"The war, then, was transforming the climate, and Beveridge's hope--and he was not alone--was to build on this transformation in the future. Indeed, the first of the 'Three Guiding Principles of Recommendations' with which he began his report made the link explicit: 'Now, when the war is abolishing landmarks of every kind, is the opportunity for using experience in a clear field. A revolutionary moment in the world's history is a time for revolutions, not for patching.'
Having come to his majority in interwar Vienna, Hayek doubtless experienced an intense and disquieting sense of déjà vu on reading such words. In his book he sought to reverse the trends that were everywhere evident in Britain..."
University of Chicago Press has detached Mr. Caldwell's introduction from the latest edition of The Road to Serfdom, and offered it as a 'short.' It is not a summary of the book itself, but it is a valuable account of how the book came to be written (including the debate between Keynesians and Austrians in the 1930s), and how, after being rejected by two or three American publishers, it became a best-seller.
Hayek, it seems, was a little embarassed by the mass success of his academic book, and suspected it might be misunderstood or misused: "Responding to a question about tariffs in a discussion following his speech in Washington, DC, Hayek bluntly asserted: 'If you have any comprehension of my philosophy at all, you must know that one thing I stand for above all else is free trade throughout the world.' The man offering the anecdote added that, with that, 'the temperature of the room went down at least 10 degrees.'"
Finally, there is an account of the book's reception among economists and other intellectuals, who were not less prone to misinterpret Hayek than the general public: "Hayek recognized that 'liberal socialists' value freedom of choice and the honoring of individual preferences. What he denied was that they could maintain those values and still carry out their proclaimed program of extensive central planning. As he succinctly put it, 'socialism can be put into practice only by methods which most socialists disapprove.'"