These books provide a foundation for understanding economics. You will not hear about them from your teachers or lecturers. Journal articles are unlikely to reference them. These books have stood the test of time with publication dates ranging from 1871 to 2007 and an average publication year of 1959.
1. Free to Choose (1980) by Milton Friedman (Booktopia)
Friedman’s classic about economics, freedom and the relationship between the two. The book was developed along with the companion Free to Choose television documentary and grew out of Friedman’s earlier work Capitalism and Freedom (1962).
3. Principles of Economics (1871) by Carl Menger
The foundation text of the Austrian school with the original extended explanation of marginal utility and the valuation of consumer and producer goods.
4. The Theory of Money and Credit (1912) by Ludwig von Mises
Mises’ first major work on money, banking and the business cycle.
5. Man, Economy & State with Power and Market (1962, 1970) by Murray Rothbard
Rothbard’s major and comprehensive economic work, well written and easy to understand, inspired by and built upon Mises’ Human Action (1949).
6. Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth (1920) by Ludwig von Mises
Mises shows that economic calculation is impossible under socialism. This essay launched the ‘socialist calculation debate’.
7. Human Action (1949) by Ludwig von Mises
Mises’ major work stands as one of the major works in economic history. It is perhaps the most comprehensive and powerful defence of capitalism ever written.
8. Capitalism and Freedom (1962) by Milton Friedman (Booktopia)
Friedman presents his view of the role of private enterprise in a free market as a device for achieving economic and political freedom. This book was the predecessor of Friedman’s later work, Free to Choose (1980).
9. Money Mischief (1994) by Milton Friedman (Booktopia)
Friedman emphasises the central role of monetary theory and illustrates the mischief that can result from a misunderstanding of monetary economics.
10. Democracy: The God That Failed (2001) by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Building on economic theory developed by earlier Austrian economists, Hoppe analyses the historic transformation of the West from monarchy to democracy, reaching the conclusion that monarchy is a lesser evil than democracy, but outlines deficiencies in both and points to a better way of a natural order based on private property.
11. An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought (1995) by Murray Rothbard
This master work of economic history comes in two volumes: Economic Thought Before Adam Smith, and Classical Economics. Rothbard traces the development of economics from the ancient Greeks through the Spanish scholastics, French economists, Adam Smith and Karl Marx, noting that economics has not been a history on constant progress.
12. Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism (2007) by Jörg Guido Hülsmann
The definitive exposition of Mises life and intellectual work. Provides an analysis of Mises’ ideas within his life experience. The story of Mises’ escape from Europe is a gripping page turner. A joy to read.
13. The Road to Serfdom (1944) by Friedrich Hayek (Booktopia)
A significant work, criticising various forms of central planning. One of the best chapters is ‘Why the Worst Get on Top’, ideas later developed by Hoppe.