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

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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; LATER PRINTING edition (November 26, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156334607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156334600
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

633 of 678 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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240 of 261 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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126 of 135 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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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Max More on January 2, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Following on from his earlier classic, Capitalism and Freedom, Nobel-prizing winning economist and champion of free markets, Milton Friedman (with Rose Friedman) wrote this brilliant popular yet profound book on real economics. In a time when people are more prone to point the finger at corporations and plead the government to "fix things", Friedman's superb explication of the benefits of truly free markets (which does not include political bribes from Enron) deserves a revisit. Friedman takes on many mistaken ideas about free markets and the need for regulation. Advocates of intervention typically compare an imperfect free market (often a market only partly free but distorted by little-known interventions) to a perfect governmental solution. However, regulators are human too, and lack the disciplining forces of the market. Friedman's penetrating yet immensely readable analysis of a range of issues related to free markets and regulations remains as timely and relevant as ever.
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