Books Worth Reading

On The Wealth of Nations: Books That Changed the World

In On The Wealth of Nations, America’s most provocative satirist, P. J. O’Rourke, reads Adam Smith’s revolutionary The Wealth of Nations so you don’t have to. Recognized almost instantly on its publication in 1776 as the fundamental work of economics, The Wealth of Nations was also recognized as really long:  the original edition totaled over nine hundred pages in two volumes—including the blockbuster sixty-seven-page “digression concerning the variations in the value of silver during the course of the last four centuries,” which, “to those uninterested in the historiography of currency supply, is like reading Modern Maturity in Urdu.” Although daunting, Smith’s tome is still essential to understanding such current hot-topics as outsourcing, trade imbalances, and Angelina Jolie. In this hilarious, approachable, and insightful examination of Smith and his groundbreaking work, P. J. puts his trademark wit to good use, and shows us why Smith is still relevant, why what seems obvious now was once revolutionary, and why the pursuit of self-interest is so important.

Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics

In the tradition of his contemporary classic Parliament of Whores, the man who The Wall Street Journal calls “the funniest writer in America” is back with Eat the Rich, in which he takes on the global economy. P. J. O’Rourke leads you on an hysterical whirlwind world tour from the “good capitalism” of Wall Street to the “bad socialism” of Cuba in search of the answer to an age-old question: “Why do some places prosper and thrive, while others just suck?” With stops in Albania, Sweden, Hong Kong, Moscow, and Tanzania, P.J. brings along his incomparable wit and finds hilarity wherever he goes.

Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition

Selected by the Times Literary Supplement as one of the “hundred most influential books since the war”

How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat it poses to individual freedom? In this classic book, Milton Friedman provides the definitive statement of his immensely influential economic philosophy—one in which competitive capitalism serves as both a device for achieving economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom. The result is an accessible text that has sold well over half a million copies in English, has been translated into eighteen languages, and shows every sign of becoming more and more influential as time goes on.

Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics

A million copy seller, Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson is a classic economic primer. But it is also much more, having become a fundamental influence on modern “libertarian” economics of the type espoused by Ron Paul and others.

Considered among the leading economic thinkers of the “Austrian School,” which includes Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich (F.A.) Hayek, and others, Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993), was a libertarian philosopher, an economist, and a journalist. He was the founding vice-president of the Foundation for Economic Education and an early editor of The Freeman magazine, an influential libertarian publication.  Hazlitt wrote Economics in One Lesson, his seminal work, in 1946. Concise and instructive, it is also deceptively prescient and far-reaching in its efforts to dissemble economic fallacies that are so prevalent they have almost become a new orthodoxy.

Many current economic commentators across the political spectrum have credited Hazlitt with foreseeing the collapse of the global economy which occurred more than 50 years after the initial publication ofEconomics in One Lesson. Hazlitt’s focus on non-governmental solutions, strong — and strongly reasoned — anti-deficit position, and general emphasis on free markets, economic liberty of individuals, and the dangers of government intervention make Economics in One Lesson, every bit as relevant and valuable today as it has been since publication.

Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy

The fourth edition of Basic Economics is both expanded and updated. A new chapter on the history of economics itself has been added, and the implications of that history examined. A new section on the special role of corporations in the economy has been added to the chapter on government and big business, among other additions throughout the book.

Basic Economics, which has now been translated into six languages, has grown so much that a large amount of material in the back of the book in previous editions has now been put online instead, so the book itself and its price will not have to expand. The central idea of Basic Economics, however, remains the same: that the fundamental facts and principles of economics do not require jargon, graphs, or equations, and can be learned in a relaxed and even enjoyable way.

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know About Wealth and Prosperity

“The authors tell us what everyone should know about economics in language we can all understand. It’s refreshing when four of the best in the profession avoid the all-too-common practice of writing in a code that only other economists can comprehend.” —Robert McTeer, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

With the global economy recovering from a steep recession, those who fail to grasp basic economic principles such as gains from trade, the role of profit and loss, and the secondary effects of government spending, taxes, and borrowing risk falling behind in their professional careers–even their personal lives.Common Sense Economics discusses key principles and uses them to show how to make wise personal and policy choices.

This new edition of a classic from James D. Gwartney, Richard L. Stroup, Dwight R. Lee, and Tawni H. Ferrarini, with reflections on the recent recession and the policy response to it, illuminates our world and what might be done to make it better.

The Servile State

Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953) was one of the most respected men of his day for his learning, insight, wit, and brilliant literary style. Author of over a hundred books and articles, Belloc was a journalist, polemicist, social and political analyst, literary critic, poet, and novelist.

The Servile State has endured as his most important political work. The effect of socialist doctrine on capitalist society, Belloc wrote, is to produce a third thing different from either—the servile state, today commonly called the welfare state.

The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity

Stanford University student and Cuban American tennis prodigy Ramon Fernandez is outraged when a nearby mega-store hikes its prices the night of an earthquake. He crosses paths with provost and economics professor Ruth Lieber when he plans a campus protest against the price-gouging retailer–which is also a major donor to the university. Ruth begins a dialogue with Ramon about prices, prosperity, and innovation and their role in our daily lives. Is Ruth trying to limit the damage from Ramon’s protest? Or does she have something altogether different in mind?

As Ramon is thrust into the national spotlight by events beyond the Stanford campus, he learns there’s more to price hikes than meets the eye, and he is forced to reconsider everything he thought he knew. What is the source of America’s high standard of living? What drives entrepreneurs and innovation? What upholds the hidden order that allows us to choose our careers and pursue our passions with so little conflict? How does economic order emerge without anyone being in charge? Ruth gives Ramon and the reader a new appreciation for how our economy works and the wondrous role that the price of everything plays in everyday life.

The Price of Everything is a captivating story about economic growth and the unseen forces that create and sustain economic harmony all around us.

The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance

A love story that embraces the business and economic issues of the day?

The Invisible Heart takes a provocative look at business, economics, and regulation through the eyes of Sam Gordon and Laura Silver, teachers at the exclusive Edwards School in Washington, D.C. Sam lives and breathes capitalism. He thinks that most government regulation is unnecessary or even harmful. He believes that success in business is a virtue. He believes that our humanity flourishes under economic freedom. Laura prefers Wordsworth to the Wall Street Journal. Where Sam sees victors, she sees victims. She wants the government to protect consumers and workers from the excesses of Sam’s beloved marketplace.

While Sam and Laura argue about how to make the world a better place, a parallel story unfolds across town. Erica Baldwin, the crusading head of a government watchdog agency, tries to bring Charles Krauss, a ruthless CEO, to justice. How are these two dramas connected? Why is Sam under threat of dismissal? Will Erica Baldwin find the evidence she needs? Can Laura love a man with an Adam Smith poster on his wall? The answers in The Invisible Heart give the reader a richer appreciation for how business and the marketplace transform our lives.

How to Be a Canadian

Being Canadian can be a chore, says Will Ferguson, but it can be a lot of fun, too. For this follow-up to his runaway bestseller Why I Hate Canadians, Ferguson, a Canuck himself, recruited his brother Ian to create this ultimate guide to the country’s cultural quirks, from diet and sex to sports and politics. The result is a nonstop comic ride through such topics as “Canadian Cuisine—and How to Avoid It,” “Regional Harmony (Who to Hate and Why),” and “How to Make Love Like a Canadian.”

Economic Facts and Fallacies, 2nd edition

In Economic Facts and Fallacies, Thomas Sowell exposes some of the most popular fallacies about economic issues in a lively manner that does not require any prior knowledge of economics. These fallacies include many beliefs widely disseminated in the media and by politicians, such as fallacies about urban problems, income differences, male-female economic differences, as well as economic fallacies about academia, about race, and about Third World countries.

Sowell shows that fallacies are not simply crazy ideas but in fact have a certain plausibility that gives them their staying power–and makes careful examination of their flaws both necessary and important.

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