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Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism

We bring this to No-Ruler, first because it’s a most interesting read, telling in clear, concise language more about Ludwig von Mises that I’ve ever seen on a single, and

finally because there are some easy prices on the several books and downloadable offerings.

%name Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism

Here is a magisterial book for today and the ages, one that inspires awe for both the subject and the author who accomplished the seemingly impossible: a sweeping intellectual biography, constructed from original sources, of the 20th century’s most astonishing dissident intellectual. It has the apparatus of a great scholarly work but the drama of a classic novel.

Ludwig von Mises’s colleagues in Europe called him the “last knight of liberalism” because he was the champion of an ideal of liberty they consider dead and gone in an age of central planning and socialism of all varieties. During his lifetime, they were largely correct. And thus the subtitle of this book.

But he was not deterred in any respect: not in his scientific work, not in his writing or publishing, and not in his relentless fight against every form of statism. Born in 1881, he taught in Europe and the Americas during his century, and died in 1973 before the dawn of a new epoch that would validate his life and ideals in the minds of millions of people around the world. The last knight of liberalism triumphed.

Jorg Guido Hulsmann, professor of economics at the University of Paris (Angers), tells the full story of his dramatic and inspiring life and contributions – and in the course of it, provides not only a reconstruction of the history of the Austrian School of economics of which Mises was the leading expositor, and not only of the entire history of economic thought on the Continent and the United States, but also of the political and intellectual history of the 20th century.

Virtually everything in this book is new, a result of ten years of combing archives in five countries but of an unprecedented access to the voluminous Mises’s papers and to those of Mises’s colleagues, written by an author who himself is a master of the discipline and all the  languages involved (German, English, and French). And though the book is huge (1,200 pages) it reads like a great novel, with a fast pace and high drama.

“This a magnificent work of scholarship,” writes historican Ralph Raico, “not only definitive on Mises’s life and works, but also brilliantly delineating the Vienna of the time, the development of the Austrian school, the place of other thinkers like Hayek, and Mises’s contributions to American and world libertarianism.”

Even for those who believe they know something of Mises’s life, it is a story told here for the first time. We learn of Mises’s background from a newly ennobled Jewish family, his comprehensive early education, his war experiences and how he was nearly sent to his death, his revolutionary monetary treatise, his struggles as a young academic, his turn against socialism, his fights with colleagues, his love for ideas, his stand against national socialism, his flight from Vienna and Geneva, his life in the United States, and legacy.

As Robert Higgs wrote the author:

“I have finally finished reading your great book about Mises. When I use the word ‘great,’ I mean not simply that it weighs at least a kilo and contains more than 1,000 pages. I mean most of all that it is a magnificent scholarly achievement. I can’t remember when I have taken more pleasure from a book. It is a joy to read, in every way. The English is precise and polished, and everything is put just right. The research is amazingly broad, yet deep, too. The judgments are sensible and mature. The coverage–from the personal details to the content of Mises’s ideas to the context in which he lived and worked–is extraordinary, and the organization puts everything into comprehensible order. The bibliography is more than impressive. All in all, the book is simply an amazing accomplishment, and a fitting tribute to its great subject.”

 

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