{short description of image}  


Murray N. Rothbard

Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, 2011, This is a new printing, placing in one book the four volumes originally published by Dr. Rothbard in 1979 and again in 1999. 1616 pgs. A fifth volume continuing the story through 1791 is Conceived in Liberty the New Republic 1784 - 1791 {short description of image}


Reviewer Comment:
Dr. Rothbard is a self identified 'anarcho-capitalist and well known major developer of 'Austrian School' economics in the form of Ludwig von Mises. He is considered a major libertarian theorist. This can be identified by his theoretical approach to history. He focuses much attention to the historical results of the fundamental issue of 'conflict' over power between rulers and ruled.
However, unfortunately, he uses the modern term 'state' here as he does in his other books instead of 'ruler' or government. The 'state' was a creation of Renaissance era theoreticians to replace the discarded 'Chain of Being' as the source of legitimacy for rulers and justification for their actions that violated medieval norms. The 'state' is an abstract concept not a live, acting, creature. Dr. Rothbard intends to stress the negative assessment in his arguments that it is this 'state' against which the libertarian minded individuals were and still are fighting against. But instead this absolves the real actors, specific rulers and governments, as itwas intended to do when it was first applied (for instance in Machiavelli's 'reasons of state"). . And in his excellent descriptions of the actual struggles and conflicts between liberty seeking individuals and this power hungry 'state' it is clear that the real individuals who represent and are the actual humans seeking or wielding this 'state' power are themselves NOT an unified entity - let alone motivated to obtain power FOR such a 'state' but typical individuals seeking THEIR OWN objectives (in both power and wealth) and this 'state' concept at most serves as another theoretical tool to justify their actions.

In 1616 pages the content is indeed massive. His research generated details about the activities of hundreds of individuals and their objectives and activities. The text is overwhelming in its detail. The extensive detail specifying names of individuals and dates of events begins in the era of the great European explorations of the world. He identifies even relatively obscure Portuguese, Spanish, French and other ship captains and explorers. He had to begin some where and time. But his description of late Medieval Europe then becomes very sketchy and turns into a libertarian opinion piece denouncing, especially, this 'state' as the ogre centuries before it was invented. Amazingly, in his summary of the main events and developments he completely ignores the single most important historical event - the plague (Black Death) that killed at least a third of the European population and profoundly changed society, politics and economic life.
His libertarian philosophy is apparent in his analysis and comment on the events, and the roles of these individuals, who were engaged (he claims) in almost continual struggle between advocates of individual liberty and the authorities bent on enforcing control over everything and exercising power. The author has presented a more detailed, more complex, and somewhat different narrative about the American colonists and their British (would be) overlords in the centuries prior to 1784. The result is that the text is so comprehensive in its identification of hundreds of relatively tiny struggles and conflicts between individuals and groups on one side and government authorities on the other that the reader may feel overwhelmed.

The main fault with his narrative and analysis is that it is focused almost entirely on the American colonial side of events and personalities. He does include the conflicts between colonial individuals and their local ruling class. But their main opponent is this 'state' which serves as the British side of the struggles. This ignores the fact that on the British side the responsible actors were also individuals engaged in domestic political conflict among themselves. They mostly either ignored the colonies or used colonial policy as a tool in their personal, local political agendas.
I can find no errors in this history. But when it comes to rendering a general appraisal of the significance of these incidents Dr. Rothbard inevitably finds a way to identify them as evidence of at least a 'proto - libertarian' current of opinion leading to further 'revolution'. He recounts much more of the conflicts among the colonists over religious issues than it typical in American history text books.




Volume I - A New Land, A New People: The American Colonies in the 17th Century
Part I -Europe, England and the New World:
Part II - The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century
Part III - The Founding of New England
Part IV - The Rise and Fall of New Netherland
Part V - The Northern Colonies in the Last Quarter of the Seventeenth Century


Volume II - "Salutary neglect": The American Colonies in the First Half of the 18th Century
Part I - Development in the Separate Colonies
Part II - Intercolonial Developments
Part III - Relations with Britain


Volume III - Advance to Revolution. 1760 - 1775
Part I - The British Army and the Western Lands
Part II - Enforcement of Mercantilism
Part III - Ideology and Religion
Part IV - Edge of Revolution: The Stamp Act Crisis
Part V - The Townshend Crisis, 1766 - 1770
Part VI - The Regulator Uprisings
Part VII - Prelude to Revolution, 1770-1775
Part VIII - Other Forces for Revolution


Volume IV - The Revolutionary War, 1775 - 1784
Part I - The War Begins
Part II Suppressing the Tories
Part III - The War in the First Half of 1776
Part IV - America Declares Independence
Part V - The Military History of the Revolution, 1776 -1778
Part VI - The Political History of the United States, 1776 - 1778
Part VII - The Military History of the Revolution, 1778 - 1781
Part VIII - The Political and Economic History of the United States, 1778 - 1784
Part IX - The Impact of the Revolution


Some other references

{short description of image}

Rothbard, Murray - Conceived in Liberty the New Republic 1784 - 1791

{short description of image}

Rothbard, Murray - What has the Government done to our Money?

{short description of image}

Rothbard, Murray - A History Of Money And Bamking In The United States From The Colonial Era To World War II

{short description of image}

Rothbard, Murray - Man, Economy, And State - and Power And Market

{short description of image}

Bailyn, Bernard - The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century

{short description of image}

Anderson, Fred - Crucible of War

{short description of image}

Gordon, John Steele - An Empire of Wealth

{short description of image}

American Subjects - A table listing important names of individuals and events in American pre-Civil War - including colonial history - and links to articles about the history is each individual colony.


Return to Xenophon.