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on April 30, 2002
Murray Rothbard was one of the most important thinkers in recent memory. He made substantial contributions to economics, political theory, social theory, history and cultural criticism. Unfortunately, there is no "Rothbard Reader" that gives the reader an overview of his contributions to all these fields.
Nonetheless, this collection of Rothbard's essays - which came out in 1974 - is probably the best place to start if you want to get an overview of Rothbard's contributions, at least in the areas of political theory, social theory, and (some) cultural criticism. (The second edition appears to be identical to the first edition, except that it contains a brief 1991 "postscript" by Rothbard and a useful introduction by Dr. David Gordon.)
The title essay - Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature - is a seminal essay. Politicians love to lecture us on the supposed equality of men; however, as Rothbard shows, it is inequality that is fundamental. The leftist drive for equality is contrary to human nature. Rothbard picks up this theme again in Freedom, Inequality, Primitivism, and the Division of Labor. He shows that the drive for equality is a direct attack on the division of labor. As such, it will only serve to impoverish everyone (rich and poor alike).
This collection also contains two outstanding essays on the state: The Anatomy of the State; and War, Peace, and the State. In the second, Rothbard makes a strong case for peace and against weapons of mass destruction.
There are at least three other collections of Rothbard's works available. The first -- Making Economic Sense -- is a collection of short essays on economics. The second -- The Irrepressible Rothbard -- is a collection of his essays in the Rothbard-Rockwell Report which focus on cultural criticism. So, if you combine these works with Egalitarianism, you get a "reader" that contains 1190 pages - and you still haven't hit Rothbard the historian! That shows the tremendous breadth of his scholarship. The third is The Logic of Action I and II. These were published after his death and contain two or three of the essays in Egalitariansm and some of his later essays. In addition, they are more focused on Rothbard the economist.
But the best advice is that of Dr. Gordon: get everything you can get your hands on by Rothbard and von Mises.
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on August 9, 2002
This is the first book by Rothbard that I read, although I was already familiar with those of his writings that can be found on the Internet.
Without always agreeing completely with Rothbard - I think he has a tendency to be somewhat too consistent at times - I have always found his work to be very funny and thought-provoking. This collection contains two truly remarkable essays: "Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature" and especially "Freedom, Inequality, Primitivism, and the Division of Labor". Rothbard actually takes the trouble to take Marxists at their word and to examine, not only the means, but also the ends. It turns out even the goals sincere Marxists fight for - as opposed to the cruel realities they have always somehow succeeded in creating - are totally at odds with human nature.
The other essays, if sometimes a tad too "American" for this European reader, live up to Rothbard's usual high standards. The only essay that I found somewhat unconvincing was "Conservation in the Free Market". Rothbard doesn't seem to have thought it important to save areas of unspoilt nature; he doesn't even examine that possibility. But then perhaps there is another essay by him somewhere in which there is an answer to that question? If so, I'm looking forward to read it!
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on October 24, 2005
I have long used Rothbard's writing as an ideal in rhetorical mimesis exercises. He presents complicated issues with unrivalled clarity and concision. For example, in his essay "Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature," Rothbard takes on a difficult rhetorical challenge: he seeks to undercut the commonplace belief in equality. This brilliant essay combines logos and pathos in a way few authors can, as when he examines fictional accounts of true egalitarian societies:

"The horror we all instinctively feel at these stories is the intuitive recognition that men are not uniform, that the species, mankind, is uniquely characterized by a high degree of variety, diversity, differentiation; in short, inequality. An egalitarian society can only hope to achieve its goals by totalitarian methods of coercion; and, even here, we all believe and hope the human spirit of individual man will rise up and thwart any such attempts to achieve an ant-heap world. In short, the portrayal of an egalitarian society is horror fiction because, when the implications of such a world are fully spelled out, we recognize that such a world and such attempts are profoundly antihuman; being antihuman in the deepest sense, the egalitarian goal is, therefore, evil and any attempts in the direction of such a goal must be considered evil as well."

Other reviewers do an able job of explaining Rothbard's thinking; my review provides you with some idea of the emotional force of his writing. This is an important collection of essays by an important American thinker.
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on March 19, 2001
The author faces and refutes simultaneously the dogmas of the old left - central planning, collectivization of economic life and State interventionism - and the fallacies of the new left - identity politics, kids lib, gender equality, environmentalism and primitivism, that one the most correct definition I've ever seen being used to characterize the movement of political correctness.
Based on Mises' thought, Rothbard reminds us a truth that is hated by all the left, old or new: our world is ruled by a natural order, transcendent and superior to the man (although perfectly knowledgeable by that one), composed by physical, biological and economical laws; consequently, her existence implies that all human action must be conducted by her strict observance, in order to avoid the disastrous and tragic consequences produced by the opposite behaviour, which is typical of the leftist policies.
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on July 27, 2015
This collection of essays by the immortal Murray Rothbard covers quite a range of topics -- philosophical, political, economic -- while remaining both insightful and engaging the whole time. Written for the layman, this book requires no special grounding in any of its disciplines to understand, and provides a terrific broad-spectrum introduction to the science of liberty.
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on November 25, 2015
Reading Rothbard offers a unique and refreshing historical perspective on why the world has faced continual turmoil since Cain slew Abel. He analyzes the underlying motives many of the raucous political and social movements of today are based on, especially the obsession with egalitarianism. Rothbard's style might come across as slightly abrasive and insensitive to a generation that has been brow beaten for decades into politically correct submission, but careful reading of his works provides ample evidence that he believed in preserving the dignity of all mankind and the inherent freedom of all persons to rise to the levels of success and ability that naturally would occur in the absence of artificial coercion. Rothbard describes the real enemy as the artificial political elites (as opposed to natural elites which should be free to succeed) and government power misapplied in suppressing exceptional talent and ability in their aim to equalize us to fit a common standard. Readers of this book might gain an awareness that there has been a voice of reason throughout the ages that has whispered the adage: "Life isn't fair nor should it be!" People that realize this make the best of their lives regardless of their circumstances. They don't whine as impotent victims of whatever oppression they might imagine. They don't envy or belittle others success or pull others down like lobsters in a bucket. They appreciate the fact that we are all different, are unequal except in being equally free to decide what life we will live and enjoy.
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on January 2, 2009
Murray Rothbard applies the theory of freedom across several different scenarios. His policies on equality, divisions of labor, children's rights, and feminism culminate in a consitent worldview; a worldview in which freedom truly reigns supreme.

What stands out most about Rothbard is how accessible he is. His ability to clearly and concisely portray an arguement with simple language is unparalleled.

This is one of the books I recommend most because of the range of subjects, the consistency of the solutions, the immutability of the logic, and the the elequence of prose.
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on December 9, 2014
A good primer on libertarian thought. Rothbard makes libertarian solutions to problems appear very logical and common sense. Several essays were less interesting to me, but most are highly recommended to anyone interested in learning about less government and more freedom
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on December 14, 2015
Fantastic writings by Rothbard. would recommend to anyone who wants to know more on what the title tells you plain and simple. Ammunition for a thorough argument with any statists you encounter.
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on January 19, 2014
After reading this book I wonder
How come didn't I have those ideas before?
Answer:cause I was not born a genius
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