These three books should be on every capitalist’s bookshelf:
What to read first
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is the most influential novel of the 20th century, according to a Library of Congress poll of Reader’s Digest book of the month readers. It is the book that launched the moral case for a capitalist renaissance.
- Capitalism The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand is the inspiration for the capitalism tour. Ayn Rand’s philosophy is the best defense of Capitalism.
- Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff is the best presentation of her philosophy by her greatest student. The chapter on Capitalism in OPAR is one of the best elaborations and defenses of laissez-faire I have read.
Once you have read these you can move on to other books that interest you.
As an Amazon Associate, capitalism.org earns from qualifying purchases.
Capitalism Unbound: The Incontestable Moral Case for Individual Rights by Andrew Bernstein
Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook
How Rand’s philosophy can enable defenders of the free market to seize the moral high ground in their fight to limit statist government.
How to be Profitable and Moral: A Rational Egoist Approach to Business by Jaana Woiceshyn
“According to conventional morality, either a business manager maximizes profits and necessarily compromises on ethics, or necessarily sacrifices profits in order to be moral. Woiceshyn explains why this is a false dichotomy and offers rational egoism as an alternative moral code to businesspeople who want to maximize profits ethically.”
The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure by John Allison
Why the Future of Business Depends on the Return to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America by Burton W. Folsom Jr.
“[M]arket entrepreneurs, such as Hill, Vanderbilt, and Rockefeller, succeeded by producing a quality product at a competitive price. The political entrepreneurs such as Edward Collins in steamships and in railroads the leaders of the Union Pacific Railroad were men who used the power of government to succeed.”
Bureaucracy by Ludwig Von Mises
Bureaucracy contrasts economic management in a free market economy with that of bureaucracy. “In the market economy entrepreneurs are driven to serve consumers by their desire to earn profits and to avoid losses. In a bureaucracy, the managers must comply with orders issued by the legislative body under which they operate; they may not spend without authorization and they may not deviate from the path prescribed by law.”
In Defense of the Corporation by Robert Hessen
How the rights of a corporation derive from the principle of individual rights.
Civil Rights Rhetoric or Reality? by Thomas Sowell
Explains how the collectivist solutions of so-called civil rights “leaders” create more problems than they solve. Also worth reading is Sowell’s Discrimination and Disparities.
The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression
Distinguished European scholars document the horrors of communism. Brutal. Review.
The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution by Ayn Rand, et. al.
Examines the primitive, tribalist, “anti-industrial” intellectual roots of the New Left and their impact on our culture today.
The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought by Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff
Ayn Rand’s Ford Hall Forum talks on topics as varied as education, medicine, Vietnam, and the death of Marilyn Monroe.
Race and Culture: A World View by Thomas Sowell
How culture (a body of human knowledge) fundamentally determines the progress of any racial group, and in fact civilization. Also worth reading is Sowell’s Conquests and Cultures: An International History, Migrations And Cultures: A World View, and Ethnic America: A History.
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
A beautifully written book that explains how the market works.
Markets Don’t Fail by Brian P. Simpson
An excellent supplement to contemporary economics textbooks. Topics covered include monopoly, antitrust laws and predatory pricing, ‘externalities,’ safety and quality regulation, environmentalism, economic inequality, ‘public goods,’ and asymmetric information.
Free Market Economics, Third Edition: An Introduction for the General Reader by Steven Kates
A return to supply-side economics making Say’s Law central to understanding economic phenomena. Politics is mixed.
Teaching Johnny to Think by Leonard Peikoff
Dr. Peikoff makes a compelling case for a rational system of education by contrasting three schools of philosophy and the different educational alternatives they propose to replace our present system. In the process, he defines a proper methodology and curriculum that will produce thinking high school graduates confident in their ability to achieve their goals.
Market Education: The Unknown History by Andrew J. Coulson
A comprehensive examination of the history of education, that provides a roadmap for transitioning from monopolistic public education to market education.
Freedom and School Choice in American Education by Bradley Thompson, et. al.
A series of essays for a variety of perspectives (capitalist and anti-capitalist) on privatizing education.
The Beautiful Tree by James Toohey
An inspiring book on the author’s personal journey exploring how the world’s poorest people are educating themselves.
Marva Collins Way by Marva Collins
“Collins took in learning disabled, problem children and even one child who had been labeled by Chicago public school authorities as borderline retarded. At the end of the first year, every child scored at least five grades higher proving that the previous labels placed on these children were misguided.”
Fossil Future by Alex Epstein
Using a “human flourishing framework” Epstein shows that the benefits of fossil fuels far outweigh their side effects—including climate impacts.
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein
How fossil fuels are morally based on the standard of human flourishing
The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand explains her revolutionary concept of rational self-interest.
Viable Values: A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality by Tara Smith
Dr. Smith provides an academic presentation of An Rand’s Objectivist ethics.
Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist by Tara Smith
The Virtuous Egoist examines the nature of the essential virtues — rationality, honesty, independence, justice, integrity, productiveness, and pride — and what they demand in practice while addressing the status of conventional traits such as kindness, charity, generosity, temperance, courage, forgiveness, and humility.
Equal Is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook
Why the attempt to achieve the altruistic-egalitarian ideal of economic equality (equality of results) at the expense of the moral-capitalist ideal of political equality (equal political rights) will lead to the destruction of all.
Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters by Steven Koonin
Core questions—about the way the climate is responding to our influence, and what the impacts will be—remain largely unanswered. The climate is changing, but the why and how aren’t as clear as you’ve probably been led to believe. One of America’s most distinguished scientists is clearing away the fog to explain what science really says (and doesn’t say) about our changing climate.
The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism is the World Economy’s Only Hope, by John Allison
As the nation’s longest-serving CEO of a top-25 financial institution, Professor Allison has had a unique inside view of the events leading up to the financial crisis. He explains how government intervention and regulation of the marketplace caused the housing crisis and the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
In Pursuit of Wealth: The Moral Case for Finance by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins
Explains the economic importance and moral value of finance to human flourishing.
Meltdown by Thomas E. Woods Jr.
How government policies are the primary cause of the housing boom and bust that led to the financial crisis of 2008.
Defending Free Speech by Steve Simpson
How those who attack the freedom of speech are the product of anti-capitalist ideologies.
The Tyranny of Silence by Fleming Rose
“When the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in 2005, Denmark found itself at the center of a global battle about the freedom of speech.”
In Defense of Global Capitalism by John Norberg
Marshaling facts and the latest research findings, the author systematically refutes the adversaries of globalization, markets, and progress.
The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America by Leonard Peikoff
The intellectual roots of Nazism and their ominous parallels in modern America.
The DIM Hypothesis: Why the Lights of the West Are Going Out by Leonard Peikoff
On the influence of how a culture’s philosophy (disintegration, integration, and misintegration) shapes its history and its future. I’m far more optimistic then Peikoff is.
America’s Revolutionary Mind: A Moral History of the American Revolution and the Declaration That Defined It by C. Bradley Thompson
America’s Revolutionary Mind is the first major reinterpretation of the American Revolution since the publication of Bernard Bailyn’s The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution and Gordon S. Wood’s The Creation of the American Republic.
The God of the Machine by Isabel Patterson
“It is brilliant in the perceptiveness, the incisiveness, the power, the scope of its analysis that presents–in carefully chosen, dramatically illuminating essentials the history of man’s long quest for freedom, from ancient Greece to World War II. It offers an unforgettable experience: a panorama of the centuries, as seen from the elevation of a truly grand intellectual scale.” — Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Newsletter
John Adams and The Spirit of Liberty by C. Bradley Thompson
America’s finest eighteenth-century student of political science, John Adams is also the least studied of the Revolution’s key figures. By the time he became our second president, no American had written more about our government and not even Jefferson or Madison had read as widely about questions of human nature, natural right, political organization, and constitutional construction.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
A former slave turned abolitionist, an eloquent self-taught writer and orator, Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) led a remarkable life. The book explains his tragic life of being born into slavery and how he escaped to the North into freedom, all the while recounting the importance of how one builds one’s character and destiny by one’s own thoughts and actions.
Anti-Slavery Political Writings, 1833-1860 Ed. C. Bradley Thompson
“The abolitionist movement in 19th century America led directly to the end of slavery in the United States. This collection of more than 20 original documents including speeches, editorials, books and fiction, captures the deep ideological divisions within the abolitionist movement.”
Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System by Tara Smith
Elaborates on how the concept objectivity applies to the proper functioning of the legal system in order to explain the conditions required for objective judicial review.
The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
One of the great works of political science.
The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest: A Moral Ideal for America by Peter Schwartz
Schwartz advocates a policy under which our nation’s interests are measured by only one standard: the individual liberty of its citizens.
Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: From George W. Bush to Barack Obama and Beyond by Onkar Ghate and Elan Journo
Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History by John David Lewis
John David Lewis shows how victorious military commanders achieved long-term peace by identifying the fundamentals of the enemy’s ideological and social support for a war and then striking at this support destroying the enemy’s will to fight.
Winning the Unwinnable War ed. Elan Journo
America’s self-crippled response to Islamic totalitarianism.
Monetary Central Planning and the State by Richard Ebeling
Provides a plan to end the cycles of booms and busts, to create a market-based institutional framework for sustainable economic growth.
The Theory of Free Banking: Money Supply under Competitive Note Issue by George Selgin
“A defense of the theory and practice of free banking, i.e. the competitive issue of money by private banks as opposed to the centralized and monopolized issuance of currency under a system of central banking.”
The Abolition of Antitrust by Gary Hull (ed.)
Essays on the economics, history, and morality of antitrust.
Antitrust Policy: The Case for Repeal by D.T. Armentano
Why antitrust laws are anti-competitive, incompatible with liberty, and should be repealed.
A New Textbook of Americanism: The Politics of Ayn Rand by Jonathan Hoenig ed.
Examines the application of the principle of individual rights to various issues in the 21st century. Review.
Moral Rights and Political Freedom by Tara Smith
Smith’s academic presentation provides a systematic account of the nature and foundations of rights, and explains why rights are teleological and that respect for freedom is necessary for individuals’ flourishing.
Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea by C. Bradley Thompson
Neoconservatism as a species of anti-Americanism.
The Anti-Capitalist Mentality by Ludwig Von Mises
Philosophy: Who Needs It by Ayn Rand
This collection of essays was the last work planned by Ayn Rand before her death in 1982. In it, she summarizes her view of philosophy and deals with a broad spectrum of topics.
A Companion to Ayn Rand (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy) ed. Allan Gotthelf & Greg Salmieri
An academic examination of Ayn Rand’s ideas on a variety of topics. The chapters on government, markets, capitalism, and objective law will be of special interest to students of capitalism.
Foundations of a Free Society: Reflections on Ayn Rand’s Political Philosophy (Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies)
Scholars critically examine Ayn Rand’s radical moral defense of capitalism and individual rights.
Progress & Innovation
Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future by Johan Norberg
“…How far we have come in tackling the greatest problems facing humanity.”
How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom By Matt Ridley
Innovation according to Ridley, is “an incremental, bottom-up, fortuitous process that happens as a direct result of the human habit of exchange, rather than an orderly, top-down process developing according to a plan. Innovation is crucially different from invention, because it is the turning of inventions into things of practical and affordable use to people.” Overall, a good book, though I have disagreements with his opposition to intellectual property.
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley
“Prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else. The habit of exchange and specialization—which started more than 100,000 years ago—has created a collective brain that sets human living standards on a rising trend. The mutual dependence, trust, and sharing that result are causes for hope, not despair.”
The Ultimate Resource 2 by Julian Simon
The ultimate resource is the human mind and its’ ability to use technology to effectively create more resources; a rational response to pessimistic, Malthusian, environmental alarmists.
An Encyclopedia of the History of Technology by Ian McNeil
A detailed reference work on technology. Categories include: “Non-ferrous Metals, Ferrous Metals, Chemicals; Power: Water, Wind, Animal, Steam, Internal Combustion, Electricity, Engineering; Transport: Roads, Bridges, Vehicles, Inland Waterways, Ports, Shipping, Rail, Aeronautics, Spaceflight; Communications: Language, Writing, Printing, Information, Timekeeping, Computing, Telecommunications; Technology: Agriculture, Textiles, Clothing, Building, Domestic Interiors, Public Utilities, Weapons, and Armor.”
The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet
Socialism by Ludwig Von Mises
Professor Mises explains why any attempt to implement socialism will always lead to the destruction of capitalism and civilization.
Rooseveltcare: How Social Security Is Sabotaging the Land of Self-Reliance by Don Watkins
This elegantly written book, explains how the entitlement-welfare state is destroying our hope for the future. The definitive case for gradually abolishing social security and the welfare state.
Wealth, Poverty and Politics by Thomas Sowell