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Conceived in Liberty (4 Volume Set) Hardcover – 15 Jan 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1668 pages
  • Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute (15 Jan. 2000)
  • ISBN-10: 0945466269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0945466260
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 16.8 x 13.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,030,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
After the upheavals of the period of the Glorious Revolution in England (late 1680s-early 1690s), the American colonies had settled down into an uneasy truce by the end of the first decade of the eighteenth century. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 14 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
Murray Rothbard's sweeping analysis of the US war of independence challenges much of the current received wisdom about this conflict. Rothbard brings his unerring libertarian aim to bear with a depth and scope that are impressive. Anyone who considers himself a lover of freedom should buy these books and get an unbiased account of the single-most important revolution that history has yet to witness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By miki on 30 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
perfect book . Murray N. Rothbard 's knowledge is outstanding . Fully recomend this book to everyone . this is no propaganda but true story of settlers and their strugle to find freedom . libertarians must read . miki ( slovakia)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
A Radical Revolution 21 Aug. 2005
By G. F Gori - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Murray Rothbard's "Conceived in Liberty" set is a brilliant history of the American experience. Rothbard chronicles the events that make up America. He starts in volume one by carefully outlining and detailing the founding of the British colonies in North America from Jamestown to the Glorious Revolution in Britian. Rothbard masterfully points out how the wide open and easy availablity of land enabled the colonists to become a new kind of man- a man of freedom and independence. The colonists did suffer under tyranny during this period, from Puritan Massachusetts with it's theocracy to the tyranny of the corporation that ran the Virginia colony, Rothbard lays out a complete history of the colonial founding.

In volume two it is shown how the "salutary neglect" of the British government allowed the colonies to develop not only independent trade, but their own self government. During this period the colonies were virtually self governing due to a combination of the wars Britian fought in Europe and the ruling British elites' contempt for the colonists. The colonists developed a sense of not only being "Englishmen", but citizens of their own colonies. Also a nascent American nationalism began to develop along with a contempt for the corruption in Britian and it's aristocracy.

Volume three is, in my humble opnion, the very best of the four volumes. It is in this volume in which Rothbard shows the radicalism as the real American Revolution began with the Stamp Act in 1764 and culminating in the Declaration of Independence. Because of this, I believe this to be the most important volume.

Rothbard begins by showing the colonial opposition to the centralizing tendancies of the British government. First, the outrage against the Stamp Act which the colonists saw as unconstitutional and passed to "enslave" them. Next, we have the Townshend duties which the colonists, led by such radical patriots like Samuel Adams, saw as unconstitutionally regulating their trade. These unconstitutional acts were "nullified" by the colonies in harsh and strong language. Colonies denounced the acts and passed resolutions declaring the acts void. The populace and governments of the colonies then refused to enforce the acts. Colonial officials were threatened, and warned not to violate the liberty of their constitutents. Eventually the colonial governments were literally overthrown and royal government ended.

During this period, Rothbard points out how the colonists drank deeply in the cup of Enlightenment philosophy. Rousseau, Voltaire, Locke, the English Levellers, Sidney and the Roman and Greek philosophers were the base of the new emerging libertarian philosophy. Rothbard, without directly stating it, totally refutes the lies of the Religious Right about the Founders being "born again" Christians, and the loony Left's assertion about a "conservative" revolution. Both views are false. Instead you see a new nation rising out of the ashes of the Old World. A new nation based upon the liberalizing effects of the Enlightenment. Freedom of speech, religion, person etc were supported and written into the new revolutionary constitutions and liberal ideals of equality under the law, and free trade were beginning to flourish.

The fourth volume is quite good. Rothbard details the military portion of the Revolution with the consequent upheaval of society in the new American States. Committees of Public Safety. Correspondence, etc became the de-facto governments after the fall of British authority. These committees were, in many cases, popularly elected and supported. The committees used coercive and aggressive methods against "Tories" by confiscating property, banishment, and sometimes outright violence; further refuting the view that it was a "conservative", and "consensus" oriented revolution.

Rothbard brings us to the end of the war and deliniates the "liberating" effects of the Revolution. The gradual elimination of slavery in many colonies, the ending of religious qualifications for public office, the equalizing of property by the natural effects of having vast open land, the purchase of Tory estates at small prices and the gradual, but eventual melting away of the class oriented society of Britian.

These volumes are a treasure, and should be read and re-read. Rothbard will scare both right and left by this history. He thoroughly destroys the "conservative" and "consensus" historical view, and leaves the leftist interpretation to rot in it's own rhetoric. He also refutes the view of the modern court historians by showing the colonies to be independent entities, with their own self governing societies. He correctly shows how the American Revolution was a massive social, political and philosophical revolution. He will scare the daylights out of modern Federalists by showing how colonial legislatures opposed, refuted and literally nullified British authority in America. They passed resolutions directly opposing the authority of the central government. He proves that the opposition to strong central government started not in the Civil War, or in Jefferson's masterful Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, but during the American Revolution. He proves that opposition to centralized government is as American as hot dogs and apple pie.

If you love history,liberty, and freedom, buy this set! You won't be sorry!
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
America's Rich Colonial History : A Must Read! 13 Feb. 2004
By libertywatch - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Murray Rothbard's early American history in four volumes, "Conceived in Liberty". It's chock full of fascinating details about the character and motivations of the people who came here to form the colonies. I liked the fact that Rothbard begins with an overview of trade history in the pre-colonial era and shows how trade helped motivate the migration to North America and how it affected everything that happened thereafter.
I found these books especially good at illustrating the struggle between the oligarchical faction, composed of "friends of the Crown" with their unearned grants of huge tracts of land and laws favorable to their exploitation of that land and the people who actually did the work and built the society. The battle between oligarchy and liberty manifested itself from the first days of the colonies and there were some shining moments for liberty, particularly when the power of the state was too weak or absent and self-government flourished.
Much of the time however oppression was the mode by which the colonial governments operated and indeed the majority of the colonists suffered under it for 200 years, whether under the Puritans in Massachusetts, the aristocratic land barrons of New York, or the Planter Elite of the tobacco colonies, before they were moved to revolution.
Rothbard chronicles how the revolution grew to enjoy the support of merchants, craftsmen and farmers, through an informal network with leaders who were not imposed on the movement, but leading because of the merit they showed by working hard and at great risk, and the willingness of the masses to follow by choice. The shadow government they created, across thirteen colonies, to supplant the official colonial government, was robust and a model of spontaneous order without coercion.
Next time someone asks me where libertarianism has ever worked in the world before I'll be better able to respond that it has worked right here in America!
Unfortunately, as Rothbard observes we may have thrown off the British, but, the Oligarchs remained, changing only their nationality and wielding enough influence over the framing of the new constitution to insure that, like all of the other parasitic flora and fauna of nature, they would be ever present to plague us.
48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
American history lost from the Classroom 8 May 2000
By Chris E. Thompson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although, I am not finished reading this pleasingly large four volume book of American history, I can say unequivically that there is more historical value in this book than in all of my elementary (1-12) years of education. Presented in understandable language and in sufficent detail as to lend an entirely new perspective to "the discovery of America" and the subsequent conquering of her native peoples in the name of the monarchey. Will open the eyes of any patriot.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Steven H Propp - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Rothbard states his purpose in the Preface of this book (originally published in 1975 in four separate volumes), "A major point of this ... is to put back the historical narrative into American history... My own basic perspective ... on the history of the United States, is to place central importance on the great conflict which is eternally waged between Liberty and Power... I see the liberty of the individual... as the necessary condition for the flowering of all the other goods that mankind cherishes... And power is almost always centered in and focused on that central repository of power and violence: the state."

He suggests,"almost all revolutions... are ignited by new acts of oppression by the government. Revolutions in America... were not more 'conservative' than any other, and since revolution is the polar archetype of an anticonservative act, this means not conservative at all." (Vol. I, pg. 104) Later, he states that "the first form of government in the New World established by colonists themselves, was by no means a gesture of independence from England; it was an emergency measure to maintain the Pilgrim control over the servants and other settlers." (Vol. I, pg. 161) He concludes, "Any libertarian revolution that takes power immediately confronts a grave inner contradiction: ... liberty and power are incompatible." (Vol. I, pg. 435)

He argues that the historical reputation of Benjamin Franklin is "the most overinflated of the entire colonial period in America." Franklin, according to Rothbard, was able to develop his lucrative printing business "through an ability to win a favored place at the public trough by gaining the patronage of older and influential men... he was able to snag highly profitable plums of government privilege." (Vol. II, pg. 64-66) He criticizes how money was "pumped into the economy essentially out of thin air," and states, "Creation of paper or bank money ('inflation'), therefore, confers a special privilege on some groups, at the expense of the producers and at the expense of the society's money." (Vol. II, pg. 124-126)

He argues that with the Stamp Act, "Great Britain had smashed at America with a mailed fist. The die was cast. The colonists were faced with a fateful choice: abject submission or open resistance." (Vol. III, pg. 95) He asserts that "Violence against state officials is an attempt by a rebellious people to cast off their rule. Violence against individual leaders of the people... reveals the unending tendency of oppressors to think of a revolutionary movement as ... a frenzied mob whipped up by a few radical and obstreperous demagogues." (Vol. III, pg. 197)

He suggests that "a guerrilla war would be the libertarian way to fight a war fully consistent with the American revolutionary ideals of liberty and equality of rights, and, therefore, the only way to achieve the libertarian goals of the Revolution." (Vol. IV, pg. 24) He insists that "The radicals... were engaged in fighting a war against centralized government, its taxation, restrictions and privileges, and were not about to favor establishing an equivalent at home to what they were fighting to eject from American shores." (Vol. IV, pg. 244) He later adds, "The conservatives would not simply give up and abandon their dreams of centralized rule." (Vol. IV, pg. 404)

Students of libertarianism, as well as of American history, will find a great deal to like in this work (notwithstanding that he sometimes goes into too much DETAIL on some historical points!).
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An incredibly valuable resource in understanding our history 23 Feb. 2013
By Metabble - Published on
Verified Purchase
This excellent history by Murray Rothbard thoroughly examines the economic, social, and political forces which shaped the early United States. Some of those crucial forces are rarely discussed in public education, making this an incredibly valuable resource. It tackles many popular myths while using our history as a test lab to prove the benefits of liberty and free markets. It is suited for both the interested citizen and serious academic alike. Having majored in history, I can tell you that you'll get far more from a serious read of this $30 book than you will in $3000 of American history at most colleges.
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