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Defending the Undefendable: The Pimp, Prostitute, Scab, Slumlord, Libeler, Moneylender, and Other Scapegoats in the Rogue's Gallery of American Society Paperback – June 1, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0930073053 ISBN-10: 0930073053 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Fox & Wilkes; 2nd edition (June 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930073053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930073053
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,181,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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A reader can read this one from cover-to-cover or start with the topics that most interest his own tastes.
C. Richard Clark II
Even though it analyzes atypical and extreme cases of the application of the theory, it is precisely that which makes it such an effective book.
James P. Hitt Jr.
If such "lowlifes" as libelers and slumlords rank near the bottom of your pecking order, you're in for an exhilarating read!
DrEdelstein@ThreeMinuteTherapy.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 9, 1999
I was expecting a standard Rothbardian treatment of vices and I was shocked at this short, easily read book. I bought it in San Francisco, CA, and was finished with it by the time I stepped onto Illinoisian soil. The arguments are straight Mises - amazingly simple, yet profound. It's hard to explain how such simplicity can be found in each chapter. If you are unconvinced, just read any chapter (many are only two pages long) - concerning the miser, the corrupt cop, the pimp, and the advertiser. This isn't Rothbardian in that Murray Rothbard will argue down to the very philosophic principles to prove his point. As an analogy, you don't need to know the quantum mechanics [Rothbard] of the transistors (semiconductors) to know the functions [Block] of your computer. Sorta.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jacob H. Huebert on August 31, 2002
This book is famous for the favorable treatments given to pimps, drug addicts, litterers, counterfeiters, and the like.
Those chapters are certainly worthwhile, but for me the best parts were the clear, concise explanations of why people like the often-vilified "slumlord" and "ghetto merchant" -- who charge high prices for low quality in the inner city -- are actually worthy of praise. The simple economic ideas so clearly explained here are essential for anyone who believes in free markets to understand.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By eunomius on September 5, 1999
Although many would describe this book as a "hardcore" or "radical" account of libertarian principles, there is nothing in the book that should be shocking or new to any consistent libertarian. Its main virtue is in its consistent and often even amusing application of basic libertarian concepts. I would say that anyone new to libertarianism should read this book, but if you are already acquanted with the standurd radical texts (Rothbard in particular) there is nothing very new here.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jason C. Ditz on July 13, 2007
Some 30 years after its original release, Defending the Undefendable is in many ways as fresh and topical as any current book. It follows a collection of society's villains and attempts to explain, in both economic and ethical senses, why these people are really heroes.

In many cases, Dr. Block makes a seemingly airtight case. I found myself disagreeing on a few counts but that only made for a more enjoyable read. After all, who wants to read nothing but what they can unquestioningly agree with?

Defending's cover makes a lofty promise... "Something to Offend Everyone". Honestly, I'd imagined that so long after it's release, this was an unreasonable promise to make, and that much of the controversy of the book would have been dulled with age. But I can report that truly, the book's ability to offend is very much in tact. In my case it was the author's outright hostility to private charity and his attempt to present the social darwinist argument against it (something I was already familiar with) as "undeniable" proof that private charity is harmful.

Still, irrespective of its ability to offend (and in some cases because of it), it's still something I can highly recommend. It is, simply put, a classic work of libertarian philosophy... and a too often ignored one at that.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jorge Besada on June 28, 2005
Another very good introduction to economics. The chapter titled "The (Non-Government) Counterfeiter" does a great job of explaning inflation, perhaps the most important topic and evil that the masses have no understanding of. Another one of my favorites was "The Middleman" where Dr. Block does a great job of talking about the importance of "knowledge" and how the middle men are what help spread this knowledge via the price system. Those two chapter alone make the book worth its price.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By DrEdelstein@ThreeMinuteTherapy.com on September 5, 1999
DEFENDING THE UNDEFENDABLE is an exciting book. Dr. Block applies familiar libertarian principles in the most unexpected and innovative ways. I began reading many chapters in disbelief, while concluding as a loyal convert. It was awe-inspiring to observe the brilliance and clarity of Block's step-by-step logic unfolding, with him taking me through an intellectual journey to its ineluctable conclusion. If such "lowlifes" as libelers and slumlords rank near the bottom of your pecking order, you're in for an exhilarating read!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wilton Alston on August 3, 2007
Walter Block, or "Doc Block", as I like to call him, provides a solid and refreshing application of the most basic laws of freedom to areas previously avoided by those who claim to support it. What Block does that makes this book unique is exactly what he purports to do in the description. He teaches the lessons of liberty by analyzing the actions of those who are supposedly less worthy of defense. And he does it with a flair that makes the book not just entertaining, but also thought-provoking. Whoever thought an analysis of liberty could be entertaining! Maybe more importantly, the lessons that Doc Block provides for one scapegoat flow smoothly and inexorably to the next. In fact, that's the real treasure of these analyses. The lesson(s) for each new "rogue" is exactly the same as it was for the last one, even though it might initially seem like the cases are vastly different. Lucky for us slow-learners, Block teaches the same lesson over and over again. By the time you hear it applied to such a wide spectrum of (ostensibly) illicit activity, you begin to "get it" relative to not only why freedom is so vital, but why it must be treasured, for all, even the scapegoats.

This book should be required reading for anyone looking to understand what liberty is actually all about.
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