purpose? I started this thread to identify books which are both entertaining, and inspiring in their love of liberty. Do books somehow become illegitimate if they have a meaningful theme? What is with this "liberty propaganda" sneer?

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Confessions by St. Augustine

Confessions by St. Augustine had a profound impact on me. I would highly recommend to anyone who makes room (or wants to make room) for genuine discernment in his or her life.

Know your stuff, learn real history and economics @LibertyClassroom.com

Intersting topic but

really, if Atlas Shrugged is the best of the lot, not sure how many of these most folks are going to read.

So help make it more interesting.

I'm not claiming to have discovered the 10 best liberty-oriented novels in the world -- just listing my 10 personal favorites. Let's see YOUR list. That's really the point of this topic: let's see some more suggestions!

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Do Cliff Notes Count ?

I'm cheating because many of the choices already listed are, of course, at the top of my list ... so I'll list a few more including some that many might not categorize as Liberty Novels ... but ... perhaps, in part the way my mind diverges ... in part, perhaps the moment I read the novel -- they were for me
Liberty inspirations. If the topic included plays, the list would be unwieldy. ;-)

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, by Milan Kundera

The Feast Of The Goat, by Mario Vargas Llosa

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo.

We The Living, by Ayn Rand

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe

Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

All the King's Men , by Robert Penn Warren

Crime And Punishment, & The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Some of my favorites

Thanks for this thread. Libertarian literature isn't even a recognized genre - more's the pity - but there are some real gems out there. I also appreciate seeing the recommendations of others. I would add these fine science fiction selections:

The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith
(An engaging primer on libertarian thought and based here in my beautiful Colorado. Any book by L. Neil Smith is going to have a strong libertarian theme so I'll put in a general plug for any of his work.)

Freehold by Michael Z. Williamson
(Excellent book and very engaging, recently written, highly recommended. I've lent out my copy to some devout liberals and actually got them to admit it was thought provoking. Highest praise.)

Farnham's Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein
(In addition to a strong libertarian theme, it's a very practical primer on survival preparation. Again I would like to put in a general plug for any of Robert Heinlein's work. He's my favorite writer and has provided inspiration for me since the age of 13.)

Red Thunder by John Varley
(Not overtly libertarian, but strongly promotes the idea of individual actions being more effective than government actions - a good read.)

Slightly off the topic of this thread, but worth adding (imho) is the television series Firefly. Fox stupidly canceled it after only 11 episodes, but it had a very strong libertarian, anti-central authority theme.

All good reads

But I've got a major problem with Williamson's "Freehold": his supposedly libertarian heroes end up dropping rocks on earth from space, wiping out innocent millions. That's not acceptable, not libertarian -- it's freaking criminal.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

In defense of Williamson's Freehold

I was actually thinking more about the society he paints on the planet Grainne (Freehold) than the military conflict. Excellently thought out and details how many of the societal functions most "right-thinking" folks think only the gummit can do - can be better accomplished within a free market.

However, to address your indictment of the book, the (very libertarian) fighters in the conflict with the Earth forces only did what they did after their home world was attacked. Earth preemptively attacked the planet Grainne, trying to bring them "into the fold" of their soul-killing socialism. It could easily be argued that the Freehold Military Forces were acting in self-defense. How might you feel if some foreign force came in and started murdering and raping the folks from your home town? A very timely book.

Thanks for your comment.

You bought into Williamson's collectivist thinking.

"Earth" didn't attack Grainne -- its government did. Mass-murdering civilians who are equally the victims of their tyrannical government is not an appropriate response.

Eighteen Egyptians and a Saudi supposedly brought down the World Trade Center & hit the Pentagon. I guess we should have dropped nukes on Egypt and Saudi Arabia in response? If not, why? Ron Paul got it right (where Williamson did not) when he suggested issuing letters of marque and reprisal against the individuals involved in the 9-11 attack.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Perhaps we can agree to disagree

I'm not sure I follow your analogy (Egypt & Saudi Arabia) in comparing it to the situation in Freehold. In fact, I agree regarding Dr. Paul's suggested response regarding letters of marque. Should this have been the methodology Freehold should've have used?

Their decision to attack non-military targets in their conflict may seem very harsh, but was it unjustified, considering their enemy was, in fact, doing the exact same thing against them?

Making a distinction between the government of Earth and its constituents in this context is false. However uninformed and "innocent" those citizens were, their government used the political power it received from those people (votes) to conduct that war.

Question: Aren't the people who support a government complicit in that government's actions - however misguided and manipulated that support is?

We may be shocked by Grainne's decision (I was too). We may say that it isn't, strictly speaking, by the Libertarian Rule Book (perhaps so). But that
novel evoked great emotion in me - from genuine inspiration to the shock I just mentioned. This is the very definition of good art and I stand by my recommendation. Some links below.

Wikipedia article about the book.

As an aside, let me say that I'm enjoying our debate here. No hard feelings at all - just a good honest debate. Thanks again.

You've got some good questions

Hope I've got good answers for them.
1.the Egyptian analogy: I'm saying that people are individuals, each responsible for his own actions -- and only his own actions. Punishing innocent parties of ANY nationality is NEVER justified, even if you call it "war." And it doesn't matter if Earth targeted civilians on Graine; if you killed my mother, am I morally justified in killing yours? Clearly not; I'm only justified in killing YOU.
2. Governments do not get their power from votes. They get it from guns, and the threat that the guns will be used on their citizenry whenever the government's (arbitrary, tyrannical) rules are not followed. Voting is a merely a pacifier to persuade the slaves that they are free because they get to vote for their own slavemaster. It's true that some people do support "their" government willingly and enthusiastically. And should their enthusiasm lead them to serve in the government's military, they fully deserve the consequences, however violent and unpleasant. But unless ALL individuals in a nation unanimously support their government in some issue, then there can be no validity to the concept of "national guilt," and no justification for punishing all inhabitants of a country.
3. Yes, people who support a government are complicit in its crimes. But merely paying taxes (extorted under threat of imprisonment or worse) does not constitute "support." Only willing, voluntary support counts. If you pay protection money to the Mafia, you do not necessarily "support" the Mafia and should not be held accountable for its crimes. (And that's not even an analogy: the government IS a mafia.)
4. I don't deny that Freehold is "good art." I enjoyed it, myself. But it's not a book I would give to a friend, hoping to show him the virtues of libertarianism. The novel's resolution means: collective punishment is sometimes justified -- and individualism counts for nothing, in the face of any "group need." Its theme is ultimately collectivist, not individualist.
5. I'm not mad at you. I enjoy this kind of argument, and I like your taste in books, too.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose


Social Statics, Herbert Spencer

Gun Control and Gun Rights, ed. McClurg, Kopel, and Denning

Dangerous Thoughts, Yuri Orlov

The Waning of the Middle Ages, Johan Huizinga

The Origins of Reasonable Doubt: Theological Roots of the Criminal Trial, James Q. Whitman


Novels to add...

to your list could be "Marcus Tullius Cicero And The Rome He Tried To Save"..."The Shoes Of The Fisherman" by Taylor Caldwell..."Aesops Fables" by ???

He who sells what isn't his'n, buys it back, or goes to prison!!!...-whzh-