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I believe the first truly Austrian book I ever read was actually either Competition and Entrepreneurship or Theory of Money and Credit. I read For a New Liberty and a couple of other libertarian books, which lead me to Austrian economics. I know I have an old Liberty Fund copy of TTOMAC with yellow highlighter in it, reflecting my undergraduate days. And I know I read C&E on the beach in Florida one winter break in college (yes, I WAS [am?] that geeky). I have no idea which came first.

I was exposed to Austrian ideas as part of my undergraduate studies in the UK. However, it was it a kind of "these are strange ideas outside of the mainstream, don't spend too long thinking about them" kind of way. This was particularly the case in relation to Hayek.

P.S. Steve that is geeky. But that's why you become a professional economist.

And I mean that as a compliment by the way.

Law Legislation and Liberty as a teenager. It was reviewed in a newspaper. (Or maybe it was a different book of Hayek, some weird collection of essays...I don't recall).

The book that first introduced me to Austrian economics was Mises' Anti-Capitalistic Mentality. I quickly needed to know who he was, what was this Austrian economics that he was related to, and why it was that I never heard of him.

That same semester was my second at GMU and I had the privilege of taking Prof. Boettke's class which was a joint undergraduate and graduate class.
I sat in the back and took pages of notes. Fortunately for me as well, Leeson came to visit and gave a lecture; followed by an epic figure who visited for a week, Sudha Shenoy.

I had no idea what Austrian economics was coming into my second semester. By the end of the semester, I couldn't and think I still have not stopped talking about it.

BTW, I followed AntiCapitalistic Mentality with Margit von Mises' My Years with Ludwig von Mises which made me idolize Mises even more.

In high school I cut my Austrian teeth on Pearcy Greaves's book, _Understanding the Dollar Crisis_ which, in moving from subjective marginal-utility theory to the business cycle and macro policy, was really a crash course in and a decent introduction to Austrian economics.

It was "Law, Legislation, and Liberty" at the sweet age of 16. At that time I didn´t like it at all and was even unable to finish it, since Hayek´s writing style (esp. the Czech translation) seems to me unreadable at that point.

..seemED to me unreadable at that point.

Bettine Bien-Greaves, The Free Market Reader; Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson; Mises's Socialism. I read all 3 in my first economics class at Grove City College. I followed that up by reading Friedman's Free to Choose, and then Sennholz's own Age of Inflation. After that I was hooked. Next year (soph year) I read Adam Smith, J. B. Say, as well as revisiting Socialism. Then I made a trip to FEE and bought up $200 worth of books during my trip --- including Theory of Money and Credit, Human Action, Bureaucracy, Omnipotent Government, Theory and History; Man, Economy and State, For a New Liberty, Hayek's Road to Serfdom and Counter-Revolution of Science; Kirzner's Economic Point of View, and Bohm-Bawerk's Capital and Interest. My trip to FEE was a pivotal event because before that while I definitely believed in free market ideas, I didn't consider becoming an economist as a career. Bettina persuaded me to think seriously about that option.

After coming back from FEE, I read Human Action and Man, Economy and State --- and then I read For a New Liberty (and Block's Defending the Undefendable). I was so hyped up that when I read Hayek's Road to Serfdom I threw it against my dorm room wall because of his "leaking" and to this day my original copy of The Road to Serfdom has a broken binding to remind me of that reaction to his statements.

My last year in college I read both of Menger's books and my first year in graduate school I revisited Hayek and read everything from him, including Law, Legislation and Liberty.

I think the first was Hayek's "Road to Serfdom" and the second was this book by Mises, "Economic Policy", translated with the (nice) title: "Capitalism and its Enemies: What Does Laissez-faire Means".

I am not a professional economist, but I trust my comments will not be stricken for that reason. I majored in economics as an undergraduate. The first thing I ever read was "The Use of Knowledge in Society," which granted is not a book, but the lucidity of Hayek's ideas were very influential on me. Then from there it was "The Road to Serfdom" and then some other texts like "Atlas Shrugged" and Von Mises' "Human Action."

I should add that I still have some old class notes from my undergraduate days and there are two things of interest there. One was that I had margin notes in my notes in a couple of upper level class where I was trying to figure out how Austrians would respond to whatever it was I was being taught.

The other, which I keep in an easily accessible location, was from a Public Sector Econ course I took. We spent a couple of days on Social Security and I refused to write "Social Security" and kept writing "Mandatory Ponzi Scheme" in my notes. Like Pete's copy of RTS, those notes are a reminder not only of the exuberant radicalism of my youth, but also a way to keep my eyes on the prize in my somewhat more sedate middle age.


What is Hayek's "leaking"?



"Leaking" was (is?) the term for "deviations from hard-core libertarianism" that was fashionable among a certain crowd well back in the last century. Pete thinks he's Old School when he uses that word, but usually it just confuses people, as it did you. ;)

That said, RTS has more leaks in it than a Soviet-made disposable diaper.

I think it was Road to Serfdom (if such a popular book counts).

The story goes like this: I had been socialist. I realized I was wrong, and read lots and lots of Marxist writings to understand how they related to my socialist beliefs and why they were wrong. I also read a few more popular libertarian writings like Rand, Road to Serfdom and Radical Son by David Horowitz. Then my obsession with why the socialists were wrong took me to Amazon where I started buying books on socialist economic history and socialist economics - Gregory, Nove, Wootton, Ulam, Bukharin, and many lesser knowns.

I think my second Austrian book was either Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth (Collectivist Economic Planning; Mises, Hayek et al) or Economic Calculation in the Socialist Society (T. J. B. Hoff).

It took me 3 or 4 years to realize that I was an Austrian, or that I agreed with the Austrian school, or whatever. I thought Austrians were weird and had some fringe methodology that nobody sane believed in.

I learned of Hayek and Mises in the preface and footnotes to my sisters college textbook _The End of Liberalism_ by Theodore Lowi.

The first "Austrian" book I tried to read (on my own) was _The Road to Serfdom_.

The book put me to sleep (I was an undergrad running a serious sleep deficit, and tried to read extra stuff at the library in the afternoon -- i.e. at biological nap time.)

I was reintroduced to Hayek by Paul Heyne in his history of economic thought class.

But I didn't begin to read the "Austrians" seriously until I had a chance to roam the great Powell's used book store in Portland.

My first Austrian book turned out to be Hayek's _New Studies_.

A really great "first book" in Austrian economics, actually.

I went back to Hayek really on the recommendation of the preface to Sowell's _Knowledge and Decisions_ which I'd found at Powell's.

My "second" book in Austrian economics was the three volumes of Hayek's _Law, Legislation and Liberty_.

Then on to _The Constitution of Liberty_, _Scientism and the Study of Sciety_, and whatever other Hayek Powell's owned.

Then, next up, was Mises' _Human Action_.

Another early one was _The Foundations of Modern Austrian Economics_, edited by Edwin Dolan.

After that, it's a blur, although reading Kirzner's book on entrepreneurship was memorable, as was Hayek's _Individualism and Economic Order_.

It took me a long time to become a fan of Hayek's _The Road to Serfdom_.

Pete's post jogs a memory.

I read Mises _Socialism_ early on -- another Powell's find.

Powell's seemed to stock a lot of _Liberty Fund_ stuff.

When I read Hayek's Studies and then New Studies as a first year PhD student I realized what I wanted to do with my research path --- PPE. I find those books to contain essays which in my opinion reached the highest level of scholarship done in the Austrian tradition. I do believe Kirzner's work aspires to that level of erudition as well. Lavoie followed that path in say Rivalry and Central Planning.

Reading Lachmann also produced a "mindquake" in me as well, especially the essays in the Grinder edited volume.

If I could aspire to a composite picture of Austrian economics it would be: Rothbard for overall vision, Mises for economic execution, Lachmann for self-criticism, Kirzner for reserach focus, and Hayek for scholarly practice and engagement.

Is there an Austrian book in your mind that captures all of these in one?


Hazlitt's economics in one lesson

Ironically, my first exposure to Austrian economics was Alan Greenspan's essays in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, followed by Economics in One Lesson and then some of Rothbard's works. I can't recall the exact order in which I read Rothbard. I really think that if I had started with anyone other than Rothbard, I wouldn't have gotten very far.

I admit to being a "Ron Paul" Austrian. I'm trying to catch up by getting into the classic literature.

Pre-internet was really another world.

I was lucky in book stores, somehow.

IHS once distributed books -- a used book sellers in Riverside bought ALL of their inventory when IHS left that business, which included Bohm-Bawerk's book on Capital, and Rothbard's fat econ textbook. The bookstore also owned a stock of the _Library of Liberty_, including several volumes mostly on Hayek. I got all of this stuff and much more CHEAP.

I scored cheap copies of the NY University's Austrian econ series at a used book store on a trip to NY City -- including Menger's methodology book.

And somehow I came across John Gray's excellent _Hayek On Liberty_ in a university book store when it first appeared.

And I have to mention again what an oasis Powell's books in Portland was -- I picked up cheap copies of such things as Polanyi's _Logic of Liberty_, and Don Lavoie's _National Economic Planning_, and old collections of classic economic papers.

THen somewhere along the line I learned of Laissez Faire Books (edited by the great Roy Childs) which became something of a graduate seminar in Austrian economics and liberal theory all by itself - along with many cheap prices.

Having recently been to Powell's Books in Portland, I can say without a doubt it is the best and funkiest used/new bookstore I've ever been in.

Let me tweak Pete's question. Are there any *recent* Austrian books that score high on Pete's scale?

*Hayek's Challenge* meets all of those except the Rothbardian one very well. Bruce may have scored higher on that scale than anyone else recently.

Dark horse selection: Chris Sciabarra's *Total Freedom*. It's not really a contribution to AE per se, but he'd score fairly high on that scale.

Socialism by Mises. This was my textbook for Principles of Macro with Hans Sennholz when I was a freshman (1991).

Hayek´s "The Counter-Revolution of Science" was the first Austrian book I read. I remember that I was very impressed by it.

I'm sad to say I didn't get into economics until just a few years ago. My own undergraduate work was in anthropology and sociology. Graduated with a bad taste in my mouth. Some, if not most of the assertions made in those two fields are quite simply bunk. They both lean heavily on leftist assumptions, often overtly Marxian in content. My upper level social theory class reader, which was the only reading required, consisted of writings by a who's who of socialist, and/or post-modernist "thinkers".

Came across Hayek's name later when reading Thomas Sowell. Sad to think I could get all the way through 17 years of education without someone introducing me to the Austrians. Anyway, picked up "The Road to Serfdom" without even knowing about it's economic insights, and found a way of thinking about the world in a whole new way.

Since then, read Mises' "Human Action" and "Socialism", Hayek's "The Constitution of Liberty", his short essays "The Pretense of Knowlege" and "The Use of Knowledge in Society" and just finished "The Counter-Revolution of Science". My suspicions about the nature of the social sciences confirmed; nothing scientific about them, and all very much subject to political whims.

And not much has changed. The discussion/debate of the stimulus packages has revealed that politics within the field rules the day. Of course, one side actually seems interested in debate, the other prefers to rely on name calling and dissimulation.

In the old days Powell's often wafted with had the strong smell of freshly brewed beer from the brewery next door. Talk about funky ..

Steve wrote:

"Having recently been to Powell's Books in Portland, I can say without a doubt it is the best and funkiest used/new bookstore I've ever been in."

The more recent "high scoring" Austrian book I'd recommend is:

_The Austrian Subjectivist Theory of Interest: An Investigation into the History of Thought_ by Ingo Pellengahr, 1996.

Don't know it that counts as recent or not.

I've only been an Austrian for about a year (I'm 18 so it's ok) so my books haven't been mentioned:

The Politically Incorrect Guide Capitalism By Robert Murphy was the first economics book I read

Economics for Real People by Gene Callahan, is the most recent and put my thoughts in order

Basic Economics by Sowell isn't Austrian, but it was the the second economics book I read.

How Capitalism Saved America by DiLorenzo and PIG to American History by Tom Woods were also very good.

America's Great Depression by Rothbard. I'm now neither of fan of Rothbard nor macroeconomics, but it was enough to get me into the Austrian school.

Only recently was did I think to track down the origin of my Austro-libertarianism. My freshman prof (a "classical liberal") made an interesting argument about selling organs and marijuana to save lives that I originally found morally objectionable. He made a great moral and economic case after some push back and to see where he was coming from I googled (technically Yahoo'd at the time) him.

I then found him listed as an adjunct scholar at this place called the Cato Institute. After a few hours of reading these heartless capitalists I left it alone but not being able to deny the logic and it took a backseat to my other campus activities. I picked it up a few months later and I looked at some of the other search results and found the professor's "autobiography" on and I eventually migrated to I kept up with the articles and got a pretty fair understanding of economics and its Austrian variant. A few months later I eventually got to reading Hazlitt's EiOL and Hayek's RtS back-to-back. I'm still a layman but I try to keep up with the reading. I'm still attracted to the libertarianism more than the Austrianism but the gap is less so over the years.

To this day that professor still doesn't know the effect the power of his one clear example had.

For me it was Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" which turned me on to the Austrian School.

I had run across the Conservative Book Club (1968) from reading National Review. Among a lot of worthless stuff, they offered a surprising number of Mises books. I bought _Human Action_ and was spellbound from the moment my eyes fell on the first words. I had had no courses in economics (still haven't) and wasn't reading anything more than the Wall Street Journal (in that general area). To say it was tough going would be an understatement, but I knew there was something there. I quickly ordered five or six more Mises books they offered and some Hayek. Then Rothbard and Kirzner from elsewhere and though not an Austrian, Mencken. Off the subject here, for the funniest sentence in _Human Action_ (there aren't many) I vote for the opening sentence in Chapter XXVI: "The director wants to build a house." It could be the start of a novel or short story and always makes me laugh. Anyone else have a favorite?

I'm quite the newb, but so far I've read Economics in One Lesson by Hazlitt, and I've moved onto Mises "Socialism"

I plan on reading Man, Economy, State after and then moving onto Human Action.

I owe all my gratitude to the internet. I read the Economist religiously for a couple years. A couple years ago was an article about popular economics blogs. The top one listed was Greg Mankiw's blog. I started reading it, and he posted a link to Friedman's Free to Choose videos on Google Video. From there I started searching for more documentaries on Liberty and American History, and stumbled upon some videos from the Mises Institute. Enjoyed the perspective, read the online version of Economics for Real People by Callahan. From there I jumped into Human Action and Money, Bank Credit and Economic Cycles. The freedom of the internet has allowed for me to move from what is commonly held as "conservative" economics to real economics. I never would have realized how socialist and fallacious many commonly held ideas are without being introduced to Mises. I wish it would have occured throughout my expensive educational years, but late is better than never. Don't give up on what you are doing, got to keep feeding my free market addiction.

Slightly related, what do most of you recommend to read first? I've seen it recommended a couple of times that Man, Economy, and State should be read before Human Action. Anything I should read before those two, maybe Menger or Hayek first?

I'm 27 and currently a pilot in the Navy. I was an engineer in college and didn't get interested in economics until two years ago. My path was basically as follows.

Rand "Atlas Shrugged"
Sowell's "Basic Economics" "Knowledge and Decisions" and several others..
Friedman's "Free to choose", "Capitalism and Freedom", "Money Mischief", and " A Monetary History of the US"
Followed By Hayek's "Road to Serfdom."
Mise's "Human Action" and "The Theory of Money and Credit"
And finally i cant forget FEE and

I am currently working on several Rothbard books and plan to read Hazlitt, Kinzer, Murphy and whatever else i can get my hands on.

"Slightly related, what do most of you recommend to read first?"

Dr. Murphy is a bit partial but here's something to help with the decision making.

My first Austrian economics exposure was through "Understanding the Dollar Crisis" by Percy Greaves -- required reading for my Econ 101 class with Ivan Pongracic, Sr. I've always thought the choice was a little bit of an oddity, but as I reread it a second time I understood that it really captured many of the ideas in a simple way. There's probably something better, but it's definitely a good compromise between something like 'Economics in One Lesson' and 'Man, Economy, and State'.

He also read 'I, Pencil' on the first day of class, which definitely set the tone for the semester.

On the book store front, I've also been lucky. A certain store I frequent is very close to Liberty Fund headquarters, and seems to be frequently restocked with cheap additions for my library. Even at half price or less, I still can't afford to buy them all! Right now, I keep going back to try to nab the remaining books from Buchanan's collected works, of which an entire set was on the shelf at one time - $10 per volume in cloth.

Maybe I should also mention that I loaned that Greaves book to a friend who is a local Democratic Party politician, and after reading it he was inspired enough to start diving into the ideas of Austrian economics and at one point got into a debate with his congressman about monetary policy. He is now looking for opportunities to advocate free market principles as a Democrat. As someone who is not an economist, but only a lowly systems analyst & programmer, I thought that was pretty cool.

Being a professional musician, let me say I have never encounter a fellow colleague that was a liberal, in the european sense of the word, much less an austrian. Plenty of social-democrats and marxists though.

I first got in touch with the Austrian School through, an online spanish newspaper that has done a great deal to popularize classical liberal ideas in the spanish speaking countries. Next I saw a documentary about Hayek called Freedom's Philosopher, and since then it's been non-stop. I haven't read that many books because many of the classic essays are found on line, translated into spanish. A favorite of mine is The Errors of Constructivism. Gabriel Zanotti, an argentinian tomist philosopher, has a great introduction to the austrian school that was very important for on my initial understanding. Richard Ebeling has some wonderful master classes on line on the Francisco Marroquín University website. Those did it for me. Why I got interested in liberty? I experienced first hand what nationalist politicians can do to harm freedom. I lived in Barcelona for seven years, and that woke me up!

As part of our homeschool curriculum, our family read Richard Maybury's "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?" I had been an econ major 20+ years before, steeped in the Keynesianism of a public university, and this book was the clearest explanation of economics and inflation that I had ever seen. I enthusiastically recommended it to family and friends, but I still really didn't know what Maybury's footnote meant about "Austrian economics." A year or two later, some friends and I read, "Road to Serfdom." I surfed websites like Cato and The pieces were starting to fall into place, and recently I just finished Mises' Socialism. Wow. The Austrian school has done nothing less than completely revive my interest in economics. Too bad the political world has been going in the opposite direction at the same time!

My first book was the same book that Dave read, Economic Policy. I read that book 7 years ago, when I was only 14. 1 year later a read Human Action, and decided to be an economist.

I was one of those who discovered the Austrian School through I gave up economics to study Comp. Sci and always sort of missed the subject, and decided to keep learning on my own. That's when I stumbled upon, for quite a bit of time I didnt really know this was a special school of thought, I thought it was just, well, economics. Until I started reading other things and started to see the difference.

As for the book, it was Human Action. but primarily, it was

As a first-year doctoral student (1991-92), I read The Fatal Conceit, after it was mentioned in some magazine (I think it was the Economist). I also read Buchanan and Tullock (The Calculus of Consent) and Nozick's ASU that year. While not Austrian, they did strike me as related somehow (and good). The following year, I read Hayek's LLL and some other stuff by Hayek. I didn't discover the other Austrians until the late nineties.

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