- Hardcover: 1668 pages
- Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute (January 15, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0945466269
- ISBN-13: 978-0945466260
- Package Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.6 x 5.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,892,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Conceived in Liberty (4 Volume Set)
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Showing 1-8 of 28 reviews
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Seriously, Dr. Rothbard states in his preface that he set out to return the historical narrative to history, and he achieves his goal magnificently. Not only is his unique perspective integral in interpreting the events leading to the American Revolution, but he returns the "who, what, when, and where" back to history (and it's his perspective that is so integral in clarifying the "why"). My introduction was no exaggeration, and I can honestly say I learned more facts of history from this text that any course I have ever taken. I must admit my knowledge of colonial American history was pretty poor to begin with, but I was astonished at how much I learned about the American Revolution (a period of which I though I was much more versed).
Further, his "Liberty versus Power" perspective provides for ultimate clarity when determining the motivations behind colonial & revolutionary period events. Many of the mythical figures of the revolution lose their sainthood when checked through the prism of Rothbard's perspective. To say the least, Ben Franklin and Murray probably don't enjoy each others company at the Thursday night card game in the afterlife, as he shows Franklin to have been quite the opportunist - happy to take his turn at the public trough to enjoy the political largesse, and certainly no radical friend of liberty. Another spoiler, George Washington was NOT a military genius (I'll give you a minute to catch your breath.), ... but Rothbard's keen insight is not reserved for the moderates and conservatives, either, as he is just as forthright concerning Jefferson, Henry, and the typically more libertarian forefathers. More importantly, I learned many new figures of American (and British) history, and their importance to the struggle for liberty. As one example, I knew of Ethan Allen before this book, but Murray's coverage of Allen's struggles against the State of New York in protecting the lands of his Green Mountain community was new to me. That Allen managed to help protect the lands of the settlers in the region from feudal New York oligarchs attempting to confiscate their property, without ever killing a single person in the struggle, is nothing short of astonishing.
This is a rather voluminous work, and he does get mired in meticulous descriptions in an effort to be as thorough as possible (in his goal of getting the who, what, when, where back in history), but overall well worth it. Beyond this, his economic genius allows him to understand the ramifications of policy that would escape traditional historians. For $4 you can't go wrong, and to be honest it would be well worth much more to own this set in hardcover.
Beginning with the founding of the English colonies on the eastern seaboard, Rothbard ruthlessly applies his power-vs.-freedom analysis to events well-known and some not-so-well known. Puritans are cast as petty religious tyrants, and Roger Williams, who fled from tyranny only to become a tyrant himself, is shown to be a hypocrite. Almost all colonists, with the exception of Quakers and Moravians, are judged guilty of injustice towards Indians. Revered figures such as Benjamin Franklin and George Washington are viewed in a skeptical light.
Not even all libertarians will agree with some parts of Rothbard's analyses, but there is no other work of history that I'm aware of that treats the topic of early American history in such a logical and consistent manner. One would hope that more historians would follow in Rothbard's footsteps.
It's not just a history book about the early explorations of the continent to the founding of America, it's also an economics book. One caveat is that you have no excuse to skip his explanations of economics; he actually makes sense.
This history book is actually 4 volumes in one book and will tell you more than you ever dreamed about the American colonies and how they came to form a nation.
Rothbard is never a windy romantic or hypocritical deconstructionist; he is brilliant and honest throughout. It's a common sense in a real history book.