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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portable von Mises
This new edition is, obviously, more affordable and portable than prior editions. This is helpful, as one can now take this classic book to read most anywhere. It is a long and complicated book, so finding enough time to read it is problematic.

Human Action is one of the ten most insightful books on economics ever written. This is impressive, but even more...
Published on November 30, 2010 by D. W. MacKenzie

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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Another deceipt!
Why don't you say it is a pocket-size edition? Why can't it be made into a decent.sized book, being as important a content as is? I don't get it. This is one of the most important intellectual works of Mises, and editorially it has been reduced to a pocket-size, novel type edition. Poor!
Published 11 months ago by Andres A Escalante


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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portable von Mises, November 30, 2010
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This review is from: Human Action: The Scholar's Edition (Paperback)
This new edition is, obviously, more affordable and portable than prior editions. This is helpful, as one can now take this classic book to read most anywhere. It is a long and complicated book, so finding enough time to read it is problematic.

Human Action is one of the ten most insightful books on economics ever written. This is impressive, but even more impressive that Mises has more than one book on this list (in my opinion). Human Action is the most recent (hopefully not the last) great treatise on political economy. While some treatises compile the ideas of others, there are many original and important insights to this book. Perhaps the most important insight of this book concerns economic calculation. Mises sees economic calculation as the most fundamental problem in economics. The economic problem to Mises is that of action. We act to dispel feelings of uneasiness, but can only succeed in acting if we comprehend causal connections between the ends that we want to satisfy, and available means. Mises is drawing upon Menger's brilliant 1871 book here, but he has his own ideas as well. The fact that we live in a world of causality means that we face definite choices as to how we satisfy our ends. Human Action is an application of Human Reason to select the best means of satisfying ends. The reasoning mind evaluates and grades different options. This is economic calculation.

Economic calculation is common to all people. Mises insisted that the logical structure of human minds is the same for everybody. Of course, this is not to say that all minds are the same. We make different value judgments and posses different data, but logic is the same for all. Human reason and economic calculation have limitations, but Mises sees no alternative to economic calculation as a means of using scarce resources to improve our well being.

Human Action concerns dynamics. The opposite to action is not inaction. Rather, the opposite to action is contentment. In a fully contented state there would be no action, no efforts to change the existing order of things (which might be changed by merely ceasing to do some things). We act because we are never fully satisfied, and will never stop because we can never be fully satisfied. This might seem like a simple point, but modern economics is built upon ideas of contentment- equilibrium analysis and indifference conditions. It is true that some economists construct models of dynamic equilibrium, but the idea of a dynamic equilibrium is oxymoronic to Mises. An actual equilibrium may involve a recurring cycle, but not true dynamics. True dynamics involve non-repeating evolutionary change.

Mises explains dynamic change in terms of `the plain state of rest'. A final state of rest involves perfect plans to fully satisfy human desires. A plain state of rest is a temporary and imperfect equilibrium deriving from past human plans. Though any set of plans is imperfect, to act means attempting to improve each successive set of plans. Movement from one plain state of rest to another represents the process of change, either evolutionary or devolutionary. How then do we experience progress?

Mises links progress and profits. Profits earned from voluntary trades are the indicator of economic success. It is monetary calculation of profits that indicates whether an enterprise has generated a net increase in consumer well being over true economic costs. The close association that Mises draws between economic calculation and monetary calculation leads him to conclude that market prices (upon which monetary profits are calculated) are indispensable to progress in bettering the human condition. Without markets there are no prices, and without prices there is no economic calculation. One point that Mises made, but did not get enough attention, is that monetary calculation takes place primarily in financial markets. This is especially clear on page 704 of the scholar's edition. Monetary calculation is vitally important, but who actually carries out these calculations?

Mises stresses the importance of entrepreneurship because it is entrepreneurs who actually do monetary calculation. This fact puts entrepreneurs at the center of all progress (and failure). Entrepreneurs who estimate costs more correctly than their rivals earn high profits while also serving consumers. Such men rise to top positions in industry. Entrepreneurs who err seriously in their calculations experience financial losses and cease to direct production. Mises described this market test of entrepreneurial skills as the only process of trial and error that really matters. The concepts of monetary calculation, financial speculation, and entrepreneurship form the basis for the von Mises critique of socialism.

Mises has nothing good to say about interventionism either. As for the business cycle, this is generated by the manipulation of interest rates by central banks. It is fairly obvious that Mises opposed the idea of government run economic systems, but Mises did see limited roles for government in providing national defense, police protection, and criminal justice. Some contemporary Mises enthusiasts would disagree, yet the state proposed by Mises would (in my opinion) be a vast improvement over our present state of affairs.

There are too many angles to this book to discuss fully in this review, but the more controversial parts concern methodology. Mises rejects positivism and mathematical economics. As for positivism, Mises does not argue that economics should not be empirical. Mises argues that it CANNOT be empirical. Ideas are logically prior to data of complex phenomena. Without ideas to interpret data on social phenomena we could not make sense of anything in society. Critics of von Mises tend to be totally unaware of this argument.

Mises sees ideas as all-important. It is our ideas that govern our actions. We act because we have ideas as to particular means of dispelling uneasiness. Some see causal connections between government intervention and increased societal welfare. Students of Mises see things differently, because we hold different ideas. This is a very important angle of the Mises paradigm. As Mises wrote in 1922, only ideas can overcome ideas. Marxian notions of the material forces of history and class interest as the prime movers of history are not only wrong, but dangerous because they are anti-rationalist. Ideas matter above all else, and the ideas developed by Mises in Human Action matter above all others.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Quality Than I Expected, March 22, 2012
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This review is from: Human Action: The Scholar's Edition (Paperback)
This edition is more impressive than I expected in terms of the quality of materials. I anticipated this being similar to a typical paperback, but the paper and cover are much higher grade than that. In terms of physical quality, I am very pleased with this book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep understanding of praxeology and economics, August 4, 2011
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This review is from: Human Action: The Scholar's Edition (Paperback)
Mises brings us in the understanding of the praxeology (study of human action) principles which are based on a simple axiom which is "Human Action is purposeful behavior". From that simple axiom he takes the reader in an incredible journey in free-market economics world and the understanding of the phenomenon happening in a market economy.

If you are new in economics study, I would not suggest you to start with that book. First, because it's 900 pages and it can be quite complex in certain part. But, if you are a little aware of the economics principles and know it interest you, it's a must read!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human Action is a Masterpiece from one of the Intellectual Giants of the Twentieth Century, June 5, 2014
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This review is from: Human Action: The Scholar's Edition (Paperback)
Ludwig von Mises was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century. His contributions to economics, political theory and the social sciences were profound.

Born in Lemberg in the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1881, Mises graduated from the University of Vienna with a Doctor of Laws in 1906. From 1909, he worked in economic public policy for the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, combining this with research, writing scholarly works and lecturing at the University. In the twenties, he ran a fortnightly Privatseminar for a select group of young Viennese intellectuals many of whom later became famous in their own right; they included economists Gottfried von Haberler, Friedrich Hayek, Fritz Machlup, Oskar Morgenstern, Richard von Strigl, and Paul Rosenstein-Rodan, plus philosopher Felix Kaufmann, sociologist Alfred Shutz, and philosopher of history Erich Voegelin.

During this period he wrote his path-breaking work on monetary theory, The Theory of Money and Credit (1912), Nation, State and Economy (1919), Socialism (1922), Liberalism (1927), Monetary Stabilization and Cyclical Policy (1928), A Critique of Interventionism (1929), and Epistemological Problems of Economics (1933).
In 1934, after forty years in Vienna, concerned about the inevitability of Nazi takeover, Mises accepted a position at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. Here he was able to devote himself completely to his study of economics which resulted in Nationalokonomie, the basis for his magnum opus Human Action. In 1940, blacklisted by the Nazis and feeling unsafe, he and his wife Margit escaped to America.

He arrived in New York, aged nearly 60, with no job and without complete familiarity with English. The first few years were not easy; a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to the National Bureau of Economic Research provided a modest livelihood; with support from Henry Hazlitt, he undertook a number of assignments for the National Association of Manufacturers; he gave guest lectures at Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton. Two books, Omnipotent Government and Bureaucracy were published by Yale University Press in 1944. By 1946 he held a visiting professorship at New York University’s Graduate School of Business Administration and a staff position at Leonard Reed’s Foundation for Economic Education.
In 1949, he published Human Action; it is a comprehensive treatise on economics. Although built on his Nationalokonomie, it is not a translation; all parts were rewritten and additions made. This is Mises’ magnum opus where he integrates the elements of economic theory that had been his life’s work.
He sets economics within a more universal science of praxeology – the pure logic of choice. People have purposes. They try to achieve goals. They act because they want to change things for the better; to eliminate some felt dissatisfaction. Action is the use of means to achieve ends. People choose their most highly valued preference. All action is rational in that it is attempting to use a means to achieve an end. (That does not preclude people making mistakes!) He believed that our knowledge of praxeology was a priori; “the only way to a cognition of these theorems is logical analysis or our inherent knowledge of the category of action”.

From this base, Mises developed universal laws of economics. This differed from his contemporaries such as Schmoller of the German Historical School who thought that economic laws were true only for particular historical periods and conditions; that each age had its own way of thinking about things. Mises pointed out that attempts to define economics by what has happened historically fail because they are subject to individual, different interpretation (or understanding) of what happened. He explained that economic society is so complex that analysis needs to be based wherever possible on reason, as there are always multiple interpretations of real life events. The champions of logically incompatible theories claim the same events as proof that their point of view has been tested by experience. History cannot teach us any general rule, principal, or law.

So Mises theories apply to all peoples and all times. His contributions are vast. Some of the more significant are: that prices are determined by subjective values; that economic calculation requires the price mechanism to determine the most economic use of resources; that socialism cannot allocate resources efficiently because it lacks this price mechanism; that social cooperation through the free market makes possible the division of labor; that trade and specialization are keys to continued prosperity; that the role of the entrepreneur is crucial - not only to correct disequilibria in the market place but to discover opportunities; that government manipulation of the money supply and interest rates causes recessions; and that humans gain more from peaceful exchange than from destructive struggles.

Mises had many years’ experience advising government. He said, “Economic history is a long record of government policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of economics. Economics … is a challenge to the conceit of those in power. An economist can never be a favorite of autocrats and demagogues. With them he is a mischief maker, and the more they are inwardly convinced that his objections are well founded, the more they hate him.”

In retrospect, it seems that Mises spent his whole life at odds with the prevailing views of the economics profession. He began by disagreeing with the German Historical School which dominated European economics and provided the economic ideas for socialism; he disagreed with Keynes and the interventionism of the New Deal; and he was never a fan of the movement to mathematical economics and econometrics. Nonetheless, he continued to write prolifically and to lecture – he was still presenting seminars at the age of 90! His wife Margit later claimed that the post-War period was his most productive. Now, years after his death, there is a resurgence of Austrian Economics; his contributions are being recognized and his ideas understood.
The Ludwig von Mises Institute, founded in 1982, is a thriving research and educational center for classical liberalism, libertarian political theory, and the Austrian School of economics. It provides scholarships, educational materials, conferences, media, and literature. There is a Mises Academy providing on-line courses.

Here was a genius whose persistence in challenging the intellectual and political consensus of his day has left us with one of the greatest books on economics ever. Human Action is a masterpiece.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Less Textbook More Bible, November 17, 2013
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This review is from: Human Action: The Scholar's Edition (Paperback)
Cannot believe I majored in business and economics for without having this for the first two years. This book has Mises' altogether unique insights on just about everything you can think of. It is less economic textbook and more bible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opens new paths, changes perceptions and misconceptio, May 10, 2013
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Despite its length and a quite technical and non-inspiring start, the volume is heart-breaking, it opens new paths, changes perceptions and misconceptions. Magnificent style, simple but not-simplistic, a whole new world appears before your eyes.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholar's Edition means tiny print, March 17, 2013
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Condition as advertised. Prompt delivery. I recommend this seller. However, Scholar's
Edition apparently means reduced size and tiny print. OK for 18 year olds, but not me now. I placed another order for the standard sized version.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mises the law giver, January 1, 2012
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This review is from: Human Action: The Scholar's Edition (Paperback)
Just as Moses gave us the basic moral laws, so did Mises gave us basic economic laws.
Im still reading the book, and it is very insightful. Remember, all the modern day austrians saw the crisis before it came, it was obvious to them because the austrian bussines cycle theory is the one that corresponds with reality more than any other.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great quality, nice notes and additions, but pagination differs from the common version, May 27, 2008
This review is from: Human Action (Hardcover)
The contents of the book have been reviewed by many others, and there's no doubt about the staggering significance of Mises' contribution to the study of economics (i.e., the study of human action) in this book. My review thus focuses on this Scholars' Edition, the blue hardcover binding that comes in its own box.

The binding is of excellent quality, and is handsome. The Scholars' Edition includes many useful notes and additions, including altered typeface to set off sections that were included in some revisions and not in others.

Perhaps the only problem with the Scholars' Edition is that the pagination is not identical to the most common (not to mention more affordable and more easily available) red-covered version. As a result, facilitating discussions using this version can be a challenge when students are using a different edition.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, A must read., May 3, 2014
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This review is from: Human Action: The Scholar's Edition (Paperback)
This high Scholarly writing is not for beginners. Mr Robert P. Murphy of the Mises Institute was correct when he made the assumption, " arguably one of the most important books written in the 20th century."
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Human Action: The Scholar's  Edition
Human Action: The Scholar's Edition by Ludwig von Mises (Paperback - November 29, 2010)
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