I have a friend who is certainly above average intelligence. He is well-educated and well-read (the kind of guy who reads a 1,000 page Human Action level book every week or so). He just graduated form UVA's polticial science program is very into Chomsky and Hitchens. He has attended a few highly competitive summer economics and poltical sciences courses at Cambridge or Oxford in London(cant remember which one). He is a very dear friend, and our debates are always extremely civil and level-headed. Neither of us are prone to hyperbole or emotional appeal when we discuss economics or politics with each other. He is also one of the only people to refrain from exhibiting utter disgust when I told him I was an anarcho-capitalist (he has known me since kindergarten, and I credit him for much fo the personality traits that led me to be so attracted to the Austrians in the first place). He was actually somewhat knowledgable of the Austrian ideals and even claimed that he does not think they are nearly as crazy as people would at first think they are. He has a healthy respect for us, and is like us in the same way the Hitchens is like us: very little regard for authority or political correctness. He is a pretty straight shooter, but if he thinks there is a flaw with an idea, he pulls absolutely NO punches.
Anyway, the reason I give this info is because I want your opinion for the perfect book for a guy with this level of reading comprehension and open-mindedness. I would say Economics in one lesson, but I feel for a first go round, he might snub his nose at it simply due to the length and simplicity (I'm not excusing this, he's just arrogant). Plus, it deals only with economics and not Praxeology as a whole. So, I was thinking Human Action, but that might be a bit unrealistic for me to ask to read something of this length that he probably today disagrees with. I wouldn't read a three thousand page communist manifesto because I already discount the entire premise anyway. So, what I mean is, he might skim through Human action, think, "Ok, my friend Texas Trigger sent me this book to convince me of something. I might have read it, but this is asking a bit much of me since I am very busy", and decide his time might be better spent reading something else.
So in summation, I really want this guy on our team, and I think its achievable. I just want to make sure his first impression literature wise is challenging enough to get through (reading level), long enough to answer a lot of the questions the naturally might occur, but short enough to be worth his investment of time (length), and interesting enough to hold his attention to an idea he might be somewhat resistant to. I want it to cover praxeology to a good extent, as well as Austrian economic theory. Some history would be nice as well. I want something that will really challenge him in the same way EIOL and The Real Lincoln did for me so many years ago.
If you all think I should give him EIOL or HA, please tell me you think so, or if you have another book in mind, thats awesome too.
Thanks in advance!
"If men are not angels,
then who shall run the state?"
Sounds like a very ripe prospect you've got there. Very exciting.
First off, for anyone else in a situation like this (with a friend), or themself, I highly recommend checking out the The Ultimate Beginner meta-thread.
For your friend, at first thought, I'm inclined to recommend some Hoppe.
For praxeology foundations, Economic Science and the Austrian Method provides what you're looking for. However, it's less than 100 pages, so obviously you're going to want more. That's where A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism comes in. Read Mark Thornton's article that is provided in the links section there for a great overview to see if it's the kind of text you're looking for. I think it's perfect for your friend.
If you need more on the praxeology end, The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science is probably your ticket.
If you need more in-depth Austrian theory, if you're not up for just recommending parts of HA or MES, you might look into Economics for Real People, which is generally recommended as an introductory text, but at 350 pages, it may very well be sizable enough, and certainly goes into free market/Austrian understandings of economics. However, it may be not be high-level enough, as you fear for EiOL (although, even though the latter is generally recommonded as the first introductory text, Hazlitt does not exactly baby the reader by any means).
You might also check out:
The Foundations of Modern Austrian Economics and Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School (which I believe is based on the author's short essay with almost the same name)
If you want to browse shorter supporting material, see here.
Lemme know if you're looking for something of a different angle.
That's awesome. Does Rothbard have anything along these lines? I also like Walter Block's Our Enemy, The State because he infuses so much history into it, but, alas, there isn't much in the way of praxeology. With Rothbard, I remember reading his analysis of Russia in For A New Liberty (at least i think it was in that book). But, for a new liberty might be more defensive work for "the choir". I donno how much a skeptic could take it seriously. I feel you probably already need to be minarchist of some sort to really put the faith in there. I guess if you were less well-read, it might convince, but a guy like my friend might scoff at it since it offers more in the vein of theory and is based on the "I dont know how this society will work. This is my educated guess" mentality; hardly convincing to a skeptic who puts all their faith in the state. Anyway, Ill take these into consideration.
I'd say it cannot be one book, but a series
The Counter Revolution of Science - Helps to deconstruct the usual University outlook on economic methodolgy. (I'm assuming he is familiar with Hayek and Knowedge)
Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles - This covers history, law, and Austrian economic application. It is very in depth (I have not finished it)
The Economics of Ludwig von Mises - Contains academic criticisms of people outside that usual "Austrian" intellectual realm (should probably go with Human Action or Epistemological Problems in Economics) (EPiE is another social science contruction and methodology treatise from Mises)
You can give him a few essays, too.
Edwin Vieira, Jr. - Forgotten Role of Constitution in Monetary Law - Obviously, a history of metals, money and legal developments.
Philip Bagus - Interest, Yield curves, Maturity Mismatching and the Term Structure of Savings - Compares Austrian and neoclassical expectations models.
The Separation of Commercial and Investment Banking: The Morgans vs. The Rockefellers - A brief history of banking in the early 20th century.
Or, Rothbard if he doesn't mind that kind of thing...
Egalitarianism as A Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays - This is an excellent collection of Rothbard's essays. It covers the state, economic and scientific paradigms, political nuances, etc.
Ethics of Liberty - The academic version of For A New Liberty
Economic History from Austrian Perspective: Vol. 1: (Pre Adam Smith) Vol. 2: (Classical Economics)
History of Money and Banking from Colonial Era to WWII - Obviously...
Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy - Not entirely academic, but if he buys it it will turn him.
The Texas Trigger:That's awesome. Does Rothbard have anything along these lines? I also like Walter Block's Our Enemy, The State because he infuses so much history into it, but, alas, there isn't much in the way of praxeology. With Rothbard, I remember reading his analysis of Russia in For A New Liberty (at least i think it was in that book). But, for a new liberty might be more defensive work for "the choir". I donno how much a skeptic could take it seriously. I feel you probably already need to be minarchist of some sort to really put the faith in there. I guess if you were less well-read, it might convince, but a guy like my friend might scoff at it since it offers more in the vein of theory and is based on the "I dont know how this society will work. This is my educated guess" mentality; hardly convincing to a skeptic who puts all their faith in the state. Anyway, Ill take these into consideration.
If you think For a New Liberty would get a scoff (which with your description, you might be right), I think The Ethics of Liberty might be more appropriate. Much more advanced.
I doubt his An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought will be of much interest, as it's two volumes worth of...well, history of economic thought. I doubt it's what you're looking for, but there it is if you think he might go into it. But if you don't think he'd read Human Action, I seriously doubt he'll get very far in that.
Again, Man, Economy, and State is really where Rothbard covers economics and Austrian methodology and theory, but that's just as big as Human Action, so...
As was mentioned above, Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles is more great economics, but again you're looking at 900+ pages.
Like I was saying before, if you're really bent on getting praxeology and Austrian theory from the greats, you may just go ahead and grab parts of those treatises and send them in a smaller compilation. (If you have a PDF editor, you should be able to easily combine sections into one file for him).
I would also check out the recommendations in the One Book for Capitalism thread. If it's history you're after, I think How Capitalism Saved America might be what you're looking for. Of course, some other useful history is found in another text...as can be seen in the opening story in that thread.
Walter Block, Our Enemy, The State? I believe that work was published 6 years before Block was born. That'd be Albert Jay Nock.
Alright, I hate to disagree with my colleagues here but I really think that Mises' Human Action or Socialism are realistically your only choices. Anything else is probably a mistake. I would not go through and give reasons for this except that I truly do believe that we could lose an Austrian economist based upon the outcome.
1. Not MES because its chaper on praxeology isn't that great, Mises' writing is more likely to be admired by an intellectual and Rothbard's would be seen as too simplistic, Mises argues for free markets from a more socialistic perspective than Rothbard, many of Rothbard's "libertarian" assertions would put off someone who's very leftist, some of the things that Rothbard states in the book towards the end of the book are openly un-economic, and Mises' work is much more likely to be a "hook" into Austrian works
2. Not Economics for real people, or economics in one lesson. These are not scholarly or advanced enough for him.
3. Not Ethics of Liberty because it's too focused upon moral arguments and inducting him upon more utilitarian concerns would likely mean he was much more interested. I feel like For a New Liberty is a better suggestion than people are making it out to be, but it's still not the best.
4. Economics and the Austrian Method and the ultimate foundation of economic science are both good suggestions, but Human Action does a similarly good job in its presentation of praxeology as well as introducing libertarian political theory as well as, most importantly, many factors of Austrian economics, criticisms of intervention, and pro-free market economics upon utilitarian grounds.
5. Money, Banking, and Credit Cycles would be a good idea except that it doesn't offer much in the way of praxeological insight and it doesn't focus enough on economics as a whole.
Human Action is the best idea, in my opinion because: It is scholarly, it presents the entire Austrian framework and a justification for it, it has top notch economics, it's well written, it focuses on areas which will be relevant to your friend, it will be interesting to one with the same tastes as your friend, it's extremely philosophical, and it's simply a powerful work. It will play to your friends values and tastes.
Other good ideas, most of which have been mentioned here are socialism by Mises, which would probably get him interested in Austrian Economics and it provides a good criticism of his apparent socialism, Egalitarianism As A Revolt Against Nature because that attacks both the state and the foundations of much "leftist" works, in favor of free market cooperation, and A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, which is probably the best economics which Hoppe has ever done and it's a great criticism of socialism, although it goes a little overboard with its definition of socialism.
Hope that helps.
I did my best to stay away from Human Action, since that's what you were asking for, but with Neo's input, I'm having second thoughts. He's right that HA is really the seminal one-stop shop. There's a reason it's held in such high esteem, and its author is the namesake for the institute.
If you notice, even in trying to stay away from it, I couldn't keep away completely and still offered that you take pieces of it and MES. I figure you know your friend better than us, so if you say he might not read it like you would want him to, I would be inclined to believe you. But since we've got another outside opinion that thinks it would be okay, I want to add my own support to that. The way you describe your friend does make it sound like he'd be okay with it, and that he would prefer something on that level.
Again, your best bet might be grabbing the pieces that are most important to you that he get exposed to.
I still want to reiterate Economic Science and the Austrian Method and A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism though. Or you might substitute The Ultimate Foundation for the first one, to get Mises (as well as just a different author in general) in there.
I understand being torn between offering too much versus too little, and HA in one confection might be too much for him to dedicate the time to, but then again, you did say he read stuff like that in a week. It really is the definitive framework. Check out some of these articles to get a sense.
But if you still feel he might not take it with the seriousness you would want him to (as you mentioned, because of the size and scope), I would consider going with those three. He could knock those out pretty quickly, and would be given a pretty good basis for what you're looking for. Then you'd be free to offer up Human Action (and Socialism, which is one I actually hadn't thought of. Be sure to check out Jeff Tucker's video commentary at the Resources page in the links section.)
No to Ethics of Liberty.
Depending on your judgment about how much time he's willing to commit to this initial exploration, starting from the longest:
1. Human Action (politics AND economics). I would be very careful about recommending it as the first book on his journey. Personally, I found it to be much deeper and more profound the second time I read it (five years after the first reading, and after some major thought germination in between.)
2. Economics in One Lesson (economics)
3. Beyond Democracy (politics) ...($0.99 on Kindle. Free reader app for all devices available.). Shorter but, IMO, a much more effective version of Hoppe's Democracy: The God That Failed, especially for initiation. I've been plugging this book here lately simply because I've had extremely good results initiating friends into the concept of freedom with it. Very approachable and very well written, too. Has a large paradigm shift potential per page written.
I have a friend who studies in law school, I gave her a copy of Defending the Indefensible. She loved it. It's an easy and fun read that already presents hardcoure libertarianism.
I always like to point people to Praxeology: The Methodology of Austrian Economics and Economic Science and the Austrian Method. From there HA or MES.
Just wanted to give an update to everybody who is interested: I ended up buying my friend the scholars edition of HA and Hoppe's a theory of socialism and capitalism. Before I sent him the books, I received a text from him regarding the GOP nominee election. It stated, "I think I am converting to Paulism" referring of course to Ron Paul. He has believed from the beginning that Paul has no chance, but I think Paul's foreign policy is attracting my friend. He is aware that both the democrats and republicans are both very pro-war, regardless of each's rhetoric.
After he received the books, he thanked me endlessly for them, and told me he has been interested to read HA for some time. He has been aauditing some political theory classes at UVA, and he told me the prof went over Rawl's theory's of Justice and then the class analyzed Robert Nozick's response. He told me he was absolutely blown away and astounded by Nozick's intellectual prowess and was very impressed. hearing this was so awesome. Someone outside of me affecting my friend's worldview in a positive way. He told me that he was also doing a little pre-education on mises before he starts HA and so far he is "interested" but might consider reading Hoppe first.
Texas, that's great news. Good work. Point him here if/when he feels like shaking/clarifying things up a bit.