Individuals looking to learn more about liberty often ask for a suggested reading list from which they can begin their studies. The following books are recommended as a great place to begin one’s study of liberty.
- The Law by Frédéric Bastiat (free PDF version, free mp3)
This is by far the most concise and compelling attempt to explain the morality of law and nature of government. It is an absolute must read, and often considered the best book to recommend before any others to a new student.
- The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State by Auberon Herbert (free PDF version)
What is the nature of government power? By what right do men exercise it over others? These and other tantalizing questions are eloquently addressed in an amazing essay few have ever heard of. We consider this an essential primer for liberty.
- Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau (free PDF version)
Should individuals subject their consciences to the state? This thought-provoking essay by Thoreau, accompanied by several other essays in the Libertas Institute edition, is sure to challenge your assumptions and generate much needed debate on the proper role of government.
- Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt (free PDF version, audiobook)
Economics is not just for nerds and number crunchers. Indeed, all of human action is economic in nature; the study of economics is the study of human behavior. Thus, to understand politics properly, one must have a solid understanding of economics. Hazlitt’s classic text is an excellent first step on that important path.
- For a New Liberty by Murray Rothbard (free PDF version, free mp3)
While many people see the great political battles as being between “left” and “right,” Rothbard’s powerful book shows that the real battle is and always has been between the individual and the state. Those seeking to understand and defend individual liberty must be made to realize the nature, power, and purposes of its enemy, the state. This book accomplishes that task persuasively.
- Liberty Defined by Ron Paul (audiobook)
Taking 50 different issues and explaining the liberty position regarding each, Representative Paul helps readers understand a liberty-oriented application to a variety of important and sometimes controversial issues. Many think of liberty only in theory but have difficulty applying it to current events and public policies. Rep. Paul’s book serves as an aide in better understanding that application.
- Latter-day Liberty: A Gospel Approach to Government and Politics by Connor Boyack (audiobook)
Given the high percentage of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in Utah, it’s important that proponents of liberty understand how the faith’s doctrines and teachings support liberty. This book, by Libertas Institute’s founder and president, explains clearly and in great detail how Mormonism and the cause of liberty go hand in hand.
- Human Action by Ludwig von Mises (free PDF version)
This weighty tome is not for the faint of heart. However, its contents are extremely important to understand, for its unique perspective of looking at the world helps the reader to better understand why people do the things they do.
- Anything That’s Peaceful by Leonard Read (free PDF version)
In this important book, Read analyzes the miracles that the market can produce, and how the peaceful interactions of faceless masses can harmonize together and result in peace and prosperity.
- Conceived in Liberty by Murray Rothbard (free PDF version)
Many histories of the United States have been produced. No other history shows how central individual liberty was to the physical and political battles that shaped this nation. As we move forward creating our own history, understanding the events from a liberty standpoint is essential if we are to learn from the past and improve the future.