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The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise Hardcover – May 8, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


George F. Will
“It is true, but insufficient, to argue that free enterprise makes us better off. Arthur Brooks makes the indispensable point that it also makes us better. Having stumbled far down the road to serfdom, we are much in need of Brooks’ trenchant case for a change of course.”

P. J. O’Rourke
“America’s tradition of being free provides greater economic growth and efficiency, better distribution of opportunities, and larger possibilities for the pursuit of happiness.  But what’s really important about being free is that it’s moral. Individual liberty and personal responsibility are right.  Collective restraint and communal irresponsibility are wrong. The Road to Freedom is a road from wrong to right.”

John Mackey, Co-Founder and CEO, Whole Foods Markets
“Arthur Brooks has written an important and timely book that shows how America became a prosperous and great nation through the free enterprise system of individual opportunity and entrepreneurship. He intelligently discusses the fundamental principles of ethics, fairness, helping the poor, providing a safety net, and the proper role of government in a free enterprise economy. In addition, he proposes policy reforms, which if our nation embraced them, would relatively quickly solve many of our nation’s most serious challenges. I heartily recommend this book as an excellent road map to create a prosperous, socially just, and ethical society.”

Congressman Paul Ryan
“Arthur Brooks knows, as America’s Founders knew, that free enterprise underpins the moral case for human freedom. Economic freedom produces unimaginable material prosperity, but it’s also the only economic form that encourages individuals to freely pursue their destinies, develop the character of self-responsibility, and strengthen communities. Brooks eloquently confronts the growing threat to economic freedom and human fulfillment and describes the fundamental choices Americans must make to get back on the right road.”

The Washington Times
“If this book, especially the first several chapters that describe so compellingly the unique freedom of the system of government the United States embraces, doesn’t make you want to stand up and salute the American flag, whisper a thanks to your immigrant predecessors or go purchase lunch from your local small business down the street in triumph, nothing will.”

The Weekly Standard
“Read The Road to Freedom for its explication of earned success, its definition of meritocratic fairness, and its moral commitment to using free exchange to improve the lives of the destitute.”

Clive Crook, The Atlantic
“Brooks is a smart, witty and engaging writer, and it's refreshing to see a conservative cast the argument for free enterprise in these terms.”

About the Author

Arthur C. Brooks is President of the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, DC. He is the author of nine books, including The Battle, Gross National Happiness, and Who Really Cares. Until 2009, Brooks was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. Previously, Brooks spent twelve years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles. He is a native of Seattle and currently lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife Ester and their three children.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046502940X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465029402
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Arthur C. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute. Until January 1, 2009, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. Throughout his career, Arthur has conducted research on the connections between culture, politics and economic life, and has published hundreds of articles and 10 books on subjects ranging from the economics of the arts to military operations research.

Born in 1964, Arthur grew up in Seattle in a family less interested in free enterprise than in the arts. At age 19, he dropped out of college to pursue a career as a professional French hornist. Arthur performed with the Annapolis Brass Quintet, toured with famed jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd, and spent several years with the City Orchestra of Barcelona. In Barcelona in 1991, he married Ester Munt-Brooks.

In 1992, Arthur and Ester moved to the U.S., where Ester taught languages and Arthur returned to college at night while teaching music during the day. He studied economics, math and languages, eventually earning bachelor's and master's degrees in economics and a Ph.D. in public policy. After finishing his doctorate, Arthur spent 10 years as a university professor, teaching economics, nonprofit management, and social entrepreneurship.

At the end of 2008, he left academia to join AEI as the institution's eleventh president. He speaks widely on behalf of AEI and the free enterprise movement all around the United States and world, and continues to write books and articles.

Arthur and Ester currently reside in Bethesda, Maryland, with their three children Joaquin, Carlos, and Marina.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Reading "The Road to Freedom" is an incredible experience from start to finish. For some time, I have looked for a way to teach my children and my friends abroad about what makes America unique and why our free enterprise system is so important. Arthur Brooks answers this challenge; he clearly articulates the case for free enterprise, why it is fair, why it is the best system for the poor and the sick, and why it is the system in which we can become truly happy. It is wonderful, as you read the book, to rediscover truths about what makes America such a special place. Our system rewards hard work and offers the most opportunity for every citizen, and I am so glad that Brooks explains how earned success - not money - makes free enterprise a truly moral way of life.

I am not a Republican, and it was refreshing to read a book that really is about defending free enterprise, not a Republican or right-wing political platform. Brooks explains that government does have a role in our society in protecting us from monopolies, corporate cronyism, and of course in protecting our civil liberties and our security. At the same time, by understanding what drives our free enterprise system, I feel Brooks teaches us how to find the right balance between government and our private lives.

Perhaps the best part of the book comes in the second half, in which Brooks switches from explaining the morality of free enterprise to applying this concept to policy issues, ranging from health care reform to taxes. Brooks gives so many policy suggestions that both embrace the free enterprise system and reject partisan labels; I hope every American reads this book and learns about the moral way to help our poor and sick and to maintain our right to the pursuit of happiness.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Brooks is truly the man of the hour. He delivers a hard-hitting message for those who love free enterprise and are struggling to craft a winning argument. With well-researched and thought-provoking analysis, he makes the claim that free enterprise advocates are losing the battle with big government for one simple reason: they argue with materialism and data, while their opponents argue from the heart. Humans are wired to respond to moral claims faster and stronger, he argues, and therefore, free enterprise advocates should open any discussion not with their head but with their hearts.

Dr. Brooks lays out the path for success in two parts. Part 1 of "The Road to Freedom" is a manifesto on the moral superiority of the free enterprise system. Only free enterprise encourages human flourishing by allowing each individual to define and pursue his success. Only free enterprise creates real opportunity and true fairness based on merit. And only free enterprise lifts up the poor by the billions and encourages a charitable community. While big government may want to do these things, it is incapable, as every government benefit turns into something to aid the well-connected or something that causes learned helplessness.

The book then takes a practical turn. Dr. Brooks provides a better role for government in today's society: providing a minimum safety net for the truly poor and vulnerable, and correcting for market failure where it can be done successfully and efficiently. He lays out the winning formula for any political discussion and applies it to today's most pressing domestic policy issues: tax reform, entitlements, national debt, economic growth, and job creation.

This book is a must-read for anyone who believes in the moral superiority of the free enterprise system.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70's, I've spent my life surrounded by the well-intentioned left. But my father gently and deliberately left The Fountainhead lying around the house at just the right strategic point in our impressionable teenage years, and began discussing political philosophy at the dinner table. We took the bait, and my brothers and I gradually evolved into passionate, freedom-loving, self-reliant libertarians (small L). As a parent myself now, I look back on what my father did and marvel at the delicate task he succeeded at. I've engaged in thousands of conversations with my left-leaning friends (that is 97% of all of them), and have tried countless angles to penetrate their ideological barriers, largely without success. My few politically like-minded cohorts admonish me to not waste my time -that, like my father, I should focus on my kids and write off the rest as unsavable. Yet, like a mathematician obsessed with an unsolved problem, it has remained one of my passions to find the formula that will part the clouds. I give that lengthy personal intro so that I can express that this book is an immensely useful tool for me, and for those like me who are frustrated in their debates with the Left. Mr. Brooks offers a truly fresh arsenal of perspectives and ideas that attack a neglected flank -the fairness argument for capitalism. The word 'fairness' itself has been usurped by the left (how many times has Obama whipped out his line about the rich paying their fair share?), yet Mr. Brooks calmly and rationally walks his readers through the irrefutable facts that prove why the free market, while not perfect, is by far the fairest system of all for the largest number of people, especially the poorest. After reading it, I have purchased copies for a dozen of my 'progressive' friends who are open minded enough to consider new ideas. This book is full of them.
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