19 January 2009

What I'm Reading

1. Fifty Major Economists, 2nd ed., by Steven Pressman (London: Routledge, 2006), part of the Routledge "Key Guides" series. Provides short introductions and overviews of the life and work of, as the title would indicate, fifty major economists. I enjoyed reading this immensely. It is at times idiosyncratic, but I learned a lot from it. (Note: Steven Pressman is not to be confused with Steven Pressfield, whose fantastic Gates of Fire is one of my--and my childrens'--favorite books.)

2. Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, by Ludwig von Mises (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007 [1949]). I had read this on my own as a graduate student, but I am now re-reading it in preparation for a conference I am attending in February. A beautifully constructed argument, although I am less convinced than I once was that a purely "deductive" argument for the free market can be successful.

3. Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius, trans. Gregory Hays (New York: Modern Library, 2002). If you have not read Meditations, you should. I like this translation, but there are many others. Read it slowly, to think about each passage, not just to finish the book. I have read it many times, each time with profit and each time learning and discovering something new. That is the mark of an enduring work--not to mention an enduring mind in the remarkable Marcus Aurelius. Meditations is, as a friend of mine recently reminded me, a work that can calm the soul in troubled times.

On my list:

1. Economic Facts and Fallacies, by Thomas Sowell (New York: Basic Books, 2008). I have read numerous other books by Sowell, beginning with his Inside American Education (rev. ed., New York: Free Press, 2003), and including the important Conflict of Visions (rev. ed., New York: Basic Books, 2007), which I frequently use in class.

2. When I can find the time, there are several other books by Ludwig von Mises I would like to read (or re-read, as the case may be), including Socialism, The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, and Bureaucracy. All of these are now handsomely, and inexpensively, available from Liberty Fund in its ongoing publication of the works of Mises.

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