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Feb 1, 1976

The Free Man’s Almanac

The Free Man’s Almanac, compiled by Leonard Read, is one of the best and most useful for libertarians that I have run across.”

The Free Man’s Almanac has been compiled and issued by Leonard Read. It makes a pleasant handful of epigrammatic reference and could be useful to any serious student of liberty. It would be of particular value to those who fancy they have read it all and know it all.

The long-time chief of the Foundation for Economic Education has stated that he wished to compile something to be added to each morning’s prayer, a thought starter, as it were, that would “upgrade… awareness, perception, consciousness.”

What has resulted is close to 400 hundred pages of short statements from a vast array of sources. What is most remarkable about the collection is that it comes from so many. More than 300 authors and thinkers are cited, including both ancient and modem, and well-known as well as obscure contributors.

Those who are atheist in their views will be uncomfortable with the volume, for through it runs a sense of the mystery of creation and a reverence for the magnificence of both natural phenomena and human achievement. However, if the atheist is not too timid to wade in such transcendent waters, he may find some items of considerable merit.

There is a predictable selection of subject matter. A sheaf of quotes from various writers attests brilliantly to the merit of private property, a free market, and the invisible hand. Stressed is the individuality of each and the superiority of a market with millions of different people planning what shall be done, as opposed to a market centralized and stagnant, in the hands of the State.

Freedom is seen as an optimum of choices that, while vast, does not include freedom to trespass on others. And there is the familiar note that benign government is that which is limited to the area of protection, defense, retaliation, and punishment, the latter two visited upon the iniquitous at the hands of the righteous. Justice Brandeis is quoted as saying, “Experience should teach us to be most on guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficient.”

But there are great, sublime sentences that cannot help stir the spirit and cause the heart to leap in hope. And there are some profound insights that must be read, and read again.

Any compilation of this sort is bound to have its limitations. But The Free Man’s Almanac, compiled by Leonard Read, is one of the best and most useful for libertarians that I have run across. Reviewed by Robert LeFevre / Inspiration / Foundation for Economic Education, 1974 / $5