The result is the only primer on American history that is heavily informed by the economics of the Austrian School. It was also a New York Times bestseller and one of the most controversial books in American history to appear in decades.
From the Puritans through the drafting of the Constitution, the Civil War, the World Wars, the rise of the "Great Society" all the way up through the of the Clinton Administration, this brightly written book discusses the real ideals of the founding, the truth about the Civil War, the heroism of the robber barrons, the ravages of statism in World War I, high taxes, and the war against free markets.
"I think every high school and college teacher of U.S. history should have their students read the chapter in your book dealing with whatever period they are covering," says Bettina Greaves, "plus the books they 'are not supposed to read.'"
He shows that the Constitution was never understood to be a permanent union, that big government caused the North-South conflict, that Alexander Hamilton's friends were racketeers, that the US didn't have to enter WW I, that Hoover was a big government conservative, that FDR made the Depression worse, that there really were Communists in government, that FDR made WW II inevitable, that the Marshall Plan was a flop, that the Civil Rights movement increased social conflict and made everyone worse off, that unions made workers poorer, that the 80s weren't really the decade of greed, that Clinton's wars were aggressive and avoidable, and that his personal issues were a major distraction from the real problems of the 1990s.
Thomas Woods studied under Rothbard before completing his PhD at Columbia. He writes in a Rothbardian spirit, combining scholarship, radicalism, and a burning desire to communicate.
Even from the first pages, when Woods is describing the religious and ideological demographics of the Colonial Period, the reader is aware that he is being taught by a master who loves his subject. He prose burns with a passion to tell the next thing. Rarely do two or three sentences pass when he is not surprising you with a new insight. He is glad he has your attention and does not intend to let it go. So long as you are reading, Woods is going to make sure you get his point and come to believe it.
This book was marketed by the publisher to a conservative audience (e.g. the title alone), but what readers actually find is a radical reinterpretation of the whole American experience from a Jeffersonian-Rothbardian point of view.
Woods has written a bracing and indispensible book. It's no wonder that Amazon.com has 177 reviews of this book online, with reviewers battling it out with a fury. It has also been subjected to incredible calumny. See what all the fuss is about!
If you would like to submit a video review of your own please contact the Mises Store.
Austrian Economics, Freedom and Peace