The Lady and the Tycoon


The Lady and the Tycoon, edited by Roger Lea MacBride, Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1973, 401 pp., $5.95.

There are probably few individuals who are interested in freedom—and the philosophical principles that make it possible—who have not at least heard of Rose Wilder Lane, and been influenced by her thinking via other writers who have read her thoughts. One comes to realize this when reading the engaging work, THE LADY AND THE TYCOON, which contains much profound thinking that was expressed in an exchange of letters between Mrs. Lane and Jasper Crane, a vice president of the DuPont Company.

Rose Wilder Lane, who had been a successful freelance writer, newspaper reporter and novelist—her best known book being DISCOVERY OF FREEDOM—for most of the first four decades of this century, decided to stop writing fiction in 1938. As MacBride points out in his introduction to the book, she did this "to emphasize her opposition to paying income and social security taxes used to support New Deal programs." Following this decision, Mrs. Lane began an extensive correspondence with numerous individuals for the purpose of better understanding and fostering her philosophical ideas. At the suggestion of Leonard Read, she began writing to Jasper Crane, and this correspondence continued until her death in 1968.

The book spans the time period between January 1946 to May 1966, but the comments in these letters (particularly Mrs. Lane's) reach back into both recent and ancient history, and provide the reader with such a perspective on the development of freedom over the centuries, that one can more fully appreciate just how new the idea of freedom is in human development and what tremendous possibilities now are at hand for the fostering and establishment of freedom in the world. This aspect of the book gives a needed insight and surge of hope in the 1970's when matters look so bleak!

The letters of the Lady, but unfortunately not those of the Tycoon (which are usually quite brief), are a constant stimulator of thought. One cannot help but be provoked by her comments on foundations, rights, education, political parties and personalities, welfare etc., along with her revealing remarks about well-known fighters for freedom and their books. And one also cannot help but be infuriated by other statements, as I was, on such topics as the meaning of truth, what science is able to deal with, what emotions are, the significance of the Ten Commandments, mysticism, and many others. But no matter what is discussed, or how wrong or right one may consider the ideas presented, one never fails to be enormously stimulated by the Lady who almost unceasingly applies reason and logic in her deliberations.

I found myself, at every free moment, rushing back to the book to see what new ideas Rose Wilder Lane was going to express in her next letter to Mr. Crane. By having a copy of THE LADY AND THE TYCOON in my possession, I felt as if some marvelously exciting and thought provoking personality had come for a visit to my home, and that although I had other chores that had to be attended to, I cut them as short as possible in order to hurry back to my guest who was providing me with a tremendously exciting intellectual adventure.

We can all be thankful that Roger Lea MacBride took the time to edit the correspondence between the Lady and the Tycoon, for this work will provide every freedom loving and thinking individual with the opportunity to gain a fuller insight into the life and thought of one of this centuries most devoted crusaders for freedom: Rose Wilder Lane.

Thomas Johnson is a professor of biology at the Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia at Fredricksburg.