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I first heard Browne speak in the early 70s on NBC's Today Show, where he was promoting his book, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. The book explains how to recognize and overcome common but false assumptions that unnecessarily restrict our freedom. I had never heard someone speak with such clarity, rationality, and insight about any subject. I was blown away, not by Browne's charisma (although he was charming), but by how reasonable his ideas sounded. At first opportunity I rushed out to buy the book and then devoured it. The first thing that struck me about the book was the beautifully clear and simple prose. I don't know whether Browne or an editor should get the credit, but the book seems to follow many of Strunk and White's suggestions for strong, lucid writing. Browne avoids needless and overly sophisticated words. He uses short sentences and paragraphs. The writing style makes the book very easy to read. You never have to figure out what Harry Browne is saying; rather, his ideas seem to jump right off each page at you. Anyone who writes about self-improvement or personal growth must make assumptions about human nature, and I think his assumptions are correct. Harry Browne makes his assumptions about human nature explicit in the very beginning of his book. He assumes that people believe that every conscious choice we make will help us attain happiness or avoid unhappiness. So why aren't we all exquisitely happy all the time? The main reason is that, although we choose to act in ways that we believe will make us happy, our beliefs can be wrong. The first of the three major sections of this book covers fourteen traps, which are common but false beliefs about what we need to do to be happy. Many of the traps are so taken-for-granted that they appear to be truisms.Read more ›
Though I haven't read this book in 20 yrs. (I lost the old one, and plan on buying another copy.) I remember thinking at the time, that this book would've saved me a lot of emotional trauma had I only had it ten years earlier. To the point, this book looks at things with a no nonsensense approach when it comes to relationships and obligations. It looks below the the surface of the 'social contract" and asks what obligations do we truly have to ourselves, each other, and society at large? And whether you choose to accept Mr. Brownes' options or not, at least you've been made aware of the fact that these choices exist.
Many people have a vested interest in keeping the status quo, especially those people we sometimes refer to as "takers". Mr. Browne points out that we are in no way obligated to support anyones addiction, neurosis, or world view, except our our own.
I found this book refreshing, informative, and relevent to my life. I strongly reccomend it to anyone who needs a little freedom in their life.
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I first read this book in 1974, in college and starting a career. I was hell bent on changing the world, and this book stopped me dead in my tracks. I read it now as a personal ritual once a year, it has saved me a lot of time and wasted energy, not to mention money. I've been far more successful AND happy changing my own world, and you will be too with the help of this book. Invariably the people I've met over the years who practice these principles are the most open, generous, productive, happy people I've known. Too, the ones who preach (and practice) self sacrifice and "unselfishness" (i.e., Altruism)invariably have their hand in someone elses pocket, yours perhaps, or are quite willing and eager to sacrifice others as well, you perhaps, for your own good, of course. Don't let 'em get away with it. BUY THIS BOOK. Except for Libertarians, freedom is a concept largely ingored these days, most likely because freedom involves responsibility--for yourself--what a concept! READ THIS BOOK. Browne doesn't let anybody off the hook. GIVE THIS BOOK AWAY. Then people won't wonder how you can be so self assured and still be a nice person. You'll be an enigma! And there aren't nearly enough of us enigmas out here....
A lot of what's out there is just a repeat of other books with a thing or two added in. This book is really refreshing in the amount of original content and the power of its ideas. It's really one of the best books I've ever read- and that's really saying something (I have a 2000 book library in my home). Harry Browne presents many ways of dealing with many differing freedom restricting issues. My favorite was his discussion of how to find freedom from social restrictions- I copied and pasted a little of my notes to give you a sense of this book:
"Whatever your social standards, the best place to find like minded people is the same place where you would most like to be. If you crave companionship that's more intellectual, you might try courses in the subjects that have always interested you. And since you could run into potential friends almost anywhere, it's important to display your standards openly and honestly wherever you are. Only then can others recognize you as a kindred soul.
For if you wear a socially acceptable mask, those whom you seek will walk right by you. And those whom you attract with the mask will only add to the pressure that you be something other than yourself.
If you make your actions and words consistent with who you are and what you admire, you'll know which people are compatible- just by their reactions to you. Those who disapprove will seek someone different to be with, and those who have standards similar to your will react favorably toward you. In effect, you let others tell you about themselves through their reactions to what you are.
So it's important to reveal yourself as you really are. If you're ambitious and show it, people who appreciate ambition are more likely to notice you.Read more ›