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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

The Road to Serfdom

By F.A. Hayek
University Of Chicago Press, 274 pp, 1944

All right, so it's been a while since I've posted a book review. Over a month, which may be a record. Usually, long delays between posts means I'm reading a very long book, but not this time. As you can see, The Road to Serfdom isn't very long at all. In fact, I'd normally consider it a short book. But it's not. It's very long.

Why is that? I'll get to that later.

Let me say right now, that this book is a powerful refutation of socialism and communism. It was badly needed in 1944. America's faith in free enterprise had been shaken by the Great Depression, and our war-time ally the Soviet Union seemed to be building the perfect society. Of course, it wasn't, and that was clear to reasonable thinkers at the time, but scores more were duped.

So this book comes out and says socialism is a pile of horse manure. Any way you slice it, it inevitably leads to oppression, dictatorship, and totalitarianism. It has to. The only way to achieve the goal of socialism is through coercion. Socialism is not compatible with freedom or democracy.

Okay, fine and good. I agree, and I appreciate this book and the ground it broke at the time.

So why is it so long? Because it's so boring.

Yes, I said it. It's boring. It's tedious. Long sentences. Dense paragraphs. Awkward sentence construction. Needless repetition.

It's also nothing I haven't heard or read before. Hayek is cherished by both conservatives and libertarians, and both groups try to claim his as their own. Because of that, his ideas have been endlessly repeated and expanded upon for the last 60 years. I've heard all these arguments, just with different words written by different authors.

I know I'm taking a chance here. I'm bound to get outraged e-mails by Hayek fans, angry that I've dissed a giant. So let me be clear. I am not dissing Hayek's ideas. He was absolutely right in 1944, and he's right now. I admire his courage and convictions. I am dissing his writing style, and nothing else.

So I'm glad I read the book, because it's rightly considered a classic. It will occupy a prized spot on my bookshelf. But am I going to read it again?


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