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The Essential Rothbard


Here is the book for the Age of Rothbard, precisely the primer that is needed at a time when his influence as the most radical and compelling intellectual force in the second half of the 20th century is higher than during any time during his lifetime.

And so this book is a landmark in Rothbardiana: the first, full, rigorous intellectual biography of Murray N. Rothbard, one that takes a candid look at his public and private papers to cover not only his economic thought but also his historical method, his political ideology, the Rothbardian cultural outlook and social theory, and guides the reader through the whole of his vast output. It even includes a complete (and massive) bibliography.

The beauty of this book consists in its original research (David Gordon had full access to the private correspondence of his subject) and also its brevity: the biographical portion is 125 pages, and so the pace is super fast and the prose compact and riveting.

It is more difficult that it may seem to produce a book of this scale. The author must be well-read in five different fields, and have absorbed the whole of Rothbard's output. And there is the balancing act of not only covering all these fields but integrating them with unified themes, just as Rothbard did.

Here is where Gordon is most dazzling. He provides the reader an overview of Rothbard's thought and times but not in a piecemeal fashion but with an eye to conveying the Rothbardian worldview. All the while, he reports on such tantalizing treats as the notes that Murray took in graduate school. One can just imagine him scribbling furiously during class.

Those who remember Rothbard's own monograph The Essential von Mises know what an impact that had. This does the same for Rothbard. And so the book will be useful for students, professors, reading groups, or just the curious multitudes who are asking: who is this Rothbard anyway, and what did he contribute?

Gordon begins with his schooling,

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Tags: Rothbard, intellectual, during, ideology, Rothbardian, Essential