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What books/authors should I read to best understand Liberty?

Hi, everyone. I've been very grateful for how much I've learned from Dr. Paul and all of you here about the arguments and philosophies behind the Liberty movement, and various ways to think about the issues of the day. I've realized, though, that I still have huge gaps in my understanding of the main libertarian thinkers of the past; and I've decided that I would like to fill these in with a lot of reading this spring/summer, and beyond. I hear these names like Rothbard and Hayek and such bandied about here, but I have only a vague idea really about the details of what these people wrote about. Of course, I know a little about Ayn Rand, but still not enough, to be sure.

So I wanted to ask you all what you would recommend as 'must-read' material for getting up to speed on what I should know about such things. Which books and authors are in your top ten (or so) list? Where should I start?

Thanks in advance for the help! :)

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The great liberty

The great liberty philosophers are all very good. But what can a free person accomplish? Is there a life lived well in freedom we can learn from? Try "The Wild Wheel" by Garrett - an insiders bio on Henry Ford. You will not believe what was really going on behind closed doors.

what was going on?

what was going on?

An interviewer once asked Ron

An interviewer once asked Ron what one book he would recommend. He said The Law by Bastiat. Here it is for free http://mises.org/books/thelaw.pdf

Two magnificent books, free in .PDF format!

For a New Liberty by Murray Rothbard: http://mises.org/rothbard/foranewlb.pdf

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt: http://mises.org/books/economics_in_one_lesson_hazlitt.pdf

Check out the Laissez-Faire Journal at LFJournal.com

"The State is a gang of thieves writ large." - Murray Rothbard

Will add...

...to my list. Thanks so much to you and everyone below for your input.

These two.

Hands down. Without question.

This is what you're after.


These are the two that will bring the quickest understanding of liberty.

Check out the Laissez-Faire Journal at LFJournal.com

"The State is a gang of thieves writ large." - Murray Rothbard

Here's a top ten post with a good thread too

Also Murray Rothbard-For a New Liberty
The libertarian Manefesto

Please subscribe to smaulgld.com


...for the link :). Will have a busy spring and summer of reading with all the recommendations.

Google up

the Online Library of Liberty. It's huge and it's free!

Googled and...

...bookmarked. Free is nice. :) Thanks.


The Most Dangerous Superstition (mentioned below) would definitely be on my list. That might be the most important for clarity in the present distress.

Here are some that I didn't notice below:

(a) Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer
(b) Boston's Gun Bible by Kenneth Royce
(c) Hologram of Liberty by Kenneth Royce
(d) The Art of Seeing by Alduous Huxley
(e) The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry
(f) What Are People For? by Wendell Berry
(g) Life is a Miracle by Wendell Berry

Of course, A Foreign Policy of Freedom is inspiring when you have the time.

Thank you...

...for those other intriguing titles. I have a feeling I will need to build another bookshelf. :)

Most Comprehensive


That is a small book, a must read if the idea is to know how equitable commerce works in principle. Think about it some, what is wrong with human interaction if not the introduction of crime into the transfers of trade which render trade to be inequitable? This book destroys all claims about legal money supremacy as the obvious genuine Free Market consists of no punishment by color of law banishing any money competition whatsoever.


That is one of many supporting documents concerning the validity of the Equitable Commerce discoveries, inventions, and use.


That further explains how Equitable Commerce predates both socialism and capitalism as their common roots before both memes went the way of crime made legal.


Where Equitable Commerce does not answer the crime question other than to avoid it completely, this work by Lysander Spooner shows how individuals can band together in groups of 12 and issue judgments concerning which citizens are guilty and what punishments, if any, are necessary to instruct citizens as to which behavior is tolerable, and which is not, and there is insight here on the necessities of defense against large bands of criminals.


That supports further the precise concepts of individual, scientific, rational, rule of law, by way of contrast with false authority.


Lysander Spooner again offers the most competitive scientific explanation of just what is justice, which contrasts starkly when placed side by side with any counterfeit versions.


That book blows The Constitution completely out of the water, as a Usurpation of Liberty, as attendees of the "National" Convention or Con Con (Confidence Scheme) blew the whistle on the crime in progress, despite a Legal Gag Order placed upon them. The following supporting books provide the necessary evidence proving the guilt of those like Hamilton who were Despots hiding behind a False Front they called Federalism, when in fact they were Legal Money Monopolists, Monarchs, Nationalists, and merely criminals seeking badges to cover their crimes, and perpetuate their crimes.


That proves the case whereby a Free Market Government Experiment worked during the time period between 1776 and 1788, so as to remove much doubt, or all doubt, concerning the validity of a Democratic Federated Republic experimental government of Several (then 13) Sovereign States Voluntarily creating a Voluntary Union or Confederation, where each State is a single Constitutionally limited Nation, and the Union is Voluntary. If you don't read that book you will be missing a huge part of the history lesson that counts.


The combination of Shays's Rebellion in stark contrast with The Whiskey Rebellion cannot be understood without understanding the battles the went on between The Nationalists who worked to remove the Independent Spirit of Individuals, remove the Independent Spirit of Constitutionally Limited Competitive State governments, and their Independent Spirited Targets who were falsely labeled as Anti-Federalists. In that book you find voices of people who speak their minds as to why they wanted a Voluntary Union or Confederation, and why they did not want a Single Monopoly Dictatorship as was proposed by The Hamiltonian Frauds who were really Monarchists and who were really not Federalists.


That book starkly contrasts how a Confederated Congress under The Articles of Confederation deal with inter-state slave revolts, whereby a State may become Despotic and the slaves may be forced to run to a less Despotic State within the Voluntary Union, such as the Shays's Rebellion example exemplifies, and contrasted with that is how a Nation State Monopoly Legal Money Power deals with "the competition", as an order is given by the Dictator to "crush so fatal a spirit" as The Spirit of Liberty.


That leaves little room left for doubt as to which side The False Federalist George Washington was actually on.


That leaves almost no room as to which side Generalissimo Washington was truly on.


That amply proves the case against the Usurpation by the False Federalists as those Nationalists calling themselves Federalists worked to get their Money Monopoly POWER forced upon their victims despite the very good advice offered by very able Representatives of True Liberty, such as George Mason and Patrick Henry.


That effort helps the reader understand clearly the battle between Crime made Legal (Despotism) and Free Market Government (Liberty) as the criminal side (false authorities) clearly draw the demarcation line, and all the warnings by the Sons of Liberty such as Thomas Paine, Daniel Shays, George Mason, and Patrick Henry warned.

Here is a quote from that book to illustrate the point:

Second, federalism permits the states to operate as laboratories of democracy-to experiment with various policies and Programs. For example, if Tennessee wanted to provide a state-run health system for its citizens, the other 49 states could observe the effects of this venture on Tennessee's economy, the quality of care provided, and the overall cost of health care. If the plan proved to be efficacious other states might choose to emulate it, or adopt a plan taking into account any problems surfacing in Tennessee. If the plan proved to be a disastrous intervention, the other 49 could decide to leave the provision of medical care to the private sector. With national plans and programs, the national officials simply roll the dice for all 284 million people of the United States and hope they get things right.

Experimentation in policymaking also encourages a healthy competition among units of government and allows the people to vote with their feet should they find a law of policy detrimental to their interests. Using again the state-run health system as an example, if a citizen of Tennessee was unhappy with Tennessee's meddling with the provisions of health care, the citizen could move to a neighboring state. Reallocation to a state like North Carolina, with a similar culture and climate, would not be a dramatic shift and would be a viable option. Moreover, if enough citizens exercised this option, Tennessee would be pressured to abandon its foray into socialized medicine, or else lose much of its tax base. To escape a national health system, a citizen would have to emigrate to a foreign country, an option far less appealing and less likely to be exercised than moving to a neighboring state. Without competition from other units of government,the national government would have much less incentive than Tennessee would to modify the objectionable policy. Clearly, the absence of experimentation and competition hampers the creation of effective programs and makes the modification of failed national programs less likely.

The best contrast may be shown, again, by the examples provided by Shays's Rebellion under Free Market Government (The Articles of Confederation) and The Whiskey Rebellion under Despotism (The Constitution "of no authority").


That declares that individuals possess a self-evident duty to fight against criminals running criminal governments.


To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

That leads to this:

Section 4.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

That is this:


Generalismo Washington was a bill collector, hired by the Money Changers like Hamilton and his ilk.


This is a warning:

Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.


That is another warning. In that book the concept of how we are moving in evil ways is explained and accounted for in ways that help an individual understand both the problem and the remedy.


That can offer a general understanding of how competitive remedies work.


That adds to the general understandings offered by Fromm


That brings the reader up to speed in modern times as power is definitely shifting away from individual dictators (criminal gangs with badges) to individual competitors in Liberty. A very good study is the work being done by one of the people who started Pay Pal, the person Elon Musk, who is now making the best automobiles in the world out of the State of California, and he is also supplying the U.S. Space Program with rockets.


If people continue to invest their hard earned, honest, power (purchasing power) into DESPOTISM, then that book can let them now exactly what they are paying to get: soon enough.



...you've given me tons to chew on there, Josf. I appreciate it. :)




Inculpatory evidence exposing the Legal Criminals is gaining currency.

Have you ever wondered why some words are not recognized by standard spell checking software?

Type Inculpatory and ectropy.

If the word does not exist, then the thing labeled by the word does not exist?

Liberty is still recognized by the spell checker.


metalhed19's picture

I would highly reccomend Tom

I would highly reccomend Tom Woods as well as Judge Andrew Napolitano.

*Wisconsin Constitution* Article I, Section 25 "The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security,defense,hunting,recreation or any other law-abiding purpose"

Love the Judge...

...and miss his Freedom Watch show. :) Would you recommend starting with his most recent ones: 'Freedom Answer Book' and 'Theodore & Woodrow'?

metalhed19's picture

Yea, Freedom Answer Book is

Yea, Freedom Answer Book is good, as is Theodore and Woodrow, actually my primer book for the Judge would be "Lies The Government Told You, Myth Power and Deception in American History" RP wrote the forward.

*Wisconsin Constitution* Article I, Section 25 "The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security,defense,hunting,recreation or any other law-abiding purpose"




...to my bookmarks. :) Thanks.

Phxarcher87's picture

And his podcast lewrockwell.com podcast

great material while driving and super easy to follow. especial when your dad /freinds are in the car!

James Madison

Bastiat - "The Law."

It is short and to the point, not to mention eloquent.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.


...Dr. Paul, himself, give this as his recommendation for someone to read first when exploring Liberty further? Definitely will give it a read. Thanks! :)

Absolutely Essential: 5 FOUNDATIONS

I'll keep my list short and simple. I haven't seen these posted yet so I wanted to make sure you got them.

These 5 will take your head and totally set you straight. They might even change your life (I think a few people here would agree)

Whatever you do, put these near the top of your list. They're classics - they're relatively short easy reads. And they will lay a strong foundation for some of the more difficult stuff later:

1) "Economics in One Lesson" Henry Hazlitt

2) "Road to Serfdom" Friedrich von Hayek

3) "Lessons for the Young Economist" Robert P Murphy

4) "Mystery of Banking" Murray N Rothbard

5) "End the Fed" Ron Paul


Do not waste any time waiting to read these. Do it ASAP before you tackle more difficult or more detailed materials ("Human Action" etc). It will make the more advanced stuff so much easier.

Google / Bing these titles. Some are available as free PDFs (like, you could read them right now)

The only ones that I don't believe you can download for free PDF are "Road to Serfdom" and "End the Fed"

But they are worth many many times over the small price you will pay to get the paperback or kindle.

Phxarcher87's picture

I went to mesis.org

and downloaded the pdf file of Henry Hazletts Economics in One Lesson


James Madison

They also have ..

"Lessons for the Young Economist" and "Mystery of Banking"

Both of which give a solid understanding of economics from an Austrian perspective, and a breakdown of how central banking / fractional reserve / monetary policies actually work.

Read them and you will never look at CNN or Bloomberg the same way ever again.

Its like having magic glasses ...

Thanks, Von...

...for the recommendations. A gentleman in my area who was a fellow RNC delegate candidate last year gave me a copy of 'End the Fed', but I need to give it a read still. (Shame on me for not doing that yet!)

The Brothers of Karamazov by

The Brothers of Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky



...intriguing. I should read more Russian authors. Speaking of which, would you happen to know of any good books on Russian history in general, especially the centuries prior to the Revolution?

Will check out the 'Brothers' book -- thanks! :)