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Human Action: Part 1

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  2,633 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
When it first appeared in 1949, Human Action ignited an eruption of critical acclaim. The greatest work of economist Ludwig von Mises, Human Action is a systematic study that covers every major topic in the science of economics.
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Published March 1st 2008 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1940)
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One of the most important books of the 20th century, not yet as influential as it deserves to be.

I was brought to this book in 2009 after a growing feeling of dissatisfaction with "expert" explanations being offered for the various financial and economic calamities that seemed to be happening worldwide. Economic commentary by journalists and pundits struck me as being opaque, partisan, and contradictory. Gradually I had become interested in the ideas of the so-called Austrian school of free-mark
May 31, 2009 Clif rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ludwig von Mises is a major contributor to what is called the Austrian School of economics. Human Reason is his magnum opus, a thorough-going look at the way that the innate human desire to decrease uneasiness is the pursuit for which capitalism is the mechanism.

The thesis is simple. Human beings take action to make things better for themselves. If we were satisfied, there would be no economy. But most of us will be cautious in what we do, avoiding as much risk as possible in our attempt to get
Brian Michels
Mar 20, 2016 Brian Michels rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There cannot be a serious conversation about economics without Mise's. Human Action is the definition of Free Market and delivers the goods for a just economy while cutting down to size any alternative economic system.

This is a "must read in your lifetime" book. The sooner the better
Kevin Cole
Jun 09, 2014 Kevin Cole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used to hate economics because I thought it related to nothing in my life. Certain others then began showing me, in flashes, that I was wrong. But it was Mises who not only showed, but--to my mind--proved economics has everything to do with my life; because economics doesn't exist without people behaving as people.

Whimsical example:

If you're in the habit of buying a pound of Brazilian coffee for $1 every week, then you hear on the news that an unexpected freeze has hit Brazil, with analysts ex
Robert Taylor
Apr 29, 2009 Robert Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone.
After having read the first 500 pages 3 times over the course of 2 years, I finally completed my reading of Human Action. Without being overly poetic, it is by far the seminal intellectual book of the 20th century, and probably the most important contribution to human knowledge so far.

It may seem audacious for me to say something like that, but given that ANY other book dealing with one of the physical sciences (like a book on Advanced Quantum Mechanics)--or any other science for that matter--ca
Mar 30, 2011 Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Human Action is considered by many to be the definitive theoretical work for what is known as the Austrian school of economics. Reading it was 10 weeks of brain-stretching concentration, peppered liberally with moments of personal paradigm shaking, and demystification of how our actions affect each other. It enhanced my appreciation of the beautiful way in which life orders itself.

In the first section of this masterwork, Mises gets right down to laying a solid epistemological and methodological
Jun 15, 2012 Dave rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
This was very interesting. I think the Austrian economics by itself would not have provided the economic prosperity we have experienced until 2000. Austrian economics expects people to have a long term perspective for future growth and based our recent experiences this is highly unlikely. Example you pay an above subsistence wages to your employees because they drive you top line revenue growth. Prosperity of the labor pool means you sell more products... and during times of slow demand people n ...more
Monica Perez
The best work on economics ever written. If Mises had been an anarchist he'd have been perfect.
Jun 12, 2015 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To the modern reader, this is probably a three star book (if they are economics enthusiasts), but given that it was written the 1930s-40's, it gets four starts for it's importance at the time. Slogging through Von Mises magnum opus was no easy task, not because it's particularly hard (although one section was full of equations and went it one ear and out the other) but because it's fairly dry with nuggets of humor and passion. It's amazing how much we take for granted now that wasn't so obvious ...more
Feb 22, 2015 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are so many problems with this work. The fundamental is a rejection of empirical observations. He dismisses all attempts to understand Economics by looking at historical data or using mathematics as WRONG. He sees all human actions as irreducible and too complex to be understood. He then builds an entire argument ostensibly on rationality. If you look from a probabilistic world view, you see that each step he takes away from an empirical fact introduces uncertainty. Since each claim that i ...more
Eric Sexton
Aug 11, 2013 Eric Sexton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I agree with the other reviewers who claimed that this is one of the most important books of the twentieth century. In fact, if Mises' approach is indeed correct, this is undoubtedly one of the most important books in the history of human civilization.

In 'Human Action' Mises describes an a priori approach to the social sciences which he terms "praxeology". Although most of the book deals with the arm of praxeology specific to economics("catallactics") Mises repeatedly reminds the reader that pr
May 15, 2011 Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Von Mises makes a case for laissez-faire captialism that is insightful and (I guess, I'm no logician) consistent. His main point is that economics is like logic or mathematics, an abstract law that requires discovery through careful reasoning, and that trying to live without adjusting one's behavior to this reality produces frustration and failure. The scope of the book is huge and von Mises is bold in his proclamations. Put on your thinking cap and get out your philosophy glossary if you're goi ...more
Willie Red
Oct 08, 2012 Willie Red rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is and Man, Economy, and State by Murray N. Rothbard are works of genius!
Mar 02, 2008 Don rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Notable only now for ideological and historical reasons.
Sep 26, 2016 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ludwig von Mises is a god among free-market capitalist / libertarians. Since conservatives now seem to think being an intellectual is a bad thing, I had to go back a few decades in the hopes of reading a real thinker from the right. I wasn't disappointed in von Mises for the first few hundred pages, he was thoughtful and academic. He started to get dogmatic and dull after that. He stated at the beginning that he wasn't interested in morality or what we should do, but only with what works economi ...more
Mar 25, 2015 Stefan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely BRILLIANT book, a true eye-opener that goes way beyond economics, destroying innumerable myths. It explains human action in such terms that one reaches a true understanding of society and politics.

Prof.von Mises distinguished himself by accurately predicting the outcome of various policies and ideologies.

In 1922, he wrote his "Gemeinwirtschaft" (Socialism), in which he predicted the fate of the recently founded USSR, including the economic collapse, the famines, the dictatorship, t
Oct 20, 2012 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The original virtue of the Austrian School of economics, aside from Menger's ability to coherently connect cause and effect for Austrian policymakers who never listened to him, is that it was an early adopter of the idea that economics as a school of thought must be based on what are now called "micro principles" like individual human behavior. An economy, ultimately, is the sum of individual market choices, each one made because the actor thought they would gain from it. Mises attempted to (and ...more
Michael Jones
This book has had a powerful influence on many. It is definitely highly philosophical and reminded me of reading Cornelius Van Til. For example, epistemological (how we know what we know) issues regarding human action affect our perceptions of the actions and their value on the free market.
This man was a deep thinker.
Honestly, much of it went over my head as I tried to grapple with it because he doesn’t use all that many practical examples.
However, at a philosophical level, it provides a stron
Arsen Zahray
Jun 15, 2015 Arsen Zahray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most insightful books on economics I've ever read. It contains a lot of conclusions which it took me some time to achieve on my own, and than some more.

Even through it's rather long, this is one of the books I think that everybody should read.
Aug 21, 2007 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Another must-read for anyone intrested in Austian economics. It is a bit dry at times. But, if that's a surprise to you,you probably shouldn't be reading this.

Mises is a favorite of mine, so I really had a heard time writting that last part.
Mattheus Guttenberg
May 25, 2016 Mattheus Guttenberg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
5 star massive treatise on economic principles from the founder of the Austrian school of economics.
Nov 19, 2008 Brian is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
my brain hurts. this book is intense.
Apr 28, 2016 Todd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although it is a lengthy book, it is well worth reading once in one's lifetime; the sooner, the better. Very much von Mises' opus magnum, it is more cohesive and comprehensive than many of his other works. If you read only one book by von Mises, read this one. It is not simply a text on economic theory, but it is indeed a treatise on human action, though obviously with specific looks at its impact on scarcity and methods to deal with it.

Von Mises keeps a clinical, logical, detached viewpoint for
Jan 02, 2012 Jerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
“Nobody is in a position to decree what should make a fellow man happier.”

“The Market economy is the social system of the division of labor under private ownership of the means of production. Everybody acts on his own behalf; but everybody's actions aim at the satisfaction of other people's needs as well as at the satisfaction of his own. Everybody in acting serves his fellow citizens. Everybody, on the other hand, is served by his fellow citizens... The market directs the individual's activitie
Patrick Peterson
This book is one of the greatest of the 20th century and will endure as a bright beacon of wisdom for at least another century.

I began this book in a curious, but still recommended fashion.
Because of it's size (over 800 pages) and at times, especially in the beginning, difficulty, I chose to use it as a reference book. If I came across an idea/critique of free market capitalism that bothered me, or one which I thought, "there is no way the free market can solve X problem" then I simply looked up
Sean Rosenthal
Interesting Quotes:

"It is a poor makeshift to dispose of a theory by referring to its historical background, to the 'spirit' of its time, to the material conditions of the country of its origin, and to any personal qualities of its authors. A theory is subject to the tribunal of reason alone. The yardstick to be applied is always the yardstick of reason."

-Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

"There is, of course, no guarantee that the voters will entrust the office to the most competent candidate. But
Dec 06, 2010 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A monumental classic work from the Austrian School. Comprehensive and thorough is an understatement.

Quotes I want to remember that are central to his economic and political philosophy:

On Economics:
"Economics is not about goods and services, it is about the actions of living men."

On Felt Uneasiness:
"Strictly speaking the end, goal or aim of any action is always the relief from a felt uneasiness." - p92

"What acting man wants to know is how he must employ the available means for the best possible
César Serradas
Dec 11, 2014 César Serradas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A obra prima de Mises sobre a ação humana, é uma leitura teórica sobre os benefícios do mercado livre. O intervencionismo e o marxismo aparecem refutados para lá de qualquer dúvida. Mises é cabal na sua teoria.

O que espanta mais na leitura é a actualidade do pensamento de Mises. Após mais de 70 anos, muitos dos exemplos parecem retratar a realidade actual. Os problemas políticos que vivemos poderiam bem ser resolvidos/abordados por este ensaio como se tivesse sido escrito com esse propósito. A
Jun 22, 2015 ziombel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: economist, libertarians, politicians, social activists
Recommended to ziombel by: Famous Polish "Musician"
Shelves: ase
Great economic treatise explaining the basics of the Austrian School of Economics (ASE). The work of Mises is long, but worth it to go through these 800 pages. The book is describing human action. I believe that the work of Mises should be read by anyone who is interested in economics. In addition to the explanation of the basis ASE we will also find a broad critique of interventionism, socialism and protectionism. I would recommend this work to anyone who wants to immerse themselves in economic ...more
Mike Fox
While the historical contributions of Ludwig von Mises to the Austrian school of economics are monumental, Human Action is a very difficult book to read and understand. Mises's style of writing is one of a European aristocrat and he writes more to the professional economist with a background in philosophy which ultimately will lose most readers. Murray Rothbard's Man, Economy, and State is a book that fully encompasses all of Mises's contributions with further elaboration and crystallization of ...more
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Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (German pronunciation: [ˈluːtvɪç fɔn ˈmiːzəs]; September 29, 1881 – October 10, 1973) was an Austrian economist, historian, philosopher, author, and classical liberal who had a significant influence on the modern free-market libertarian movement and the Austrian School.
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