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Free to Choose: A Personal Statement Paperback – November 26, 1990

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; LATER PRINTING edition (November 26, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156334607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156334600
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Excellent book….This reviewer has never read a more straightforward and simple statement of the present ills facing our society and what we as citizens in a democracy must do about them." --Chicago Sun Times --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

About the Author

Milton Friedman is a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the Paul Snowden Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Chicago. In 1976 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. He has written a number of books, including two with his wife, Rose D. Friedman---the bestselling Free to Choose and Two Lucky People: Memoirs, the latter published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Customer Reviews

It is clear, concise and cogently written.
In this book Dr. Friedman will teach you what free market capitalism is and is not.
Patrick R. Gibbons
Read this book and it will positively change your life.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

605 of 647 people found the following review helpful By David E. Levine on October 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
As an assignment in his high school honors English class, my son recently asked me to name a book that had an impact on my life. My answer was "Free to Choose" by Milton & Rose Friedman. I grew up with fairly liberal views in a Democrat household. More than anything else, reading this book in the early 1980s changed my perceptions of reality. This book is most responsible for changing me into a conservative. Although I took four economics courses in college (and got high grades in each) and was a political science major, my views were never substantially budged until I read this great book.
It is written very clearly; you need not have an economics background to understand it. The arguments are clear and eloquent. Friedman demonstrates why the free market works best for the economy but more importantly, he demonstrates why the free market preserves individual dignity. Beyond mere economics, the free market is the most moral system. In so many areas, if you really think about it, choices are the business of the individual, not the government. When the government overtaxes us, it is not only bad for the economy, it is bad morally. Overtaxation enables the government to make certain choices and removes that decisionmaking from the individual. I think school choice is an example of this.
My son's teacher assigned him to read this book. Happily, he will be exposed to the lucid arguments for few governmental controls and greater choice among individuals. I highly recommend this book which had so great an impact on my life.
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118 of 125 people found the following review helpful By D. Swager on May 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Being Nobel winning economist, I was not sure what to expect from this "personal statement". What a pleasant surprise and enjoyable read. The book represents the Friedman's take on the government policies of the day (1979). Not knowing that the book was written over 20 years ago a reader would swear it just rolled off the press. The fact that the problems addressed by this book are still the problems we are (or more importantly are not truly) debating today only bolsters the arguments that current government policy is failing.
As a not quite totally liberal or Libertarian (as modern socialist democrats (Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Diane Feinstien, etc.) and moderate Republicans (Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chaffee, James Jeffords, etc.) have co-opted the liberal and moderate monikers), Friedman puts forth arguments against government intervention is many areas, but does demonstrate where government can be helpful, in limited ways, to address various market failures. The book addresses areas such as free markets, price and wage controls (which are currently causing electricity shortages in California), equality and justice, education (Friedman has been urging parental choice in public schooling since the 1950s), consumer protection, worker protection and inflation. The book presents each issue by examining how we got to the current state, what is wrong with the current policy and how he believes the policy should be changed. In various instances, he suggest both his preferred change and a watered down version (pragmatic version) that might actually be enacted in our current political morass.
A quick note to readers. One reviewer suggested that the book plagiarizes the work of Lord John Maynard Keynes. This could not be further from the truth.
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233 of 253 people found the following review helpful By jmk444 on April 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Free to Choose" (1980) is a great companion to Friedman's ten hour video presentation by the same name that appeared on PBS in the early eighties to rave reviews and some of the highest ratings in PBS history. The video series was extremely well done and taken right from this book.
Friedman explains how and why markets work, why minimum wage statutes hurt instead of help unskilled labor (they price entry level or "training positions" out of the market) and why the Great Depression happened (protectionist tariffs like Smoot-Hawley devastating trade between nations was the primary reason).
Like Hayek and von Mises before him, Friedman explodes the Keynesian mythology that government spending is actually good for the economy. Moreover, this book is written for the layman. You don't need a PhD in economics or a Nobel Prize (both of which Professor Friedman has) to understand this work. It is clear, concise and cogently written.
If you want to understand why the market is ineluctable, this is a must read...and if you get the chance, I highly recommend the companion video series - some of the best work done on explaining why the free market works and planned/controlled economies fail.
It as timely today (despite the dated references) because the free market still works (it always will) and command/controlled economies always fail...this book tells why.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By JP on October 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
If you are torn between reading Free to Choose or Capitalism and Freedom, I strongly recommend the latter. Not only is it a shorter book than this one, but Friedman does a better job of arguing his case in Capitalism and Freedom. Both Greg Mankiw and Larry Summers recommend Capitalism and Freedom as their top econ book.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By "karnas84" on October 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Note: This book deserves a little less than 5 stars, but since there aren't such levels of fine-tuning, I am giving it 5 stars.
Milton Friedman's FREE TO CHOOSE: A PERSONAL STATEMENT is the ultimate layman's synthesis of the ideas of economics developed at the University of Chicago in the past century. This system has had profound implications on our current model of the free market, as Friedman is just one of many in a line of Nobel-prize winning economists to come from that school.
All the classical ideas of micro- and macroeconomics are presented in an accessible and effective fashion in this book. If you don't understand why the free market works, or are hesitant to undertake a more rigorous approach in learning about capitalism, FREE TO CHOOSE is definitely for you. Friedman assumes very little previous knowledge about economics. His arguments depend only on an ability and willingness to think rationally about economics and everyday decision-making processes.
However, this rational approach is also a downfall to FREE TO CHOOSE. Chicago-style economists love to use purely rational appeals in their writing, and Milton Friedman is no different. Some of his empirical evidence is unconvincing; as such, a few of his policy statements go against more current, empirically developed economic theories. His shoddy treatment of externalities and failures in the market (he dismisses some of them without sufficient cause) would make it seem that unfettered capitalism is a perfect system when it is not. Especially for those of you who don't have the tools to judge the validity of economic theories, be forewarned about this aspect of FREE TO CHOOSE.
Overall, an excellently written, widely accessible book that is definitely worth purchasing if you are unfamiliar with the ideas of capitalism. If you have a solid understanding of economics, then none of the ideas will be new (and you will probably notice some of the same problems I did).
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