"Although the book has a strongly classical liberal flavour, it also contains some interesting discussion of positive liberty. For one thing, Schmidtz and Brennan argue that the progress of negative liberty in western societies has massively expanded almost everyone's range of real options. For another, they suggest that this greater (negative and positive) external freedom can open the way to a greater internal or psychological" freedom". (The Philosophers' Magazine, 13 August 2010)
"Its brevity and simplicity is perhaps understandable, given the historical focus and ambitious scope of the book, and the authors' evident desire to get the light, entertaining and up-beat narrative moving." (The Philosopher's Magazine, August 2010)"The book weaves together a number of figures in social, political, philosophical, economic, and even psychological theory, in a way not commonly found, and it does so rather effectively." (Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, September 05, 2010)
"Schmidtz and Brennan offer their readers insights into the freedom debate by following it through the broad sweep of Western history...[A Brief History of Liberty]... comprehensive notes and bibliographies and...deserve[s] to be taken seriously by those with an interest in liberty." (The Philosopher, summer 2010)
From the Back Cover
Liberty is a lofty concept. But what exactly is
liberty? What kind of value
does it have? What institutions best promote and protect the forms of liberty that are worth wanting? And what are the specific benefits and dangers inherent in so-called free societies?
Using a fusion of philosophical, social scientific, and historical methods, A Brief History of Liberty
offers a succinct survey of pivotal moments in the evolution of personal freedom, drawing on key historical figures from John Knox and Martin Luther to Karl Marx and Adam Smith to Roger Williams and Thurgood Marshall. The authors examine how past (if incomplete) successes in the struggle for liberty have led many of us to liberty's "last frontier": internal psychological obstacles to our being as autonomous as we would like to be. Readers are encouraged to reflect on their own concepts of personal freedom -- what it is, where it comes from, why they have it, and what it has done for them.
Stimulating and thought-provoking, A Brief History of Liberty offers readers a philosophically-informed portrait of the elusive nature of one of our most cherished ideals.