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Human Action: A Treatise on Economics (4 Volume Set) Paperback – March 14, 2007

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Human Action: A Treatise on Economics (4 Volume Set) + The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, Volume 2) + Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1128 pages
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund; SLP edition (March 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865976317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865976313
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 6.8 x 4.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Human Action says it all. In this towering masterwork, Mises makes the case for limited government and a free society, pointing out the inseparability between freedom and free enterprise -- that you can't have one without the other. -- William H. Peterson, adjunct scholar, Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.

It should become the leading text of everyone who believes in freedom, in individualism, and in the ability of a free-market economy not only to outdistance any government-planned system in the production of goods and services for the masses, but to promote and safeguard . . . those intellectual, cultural, and moral values upon which all civilization ultimately rests. -- Henry Hazlitt, Newsweek --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

The Scholar's Edition is the pride and joy of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Since our founding in 1982, we had wanted to issue an edition of Human Action in an edition worthy of its contents.

Three factors came together to make it essential this year: the 50th anniversary of the book, the discovery that changes and omissions in the 1963 and 1966 editions were more extensive and deleterious than had previously been known, and the unearthing of archives at Yale University and Grove City College that were used in the preparation of the introduction.

We spared no expense with this book, using the finest binding, paper, and printing available. Everyone who has purchased it has been astonished at its quality and sheer beauty. At last, with this Scholar's Edition, the master's great work is restored for the ages.

Murray N. Rothbard had it right when he said of the 1949 edition: "Every once in a while the human race pauses in the job of botching its affairs and redeems itself by producing a noble work of the intellect.... To state that Human Action is a must' book is a great understatement. This is the economic bible for the civilized man."

The Scholar's Edition is printed on stunning, pure white, acid-free Finch Fine 50 lb. paper; carefully set in the reading and beautiful Janson typeface, including the 1954 index, the most comprehensive ever done; covered in spectacular dark azure Odyssey cloth from Prague, the finest natural-finish, moisture-resistance book fabric in the world; secured by the finest caliper Binders board; protected by an impressive slipcase from the famous Old Dominion company; graced with antique-soapstone endpapers from Ecologic Fibers; casebound with the strongest Smyth-sewn signatures; fitted at head and foot with silken endbands, thick wrapped for durability; complemented with a double-faced, satin-finish ribbon marker; stamped with brilliant, non-tarnishing gold foil from Japan's Nakai International; and produced at R.R. Donnelly's famed Crawfordsville Bindery, where's America's finest books are assembled.

All told, The Scholar's Edition is ready for a lifetime or two of use. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Probably the best non fiction book ever.
Tim Tones
Ludwig von Mises was an intellectual giant, and this is in my opinion his greatest work, and possibly one of the most thoughtful and insightful books ever written.
At some time, anyone who seeks an understanding of economics must read this master work by Ludwig von Mises.
Mordecai ben-Ami

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 124 people found the following review helpful By D. W. MacKenzie on July 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
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.
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99 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Steve Jackson on September 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
HUMAN ACTION is the most important work of economic or social theory written in the twentieth century. It is also the most important defense of laissez faire capitalism ever written.

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was born in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. A prolific writer, he wrote two seminal works (SOCIALISM and THEORY OF MONEY AND CREDIT) before fleeing the Nazis. While living in Switzerland, he published an early version of this work in German in 1940. Over time, Mises added to it and rewrote it in English. Yale University Press published HUMAN ACTION in 1949.

This book isn't just a work of economics, but a full-orbed "science of human action." Starting from a few principles that Mises believed to be a priori, he deduces an entire body of economic theory. The first 200 pages of this 900-page work are heavily philosophical. I would not recommend readers skip this section. You can't understand what Mises was for unless you understand why he was for it. Mises' final work, THE ULTIMATE FOUNDATIONS OF ECONOMIC SCIENCE, deals with these methodological issues on a more elementary level.

HUMAN ACTION is a difficult work to read, particularly for those with minimal training in economics. Murray Rothbard's MAN, ECONOMY, AND STATE covers similar ground (at least as far as economics is concerned) but is more suitable for the beginner. Israel Kirzner has written the best introductory work on Mises.
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91 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Lord Chimp on May 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There is no way I can say all that I want to say in this review. Murray Rothbard has aptly said: "Every once in a while the human race pauses in the job of botching its affairs and redeems itself by producing a noble work of the intellect. . . . To state that _Human Action_ is a `must' book is a greater understatement. This is the economic Bible of the civilized man."
I would take Rothbard's praise further. This is not only the single most important economic tome ever, but also the most pathbreaking, definitive exposition of praxeology, the correct basis for social sciences and also necessarily the foundation for epistemology. Only a few living economists of the "Austrian" school of economics seem to have truly absorbed the true praxeological methodology forged by Mises.
Mises' contribution to economics cannot be understated. In basing economics on the axiomatic status of action, Mises established the ultimate foundation for economic science. The fact that humans act -- that is, human beings *act* purposively to reach subjectively chosen ends -- is, of course, irrefutable (to argue against the axiom of action is itself an action). This, however, may seem like a trivial observation. Humans act, big deal? Why is it so important? Its importance is in praxeological economics' methodology deductive chains of reasoning to realize the implications. In understanding what is implied by action - values, ends, means, choice, cost, preference, profit, and loss - economic science can be deduced logically, so it is a purely an a priori science where economic laws tell describe apodictically true relationships in the real world.
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104 of 120 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on March 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Ludwig von Mises's _Human Action_ is essential reading for any supporter of free-market economics (and it might be nice if some of the _enemies_ of economic liberty read it too). Mises's plan here is to place the science of economics on a firm axiomatic foundation. In particular, his aim is to derive economic theory from the axiom that (my paraphrase) human beings act to achieve ends under conditions of scarcity in a world in which finite and delimitable causes have finite and delimitable effects.
Two other major treatises will be of interest to readers of this work: Murray Rothbard's _Man, Economy and State_, and George Reisman's _Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics_.
I also agree with the other reviewer who suggests reading Carl Menger's _Principles of Economics_. Mises describes that work as the book that made an economist of him, and it's a much quicker read than any of the three major treatises I've named.
Also of great interest: Mises's _The Theory of Money and Credit_, described by Murray Rothbard as the best book on money ever written. And so it is.
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