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Time Will Run Back Paperback – January 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute (2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610160258
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610160254
  • ASIN: B000WU475C
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,636,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Cumbow on September 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Set in the year 2100, Wonworld is the global socialist police state run from Moscow. Civilization has not progressed (and has even digressed somewhat) since the victory of Marxist socialism over capitalism in the 20th century. A thin, but entertaining, story of political intrigue follows the rise of a new young dictator to world prominence. Because he has been isolated on an island for most of his life (a necessary plot device) he can see that something is wrong in the socialist paradise (but he's not sure what). Slowly and gropingly he (with the help of a similarly-minded politburo member) tries to figure out and correct the problems of socialism. They do this over a modest backdrop of character development and plot twists.

The meat of the book consists of the Socratic arguments between Peter (the young dictator) and Adams (his confidant). Conjoining those arguments are their attempts to implement economic policies (often in dangerous conflict with the status quo) to improve the life of the people. Sometimes they guess right. Sometimes wrong. In either case, Hazlitt uses each situation to teach us something about economics, and this is where Hazlitt shines. He is a master at making economics understandable anyway (in his non-fiction books), but using fiction to dramatize his points works extremely well.

Ultimately, Peter and Adams "rediscover" freedom and capitalism, but not without encountering some difficult philosophical questions - both on their journey and facing them in their future.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark Ledbetter on July 30, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Human nature, chief, seems to be a little more stubborn than Marx and Engels supposed."

The year is 2100. It's been a hundred and fifty some years since the Russian conquest and the establishment of the Soviet Socialist Republic of the World. The new dictator, a non-dictatorial type who achieved his position accidentally through a fortuitous set of circumstances, is grappling with the dual problems of 1) how to brighten the dreary fear-driven existence of the proletariat, and 2) why the Dictatorship of the Proletariat has not withered away as, according to Marx, it was supposed to do.

The Dictator and his top aide (quoted above on human nature) embark on a series of reforms and in the process rediscover money and free market economics.

In the 1950s, the stark reality of the true face of communism was staring down the free world. This seems to have spawned a brief era of un-Utopias: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm, Brave New World. There was one more: Time Will Run Back. I discovered this because it's always high on the "this reader also bought" list for people who purchased my own history books. So I kindled it.

As literature, it's nowhere in the same league as Orwell, but it was never intended to be. As Orwell did, this book recreates a world where we are compelled by the state to "be good," with all the horrible consequences. But it is something else: a tutorial on how the Hidden Hand works, how the economy, like ecology, finds the most efficient solutions only when, paradoxically, there is no higher authority making the decisions.

Henry Hazlitt is always a great explicator of the economics of freedom. He is here, too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Guy Harrison on April 26, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this when I was maybe 13 in the 1970s and it really influenced my understandings of the benefits of free market economics vs planned economies. The plot is a bit stilted, and ideologically it is clearly on the side of less regulation vs more, but in terms of understanding how communism inevitably leads to totalitarianism and on concepts like the "invisible hand" it was very influential for me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John on November 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have read many times that "Economics in One Lesson" (1946) was much better than "Time Will Run Back" (1951). The argument is that Hazlitt was better at writing about economics directly than he was at putting economic theory into the form of a novel.

However, there is some fresh thinking in "Time Will Run Back." It is not just the same ideas from "Economics in One Lesson" rehashed in the form of a novel.

I loved the idiocy of the government in "Time Will Run Back." The novel is very funny at times because the fictitious government is so absurdly stupid. And the funniest thing - real governments often are exactly like this.

Hazlitt's 'parody' of the mindset of people who live under totalitarianism was so accurate that he predicted, already in 1951, the challenge that occurred when the USSR disintegrated in the 1990's. "Perhaps the greatest vice of the communist system ... was that it destroyed all sense of justice and truth, and made its only 'morality' consist in absolute obedience to the commands of the dictator."

John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
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