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Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism Hardcover – September 4, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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About the Author

Jorg Guido Hulsmann, professor of economics at the University of Paris (Angers), tells the full story of his dramatic and inspiring life and contributions – and in the course of it, provides not only a reconstruction of the history of the Austrian School of economics of which Mises was the leading expositor, and not only of the entire history of economic thought on the Continent and the United States, but also of the political and intellectual history of the 20th century.

Virtually everything in this book is new, a result of ten years of combing archives in five countries but of an unprecedented access to the voluminous Mises’s papers and to those of Mises’s colleagues, written by an author who himself is a master of the discipline and all the  languages involved (German, English, and French). And though the book is huge (1,200 pages) it reads like a great novel, with a fast pace and high drama.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1143 pages
  • Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute; 1st edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193355018X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933550183
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #925,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ira Katz on October 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Great lives make great biographies. If only this were always true. One problem is that many biographies, including very long books, are written about the mediocre, or even the boring (think of politicians). Another problem is that so often a hash is made of the effort to explain an interesting life. I am happy to report that Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism by Jörg Guido Hülsmann is a great biography of a great life. More precisely, this book tells the story of the great ideas, generated by a great mind, in the context of the life of a very good man, Ludwig von Mises.

To write about this book one must consider readers as two kinds of people; those who have read Human Action and those who have not. For those who have read Mises' magnum opus, Last Knight will hold a special place in their libraries, probably on the shelf next to Human Action. To have read Human Action implies that a person is aware of and understands Austrian economics. Furthermore, the normal response to this effort (it must be admitted that it is not an easy read) is a paradigm shift in thought, if not life. Certainly all aspects of economics and politics are then understood in a fresh light; such that events of the day that were once an incomprehensible blur come into sharp focus, and the myths and lies of the ruling class become as obvious as Pinocchio's nose, or more aptly, the emperor's new clothes. For these people Last Knight quenches the thirst for knowledge about the man, his personality, life, and times. It is also a wonderful history of ideas, depicting the paths to (Menger and Böhm-Bawerk) and from (Hayek and Rothbard) Human Action. I have already seen that this can be a controversial exercise among those who claim to be Austrian economists but well worth the effort.
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Format: Hardcover
Reading this book was a pleasure. It is not just that this book is extremely readable, it is also a great work in the history of ideas and as a biography very fitting to the greatest mind of the social sciences, Ludwig von Mises. Maybe that's what makes reading it so exciting: that you come to realize just how much Mises contributed to economics and the social sciences, and with what courage and integrity he did it (in light of the hostile intellectual climate he faced in both Europe and the US).

In addition, I benefited from Hülsmann's discussion of the differences in marginal value theory between the competing schools and of his discussion of Mises's neglected masterpiece Theory and History. Throughout the book, such theoretically heavy topics are explained with remarkable lightness by professor Hülsmann.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was ten years in the making and the results are still beyond what anyone expected. Too many books on the Austrian School, particularly by Americans on what happened in European thought, continue to recycle the same old secondary sources, so you hardly ever read anything new.

But this book goes to the sources themselves, made possibly the author's broad language facility (French, German, English, Spanish, Latin), his background in the European tradition, and his access to libraries all over the Continent.

Thus does this book do more than tell about the life and work of Mises (and even though I thought I knew Mises, I didn't), it goes further to pretty well displace all other English-language books on the history of economics ideas as they pertain to the Austrian tradition.

What's more, it reads like a novel, so the otherwise scary fact of its size is not an issue. The prose is clean, the research completely fresh, and the subject matter as engaging as one might expect. Here we get a detailed account of the titanic struggles of the 20th century between socialism and capitalism, freedom and dictatorship, central planning and the free market, positivism and praxeology - it's all here.

In a time when economists are ever more specialized, this book comes as a reminder that there are big issues at stake, and that it requires courage and steadfastness to get in there and fight for what is right. Mises certainly did.

It is a phenomenal achievement for any scholar.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an outstanding biography of a great economist and philosopher. Ludwig von Mises is the answer to everyone exasperated by the incomprehensible jargon and navel-gazing of modern day economics. His economics of individual action extends beyond economics to the foundation for liberty in society. This biography does a good job (in 1000+ pages) of placing the development of Mises' theories in the context of his times and of distinguishing sometimes subtle differences between similar arguments (such as Hayek on socialist calculation).

Beyond the specifics of Mises's theories, this is a great biography of a genius rejected in his own time, who persevered under crushing adversity and gave life to works that will endure for many lifetimes.

This biography is not a suitable introduction to Mises and his thoughts, although it presents a very good social history of Austria from before WWI to WWII. Better to start with Mises's own works: Liberalism, Theory Of Money & Credit, and Human Action. For anyone familiar with Mises, however, this book is a perfect gift and a must-have.

Liberty is a flickering concept in our world. It can survive as a concept and principle only if understood and defended by individuals. Ludwig von Mises was the greatest advocate for liberty, for he presents a value-neutral argument for the importance of maximum liberty in any society. When the majority of individuals knows who Mises is (if not understands him completely) and when this biography reaches a best-seller list, we can rest assured that individual liberty will be preserved.
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