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The Discovery of Freedom: Man's Struggle Against Authority [Paperback]

by Rose Wilder Lane, Roger Lea MacBride, Hans F. Sennholz
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1993 0930073002 978-0930073008 3rd
Book by Rose Wilder Lane

Editorial Reviews

From Scientific American

"There's a book you should read," Ruth Dazey, my secretary, said one day.

Preoccupied, I nodded. Pencil and pad at hand I said, "Title and author, please."

"Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane."

I scribbled the information. "Fine. Thanks."

It took awhile to locate a copy. Discovery of Freedom wasn't available in book stores, but a worn volume was finally found in a used book emporium and the purchase was made. I took the book home with me and began to read it that very evening.

I was captivated, enthralled, caught up in the grandeur of the concepts which marched one after another across the pages.

Here is an epic depicting the story of humanity. It provided a backdrop and spotlighted performances by its stars. It is philosophy and history at the same time. But it is a record of human history, not a story of generals or politicians, preening and strutting before the masses. It is about the people who build the bridges, cut down the trees, plant the crops, sail the seas, who mine and manufacture, who have children and who suffer and survive and somehow manage to make life possible and even pleasant.

It is a story which contains wry humor, satire, and much wisdom. And there is a thread of wisdom which can shake a person to the roots. I couldn't put the book down. I absorbed everything in it. Or, perhaps more accurately, the book absorbed me. It is one of the great books of the twentieth century.


The impact of Discovery creeps up on you. It begins with sentiments that seem simple and even self-evident. But as you proceed, you find yourself simply understanding so much about the world we live in that you should have known, but didn't. That is the power of the novelist at work: Lane makes you see the truth, and comprehend it, too.--Roy A. Childs, Jr. in Laissez Faire Review -- Roy A. Childs, Jr. in Laissez Faire Review

[This is] a work that is so powerful it may well have launched the modern freedom movement. Originally published in 1943, Discovery had the impact of a lightening bolt, setting intellectual fires that burn brighter than ever among the modern intellectuals who are leading the growing assault on government control of our lives.

This is a book of timeless importance. It must be read by anyone who is seriously interested in the heritage of liberty--not just in America, but the world over. And reading it is a joy. Lane, who is said to have written the book 'at white heat,' was at once a brilliant thinker and a gifted storyteller.

This book is a withering attack on statism, nationalism, and what Nobel Laureate F. A. Hayek calls the 'fatal conceit' of national economic planning. It is an intellectual tour de force that stood up to the collectivist paradigm of its time and pointed the way to rediscovering the principles of the American Revolution--a true revolution unlike those of the Old World that 'are revolutions only in the sense that a wheel's turning is a revolution.' Her exciting description of the revolutionary period (you can tell she wishes she'd been there to lend a hand to Paine, Mason, Jefferson and the gang) is the best of a brilliant book.

Rose Wilder Lane was a truly remarkable woman. Like Jefferson, she attacked life, living it to the fullest, as adventurer, journalist, world traveller, iconoclast, and just prior to her death, war corespondent in Vietnam. Not surprisingly, the clear-eyed determination and supercharged energy she brings to attacking the enemies of liberty in Discovery is unique among prominent proliberty writers. -- Ed Crane, president, Cato Institute

Product Details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Fox & Wilkes; 3rd edition (1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930073002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930073008
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #587,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The slow march of Freedom April 4, 2009
This philosophical history of freedom is not flawless but provides extraordinary insights as it traces the stages in the discovery of individual liberty from the earliest times. The work reveals salient discernment, uncovers forgotten history and shows unintended prescience. Explaining how the human mind works with standards of value, Lane identifies three crucial factors: the nature of human energy, the recognition of the human race as one & the quest for the ideal method for individuals to combine their energies.

Part One (The Old World) contains discussions of antiquity when life was viewed as cyclical and authority was absolute; Plato's dictatorship of the intellectuals & Spengler's theory of the rise & fall of civilizations; Communism, including the early collectivist experiments in the American colonies, and planned economies. The author points out that many revolutions just represent the turning of a wheel around a motionless center; a new gang replaces the old but individual freedom never materializes. Enormous waste occurs when authority is enforced in the production & distribution of material goods.

Part Two (The Old World) explores the steps that led to a free society in the USA. First there was Abraham who embraced the concept that God created human beings as free agents. Later there was Moses, the Ten Commandments and Israel under the Judges which was a libertarian society. Lane emphasizes the significance of Samuel's warning to the Israelites when they demanded a king. Her
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is not only the clearest, most concise book of the worth, and means of achieving, individual freedom, but it reads like a well written novel. Insights from her travels; whether having dinner with the King of Albania, or visiting the centuries old cave dwellings in the same country or dealing with the mindless red tape in Paris, Ms Lane sifts through the socialist failures past and present in a thorough, yet entertaining fashion. Anyone with even a passing interest in the philosophy of freedom will benefit from this book. And libertarian book addicts will also learn something from the Timeliness of this 50 year old book, re-published this year.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historic Book July 20, 1997
By A Customer
History does not lie (unless liberals re-write it), and Lane uses it most effectivly to illuminate the folly and fraud of the perceived need for government interference in the affairs of economics and the lives of citizens. The book opens with an eloquent statement of the human condition that is a rudimentary prerequisite to any discussion of political philosophy, but commonly ignored. Lane then proceedes to expose one governmental failure after another, in chronological order, plagued by monarchy, collectivism, religion and the peoples own ingrained belief that they must be governed.

This book will make you thirsty for more history!
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparkling perspective on the nature of our species July 23, 1999
By A Customer
"Here lies a planet, whirling in sunlit space..." From the opening words throughout the book to the concluding "...set the whole world free" Lane grabs you by the cerebellum and doesn't let go.
(By the way, this book is not by Hanz Sennholz, it's by Rose Wilder Lane, daughter of Laura Engalls Wilder.)
She admitted later that she'd introduced technical errors having written it "at white heat", yet the principles are as sound and unimpeachable as ever you'll read. If you've ever wondered about the nature of liberty and the history of freedom--from Jesus through Mohammed to America--read this book!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A High School and College MUST READ February 4, 2005
No wonder the publishers in 1943 did not push this book! It is filled with truth about Freedom and very educational. Not at all what anyone who likes to control people would want you to know about. What is Freedom, what are people operating with instead. What a great book. I am sorry no one ever had me read this book years ago. Such an uplifting style of writing. In this day and age, our Liberty and Freedom is slowly being taken away because we don't know what freedom is. This book explains it simply and with great examples. Thanks Rose Wilder Lane...
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just read it. September 25, 2001
By A Customer
I've been recommending this book for years. I keep several extras on my shelf to give away.
And, by the way...I'm a professional author, and I'm 'frugal'.
Enough said.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I stumbled across this book in an Amazon review and I am so glad I did. More than any other book I have read, this one tells the story of the United States of America in the context of the story of human freedom throughout the ages, and makes one appreciate how rare and unique this gift we have inherited (and often take for granted). Rose Wilder Lane is uncompromising, but also inspiring. God is part of the equation of freedom, and freedom is part of the natural order that allows human energy its full expression. Authority, in the form of governmental control, is what stifles human energy and has unceasingly stymied human progress. While written during World War II, I think her observations are just as accurate, and her warnings now more than ever need to be heard. Her recounting of history is unconventional, but seems accurate to me (I've read enough history to be a fair judge). Everyone, especially every American, should read this book to understand the unique and special legacy we've inherited and should strive to preserve. If you can't get a hold of a copy, it is also available via the author's biography on Wikipedia.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Five Star Book
I believe it was one of the most important books I've read, It gave me a new appreciation of our unique country and how blessed I am to live in the United States of America.
Published 3 days ago by Darlene Garske
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must read!!
This is a masterpiece of human thought! Rose Wilder Lane left us with a. little piece of a past we must not forget.
Published 7 months ago by Kurt F. Colucci
4.0 out of 5 stars Islam and the USA, co-saviors?
I was recently challenged by an anarchist Facebook friend to read The Discovery of Freedom, so I found a free PDF edition. Having read it, I will now buy the Kindle edition. Read more
Published 9 months ago by David M. Zuniga
5.0 out of 5 stars The Discovery of Freedom
This is a really fine book. Its analysis of individual freedom and its effect on socieities is wide ranging, unique, thought provoking. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Paul Schweikert
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for every American...and every other person on the...
Clear. Precise. Powerful. Eye-opening in a wonderful way. The principles in this book should be taught each year from K-12 and again in college. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Hawley Creek
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 stars not available
This book is explosive. Other reviews have mainly done it plenty of justice.

The point I want to add is that the book suffers slightly from poor editing, but I believe I... Read more
Published 16 months ago by C. Hale
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous essay on freedom.
Forget high school government and econ classes. Forget American history and psychology. All you need to do is read this short, exquisite work.

Ms. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Michael G. Hignite
5.0 out of 5 stars better than Isabel Paterson
I am a big Ayn Rand fan, and that is how I got interested in Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel Paterson.

I have now read Lane's "The Discovery of Freedom" and Paterson's "The... Read more
Published on October 7, 2011 by John
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book of timeless importance.
[This is] a work that is so powerful it may well have launched the modern freedom movement. Originally published in 1943, Discovery had the impact of a lightening bolt, setting... Read more
Published on July 20, 2010 by Mike Bayer, CFP
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, visionary author
This is one excellent book. This woman was a true visionary. She saw and understood the world we live in like few others. Read more
Published on March 7, 2010 by TurboNerd
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