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The more Human Actions the better say I.

I own two softcover copies of the 4th edition published by Laissez Faire (actually, one of these belongs to my wife; leftovers from grad school), two copies of the Liberty Fund edition (one hard and one soft) and a copy of the scholars edition. The hardcovers are generally at home in the library, the softs are in the office at school. I'm not sure you would gain anything by purchasing #'s 3 and 4, though I must admit that I do like the the Liberty Fund publishing it in 4 volumes - makes for easier lugging around.

And I agree that the Yale/Contemporary edition would be the standard for professional publishing.

There's also the beautiful FEE edition, with the leathery cover and gold-laminate pages. Got one of those Dave? It looks like a Bible. ;)

I have the classic 1966 Yale/Contemporary version with no paper cover on it here in the office, and that's my thoroughly noted version. I also have an earlier edition, the scholar's edition, and the biblical one at home.

I also have a 1934 Theory of Money and Credit in the collection at home.

As somebody relatively new to Austrian economics, is Human Action considered to be THE text to read? Apologies if this is a horribly naive question for this blog.

Yes. But if allowed to add only one more "THE book to read," I'd add Rothbard's Man, Economy, & State.

Thanks Dave. I shall go forth and work my through my brand new Liberty Fund edition of Human Action, then move on to Rothabrd.

I think you have missed the red version FEE offers.

Actually Will, that's the version I have, not the scholar's version. The "biblical" one is that same FEE version but with the fancy cover and pages.

It's good to get some human action every now and again.

Yes, Dave is missing some editions from his list. My greatest "steal" was a signed copy of the first edition of the Yale University Press copy from 1949. The book I have all my comments in, however, is the 1966 3rd Rev edition hard bound so that is what I work with.

As for Austrian economics reading --- Human Action, Rothbard's Man, Economy and State, and then Hayek's Individualism and Economic Order, and then Kirzner's Competition and Entrepreneurship is what I would recommend to a new reader who wants to get a deep appreciation of the main insights of the Austrian School of Economics. From there, intense study of more contemporary works and/or class works can start --- but these 4 books form the core of the modern Austrian school.


Completely agreed with Pete's list of the Core Four.

I've got two autographed copies, one inscribed to my grandfather the other to my father. I've wondered whether their is something special I should do with these, either auction them for charity or donate them somewhere (though I hate to part with them). Any thoughts?


I'm going to pass the same advice I received when I started reading Austrian literature; start with Rothbard's Man, Economy, and State/P&M, and then read Human Action. It will be a more meaningful reading when you read Mises after being 'prepped' by Rothbard's more accessible magnum opus.

There's a new Mises Institute edition (not the blue slipcase one)

But I don't really understand the benefits or two or more copies of the same book, unless one to keep at the office and one at home. But I'd be interested to know - maybe I'm not making enough use of my books!

At FEE last summer, all of the faculty autographed a number of the fancy Human Actions so that each intern would have one. I said, quite seriously, that those autographed copies should be put in a safe deposit box because they will be worth something someday. They have multi-generational autographs there, from Kirzner to Rizzo/White/Butos/Lewin to Horwitz/Boettke to Leeson/Coyne. I tried to steal one for myself, but no go.

Prof. Boettke,

I am curious to why Menger is never on the list for any modern austrian reading list. I am not trying to say that I don't enjoy reading Mises, Hayek, Kirzner, and Rothbard, but shouldn't we also read the Menger to get an idea for the basis of the school of thought? Or is Menger becoming like Adam Smith, the economist we all hear about, but hardly read as everyone references him?

Menger is fantastic, but his Principles (and Investigations, I think) are out of print.

Fox and Wilkes published an edition, 3rd if I recall. At least, that's what it says on the spine of the maroon paperback copy on my shelf.


Actually, you can get copies of both Principles and Investigations through Libertarian Press.

But I would argue that Menger and Bohm-Bawerk (less so Wieser, but him too) are essential readings for someone who wants to understand the founding of the Austrian school of economics, but not necessarily the contemporary Austrian school. Menger is the founding document, Mises is the maturing of that document, Rothbard is the modern restatement of that document. See what I mean?

So the key word in my recommendation is "modern" (or contemporary) and Menger doesn't qualify by definition.

Menger's Principles and Investigations are essential reading for the serious student of the Austrian school.



I have given away all of my signed copies to my PhD students upon their successful graduation. My signed first edition of Human Action went to Pete Leeson; signed copies of Rothbard's Man, Economy and State went to Ed Stringham, etc. I recently got a stock pile of books for students signed by more contemporary scholars for this purpose. Students have seem to appreciate that. BTW, when Pete Leeson went off to Harvard, I also gave him a copy of Walter Block's Defending the Undefendables and told him NEVER to forget his roots --- and now he has a book coming out on pirates!!!

I would hold on to those books of yours and give them to your kids down the road --- they will come to appreciate the value of those ideas (especially given the path we are currently heading unfortunately).

Well, since there is an element of "book envy" going on here. . .

I have two autographed copies of the first edition of "Human Action," with dustjackets intact.

First editions of "Omnipotent Government" and "Bureaucracy" (with original dust jackets).

Special leather-bond copies of: "Gemeinwirtschaft" (the German-language "Socialism"), the first English-language editon of "The Theory of Money and Credit," and "Grundprobleme der Nationalokonomie" (the German-language "Epistemological Problems of Economics"). There were specially prepared for me by a friend in a bookbinder store in New Dehli, India.

I also have an excellent condition copy of the German-language 2nd edition of Menger's "Grundsatze" printed in 1923 with his famous 1892 monograph on "Geld" as an appendix, and a great introduction by Karl Menger, Jr. explaining the history of the book, and the planned content of the three additional volumes that Menger never completed.

I also have Mises's old Vienna cigarette case!

And one of Mises's business cards from the 1930s that has both his Vienna and Geneva addresses on it.

Just thought I'd mention it. . .

Richard Ebeling

Ah yes, that blue softcover is my personal favorite too, since that's what I started on and read in high school. If I were blindfolded I truly could identify it by smell.

For those who are new to this stuff, I immodestly direct you to my (free) study guides for both ME&S and HA:

The cigarette case -- now that's the killer, Richard!

Thanks Prof. Boettke.

Though I've heard many of times that the Modern Austrian movement can be found by reading Menger.
For instance in the Evolution of Austrian Economics, Sandye Gloria-Palermo tries to point out what is Mengerian of all the Austrians throughout the ages.

I should note that Menger's Principles are online for free.

I have never thought much of the book in any of its editions. It is not well-thought out, carelessly written and has an terribly arrogant tone. That being said, he is often right, but for poor or wrong reasons. (In fact, Hayek has made this very last point.) I would never recommend the book to serious students of economics who want to find out what Austrian economics is about. They would come away from it with so much to unlearn. Much better to give them Hayek's Individualism and Economic Order.

Don't cognoscenti cite the first edition of 1949?
I bought a signed first ed. for $75 in the early 80s, then a second (unsigned) first ed. for $1 at the old Hudson Guild Book Fair the Sunday before the 1987 stock market crash (it was in the sociology section), then a third (unsigned) first ed. for $10 at the old Isaac Mendoza book store a year before it closed in February 1990.
(Located at 15 Ann St., it was the oldest bookstore in Manhattan at the time.) The last is the only one with a dust jacket.
I agree that the book is more or less unreadable (e.g., "polylogism," etc.), although not as unreadable as Samuelson.
Anyone ever seen the second, botched edition from Yale?

Mario: As you may recall, I am not an economist, just a reader of economics -- first having read the 1949 Yale edition which I found in a public library in 1967 and then getting a "free" 1966 Henry Regnery 3rd edition for signing up with a book club in 1968, which is my marked up edition. I have gone through it several times and never considered the tone "arrogant." (I also have your Time and Ignorance and Time, Uncertainty and Disequilibrium.)

But, aside from you consider the tone of the book, could you elaborate on what you consider to be its wrong reasoning. I just reviewed his trade cycle analysis and found it compelling. Am I wrong about this?

Rothbard's Man, Economy, and State is much better organized for someone trying to learn economics. Read it first. Read Mises' Human Action, which you can only appreciate after you know some economics, later.

At first I thought Mario was joking!

But I do agree with everybody above -- start with Rothbard.

Well, choice #3 has an introduction that discusses the differences in editions, so if you want an answer to your question then you may want to go to and hit up the intro from the PDF version to see what you might be missing out on regarding different editions, then evaluate whether or not you think those differences are worth it.

For reasons that are not at all scholarly, I love my big blue copy from the Mises Institute. It just feels nice in my hands and looks good on the shelf. But I've only seen pictures of the other editions so I might be biased.

Depends , in what field of action in some too many human actions will go to a bad thing and in other domains it will be better.

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