Sunday, July 08, 2007

The joy of history

I thought that I knew something about libertarian thought and Austrian economics. I have now read Brian Doherty's wonderful Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement and realize that I knew very little.

The world is now a freer place and the libertarian analysis of policy choices is taken more seriously by more people than ever. But we have not reached the promised land and perhaps never will. Doherty makes the point that along the way we have become rich enough to put up with a bloated public sector. The glass is (only) half-full. Getting there has also meant that a new and more practical brand of libertarian thought and practice have come to be.

All of these evolutions occurred in tandem and Doherty tells the story in a little over 600 pages. Being the astute journalist and historian (and easy writer) that he is, he has discovered and included gems and anecdotes that help lift the book to the top of that very short list of titles from which you might select a gift for a good friend.