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The Road to Serfdom, the Definitive Edition

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Narrated by: William Hughes
Length: 11 hrs and 45 mins
5 out of 5 stars (175 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and the public for half a century. Originally published in 1944 - when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program - The Road to Serfdom was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

First published by the University of Chicago Press on September 18, 1944, The Road to Serfdom garnered immediate, widespread attention. The first printing of 2,000 copies was exhausted instantly, and within six months more than 30,000 books were sold. In April 1945, Reader's Digest published a condensed version of the book, and soon thereafter the Book-of-the-Month Club distributed this edition to more than 600,000 readers. A perennial best seller, the book has sold 400,000 copies in the United States alone and has been translated into more than 20 languages, along the way becoming one of the most important and influential books of the century.

With this new edition, The Road to Serfdom takes its place in the series the Collected Works of F. A. Hayek. The volume includes a foreword by series editor and leading Hayek scholar Bruce Caldwell explaining the book's origins and publishing history and assessing common misinterpretations of Hayek's thought. Caldwell has also standardized and corrected Hayek's references and added helpful new explanatory notes. Supplemented with an appendix of related materials ranging from prepublication reports on the initial manuscript to forewords to earlier editions by John Chamberlain, Milton Friedman, and Hayek himself, this new edition of The Road to Serfdom is the definitive version of Hayek's enduring masterwork.

©2007 Estate of F. A. Hayek (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 10-27-18

Hayek's case for individualism over collectivism

Nobel laureate in economics and US Presidential Order of Freedom recipient Fredrich August Hayek (1899 - 1992) joins Carl Menger and Ludwig von Mises as the three main economic philosophers of the Austrian School of economics. Mises became a US citizen while Hayek became a British citizen but spent years in the US. The most important works of both Mises and Hayek were in the area of political philosophy rather than traditional economics.

The Road to Serfdom was written in Hayek's early 40's and was published in Great Britain early in 1944 and in the US later that year. Hayek wrote a second edition in 1956 which simply added a forward. I wrote and Audible review of the 1956 edition (that edition is no longer available at Audible) several years ago. The current edition, published in 2017, is edited by Bruce Caldwell and it contains much additional information on Hayek's life and general philosophy.

I must start this review by admitting that I have read all of Hayek's many works and I am a fan of, nay a disciple of, his economic and political philosophy. I first read The Road to Serfdom, the 1956 edition, at a high school senior early in 1961. And I have reread it multiple times. It is, in my opinion, the most important book on economic and political philosophy written during the 20th century.

In simplistic terms The Road to Serfdom makes the case for individualism verses collectivism. Hayek states and demonstrates that collectivism/socialism in all of its variations from communism to fascism/nazism ends up of necessity as authoritarian dictatorships. From an economic point of view the difference between individualism/liberalism/classical liberalism and collectivism/socialism is that the latter does centralized economic planning while the former does no such centralized economic planning. From a political point of view under Hayek's form of liberalism/individualism individuals have freedom while under socialism (including communism and fascism) individuals are unimportant (an individual has no liberty whatever) while groups are very important.

Hayek calls his political philosophy liberalism or classical liberalism. He makes a minor reference to the difference between classical liberalism and conservatism in The Road to Serfdom, but in his next major work titled The Constitution of Liberty on pages 517 - 533 he writes an essay now titled Why I am Not a Conservative that clarifies his position of conservatism. His argument is that conservatism indicates a strong reluctance to change and it can exist in any political system including collective systems. My description is simplistic due to brevity. I urge all reading this to find Why I am Not a Conservative on the Internet and read it.

Much has been written by fans of Ayn Rand on the similarities of her objectivism philosophy and Hayek's classical liberalism. Rand's political philosophy is certainly about individualism of the most rigid and unworkable type possible and it would certainly lead quickly to anarchy if ever implemented. Hayek's classical liberalism is reasonable and workable.

I recommend The Road to Serfdom without reservation.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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An excellent primer for beginners of economic hist

This book along with Friedman's Free to Choose can give the casual reader a strong base of knowledge of political theory tied with economics. Would highly recommend to supplement modern curriculum.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A great reading of a remarkable book.

Hayek's words read as true today as they did in 1944 in the continual battle between liberty and tyranny.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Excellent, Pertinent, Accessible

Simply a must read! Logical, factual, historically accurate, hugely important, and completely ignored by academia.

If I had to pick only 2 books to recommend to the world, they would be Hayek's "Serfdom" and Jordan Peterson's "12 Rules." the two best books I've ever read.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Great Book. Second Time Through

Amazing that universities still want to endorse socialism and central planning in view of 20th century realities.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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This book is more relevant today then ever

socialism and economic planning will cause good leaders to be tyrannical to those that are of less favor to the majority.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very true!!!

Socialism and communism pave the way for totalitarianism with regimes like National Socialism (Nazism) an almost expected byproduct.

Only by supporting free market capitalism unfettered by coercive government can world society achieve desired individual personal freedom and safeguard against large state mediated violence.

Hayek's book is as true today as it was in the time of WWII.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Very much relevant in the USA

This definitive edition of TRtS is a great work that takes big economic theory and a look at human collective motives and makes the digestable for the common reader. Hayek's work here is very relevant to the current situation that the US finds itself in, and I even found chills going down my spine about his predictions that could easily apply to modern day phenomena, such as Social media censorship. Worth your monthly audible credit if you are interested in economics at all.

Only criticism, is that this definitive edition can be hard to follow at first because of all the introduction/prologue pieces. But you will soon be past this.

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Out of the park!

Sometimes you read something that makes you wonder, "Why hasn't this been read by more people?".
This is that work. Excellent.

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A classic. All the 5-star reviews are correct.

Rather than try to review "The Road to Serfdom" itself, I want to comment on this "Definitive Edition." It may well be exactly that. The Road is not exactly easy listening, although it is clear and unambiguous. It should probably be read rather than heard, but that wasn't an option for me right now. So I listened and was blown away by the presentation of this edition.

By including the prefaces, forewords, etc., of previous editions, the editor has provided a magnificent public service. They probably are as long, in aggregate, as the underlying book itself.

Those introductory essays add tremendously to the accessibility of the ideas in The Road. I can't stress enough how helpful and important it is for the listener to have them as part of this presentation, especially in an audio version. This book, in this edition, should be required reading for every high school student in America, starting in the 10th grade, and they should then review it as seniors. (I realize this hope is a fantasy, but it's still true.) I don't understand why it wasn't included in my graduate economics classes. The ideas are that important and that basic, as well.