The Corner

Radicals For Capitalism

My review of Brian Doherty’s book is in the latest issue. Digital subscribers click here. An excerpt:

…Radicals for Capitalism is, quite simply, the best book of its kind ever written. This should not be interpreted as faint praise merely because it is the only book of its kind ever written (at least that I am aware of). It is an extraordinary accomplishment. Doherty, a senior editor at Reason magazine, has amassed an astonishing amount of information, often from hard-to-find sources, and presented it in a way that is accessible to the novice and illuminating to those already familiar with its subject matter (this reviewer falls into both camps, depending on the topic).

The book is by no means flawless. There are passages where Doherty lapses into movement stenography, calling the roll of those attending meetings forgotten even by most in attendance — and with such amnesia subtracting very little from human wisdom. Some overlong sentences are almost Bushian in that they start out fine, but you have no idea where they might end up. Also, there is so much material — and there are so many overlapping narratives — that at times Doherty’s timelines seem a bit tangled. But these are mere potholes in an otherwise extremely entertaining and informative ride.

One of the great sins in book reviewing is reviewing the book the author didn’t actually write, but the one the reviewer wishes he had. So in a sense mine is a sinful critique.

To find out what that sinful critique is, you need to read the whole review. But here is the kicker at the end:

No conservative should commit to a policy without first consulting the libertarian position. Indeed, once conservatism forgets to ask, “Should the government really be doing this?” it will have ceased conserving what is best about conservatism. Hence Radicals for Capitalism should be required reading not just for libertarians, but for their conservative comrades-in-arms as well.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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