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Jack England (Henley-on-Thames)

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Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State (Think Now)
Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State (Think Now)
by Gerard Casey
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entering the Hyperverse of Ultimate Freedom, 11 Sep 2012
This book, 'Libertarian Anarchy' by Professor Casey, is an excellent way of bringing together lots of different philosophical threads into a single clear focus based around the ideas of total freedom, personal secession from the state, and the totally voluntary society.

The alternative route to the same destination would normally involve tackling a combination of the Rothbardian and Hoppeian canons, both of which are superb, of course, in scope and execution, but which require much more effort on the part of the reader. And who has time for deep effort any more in this rush, rush, rush world, where surviving the economic 'solutions' of 'our leaders', since 2008, has drawn out more and more individual energy, from all of us here in productive land, just to stand still?

If you want the movie of the book first, with all the best bits left in, then 'Libertarian Anarchy' is going to form an excellent taster for those mightier libertarian works in your future.

Accessing the Rothbard canon has always involved tackling the major asteroid of 'Man, Economy, and State', along perhaps with the smaller comets of 'Power and Market', 'The Ethics of Liberty', and 'For a New Liberty'. To that, you probably need to add Hoppe's three key works, of 'A Theory of Capitalism & Socialism', 'The Economics and Ethics of Private Property', and 'Democracy, The God That Failed'. Perhaps to round out the set, you would need to add Bruce Benson's 'The Enterprise of Law, Justice Without the State', and Rothbard's superb 'Egalitarianism As a Revolt Against Nature'.

And then we could talk about Oppenheimer, Hazlitt, Hayek, Mises, and Kinsella.

For faster access, however, to the universe of ultimate freedom and the 'totally voluntary society' of Ralph Raico, you might find this shooting star of a book, Libertarian Anarchy, a lot more time efficient. It's also written in the sparkling prose of someone who has swallowed not just one individual Blarney stone, but perhaps seven, maybe even being the seventh son of a seventh son to boot. This liquid prose style enhances the flow of the complex ideas through the book's swift pages, breaking them down neatly, and thus providing a quicker wormhole route through to the vaster hyperverse of Rothbard and Hoppe, without getting stuck in a time continuum loop within a lost fifth dimension.

For instance, the book opens as it means to go on, with a section on 'the criminal state'. Other excellent sections include 'The state - necessary and legitimate?', 'The non-aggression principle', 'Libertarianism and conservatism', 'Is libertarianism utopian?', and 'Where does the law come from?'.

You will still have to read the other major works afterwards, such as the indispensable 'Man, Economy, and State', for a more thorough and complete treatment. However, I think you will find such pivotal works much more digestible and accessible if you use this book first, as an aperitif, before wading manfully, or even womanfully, into the front line. If I'd had this book myself five years ago, it would have made the writing of my own novel, Sword of Marathon, a much quicker experience, as I wrestled with the ideas of my own fictional Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus, one of the central characters of the book.

So if Professor Casey is reading this, and he's engaged in writing a follow-up, would he mind finishing this next book quickly, so any fictional philosopher in my own 'Book Beta', can draw upon rock-solid Aristotelian ideas, as my Greeks fight the tyranny of the Persians in Fifth Century B.C. Sparta and Athens. Anything on the nature of Helotian slavery and Messenian serfdom in Sparta, would be particularly excellent! :-)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2012 6:37 PM BST

The Ghosts of Athens (Aelric)
The Ghosts of Athens (Aelric)
by Richard Blake
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inflected into an indifferent world, 25 July 2012
The complex beauty of Richard Blake's writing is the fine line the author treads between classicism and barbarism. On the one hand, our hero Aelric demurs with his eyebrow at former students for using impersonal Latin verbs in a personal way, and on the other hand, he stabs crass lumpen Anglo-Saxon peasants in the eye with rusting six-inch knives for daring to deliver him a discourtesy. It's all done in the best possible taste, of course, in a cornucopia of smells, tastes, sounds, and verbal effluence which delights both the cerebrum's lobus frontalis and the brain stem's medulla oblongata, and all ambrosic points in-between. This blends in well with the world that Aelric finds himself belched into, which teeters between the differing Roman empires of Caesar and Charlemagne. Our hero drowns in a Varangian smorgasbord of complex Byzantine politics blended into the universal and basal political corruption clearly visible around us currently, in our failed centrally-planned world, in which paper-money currencies, socially-desirable orthodoxies, and politically-correct holy cows are crashing down in a manner highly reminiscent of the enslaving inflationary mess that the original Roman Empire descended into, in its final spasmodic death throes. This is perhaps best summed up by my favourite line in 'Ghosts of Athens': "I'll grant you that it's hard, in most settled places, to tell the difference between tax-collectors and bandits." On a less intellectual level, 'Ghosts of Athens' is simply a superb yarn of an irascible intelligent man dealing with a blindingly confused world, similar but different to the yarns of Cornwell's Lieutenant Sharpe, O'Brian's Captain Maturin, or even Pratchett's Wizzard Rincewind, the egregious professor of cruel and unusual geography. Aelric is an egregious professor of the cruel and unusual human soul, and I highly recommend the contemplation of his latest inexcusable adventure in 'Ghosts of Athens'.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2012 10:26 PM BST

The Column of Phocas: A Novel of Murder and Intrique Set in Mediaeval Rome
The Column of Phocas: A Novel of Murder and Intrique Set in Mediaeval Rome
by Sean Gabb
Edition: Paperback
Price: 19.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Splendid Historical Romp, 28 May 2009
If you're a fan of Bernard Cornwell, Patrick O'Brian, or Conn Iggulden, and perhaps even Robert Graves, then you will love this tale of murder and mystery set in Ancient Rome after the sackings of the Goths.

The Column of Phocas begins in the style of Bernard Cornwell in his Saxon Stories, with an ancient narrator retelling his life as a brash young man carving a trail of blood, debauchery, lust, greed, and fantastic luck, through a dark age of religious friction and good old-fashioned power politics.

This usage of an old man telling his own tale does remove the tiniest sense of danger, as you always know the hero is definitely going to survive, but you always know Captain Kirk is going to get through every episode of the original Star Trek, so there's not too much lost there. Plus, you get the guilt, the pathos, and the humour of an old man making his final confession.

The plot is suitably intricate and believable to keep you guessing throughout, and there's enough sex and violence to keep you on the edge of your seat, as the chief protagonist fights his way from one cliff edge to another. Many writers are afraid of letting everything out. Gabb has no such fears.

When the movie is made of this book, Paul Bettany will be the ideal lead role as Aelric, with perhaps Ray Winstone as One-Eye, Alan Rickman as the Dispensator, and Russell Crowe playing a cameo role as King Ethelbert.

This book will almost certainly be made into a film. It has all of the elements necessary to grip an audience. Let us hope that Sean Gabb gets to write the movie script version of this highly entertaining book, when the call comes from Hollywood, and that he doesn't let the money men take away too much of the central message of this book, on the nature of humanity.

As an L.A.Wilding man myself, I also thoroughly enjoyed the erudite use of Latin (and Greek) throughout the book, from a man who obviously knows what he is talking about. Eat your heart out J.K.Rowling!

Finally, this is obviously written by a man thoroughly steeped in the historic tradition of educated British comedy. On every page you can sense the Baby Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells, many of the characters from the Fast Show, and the ghost of Terry Gilliam, all straining to get in and play bit-part characters in this fascinating age of liberty-loving barbarianism mixed in with tax-loving churches and emperors.

In a phrase; a splendid romp of entertainment. In a word; excellent.

The Revolution: A Manifesto
The Revolution: A Manifesto
by Ron Paul
Edition: Hardcover

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Manifesto for a world revolution, 5 May 2008
As a Republican presidential candidate, Ron Paul is understandably a man concerned primarily with the United States, rather than with England or the rest of Europe. However, the ideas expressed in his book, The Revolution: A Manifesto, can be globally applied given a preliminary understanding of the original American revolution and the later construction of the US constitution. The world is suffering from a surfeit of statism, posits the Good Doctor; we have exploding financial bubbles, endless wars, dissolving currencies, and diminishing civil liberties, racing like the four horsemen of the apocalypse across the entire world. With astonishing clarity, Ron Paul exposes how these inter-linked beasts are related and how they can be tamed via the use of a simple ingredient the United States once used to believe in; freedom. The Republicrats of America must hate him for exposing their carefully spun fallacies behind central banking, foreign policy, fiat currency, and the welfare/warfare state. So, if you want to understand what is going wrong in the world and how it can get fixed then you must read this book, especially if you want to know what America should do to become the beacon of hope it once used to be, rather than the imperial aggressor it has unfortunately become. Personally speaking as a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist, and a follower of Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe, I feel that the Good Doctor places a little too much reliance on the ability of any constitution to restrain any government. However, he has written a beautifully crafted piece of work which it is possible to read in one sitting, despite its comprehensive coverage of the entire remit of western world government. The text will also help you understand the basic tenets of Austrian economics, a political philosophy based upon peace, prosperity, and freedom, which may help you remove any scales of state indoctrination from your eyes, if you feel inflicted with the fuzzy feeling that somebody has been hiding the truth from you, for most of your life, about how governments really work. In brief, I believe this book could help save the world as we know it. I hope it does and I hope this review has done it the truly magnificent justice it deserves. Go Ron Paul.

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