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Libertarianism, from A to Z [Bargain Price] [Hardcover]

by Jeffrey A. Miron
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 4, 2010 0465019439
Libertarian principles seem basic enough—keep government out of boardrooms, bedrooms, and wallets, and let markets work the way they should. But what reasoning justifies those stances, and how can they be elucidated clearly and applied consistently? In Libertarianism, from A to Z, acclaimed Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron sets the record straight with a dictionary that takes the reader beyond the mere surface of libertarian thought to reveal the philosophy’s underlying and compelling logic.

Tackling subjects as diverse as prostitution and drugs, the financial crises and the government bailouts, the legality of abortion, and the War on Terror, Miron takes the reader on a tour of libertarian thought. He draws on consequentialist principles that balance the costs and benefits of any given government intervention, emphasizing personal liberty and free markets. Miron never flinches from following those principles to their logical and sometimes controversial ends. Along the way, readers get a charming and engaging lesson in how to think like a libertarian.

Principled, surprising, and thought provoking, Libertarianism, from A to Z, has everything a bourgeoning libertarian—or any responsible citizen—needs to know.

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Editorial Reviews


Kevin M. Murphy, George J. Stigler Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, Booth School of Business, the University of Chicago
"In Libertarianism, from A to Z, Jeff Miron provides a much needed introduction to Libertarian thinking. In the process, he demonstrates the power of economic analysis. His book provides a much needed lesson in how to reach a conclusion rather than start with one. Students and pundits could benefit greatly from reading Miron’s work and following his example."

Brink Lindsey, Vice President for Research, Cato Institute
"In clear, common-sense prose, Jeffrey Miron looks at government policies from A to Z. To all of them he applies one simple test: do the benefits of government action outweigh the costs? And most of the time, he concludes the answer is no. Whether or not you always agree with him, you'll find your own thinking sharpened by his insistent, incisive skepticism."
“An excellent small volume that explains the libertarian approach and philosophy as it applies to a wide variety of issues and topics…With its wealth of information, this book deserves a place on the shelves of all academic libraries…Essential.”


About the Author

Jeffrey Miron is a senior lecturer and the Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Harvard economics department, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, and the former chair of the Boston University economics department He has appeared on CNN, Fox, CNBC, Bloomberg, and PBS’s “News Hour,” and his writing and opinions appear frequently in media outlets such as the New York Times, Forbes, and He lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (May 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465019439
  • ASIN: B004NSVG94
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,463,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As an introductory primer, not bad June 3, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A to Z provides an acceptable, contemporary introduction to libertarian thinking. I picked it up (Kindle version for Blackberry) after being favorably impressed with the author's speaking ability from listening to a Cato podcast. As a speaker, Mr. Miron is easy to listen to, and as a writer, he's easily read. The book's chief strength is the use of concise, clear language and straightforward reasoning throughout. Its style makes for light reading suitable for that plane ride to the political convention of your choice, and most readers will easily finish it within a few hours. It makes little or no overt effort to proselytize the reader to its libertarian point of view, cites little or no actual evidence in support of its suppositions, draws few contrasts with competing political philosophies, and makes little effort to comment on current events. The "A to Z" organizational principle is not the most effective way to present a political philosophy, but is at least handy for locating topics of interest. Although I skimmed some topics, as a whole the writing remains consistently engaging from start to finish, and reads effortlessly with relatively little repetition. All in all, it is worth reading if your summer reading list includes works on political philosophy and you are interested in a high-level view of libertarianism as it exists today.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Encyclopedic exposition of libertarian thought May 3, 2010
Jeffrey Miron is Director of Undergraduate Studies at Harvard's economics department. He's also an outspoken libertarian (see ).

This book is not intended as a top-heavy (theoretical) exposition of libertarianism. It's meant to introduce readers to the coherent fundamentals of libertarian thought.

Topics dealt with include everything from abortion and taxpayer subsidized sports stadiums to the sale of human body parts and global warming.

I highly recommend this book, whether you're a libertarian or not, and perhaps especially if you're not, because it provides a very clear, unambiguous looking glass into the mind of the libertarian.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing June 14, 2010
I'm a libertarian and an economics buff, and so I was pretty excited about this book, especially when I saw it being touted by some of my favorite economist bloggers. Well, it's very disappointing.

The book is setup sort of like an encyclopedia, where each entry is a short explanation of the libertarian arguments surrounding an issue. The problem is that the arguments are presented without supporting evidence, and without bothering to rebut the most obvious objections and counter-arguments from the other side (the other side being those who see government intervention to be the ideal tool to solve any societal or economic problem). As a result, even those of us who are already in the libertarian camp will tend to find the book unpersuasive. It certainly will not convert any non-believers.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Falls sadly short of a worthwile read... August 1, 2010
By godmyth
The most serious drawback to Miron's book is that which may influence its popularity, namely it's size. Admirable, indeed, is Miron's attempt at brevity however the absence of any sort of bibliography, footnotes, endnotes or textual notes is a glaring omission that simply cannot be overlooked in light of some of the astounding claims that the author makes. That he seems to flip flop like a fish out of water is also problematic.

For example, Miron writes that "corruption arises mainly because of laws that impede private profit opportunities or interfere with mutually beneficial exchange (p.49)" Considering the longstanding corruptness of the U.S. government I find this statement nearly as difficult to accept as Miron's belief that politicians, bemoaning corruption, pass laws seeking to curtail it (p.48).

In discussing discrimination Miron believes (p.58) that "discrimination is unlikely to be substantial in market economies because employers, lenders, universities, and others who discriminate put themselves at a competitive disadvantage." One wonders if Miron believes that discrimination would be less rampant than it is today without the institution of anti-discrimination laws.

Concerning campaign finance regulation Miron states (p.30) that "neither theory nor evidence indicates that spending has a large impact on a candidate's electoral success" but then acquiesces that spending is "only one part of winning elections." I'm left wondering what role he really sees campaign finance playing in the election process.

"Laws against violence and theft," he writes, "do not forbid mutually beneficial exchange or interfere with purely voluntary actions, while prohibitions do" (p.61).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surface level view of Libertarianism February 26, 2012
Libertarianism, A to Z is a quick, and simple read, useful for a reference. Miron does explain that the book is to be used as a reference and admits that it is not a deep and penetrating document attempting to expose the philosophical views of the Libertarian though, but it does an effective job at quickly explaining to the reader the mainstream view of Libertarianism. The book often overlaps in many areas--something that the author also admits--so it can, at times, be quite dull; nevertheless, the book is a great first read for anyone who would like understand what a Libertarian believes. The author states that the book is based off of consequential Libertarianism, rather than rights-based Libertarianism, so Miron supports his arguments with numerous hard facts of why the libertarian view of non-interventionism is often more beneficial than the modern ways of interventionism. Overall this books a quick read that can enlighten one to the mainstream views of Libertarianism; but in order to expand further one must read more literature on Libertarianism--this book is not enough for a deep understanding.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Covers the Landscape
Useful predominantly as a reference for libertarian views on various topics, Libertarianism from A to Z suffers from an encyclopedic layout where, instead of being narrative, it... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Edward J. Barton
5.0 out of 5 stars A quick read with lots of information
A quick read with lots of information by a professor. He teaches at George Mason University & is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute which is a libertarian think tank. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Robert E. Duncan
2.0 out of 5 stars No rights, just expediency
Miron's approach is to explain why many popular activities of government are unlikely to achieve their intended results. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Dave Hood
4.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought
With the current political climate being what it is, the author makes a strong statement for smaller government. Read more
Published on September 14, 2011 by Shirl
2.0 out of 5 stars a disappointing book that ignores reality
Well, written, yes. Broad spectrum of issues, yes. Authoritative Libertarian thought? Maybe.

After being a lifetime conservative Libertarian of the Goldwater/Buckley... Read more
Published on May 15, 2011 by Roman Midnight Music
5.0 out of 5 stars A good primer
A journey accross a number of issues from a libertarian viewpoint. Some are thought through with greater clarity and depth than others. Read more
Published on March 24, 2011 by KAP
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick shipping, good product
The product came on time in the condition described. The book was a little warped which was probably due to shipping. Overall good, smooth transaction!
Published on January 13, 2011 by Lana
2.0 out of 5 stars Oversimplified
I came to this book with high hopes, but was soon disappointed. Author Jeffrey Miron states that the essence of his approach, which he calls "consequential libertarianism," is a... Read more
Published on January 4, 2011 by Bill2011
3.0 out of 5 stars Concise, highly readable book with a few problems.
Miron's encylopedic-format book on Libertarianism is a decent introduction to the philosophy but, as other reviewers have written, is certainly not perfect. Read more
Published on September 29, 2010 by Gods' Will Know-It-All
5.0 out of 5 stars High school to college-level holdings will welcome this discussion
Libertarianism from A to Z offers a fine survey of how to think of all aspects of government from the libertarian perspective, offering a different view and analytical approach... Read more
Published on July 18, 2010 by Midwest Book Review
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