Best Libertarian Books of the Decade?


The Atlas Economic Research Foundation asked a handful of libertarian thinkers and activists to pick the top ten pro-liberty books of the decade. The results are in and it's definitely a strong list. In addition to a well-deserved second place for Brian Doherty's indispensable history of libertarianism, Radicals for Capitalism, it's great to see historian David Beito's superb From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State, which chronicles the vast network of fraternal societies and voluntary associations that provided health and life insurance, hospitals, and much more to numerous Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Obviously any such list will have its omissions, but I'd like to nominate one additional book that deserves real attention: legal historian David Bernstein's excellent Only One Place of Redress: African Americans, Labor Regulations, & the Courts from Reconstruction to the New Deal. Bernstein meticulously documents the ways that Progressive and New Deal economic regulations, including labor laws, occupational licensing laws, and prevailing wage laws, directly harmed African Americans. In contrast, on those occasions when state and federal courts actively protected economic liberty against this state abuse, blacks were among the prime beneficiaries, a process that the New Deal takeover of the Supreme Court brought to a disastrous end.

So that's my vote for a book that should have made the cut. Please feel free to suggest your own in the comments. And keep an eye peeled later this week for Reason's best books of 2009.