“[T]his is a brilliant and extraordinary book. . . . It is brilliant in the perceptiveness, the incisiveness, the power, the scope of its analysis that presents—in carefully chosen, dramatically illuminating essentials the history of man’s long quest for freedom, from ancient Greece to World War II. It offers an unforgettable experience: a panorama of the centuries, as seen from the elevation of a truly grand intellectual scale.”
Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Newsletter
“The God of the Machine remains a classic of individualist thought. But it is not a pale historical artifact, locked in its time of origin. It is focused on the great continuing issues of civilization, which it confronts with the authority of Paterson's special character and experience. . . . [Paterson] was not merely a theorist; she had the creative imagination that brings theory to life and challenges the imaginations of others. There was nobody quite like Isabel Paterson, and there is nothing quite like The God of the Machine.”
—Stephen Cox, Reason
“Published by Putnam’s in May 1943, The God of the Machine displayed profound insights about the development of human freedom since ancient times and about the workings of a successful social order, all expressed in a lively style. . . . Paterson develops a consistent, comprehensive, courageous world view. She denounces conscription… paper money… hypocritical businessmen who covet government subsidies… and the New Deal Wagner Act which helped establish labor union monopolies. Reflecting on the Prohibition debacle, Paterson ridicules the notion that government can set moral standards for anyone. She joyfully celebrates private property, free markets, enterprising immigrants and gold money. What fun you’re going to have discovered, or rediscovering, this sensational book.”
“In her classic The God of the Machine, Isabel Paterson asks a devastating question: what gives you the steam-mill? Why have some societies had enormous scientific and material development while others stagnated? . . . Paterson’s search for an answer, articulated via a sustained metaphor of the ‘engineering principles’ of political economy needed to sustain the ‘flows’ of productive human energy, takes her from ancient Greece and Rome to Medieval Europe to the American Founding. . . . Paterson’s one-time protégé Ayn Rand said of The God of the Machine: ‘It is a sparkling book, with little gems of polemical fire scattered through almost every page, ranging from bright wit to the hard glitter of logic to the quiet radiance of a profound understanding.’ Paterson’s wit, logic, and understanding still cast light today, and The God of the Machine remains a source of illumination for modern readers seeking a better understanding of the preconditions for development and freedom.”
—Cato Institute, Libertarianism.org
About the Author
Isabel Paterson (1886-1961) was a journalist, critic, and author of nine books. She is considered to be one of the founders of American libertarianism.
Stephen Cox is professor of literature and director of the Humanities Program at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of The Woman and the Dynamo: Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America.