From Publishers Weekly
Modern libertarians see themselves as the loyal opposition to the totalitarian tendencies of centralized power, in an American tradition reaching back to the anti-Federalists. Doherty's astute history shows where that consensus comes from and where it fractures along personal, political and practical lines. As a procapitalist and antistatist philosophy, libertarianism has had its greatest impact in economics. But Doherty shows that modern libertarianism since the 1940s, and increasingly since the 1980s, has been politically and ideologically influential, too. Whether believers in a small state regulating only contracts and national defense, or no state at all (like self-described âanarcho-capitalistâ Murray Rothbard), libertarians have rooted themselves in a number of institutions—from schools, publications and think tanks to the Libertarian Party, the country's third-largest ticket. Reason magazine senior editor Doherty conveys an insider's understanding in clear, confident prose. However, his sympathies resist questioning the fundamental assumption uniting diverse ideas, personalities and institutions: the belief in the power of completely unfettered markets to bring about the best possible society. Though partisan and sometimes hagiographic, Doherty's well-researched history avoids polemics in outlining a vital political orientation that cuts across the political spectrum.
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"Doherty helps explain why libertarianism is the biggest political movement nobody ever heard of." -- Chicago Sun-Times, July 5, 2007
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"Doherty's fascinating and, indeed, freewheeling history reminds us that curmudgeonly people can shape the world too" -- The American, February 5, 2007
"Mr. Doherty has rescued libertarianism from its own obscurity, eloquently capturing the appeal of the 'pure idea.'" -- The Wall Street Journal online, February 15, 2007
"[Doherty's] fierce intelligence growls at your from the page." -- BBC Focus, June 1, 2007
"[Doherty] has done an impressive job of pulling together an interesting, enlightening, and entertaining history of the American libertarian movement." -- (Laissez Faire Books)
"[Doherty] has written what should be the standard intellectual history of libertarianism.... comprehensive and insightful... clear, wry prose." -- City Journal, April 20, 2007
"quite simply, the best book of its kind ever written...an extraordinary accomplishment...an extremely entertaining and informative ride..." -- National Review, May 14, 2007
"remarkably engaging and encyclopedic history" -- New York Sun, January 24, 2007
"serious, comprehensive history of libertarianism... this scholarly and far-reaching account is necessary for collections of modern American history and politics." -- Library Journal, March 1, 2007
"Brian Doherty's sympathetic, well-informed and endlessly entertaining tour traces the ways in which American libertarianism punches above its weight." -- The Financial Times