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Human Action: A Treatise On Economics
by Ludwig Von Mises
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Henry Hazlitt, Newsweek
It should become the leading text of everyone who believes in freedom, in individualism, and in the ability of a free-market economy not only to outdistance any government-planned system in the production of goods and services for the masses, but to promote and safeguard . . . those intellectual, cultural, and moral values upon which all civilization ultimately rests.
William H. Peterson, adjunct scholar, Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.
Human Action says it all. In this towering masterwork, Mises makes the case for limited government and a free society, pointing out the inseparability between freedom and free enterprise -- that you can't have one without the other.
Investor's Business Daily, April 6, 1999
Can great books live on, even in the Internet age? The re-release of an old classic argues yes.
Every now and then a book comes along that both sums up and extends the collected wisdom of some science. Human Action, by Ludwig von Mises, was such a book. Fifty years after it first came out, it is still one of the classics of economics....
There are few economic subjects Mises doesn't touch on in Human Action. Mises clearly explains a range of complex economic ideas -- from inflation to monopoly to government interference in the market. He examines and debunks Marxist notions of class conflict and capitalist exploitation of workers. And he outlines a powerful theory of the causes of business cycles.
But Mises goes beyond pure economics, defending the idea of science and logic itself. His criticisms of those who hold there is no such thing as objective truth seem relevant today when many in the academy decry reason as a tool used to oppress others.
Few books remain in print for 50 years. And few still speak to the vital debates of the day. Human Action is one of those.
Three factors came together to make it essential this year: the 50th anniversary of the book, the discovery that changes and omissions in the 1963 and 1966 editions were more extensive and deleterious than had previously been known, and the unearthing of archives at Yale University and Grove City College that were used in the preparation of the introduction.
We spared no expense with this book, using the finest binding, paper, and printing available. Everyone who has purchased it has been astonished at its quality and sheer beauty. At last, with this Scholar's Edition, the master's great work is restored for the ages.
Murray N. Rothbard had it right when he said of the 1949 edition: "Every once in a while the human race pauses in the job of botching its affairs and redeems itself by producing a noble work of the intellect.... To state that Human Action is a must' book is a great understatement. This is the economic bible for the civilized man."
The Scholar's Edition is printed on stunning, pure white, acid-free Finch Fine 50 lb. paper; carefully set in the reading and beautiful Janson typeface, including the 1954 index, the most comprehensive ever done; covered in spectacular dark azure Odyssey cloth from Prague, the finest natural-finish, moisture-resistance book fabric in the world; secured by the finest caliper Binders board; protected by an impressive slipcase from the famous Old Dominion company; graced with antique-soapstone endpapers from Ecologic Fibers; casebound with the strongest Smyth-sewn signatures; fitted at head and foot with silken endbands, thick wrapped for durability; complemented with a double-faced, satin-finish ribbon marker; stamped with brilliant, non-tarnishing gold foil from Japan's Nakai International; and produced at R.R. Donnelly's famed Crawfordsville Bindery, where's America's finest books are assembled.
All told, The Scholar's Edition is ready for a lifetime or two of use.
Once in great while, a book appears that both embodies and dramatically extends centuries of accumulated wisdom in a particular discipline, and, at the same time, radically challenges the intellectual and political consensus of the day. Human Action by Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) is such a book, and more: a comprehensive treatise on economic science that would lay the foundation for a massive shift in intellectual opinion that is still working itself out fifty years after publication.
Not even such milestones in the history of economic thought as Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, Alfred Marshall's Principles, Karl Marx's Capital, or J.M. Keynes's General Theory can be said to have enduring significance and embody such persuasive power that today's students and scholars, as much as those who read it when it first appeared, are so fully drawn into the author's way of thinking.
For this reason, and others discussed below, this Scholar's Edition is the 1949 original and unchanged magnum opus that represents such a critical turning point in the history of ideas, reproduced (with a 1954 index produced by Vernelia Crawford) on the 50th anniversary of its initial appearance....
Human Action, building on and expanding its German predecessor, transformed Austrian economics, as it is understood today, into a predominantly American phenomenon with a distinctly Misesian imprint, and made possible the continuation of the Austrian School after the mid-century.
Thus the first edition assumes an importance than extends beyond the mere historical. It reveals the issues and concerns that Mises considered primary when releasing, at the height of his intellectual powers, the most complete and integrated statement of his career. In particular, making the unchanged first edition available again in this Scholar's Edition retrieves important passages that were later eliminated, and clarifies questions raised by unnecessary, and, in some cases, unfortunate additions and revisions made to later editions.
That the Scholar's Edition represents the fullest coming together of Mises's thought on method, theory, and policy, and is the book that sustained the Austrian tradition and the integrity of economic science after the socialist, Keynesian, Walrasian, Marshallian, and positivist conquests of economic thought, is reason enough to issue the original on its 50th anniversary, making it widely available for the first time in nearly four decades. A high place must be reserved in the history of economic thought, indeed, in the history of ideas, for Mises's masterwork. Even today, Human Action points the way to a brighter future for the science of economics and the practice of human liberty.
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