Reviews Of Books Related To Libertarianism
Part of the "Critiques of Libertarianism" site.
Last updated 02/18/11.
This section is intended to house reviews of books (or films) that show
libertarianism in an unfavorable light. Either the reviews themselves
may be unfavorable about libertarian works, or the works themselves
may be unfavorable to libertarianism.
Please suggest further high-quality links for this page!
"What It Means to Be a Libertarian: A Personal Interpretation", by
"Libertarianism: A Primer", by David Boaz
The Libertarian Conceit
Jedediah S. Purdy's
The American Prospect
article that reads Boaz and Murray in light of a Isaiah Berlin's
views of such pseudoscientific analyses of politics. He excoriates
their typically slippery libertarian arguments.
Their Libertarianism -- and Ours, by Ellen Willis.
A scathingly sarcastic review of the hidden assumptions underlying
the arguments of these libertarians. A
The Other L-Word, by Jacob Weisberg.
A casual set of comments on the inherent contradictions in these
libertarian views. A
Too Easy and Too Free: A Review of Murray's Libertarianism
by Ronald W. Dworkin. Even with extreme generosity, Murray is
found to fail badly, a foolish pollyanna.
"The Bell Curve", by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein.
by Steven J. Rosenthal. A well-referenced short summation of the
extensive flaws of The Bell Curve. Part of the
Stalking The Wild Taboo
The Bell Curve Flattened
by Nicholas Lemann. Subsequent research has seriously undercut the
claims of the controversial best seller. A
Myths about The Bell Curve
by Steve Kangas. Part of the excellent
Long FAQ On Liberalism.
Charles Murray Gets Trapped In The Ghetto.
article that describes Murray's inconsistencies in "Losing Ground"
and "The Bell Curve".
For critical books, see:
"Inequality by Design : Cracking the Bell Curve Myth"
"Measured Lies : The Bell Curve Examined".
Works by Amartya Sen, which contradict libertarian notions on poverty,
famine, freedom, and development.
James North clearly summarizes Amartya Sen's "Development As Freedom",
and shows why it is more relevant than other notions of liberty or
A Third Way For The Third World
Akash Kapur's review of
"Development As Freedom",
Amartya Sen's most important work, that relates freedom to economic
development and political liberty of ALL individuals.
Why People Go Hungry
Kenneth Arrow's review of Amartya Sen's
Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation.
Agrees with the point that "failure of market power" is precisely what
chooses the victims of famine.
In Pursuit of Fairness
Ian Hacking's review of Amartya Sen's
Exposes the hidden premises involved in discussions of equality, and
presents the many dimensions along which equality should be considered.
"Economic Thought Before Adam Smith" by Murray Rothbard.
An Austrian (Mis)Reads Adam Smith: A Critique of Rothbard as
Peter Hans Matthews and Andreas Ortmann say "Rothbard's book
[Economic Thought Before Adam Smith] suffers from logical flaws,
selective and incomplete textual evidence, a misunderstanding of
Das Adam Smith Problem and the relevant literature..." etc.
"Money For Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, And Political Extortion" by Fred S. McChesney
Public Choice Theory Criticized - McChesney, Money for Nothing.
American Antitrust Institute
review summarizes Public Choice theory as presented in
McChesney's book, and ends with a clear presentation of the conflict of
this Public Choice theory with reality.
"Atlas Shrugged", Ayn Rand
Big Sister is Watching You
by Whittaker Chambers. The 1957 National Review book review of
Atlas Shrugged. Wants to be sympathetic, but just can't: the book
was just too awful.
Review of "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.
Internet Review Project
review casts a quizzical eye on the absurdities of Atlas Shrugged.
Many amusing comments on this bizarre ideological heroic fantasy.
Ayn Shrugged: A Look At The Work Of Ayn Rand
A harsh review of "Atlas Shrugged" that points out the
"weird, pathological agendas and bad writing."
"Ayn Rand: A Sense Of Life"
TV guide review of "Ayn Rand: A Sense Of Life"
by Ken Fox. A dead-accurate and scathing review both of the movie
and Rand's "importance". A lot said in few words.
Liberty Online's review of "Ayn Rand: A Sense Of Life"
by R. W. Bradford.
A libertarian critic of Rand decries its propagandistic nature,
its lies of omission and commission.
"Ayn Rand and the World She Made", Anne Conover Heller
"Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right", Jennifer Burns
Capitalism's Wicked Witch
Allen Barra's Daily Beast
review of Anne Conover Heller's
"Ayn Rand and the World She Made"
and Jennifer Burns'
"Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right".
Wealthcare: the Cult of Ayn Rand
Jonanthan Chait's big-picture view of Objectivism's influence after
reading the two Rand biographies.
"Free Space", Brad Linaweaver & Edward E. Kramer, eds.
Libertarians in Space
by Martin Morse Wooster. A scathing review of the poor showings of
libertarianism in Science Fiction, from
a sympathetic source.
"More Guns, Less Crime", John R. Lott, Jr.
Do more guns cause less crime?
Tim Lambert's thorough critique of John Lott's
More Guns, Less Crime.
Shows clearly the errors of scholarship, measurement, statistics,
NEJM Book Review of "More Guns, Less Crime".
New England Journal Of Medicine
review of John Lott's
More Guns, Less Crime.
See also the followup
correspondence by Lott and Hemenway.
John Lott's More Guns, Less Crime: An Alternate Q&A
Part of the
site. Describes recent statistics that refute Lott's conclusions.
"The Militia And The Right To Bear Arms", H. Richard Uviller and William G. Merkel
Review of "The Militia And The Right To Bear Arms"
Daniel Smith lauds Uviller and Merkel's historical legal analysis of
the 2nd Amendment, which thoroughly refutes Sanford Levinson and other
individual rights claimants.
The collected reviews of Cyberselfish.
Paulina's book web site attempts to collect all the reviews, favorable
"The Myth Of The Rational Voter", Bryan Caplan
The Myth of Bryan Caplan's Seriousness
Steven White eviscerates "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why
Democracies Choose Bad Policies" with the strategy from the emperor's
Who's Afraid of Democracy?
"... many conservatives would favor free markets without democracy"
Bryan Caplan's Curiously Elitist Capitalism
"... claims the credentials of a scientist but is really far too
ideological to be called one."
"Overdose: How Excessive Government Regulation Stifles Pharmaceutical Innovation", Richard Epstein
To Lose Trust, Every Day
Arnold Relman review's Richard Epstein's "Overdose: How Excessive
Government Regulation Stifles Pharmaceutical Innovation".
It turns out to be an aggressive rehash of the unsual industry claims.
Money line: "Is all this really the expression of a great legal mind?
Instead of reasoned arguments based on the facts about the development,
the marketing, and the medical use of pharmaceuticals, we get only
readings from Epstein's client's playbook, which relies heavily on
deception, secrecy, and the tired tactics of name-calling."
Overdose: How excessive government regulation stifles pharmaceutical innovation
In this Journal Of Clinical Investigation review,
David B. Ross politely points out that Epstein has written the worst
sort of blatant industry advocacy, blythely ignoring the realities of
the market for drugs.
"The Mind of The Market", Michael Shermer
Review Of Michael Shermer's The Mind Of The Market
Skeptics who love Shermer for his skepticism have difficulty with
Shermer's libertarianism. Dan Schneider epitomizes this love/hate
Shermer's The Mind of The Market
Libertarian Tim Sandefur finds both Shermer's libertarianism and
skepticism disappointing and unconvincing.
"The Rational Optimist", Matt Ridley
The Man Who Wants To Northern Rock The Planet
Matt Ridley's Rational Optimist is telling the rich what they want to hear
Matt Ridley joins the ranks of cornucopian libertarians with a similarly
error-ridden and cherry-picked set of arguments.
Matt Ridley: Optimism without limits
Liz Else, associate editor at
shows skepticism of the Rational Optimist. Follow the link to the
experts criticisms where failed banker Ridley defends himself by
claining the experts are in it for the money: a standard denialist
tactic from policy entrepreneurs who ARE in it for the money.
Serial Mistake-Makers on Climate Change (Part I): On Matt Ridley and Bjorn Lomborg
Serial Mistake-Makers on Climate Change (2)
Howard Friel, who wrote The Lomborg Deception, points out the
weak basis of the arguments in Matt Ridley's :
a circle jerk of industry-funded pseudoscience PR and bad references.
Lies, Damned Lies and the Litany
Jim Norton's large collection of hostile reviews of Bjorn Lomborg's
The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World.
Lomborg's book is a classic example of accusing opponents
(environmentalists) of one's own sins. It's a piece of brownlash
propaganda that takes a severe and well-deserved drubbing.
The Libertarian Quartet.
Richard Epstein criticizes the deductive absolutism of
Randy E. Barnett's
"The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law".
See especially the part about Coase's lighthouse example.
Lynn Scarlett reviews Richard Epstein's criticisms of "libertarian
absolutists" in his
Principles for a Free Society: Reconciling Individual Liberty with the Common Good.
Welfare vs. Privatization: the Truth Starts Here
Ian Montgomerie's review of
The Economics of the Welfare State
by Nicholas Barr. Undercuts libertarian arguments about optimality of
Get Uncle Sam off my back! and other misguided impulses.
Gary Kamiya's review of
A Necessary Evil"
by Garry Wills. Praises the debunking of many Revolutionary Era
myths of the Founders and Constitution exploited by
Amartya Sen's review of Peter Bauer's
Equality, the Third World, and Economic Delusion.
Sen provides a careful rebuttal of Bauer's conservative arguments about
economic equality (which libertarians also use frequently.)
Children's Rights versus Murray Rothbard's The Ethics of Liberty
John Walker credibly dissects some ludicrous Rothbard drivel about
self-ownership to back a less tenable pro-life position.
The Pinnochio Theory
Richard Barbrook's very harsh review of Kevin Kelly's "Out of Control: the New
Biology of Machines".
Old Rules for the New Economy
J. Bradford DeLong's criticisms of the economic naivete of Kevin
Kelly's "New Rules for the New Economy".
Market Myths: The Failings of Conservative Economics
James K. Galbraith reviews
Selling the Free Market
by J. Aune;
One Market Under God
by Thomas Frank; and
by Norman Birnbaum. Three books critical of the propaganda that markets
Ask a Silly Question
David Gordon, of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, judges that Virginia
Postrel doesn't have a hairy enough chest to be a true libertarian
in this scathing review of her book "The Future And Its Enemies".
The God That Fails
The American Prospect
review of Charles E. Lindblom's
"The Market System: What It Is, How It Works, and What To Make of It".
He finds it a very even-handed presentation, that does not minimize the
benefits or harms that the market system creates.
Economics In One Lesson
Brad DeLong's review of Henry Hazlitt's
Economics In One Lesson. Brad explains at length why this brilliant
libertarian classic is damaging to young brains. Simply put, it ignores
the premises and history of economics; and the ideological blinders are
so strong that Hazlitt's quotes and summaries are sometimes dishonest.
The Virtue of Sycophancy (1)
The Virtue of Sycophancy (2)
Cringe and Win! - The 5 Most Embarrassing Moments in "PARC"
Daniel Barnes evaluates James Valliant's book "The Passion of Ayn
An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought
Tony Endres' scathing review of Rothbard's magnum opus.
"Rothbard has produced two volumes which are highly jaundiced
and purblind." From History of
Copyright 2007 by Mike Huben ( firstname.lastname@example.org ).
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