A Review Essay of Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement by Brian Doherty

The outstanding merit of Brian Doherty’s book is that it contains a treasure trove of valuable information regarding the events, personalities, periodicals and organizations whose complex interplay influenced the intellectual and institutional development of the modern American libertarian movement. But its merit also becomes its defect in the hands of the author, who appears at times to be completely overwhelmed by the wealth of information he has collected, unable or unwilling to critically evaluate the facts and events he recounts and assimilate them into a coherent narrative. For the most part, we remain agnostic on just why the author proceeds in this manner. He may believe that such a disorganized and uncritical “freewheeling” approach is more entertaining to read. He could, for strategic reasons, be attempting to obscure his own biases or the uncomfortable conclusions that a critical analysis of his facts lead to. Or he may simply be an inept or lazy reporter. Whatever the case his method does not serve the cause of truth and historical accuracy.

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