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An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought (2 Vol. Set) Hardcover – February 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1084 pages
  • Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute; 2 VOLUME HARDCOVER SET edition (February 1, 2006)
  • ISBN-10: 094546648X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0945466482
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 2.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #656,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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For regular historians, economics is a poorly understood sideshow at best.
Mark Ledbetter
There is much that all of us can learn from the brilliants insights of Murray Rothbard.
Amazon Customer
I borrowed this work from my local university library and read it through TWICE!
Ian Mackechnie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Hans Haneberg on February 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This work is a tour de force of economic thought, spanning a thousand pages and nearly two millennia.

The books thesis rests on Thomas Kuhn's theory of paradigm shifts of scientific intellectuals in "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." In these two volumes, Rothbard grinds his axe against what he would refer to as the "Whig theory of history" or the idea that history of ideas is always a progression forward.

In light of this thesis, Rothbard carefully works in progression from ancient Greek thought of Plato, Aristotle, and Xenophon to the late 19th century works of J.S. Mill, Marx, Bastiat and Pareto. What is truly amazing is amount of time in Volume I he devotes to smaller unknown scholastics (who revived much of the work of Aristotle after finding preserved by the Arabs) overlooked by works like Lionel Robbins lectures on Economic thought and much of Hayek's contributions, which were dominated by the Scottish Enlightenment. Insomuch, Rothbard credits - like Schumpeter did - many lesser individuals which prefigured Smith, like Turgot, Cantillon and the French tradition; or the School of Salamanca and the Scholastic's who debunked the idea of a just price - based in a theoretical corpus of Natural Law (like Rothbard himself).

There are some who have taken the whole book out of context by reading only his treatment of Adam Smith - mostly because this is the most controversial section. Without context, Rothbard chapter on Smith seems to be harsh for those who consider him a great defender of liberty and lassie faire.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By anarchteacher on April 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The product of a lifetime of dedicated scholarship, this is Rothbard's magnum opus.

Volume one is a breathtaking journey through time, analyzing how culture, religion, and politics have impacted upon economic thought.

Volume two contains the most devastating refutation and trenchant analysis of Karl Marx and his destructive, apocalyptic theory of Communism."
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mark Ledbetter on May 7, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
When an economist writes history, you are going to get something much different than when a historian writes history. For regular historians, economics is a poorly understood sideshow at best. Unlike Rothbard, they'll skip consideration of the economists themselves and their ideas.

In other words, you will never have heard of 95% of the historical figures in this book, important as they were to the birthing of the modern world, nor will you have heard of the wars of ideas they fought. Certain major factors moving big events of history will not be there because the historians simiply haven't noticed.

For example...

We all know about the Black Death. But a free market economist studying the era quickly makes a connection missed (so far as I know) by standard historians. Standard historians tell us about how the bubonic plague affected the economy but generally miss how the economy affected the plague. Rothbard doesn't miss it. 13th and 14th century kings, challenging the power of Rome and in need of money to finance their new structures of centralized state power, taxed and regulated the burgeoning commerce that had been bringing Europe out of the Dark Ages. In so doing, they sent the economy spiraling back into a new dark age of poverty, poor sanitation, and ill health that made the plague just that much more virulent when it hit.

Rothbard is not a proponent of the "Great Men" school of economic thought that has a few giants like Smith, Marx, Keynes etc. doing all the heavy lifting. He sees the conscious study of economics as somewhat unusual in history and the advancement of economic understanding as slow and incremental. Actually, advancement is not always the right word.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ian Mackechnie on May 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I borrowed this work from my local university library and read it through TWICE! I am now about to order this new affordable set published by the Mises Institute so that I can not only read it through again but have as a constant source of reference. A brilliant work!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Vince on February 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This set is outstanding in its accuracy, information and applicability to the understanding of historic and present problems. It is a more detailed and complete set of works which is the basis of the book "Case Against the Fed" by the same author. Actually that smaller work might be best read first as it will, in its summary, make the larger two volume set easier to handle.
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