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Publisher's Summary

Professor Block's book is among the most famous of the great defenses of victimless crimes and controversial economic practices, from profiteering and gouging to bribery and blackmail. However, beneath the surface, this book is also an outstanding work of microeconomic theory that explains the workings of economic forces in everyday events and affairs.

Murray Rothbard explains why: "Defending the Undefendable performs the service of highlighting, in the fullest and starkest terms, the essential nature of the productive services performed by all people in the free market. By taking the most extreme examples and showing how the Smithian principles work even in these cases, the book does far more to demonstrate the workability and morality of the free market than a dozen sober tomes on more respectable industries and activities. By testing and proving the extreme cases, he all the more illustrates and vindicates the theory.

"F.A. Hayek agreed, writing the author as follows: "Looking through Defending the Undefendable made me feel that I was once more exposed to the shock therapy by which, more than fifty years ago, the late Ludwig von Mises converted me to a consistent free market position. Even now I am occasionally at first incredulous and feel that 'this is going too far,' but usually find in the end that you are right. Some may find it too strong a medicine, but it will still do them good even if they hate it. A real understanding of economics demands that one disabuses oneself of many dear prejudices and illusions. Popular fallacies in economics frequently express themselves in unfounded prejudices against other occupations, and in showing the falsity of these stereotypes you are doing a real service, although you will not make yourself more popular with the majority."

©2008 Ludwig von Mises Institute (P)2008 Ludwig von Mises Institute

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • Coeur D'Alene, ID, USA
  • 12-14-11

Stretching My Mind

What made the experience of listening to Defending the Undefendable the most enjoyable?

Mr. Block stretched my mind in new directions. I was introduced to new perspectives on topics that I thought I knew, and I was surprised when I changed someone of my longest-held opinions. Who knew that discrimination and regulation affects so many facets of our lives!?

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A must-read for any open minded person

What made the experience of listening to Defending the Undefendable the most enjoyable?

Even though english is not my native language the book is well written so I understood almost everything. The pronounciation and intonation by Jeff Riggenbach is just great. Regarding the content of the book I knew what to expect and it simply confirmed and deepened my beliefs in personal liberty and the fact that the state should stay out of other peoples business.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Defending the Undefendable?

The whole book is one huge memorable moment. And I hope to remember the facts and the logic presented by Walter Block here the next time I have to debate someone on personal liberty and statelessness.

Have you listened to any of Jeff Riggenbach’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Jeff Riggenbach does a great job. I really like his deep voice and superb pronounciation. I have listened to many of his performances for the Ludwig van Mises Institute and he is just perfect for this kind of literature.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Open Your Eyes to Not Being Free

What made the experience of listening to Defending the Undefendable the most enjoyable?

Custom, Law and/or Religion have constrained individuals through history. As you read Defending the Undependable your eyes and mind will be opened to realize how little freedom you have. You will learn that any non forced agreement allows the agreed upon action to occur: you are free to do it. In contrast, custom and religion have constrained and forced us to "behave" which is a form of violence: we did not freely agree to...

What was one of the most memorable moments of Defending the Undefendable?

Violence is any imposed [via strong persuasion] mode of behavior and thinking.

What about Jeff Riggenbach’s performance did you like?

Prof. Riggenbach's voice and tempo made listening and understanding a new concept easy to grasp.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Those who have the capability to comprehend concepts, constraints and freedom of agreement, continue to be raised, trained and indoctrinated to be "good citizens/Christians/Jews/soldiers/students/...?". That is we are trained as "dumb" animals.

Any additional comments?

See what you have been missing; and may Professor Riggenbach receive his just reward for an insightful analysis.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Good for the new libertarian

What made the experience of listening to Defending the Undefendable the most enjoyable?

The arguments and sides of the debate the author takes are sometimes humorous but legitimate at the same time.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

it's about logic and why some of our current outlooks on what is morally and legally wrong is laughable when you really break it down, look at it from the law breaker's point of view.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

it is old.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

the author's argument for why the slumlord is a positive part of the community and economy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Main idea needs to be defended, not assumed

Any additional comments?

The underlining idea of the book is the nonaggression principle. I happen to agree with the principle. However, I do not believe the book will convince anyone who does not already accept it. Dr. Block simply assumes it and makes his arguments from there.

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Needs better narrator.

the story seems interesting enough, but I was unable to finish the book. the narrator's voice was just one I could not get through.

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The End of Good/Bad snap judgements

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Moralizing people may be too judgemental and close-minded....Libertarians like myself would enjoy the rational thinking, but the case is made early on and beaten to death in my opinion....

True, drug dealers, users, prostitutes are humans doing private actions that have always been in demand.

What was most disappointing about Walter Block’s story?

Not moving on to talk about opportunity costs from making a "War on ...." You can fill in the blank....Drugs...Drunk driving....cancer...poverty....homelessness..." In the end, it's always a WAR ON OUR FELLOW CITIZENS....

What didn’t you like about Jeff Riggenbach’s performance?

It was fine.

What character would you cut from Defending the Undefendable?

It's a narration about social stigmas....no characters....

Any additional comments?

It would be a lot of work to do causal analysis and statistical analysis combined with societal costs, but that would be a great book, combined with the 1st half of this one.

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  • Dylan
  • Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
  • 12-04-12

So much potential, so little delivery

The authors showed fundamental misunderstandings of Libertarian and Austrian philosophies. This is a great pity, as the foundational precept (finding people villified by society for performing useful, even vital, functions, and showing why society is wrong) is desperately needed, and offers huge scope for productive writing. By aiming for shock value rather than sound reasoning, this book will put people off these parallel philosophies just when the world needs them most..

The lack of intellectual rigor here doesn't leave much hope for future books by these authors.

2 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-21-17

thoughtful

basically examines a whole bunch of social/legal taboos through to their ridiculous final conclusions and reveals the strong need to reconsider many erroneous attitudes we grow up with and simply accept as truths