The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition

Paperback | March 30, 2007

byF. A. Hayek

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An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in 1944—when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program—The Road to Serfdom was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

First published by the University of Chicago Press on September 18, 1944, The Road to Serfdom garnered immediate, widespread attention. The first printing of 2,000 copies was exhausted instantly, and within six months more than 30,000 books were sold. In April 1945, Reader’s Digest published a condensed version of the book, and soon thereafter the Book-of-the-Month Club distributed this edition to more than 600,000 readers. A perennial best seller, the book has sold 400,000 copies in the United States alone and has been translated into more than twenty languages, along the way becoming one of the most important and influential books of the century.

With this new edition, The Road to Serfdom takes its place in the series The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek.  The volume includes a foreword by series editor and leading Hayek scholar Bruce Caldwell explaining the book's origins and publishing history and assessing common misinterpretations of Hayek's thought.  Caldwell has also standardized and corrected Hayek's references and added helpful new explanatory notes.  Supplemented with an appendix of related materials ranging from prepublication reports on the initial manuscript to forewords to earlier editions by John Chamberlain, Milton Friedman, and Hayek himself, this new edition of The Road to Serfdom will be the definitive version of Hayek's enduring masterwork.

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From the Publisher

An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in 1944—when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock,...

F. A. Hayek (1899-1992), recipient of the Medal of Freedom in 1991 and co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theory and a leading proponent of classical liberalism  in the twentieth century. He taught at the University of London, the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:March 30, 2007Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226320553

ISBN - 13:9780226320557

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoy The Road Less Travelled - It Will Make All The Difference The Road To Serfdom is a classic economic text and the best known work of the Austrian School of economists. It is a very rich, rewarding and enjoyable book, and - unlike the formula riddled economics books of today - reminds readers of the strong connection between economics, politics, and philosophy. Writing at an important juncture in world history (the latter stages of WWII), Hayek straddles two eras, deftly drawing in the Victorian ideals of the previous generation while analyzing the politics and capitalism of his time. Not only does The Road To Serfdom comment on the new era, it is likely the only major economics text featuring Nazi-ism, Communism, and big government as antagonists. A favorite of right wing politicians, Hayek eloquently explains why central planning won’t work (long before communism actually failed) and why individual choice is preferable to government edict. The American political right who espouse his views seem somewhat selective in their adherence, however, as Hayek does see a role for government in delivering public goods, including health care, and a basic level of support/income for all. Former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan in his recent memoir worried about two things: a return of high inflation (surprise!); and suboptimal political choices made by an economically disenfranchised electorate. Hayek, writing during WWII, states “it should never be forgotten that the one decisive factor in the rise of totalitarianism on the Continent, which is yet absent in England and America, is the existence of a large recently dispossessed middle class.” Insightful when originally written, and hopefully not prescient for our own age of turbulence, it is these types of observations that make the text so relevant for today. The book’s footnotes are invaluable, as Hayek was a polymath, and casually referenced authors, poets, philosophers, economists and politicians, either citing their works without mentioning the authors or referring to the authors assuming the reader knows well their works and viewpoints. For example, in the penultimate chapter, Hayek quotes a poem by Wordsworth, which in turn references both Shakespeare and Milton, and all this to obliquely criticize Ezra Pound and other of Hayek’s contemporaries who criticized democracy during WWII. While this sounds very academic and even pretentious, it is anything but; the text reads well, but the footnotes add to the richness, depth and context. The editor’s introduction too adds great context for those of us new to Hayek, and also included are Hayek’s own prefaces and forwards to his different editions (original, 1956, and 1976). For those interested in an excellent edition of a major work that is fortunately enjoying some resurgence today, buy or borrow this edition. For those interested in a lighter take on both Hayek and his contemporary John Maynard Keynes, please see the professionally directed and acted videos on Youtube - they may whet your appetite (search 'Keynes versus Hayek').
Date published: 2011-06-20

Extra Content

Table of Contents

Editorial Foreword


Preface to the Original Editions
Foreword to the 1956 American Paperback Edition
Preface to the 1976 Edition

One                        The Abandoned Road
Two                       The Great Utopia
Three                     Individualism and Collectivism
Four                       The "Inevitability" of Planning
Five                        Planning and Democracy
Six                         Planning and the Rule of Law
Seven                     Economic Control and Totalitarianism
Eight                       Who, Whom?
Nine                       Security and Freedom
Ten                        Why the Worst Get on Top
Eleven                    The End of Truth
Twelve                   The Socialist Roots of Naziism
Thirteen                  The Totalitarians in Our Midst
Fourteen                 Material Conditions and Ideal Ends
Fifteen                    The Prospects of International Order
Sixteen                   Conclusion

Bibliographical Note


Nazi-Socialism (1933)
Reader's Report by Frank Knight (1943)
Reader's Report by Jacob Marschak (1943)
Foreword to the 1944 American Edition by John Chamberlain
Letter from John Scoon to C. Hartley Grattan (1945)
Introduction to the 1994 Edition by Milton Friedman

Editorial Reviews

"It takes courage, or something like it, to declare one's offering 'The Definitive Edition'. . . . I have no hesitation, though in describing this as an excellent edition."