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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/12312/the-books-that-influenced-f-a-hayek/

The Books That Influenced F. A. Hayek

March 26, 2010 by

I’m working on a list of the books that influenced F. A. Hayek — read my list here.

I’d like to ask readers here for suggested additions to the list and comments or criticisms of the rank ordering. If I can work the thing up into something a bit more substantial, I’ll offer it to Jeff Tucker as a submission here on the Mises site.


Jeffrey Tucker March 26, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Wonderful idea!

Dennis Sperduto March 26, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Mr. Ransom, Thank you for the listing. I look forward to any modifications and, especially, commentary.

Regarding Keynes’s “Treatise on Money”, I am assuming that the influence on Hayek was not positive. Did not Hayek soundly refute the arguments contained in this book in two articles that were published in “Economica” in the early 1930s?

B March 26, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Wilhelm von Humboldt’s book, The Limits of State Action, influenced Hayek’s ideas on spontaneous order.

Stephen MacLean March 26, 2010 at 1:27 pm

This is a welcomed undertaking. May I suggest someone ‘in the know’ do likewise for Murray Rothbard? I’ve noticed that when Mises.org blogs new literature PDFs, those that Rothbard enjoyed are given special mention, but nowhere (if I’m not mistaken) is there a compilation list of these titles with their accompanying asides.

Older histories used to record the library holdings of famous people—I particularly remember accounts of Tudor luminaries—usually as an indication of what they were reading and who had influenced their thought. For some reason, many biographers no longer follow this practice, for which we are all the poorer.

Greg Ransom March 26, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Dennis, I’ll be explaining how these books influenced Hayek in later posts. Hayek spent a year working on his review of Keynes’ book right at the prime of his years as an economic theorist — it forced Hayek to think hard about how economics was done, and about how his Austrian / Wicksellian tradition was different from the Cambridge / Marshallian tradition.

Dennis Sperduto March 26, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I believe that David Gordon has compiled a listing of Rothbard’s “favorite” books on LRC:

Thanks for the reply. The correct development of economic science has been significantly retarded as a result of the Cambridge/Marshallian tradition’s much greater influence than the Austrian/Wicksellian tradition.

Stephen MacLean March 26, 2010 at 2:51 pm


Thanks for the David Gordon link, ‘Murray Rothbard’s Favorite Books’. I notice that Mr Gordon refers to a memo Rothbard wrote 24 January 1994, entitled ‘Books That Formed Me’. There is a round of such lists currently popular on the internet—see Ross Douthat’s ‘The Influential Books Game’. I wonder if Rothbard’s memo can be posted in full as an Austrian contribution?

Dennis Sperduto March 26, 2010 at 3:40 pm


Maybe the Mises Institute or LRC, assuming that they have access and the rights to it, can make available Rothbard’s January 24, 1994 memo “Books That Formed Me”?

Beefcake the Mighty March 26, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Tocqueville’s oft-lauded book on democracy in the early United States is actually pretty shitty; why would Hayek have found it compelling enough to qualify as an influence on him?

Ivan March 26, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Harmonies economiques – F. Bastiat
Theory of Moral Sentiments – A. Smith

Greg Ransom March 26, 2010 at 9:51 pm

de Tocqueville was a major inspiration for Hayek’s _The Road to Serfdom_. I haven’t come across a paper investigating this relation. If anyone has seen one, or would like to take a stab at the topic, I’m interested in learning more.

PMElla March 27, 2010 at 2:25 am

It is simply facinating that everywhere one looks for works on Austrian theory or works by Austrian thinkers you inevitably encounter that all to familiar URL http://www.mises.org! May LvMI be the “dialtone” of the Austrian School in cyberspace!!!

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