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An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Kindle Edition]

Justin Raimondo
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This is the first biography of one of the most interesting and controversial social theorists of our time. Murray N. Rothbard was the founder of the libertarian movement, a radical free marketeer who came of age in the era of collectivism and fought all his life for individualism and laissez-faire against overwhelming odds. The story of his life is at the same time a cavalcade of virtually all of the controversial events, ideas, and personalities of the latter part of the twentieth century.

The author of twenty-eight books and thousands of articles, Rothbard's life goal was to found a science of liberty, a comprehensive libertarian system of social thought encompassing philosophy, ethics, economics, and history. This book tells the story of the intellectual adventure that was Rothbard's life, his relationship with the great libertarian economist and philosopher Ludwig von Mises, and his intellectual growth and development as an economist and a thinker. While Rothbard's contributions to the history of social thought are important, his life story is interesting in itself: against almost impossible odds he managed to singlehandedly create the libertarian movement out of thin air at a time when such ideas were considered completely outside the pale.

An Enemy of the State traces Rothbard's ideological odyssey, from the Old Right of the Chicago Tribune and the "isolationist" America First Committee, to the conservative movement of the fifties and early sixties, to the New Left of the mid-sixties, and then on to the Libertarian Party and the post-Cold War return to his Old Right roots. Rothbard was that interesting combination, an intellectual system-builder and theorist who was also an intellectual street fighter, a scholar, and a man of action. Anyone interested in the history of ideas, whether or not they agree with Rothbard's ideology, is bound to be captivated by and drawn into the story of his fascinating life.

Editorial Reviews


". . . accessible and engaging." -- Publishers Weekly, June 12, 2000

" of the most interesting and controversial social theorists of our time. If ideas interest you, this biography sure will as well." -- Bookviews, August, 2000

From the Inside Flap

Although libertarianism entered the American political vocabulary sometime in the 1970s, and is now one of the categories of political thought right up there with liberalism, conservatism, and all the other "isms," the story of the movement's founder has never been told--until now. This is the first biography of Murray N. Rothbard, the intellectual godfather of libertarianism and the author of twenty-eight books, hundreds of articles, and a social theorist whose writings encompass not only economics but philosophy, political economy, history, and virtually all the realms of social thought.

As an economist, he not only carved out a place for the insights of the "Austrian" (or pure free market) school on American shores, but also expanded and elaborated on the innovations of his mentor and teacher, Ludwig von Mises, the dean of the Austrian school.

As a political economist, he mapped out the contours of a truly free society, based on natural law and the concept of self-ownership. As a historian, he rescued the hidden history of liberty, and exposed the underbelly of the power elite. As a student of economic history, he traced the development of economic ideas and showed the way forward to a new way of looking at the evolution of thought - and of human society. As a teacher to a whole generation of libertarian scholars and activists, Rothbard was not only a source of ideas but of inspiration. He was an innovator who fought for his vision of the world, pioneering liberty at a time when they were neither popular nor understood. He dared to speak truth to power-- and never shied away from controversy.

AN ENEMY OF THE STATE charts the intellectual odyssey of a man who went from the Old Right to the New Left, traveling through Ayn Rand's circle as well as William F. Buckley's before winding up at a position that transcends the traditional categories of Left and Right -- and point in an entirely new direction. His life was an intellectual adventure -- and an important chapter in the history of ideas. To anyone with an interest in the history of ideas in our time, AN ENEMY OF THE STATE is a must.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3394 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (June 30, 2000)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002IBZW4S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #463,470 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
125 of 130 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let us live to make men free July 21, 2004
I first heard of Murray Rothbard in 1970 when I was a high-school student researching the Depression. My kid brother pulled Rothbard's "America's Great Depression" off the shelf of our local public library and suggested I might find it useful.

I was at the age where I was exploring a variety of political perspectives, from John Kenneth Galbraith to Ayn Rand, but I soon recognized that Rothbard was unique.

It was only in the late '70s, as a graduate student at Stanford, that I actually had a chance to meet Rothbard in person. At the time, the national libertarian movement (the Cato Institute, the Center for Libertarian Studies, the Institute for Humane Studies, etc.) had, for various reasons, come to be based in the San Francisco Bay Area, near Stanford, and I had a chance to meet not only Rothabrd but a number of other leading figures in the movement, including Justin Raimondo, the author of this biography of Rothbard.

I was thus peripherally involved in some of the incidents described in this book -- for example, I was a member of the "Radical Caucus," founded by Rainmondo and led by Rothbard. I can therefore testify that, as far as my personal knowledge is concerned, Raimondo has reported accurately, even where he himself differed from Rothbard (for example, on the 1984 Presidential campaign, when Rothbard and I were on the opposite side from Raimondo).

Above all, Raimondo paints an accurate picture of Rothbard as a person: Rothbard was joyously ebullient, voraciously curious, and, while politically passionate, always a gentleman.
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61 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. August 7, 2000
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It can't possibly be an easy job to condense the life of one of the twentieth century's greatest thinkers into less than four hundred pages. Indeed, author Justin Raimondo notes in his introduction that he hopes only to offer "what is little more than an extended biographical sketch, to capture the essential Rothbard, not only his ideas but also his personality and some sense of his historical significance."
Raimondo is too modest.
I'll keep this brief since other reviews of this book are available online (and if you write to me I'll tell you where to find them). What Raimondo actually provides in this volume is a cradle-to-grave overview of Rothbard's entire life and career, together with insightful summaries of carefully selected portions of Rothbard's thought. No doubt there is a great deal that Raimondo must omit or curtail. Nevertheless he provides considerably more than a "sketch."
Not that Raimondo's skills as a sketch artist are negligible. But the word "sketch" is better applied to his accounts of the various _other_ persons who populate his account -- from Rothbard's father David to Mises Institute founder Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. His accounts of these others are masterful sketches. But he brings Rothbard himself to life in a well-realized portrait of this giant of libertarianism.
Raimondo provides more: a defense and a vindication. Rothbard was the subject of scurrilous charges from several quarters throughout much of his career and even after his death, including (at the time of this writing) some misrepresentations from the "Objectivist" camp regarding the period of Rothbard's involvement with the Randian inner circle.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Polemicist Rothbard August 11, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Whole books could be written on Rothbard the Economist, or Rothbard the Historian. This book is about Murray Rothbard the Political Strategist and Polemicist. And that makes me happy, because it is *this* Rothbard that I personally recall so fondly from the old libertarian/anarchist trenches in the late '60s, early '70s, then again in the early '90s (when Rothbard and I last met).
Raimondo was there in those years 1978-1989 when I wasn't, when I largely fell away from the libertarian movement, and I enjoyed his coverage of those years in this book.
My only real gripe is that Justin sometimes lets his biases unfairly color his book, especially about periods where he wasn't personally present. One example is his "take" on Rothbard's alliance with Karl Hess in the late '60s. Hess was not quite so wooly or nutty as Raimondo paints him; you need only read Hess's writings in Rothbard's own "Libertarian Forum" newsletter from those days to see that Hess was a thoughtful Rothbardian anarchist during that period.
Anyway, thumbs up for Raimondo's biography of the heroic Murray Rothbard. But there are still more books to be written!
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Rothbard's Life and Work August 15, 2001
Energetic and well-written, Raimondo�s biography chronicles the life of seminal libertarian scholar and polemicist, Murray Newton Rothbard (1926�1995). Whether writing economic and historical treatises or squabbling with fellow travelers, Rothbard remained a tireless, happy warrior dedicated to fighting the welfare-warfare state.
Raimondo insists that Rothbard was a "thinker of similar importance" to Karl Marx (p. 157), but Rothbard's undeniable genius notwithstanding, this description seems an overestimation. For the moment, Mises, Hayek, and Milton Friedman loom larger in the firmament. What Rothbard did produce, among his many other accomplishments, was a multidimensional argument for anarchocapitalism. In life, he was a happy warrior on behalf of that as yet unrealized vision. He has been proved correct in his assessments of the signal importance of World War I for constructing the modern state and in identifying Hoover's policies as anticipating the New Deal. Perhaps his optimism regarding the feasibility of a stateless society will some day be validated. In the meantime, Raimondo has written an excellent introduction to Rothbard's life's work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Biography
After reading a few of Rothbards books and viewing a few youtube videos I came away respecting his views,intellect and wit. Read more
Published 9 months ago by groundhog
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Book
I am a big fan of Justin Raimondo. I try to read his column at as often as I can, and I have read his other works such as Reclaiming the American Right, and 9/11 the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Albrecht Ulbricht
5.0 out of 5 stars The joyous libertarian (to borrow a phrase)
I'm embarrassed to admit how long this book has been on my shelves without my having read it through systematically (answer: a long, long time). Read more
Published 11 months ago by Andrew S. Rogers
Rothbard was (as I'm sure you already know) an anarcho-capitalist, a foremost American exponent of Austrian economics, as well as "Mr. Read more
Published on February 14, 2012 by Steven H Propp
5.0 out of 5 stars Gfited Author Summarizes Gifted Libertarian Mind
I was so impressed by the AUTHOR of this book and the manner in which he so ably presented in summary form the very complex economic, philosophical, and consequently political... Read more
Published on September 8, 2009 by Robert David STEELE Vivas
1.0 out of 5 stars Raimondo's "Facts"
This author claims that novelist Ayn Rand was a philosophical determinist when she met Rothbard. This is part of his effort to clear Rothbard of the charge of plagiarizing Rand's... Read more
Published on May 1, 2009 by James S. Valliant
5.0 out of 5 stars The Legendary Murray N. Rothbard
Magnificent compelling biography of our greatest scholar of liberty -- the legendary Murray N. Rothbard -- who spoke truth to power and inspired generations by his courage and... Read more
Published on April 18, 2008 by anarchteacher
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite Good
When the history of liberty in the 20th Century is written, Murray Rothbard will have pride of place. Read more
Published on August 8, 2000 by Steve Jackson
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