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Libertarianism: A Primer Hardcover – 15 Jan 1997

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (15 Jan. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684831988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684831985
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 802,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

P.J. O'Rourke America is a country full of people who feel personal liberty and individual responsibility in their guts. This book puts those guts into words. America is also a country full of politicians, academics, and self-possessed elites who mistrust liberty and responsibility ot the bottom of their souls. This book plants a kick in that fundament.

William F. Weld Libertarianism: A Primer is a bracing shot of 100-proof libertarianism guaranteed to render mute the last defenders of big, paternalistic government. With plain-spoken eloquence, David Boaz unveils a vision of America that has at its core an abiding respect for personal liberty and freedom writ large.

Dave Barry I hope everybody reads this book. My only concern is that, if we ever do wise up and dump the federal government, I'll lose my biggest source of comic material. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute. He is the author of Libertarianism: A Primer (an updated edition to be released in 2015 called The Libertarian Mind), and his articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in the Washington, DC, area. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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By A Customer on 24 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
Boaz's introduction to libertarianism, while not a hefty work of scholarship on the position, certainly qualifies as a stimulating encapsulation. To be fair to critics of libertarianism, Boaz's book passes over some of the darker implications of an unyielding libertarian perspective. This book is also a foil to the shorter but more challenging What It Means to Be a Libertarian by Charles Murray in that it only lays out the starting points of certain political positions, neglecting more idiosyncratic variants. To its credit, the book addresses the confused and out-dated concept of the political spectrum and outlines why libertarians are beyond left and right. More discussion in this area could possibly move us beyond quibbles over where to spend all of our tax dollars and instead question the proper relationship between government and the individual. In sum, a good introduction for those unfamiliar with libertarianism and concerned about the current structure of our political dialogue.
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By Athan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
I was given this book by somebody who loved it and I promised to read it.

I must confess that I approached it with prejudice. I've never met a poor libertarian, my prejudice is that libertarianism is a philosophy of convenience for the rich. The way I see it, the minority of people who pay tax directly (we all do indirectly) need to feel good about something. And this is a philosophy that helps them stand for a set of ideas, rather than merely be indignant about being "soaked" on tax.

I was so prejudiced about the whole thing, I bought a book by a Nobel Prize winning economist / historian / philosopher about the role of institutions (for example: the government) and read it first. I thought it would educate my mind on the subtleties of the issues I'd confront in any book about libertarianism and give me a bank of ideas to compare with as I'm reading.

I needn't have. David Boaz' "primer" is not an ambitious book. It never goes deep enough into issues that you could vehemently oppose. Equally, it does not build its arguments on an axiomatic basis; so you can't go through and look for errors in logic that isn't there. This is a presentation of a bunch of ideas. "Primer" is probably overselling it, much as it says so on the cover.

I am not exposed to philosophy, so I hate taking literally what "popular philosophy" books have to say. The history of the various ideas will inevitably be interpreted from the angle of the author and important thinkers will invariably be mixed with less important thinkers who are closer to the ideas of the author. If this author did so, he certainly did it without me noticing. It was fun to read what he had to say.

That said, he completely failed to change my mind on any of my prejudices. How do I know?
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed Boaz's book quite a bit. It is obviously intended as an outreach book, (rightfully) skipping over the more tendentious 'internal' debates that go on within the libertarian movement. If you want an introduction to an oft-ignored and wonderfully consistent political worldview, this should be your first stop.
A word to the Amazon editor who cites various questions as 'unanswered'... try picking up the book again and thinking for yourself a bit, eh? Do you REALLY think that people drive on the right *solely* because they fear tickets? Or might self-interest (and the interests of one's fenders) play a small role in that decision? Do you REALLY think governments are needed to force us to patronize libraries and parks? Or do you think that maybe, just maybe, people might be willing to voluntarily pay admissions or membership fees? The highway question is more complicated, naturally, but if one is intrigued by the libertarian philosophy there are further steps to take in answering the *very* hard questions (and Boaz recommends a few books for the skeptic).
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By A Customer on 22 Jun. 1999
Format: Hardcover
Boaz does a good job at providing a basis for the principles of libertarian thought and operation. I suggest this book for anyone who is interested in libertarianism as a good starting point. For those of you who feel that Boaz states his argument in terms that were just too "infuriatingly simple" and were were offended by the temerity of an author who would dare challenge the ideas of those "alot smarter than him," I would suggest (as you remind yourself that opponents of the theory of evolution make identical statements regarding Darwin and his predecessors) you delve into the any of the works of Frederich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Richard Epstein, or Thomas Sowell. If intellectual rigor is your desire, you won't be disappointed. I also suggest Boas' companion to Libertariansim: A Primer, The Libertarian Reader: Classic and Contemporary Writings from Lao-Tzu to Milton Friedman.
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Format: Hardcover
David Boaz presents a well- written introduction to the future of political thought in America: the Libertarian Party. As people become more and more impatient with the inefficiency of big government, they will start to look more closely at the Libertarian solutions to government failure.
Boaz really hits the nail on the head with his discussions on freedom of choice vs. government intervention. His discussions are brief, but to the point. He speaks in a persuasive way without being too negative or forceful in his arguments. I am a member of the Libertarian Party, so I already hold many of the same positions as the author. But I still found the book to be an enjoyable read and a good starting point for beginners who are looking for answers to satisfy their curious political minds.
After you finish reading this, loan it to a friend. And let the Libertarian revolution begin!
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