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America's Great Depression

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  410 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Applied Austrian economics doesn't get better than this.
Murray N. Rothbard's America's Great Depression is a staple of modern
economic literature and crucial for understanding a pivotal event in
American and world history.

The Mises Institute edition features a new introduction by historian Paul

Since it first appeared in 1963, it has been the definitive treatment of

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 15th 2000 by Ludwig Von Mises Institute (first published 1963)
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Economics in One Lesson by Henry HazlittHuman Action by Ludwig von MisesThe Law by Frédéric BastiatMeltdown by Thomas E. Woods Jr.Man, Economy, and State by Murray N. Rothbard
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Community Reviews

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This is a torrid love letter to laissez faire economics sure to raise a fiscal chubby on fans of the Austrian School of Economics (ASE). Of course, if limited government (i.e., NONE), free markets (i.e., unrestrained capitalism) and non-intervention with the money supply (i.e., the Federal Reserve must go) are not under-pinnings of your own economic beliefs, or (i.e., the ASE is just not your bag), this book may cause hives and periodic bouts of severe chafing. I kept a jumbo jar of Aloe next to ...more
Rothbard's great analysis of the causes of the Great Depression is one of the classics of Austrian economics and a must-read for serious libertarians. Rothbard presents conclusive evidence explaining the crucial mistakes made by Herbert Hoover and later exacerbated by FDR, that deepened and prolonged what should have been a short and sharp depression. The Federal Reserve is also fingered as the culprit that expanded credit and the money supply and created the stock market bubble in the first pla ...more
Ken Doggett
This is practically a technical handbook on how to screw up the economy so bad that it can take years to recover--if recovery is even possible.

The author names the people involved, the tangle of agencies and bureaucracies they created, the wild-eyed philosophies they espoused, and the step-by-step tinkering by the Feds that, step-by-step, made things worse. Reading this book, I now know where Ayn Rand got the idea for her book, Atlas Shrugged. You can also see where some of the empty political r
Andrew Skretvedt
I read a then current 5th edition copy in PDF form from the website.

A fabulous and eerily familiar read resonating strongly with the current 2008-2009 state of affairs, as it has also with previous major recessions.

Each significant crises validates and reinforces the precepts of this book. A priori proof of the validity of classical economics and the perspective of the Austrian school. It's straightforward and really, uncomplicated.

Keynesianism was borne out of the actions taken by our
Of all the Austrian School of Economics literature, America’s Great Depression by Murray Rothbard ranks among the top five most significant intellectual books. Not only is the book extraordinarily enlightening, but Rothbard mystically crafts conventional wisdom and transforms it into sensible and logical content.
The book is separated into three parts. Part one details how the depression occurred through the eyes of the Austrian Business Cycle Theory. The business cycle is a byproduct of the man
I am deeply skeptical of the "Austrian School" of economics so I felt it important to start reading a bit more about it, if for no other reason to help sharpen my arguments against it. In that role, this book largely succeeds. It is dated, and a serious adherent to the philosophy might point me elsewhere to catch up (and I'll be poking around), but it is still clear and relevant.

The book, fairly succinctly, makes the case that it is government intervention in the markets, and only government in
Bob Aarhus
Deconstructing step-by-step the Keynesian economics that put us there, Rothbard (an unabashed student of the Austrian school) shows in meticulous detail that Government intervention lengthened, not shortened, America's period of greatest economic hardship. Faced with two equal and opposite choices -- allow the banks to fail, or allow the currency to fail -- the nascent Fed chose the former; further political strategems clouded much of the macroeconomic picture to the point where the situation ap ...more
John Boettcher
This is the most complete, accurate account of what really took place before, during, and after the Great Depression. This will put to rest all of the fallacies and mis-information that we all learned in school, such as WW2 got us out of the great depression and that the Federal Reserve had to exist to keep the country in tact, when in fact the exact opposite is true.

The book is not the easiest read in the world, but it has to go through a plethora of information to accurately portray the actua
This is the book at converted me to the Austrian School of Economics several years ago. For anyone who thought that the Great Depression was a failure of laissez-faire capitalism, AGD is a must-read. Besides explaining the causes of the GD, Rothbard destroys the myth that Hoover and Roosevelt were polar opposites. In fact, since The New Deal was merely a continuation of Hoover's policies, Rothbard's historical focus covers the period from 1921-1933. Much of the focus is on the Fed-created boom o ...more
Very good book about the depression using Austrian Economic principles to diagnose what happened. Also a good book to bust the myth that Hoover was hands-off during this period. What is forgotten is that in the 1910's, 1920's, and 1930's is that a progressive form of government was prevalent in both parties. The lessons we have for now, is that too many people in both parties likewise believe in these progressive ideas. Look for a repeat of what happenned back in the 30's for what will hit us no ...more
This book relates the history of the Great Depression that you weren't taught in public school. I am amazed how politicians are trusted like angels to do the right thing. This book is so revealing about both republican and democrat presidents and how both parties protect their own self interests rather than the public's. I will never see President Hoover in the same light again. He may have been a smart man and a great engineer but it's hard to engineer an entire national economy. There is no su ...more
A book for our times. I was reading this when the bottom was falling out of the economy and it read like todays headlines. Nothing changed from 1929 to 2009 - the causes were the same and the situation identical. The outcome is predictable. A must read for anyone looking for answers - or better a road map of the economic future of the US.
Roman Skaskiw
Difficult for me to decide on the number of stars.

5 because the ideas in this book shake the very ground I walk on.

4 because it's very technical and assumes knowledge of some economic terms.
Jason Keisling
This book provides a fantastic explanation of Austrian Business Cycle Theory and provides great historical analysis of the great depression.
Murray Rothbard applies the Austrian economic theory to the Great Depression, and analyzes the lead up to the depression and the myth that Hoover was "Laizzes Faire". Everybody knows Roosevelt extended the depression through his "New Deal", but somehow the myth perpetuates that Hoover wasn't an interventionist. Rothbard expertly shreds that myth.

The depression would have been over in about a year to a year and a half (like all other panics and depressions that preceded it) had Hoover simply kept
Daniel Berkompas
Rothbard argues that the the root cause of the Great Depression was not laisse-faire capitalism, but rather the inflationist policies of the government and the subsequent misguided reactions of economists and industry. Hoover is revealed to have been a proto-Roosevelt, from whom Roosevelt borrowed most of his policies.

In Rothbard's own words:
The guilt for the Great Depression must, at long last, be lifted from the shoulders of the free market economy, and placed where it properly belongs: at the
Erez Davidi
In America's Great Depression, Rothbard does a great job of debunking the common fallacies that the Great Depression was caused (1) because the Fed failed to inflate the money supply in reaction to the contraction in the money supply, caused by the collapse of thousands of banks. Rothbard argues, accompanied with plenty of data to back his arguments, that the Fed and the banks were engaging in constant credit expansion throughout the Roaring 20s, which caused the Great Depression in the first pl ...more
A detailed look at 1929-1933

I have read quite a bit on the Great Depression, but this book is by far the most detailed. It is a bit of a drag in the beginning because of the theory and that is the only negative, but the latter half is exquisite. A look into the past, Hoover's ideas and the breadth of the depression covered extensively. The influence of Britain's original gold standard - its default, US's gold standard, the policy of keeping wage rates high as opposed to promoting free enterprise
Alan Johnson
I read this book in the late 1970s (I'm guessing about 1977), along with competing analyses by Milton Friedman and John Kenneth Galbraith, among others. In my view, Rothbard's principal contribution is his demonstration that it was the deliberate governmental inflation of the money supply during the 1920s that led to the 1929 stock market crash. As President Calvin Coolidge famously said, "The business of America is business," and the Republican administrations of the 1920s did everything they c ...more
Eye opening writing that exposes the interventionist practices of the Hoover administration. Often Hoover is presented as the conservative president while Roosevelt practiced socialistic big government. In truth, Hoover began the bureaucratic intervention that Roosevelt exacerbated. Rothbard looks into the "boom" of the 20's that lead to the Great Depression and clearly shows how devastating the monetary manipulation of that decade was. Tragically many of the world's governments were trying thes ...more
The best discussion of the economics and history of the great depression. Rothbard blames the interventionist policies of the Herbert Hoover administration for magnifying the duration, breadth, and intensity of the Great Depression. Rothbard explains the Austrian theory of the business cycle, which holds that government manipulation of the money supply sets the stage for the familiar "boom-bust" phases of the modern market. He then detailed the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve from 1 ...more
Sean Rosenthal
Interesting Quote:

"Given the Federal Reserve System and its absolute power over the nation's money, the federal government, since 1913, must bear the complete responsibility for any inflation...The banks are virtual pawns of the government, and have been since 1913. Any guilt for credit expansion and the consequent depression must be borne by the federal government and by it alone."

-Murray Rothbard, America's Great Depression

"Since the taxpayers pay for government and are supposed to be its 'own
This is a highly disappointing book. There are many aspects of the book that not only do great disservice to Austrian theory (rendering its pure version as presented here totally irrelevant for modern times) but also too biased to provide good understanding of what happened. To blame money supply/Fed for all the evils is simplistic in extreme. To really believe that relative minor changes in narrow money caused such grief could not have been right in those simpler times too. The faith in gold st ...more
Tom Schulte
This book is very misleading in title and cover. Admittedly, I wanted some disaster porn: Hoovervilles, bread lines, and Wall Street fat cats jumping from windows. Now, I feel like I was sold a Hustler to find it was just a cover glued onto a copy of The Economist. The actual Great Depression is a side bar to this screed on Hoover-Roosevelt (government actions can be variously socialist and fascist) and fractional banking. Like a wild-eyed radical this work, which never should have been an audio ...more
M.G. Bianco
This is a great book showing what caused the depression, what worsened it, and what extended it. I would not recommend this for beginners, as it can be technical at points, but otherwise a great book.

Rothbard exposes all the ways in which the supposedly laissez-faire president, Herbert Hoover, worsened the Depression.

Among them:

wage controls
unemployment insurance
bank bailouts
agricultural loans and price controls
immigration controls
stricter labor laws
weakened bankruptcy laws, etc.
The policy response to the U.S. Great Depression of the 1930s was strikingly similar to the policy response to the U.S. Great Recession of today: expanding the money supply, hiking income tax rates and providing massive federal intervention to targeted industries. These policies took a stock-market price collapse and spread it among almost every sector of the economy. An economic recession that may have lasted twelve to eighteen months as most prior recessions had lasted instead lasted for sixte ...more
Thoroughly debunks that myth that Hoover was a laissez-faire president and that too much capitalism brought on the Great Depression. Reads like a technical banking manual at times, and Rothbard's disdain for intervention in the markets comes through at odd intervals. One criticism I have is Rothbard's constant use of AMOUNTS instead of PERCENTAGES. To explain inflation he'll say the money supply increased by X amount of dollars, rather than by X percentage, making context very difficult.
The definitive work on the Great Depression from the perspective of Austrian Business Cycle theory. Accordingly, one of the few works on the Depression that dares to examine it from the founding of the Federal Reserve in 1913 through the dramatic inflationary period of the Roaring '20s. As usual, Rothbard makes the facts and figures fun with his acid pen. Compare and contrast this with virtually any other treatment (e.g. Bernanke's) and see what you think.
Rafa Sánchez
It is very sad to read how many of the wrong decisions made in the early thirties are back in nowadays global crisis. Same measures, same justifications, same short sights... 80 years have passed and it seems we cannot learn from past errors, we prefer to follow the statist propaganda and moral comfort mainstream. The outcome of current interventionist policies is outlined in this 1963 book: 10 years of unemployment, depression and suffering for the weak.
Louis III
Fantastic look at what really happen during Herbert Hoovers presidential term and his not very laissez faire actions. Economist of today would lead you to believe Hoover was too hands off, but this book details otherwise. Although Rothbard never says it in his writing, somehow I put this book down believing maybe the Government really caused the depression with all of its intervention. It is also interesting to mention this book was written in 1963.
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  • The Theory of Money and Credit
  • The Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle and Other Essays
  • Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and the Government Bailout Will Make Things Worse
  • The Failure of the New Economics
  • Principles of Economics
  • Defending the Undefendable
  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal
  • Democracy--The God That Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order
  • Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles
  • How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, from the Pilgrims to the Present
  • Bastiat Collection
  • The God of the Machine
  • Individualism and Economic Order
  • The New Dealers' War: F.D.R. and the War Within World War II
  • The Case for Gold: A Minority Report of the United States Gold Commission
  • Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government
Murray Newton Rothbard was an influential American historian, natural law theorist, Aristotelian and economist of the Austrian School who helped define modern libertarianism. Rothbard took the Austrian School's emphasis on spontaneous order and condemnation of central planning to an individualist anarchist conclusion, which he termed "anarcho-capitalism".

Source: Wikipedia
More about Murray N. Rothbard...
What Has Government Done to Our Money? and The Case for the 100 Percent Gold Dollar For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto The Ethics of Liberty The Case Against the Fed Anatomy of the State

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“In short, and this is a highly important point to grasp, the depression is the “recovery” process, and the end of the depression heralds the return to normal, and to optimum efficiency.” 2 likes
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