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How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World: A Handbook for Personal Liberty

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,109 ratings  ·  109 reviews
In 1973 Harry Browne sent a simple message -- that you can live the life you want to live. 40 years after the publication of How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, it is now being reissued in digital format -- to reach the millions of people around the world that are still seeking a point of view that is as refreshing, and liberating as it was when it first appeared on ...more
Hardcover, 387 pages
Published March 1st 1998 by Liamworks (first published January 1st 1973)
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John Farr
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
The basic idea of this book is that you should spend less time making your happiness contingent on activities that require lots of people to adopt in order to work, and to instead spend more time focusing on yourself to more easily live the life you want. For example: instead of devoting lots of time and energy to advocating for various social causes or political candidates, you should instead focus on removing yourself from various "traps" in life that keep you unnecessarily depressed or ...more
Johnny
Sep 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
A query from a friend prompts me to explain my four-star rating here. It was about 10 years ago that I read the book and I remember at the time that I liked it very much; I probably would have given it five stars then. But a long time has passed and I do not want to trust my judgement from that time. At the time Harry Browne (the author) was the Libertarian Party presidential candidate, and I was rather a fan of him. I recommended him to many people as a man of integrity. Later on I had reason ...more
Nick Klagge
Aug 20, 2014 rated it liked it
This book has about equal parts wisdom and foolishness. Harry Browne was once the libertarian candidate for president (well after writing this book). So, perhaps it was fitting that I read this book in the form of a PDF that someone had posted for free on the internet. (Ha!)

The book is generally about personal responsibility--taking stock of what you are doing in the world, figuring out whether it makes sense for you, and if not, taking responsibility for changing it. His attitude has a definite
...more
Valter
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Although it's from 40 years ago (and sometimes it shows), it's mostly still relevant, insightful and provocative today.
After all, it's about human beings and life, and those never go out of fashion. ;-)

Despite me already being a fierce lover and supporter of freedom, this book still taught me (and made me think) a lot. The author knows what he's talking about, and he walked his talk.
Besides, his writing is smooth and easy flowing (if a bit repetitive).

If you're serious about your freedom, and/or
...more
Sherreka Burton
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This dude is a trip. I did learn a few valuable lessons though. I'm also going to accept the fact that I'm lazy lol
Curtis
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Harry Browne did more to help me recognize my libertarian nature than anyone else, and I've striven to adopt his common-sense, positive, and dare I say even loving, approach to being a libertarian (as opposed to more in-your-face styles of libertarianism that piss me off even when I agree substantially, or at least sentimentally, with the arguments being made). I was fortunate enough to stumble upon his short-lived radio programs, and went on from there to read Fail-Safe Investing when I still ...more
P
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
The author is a scumbag. Were I to meet him, I would probably punch him. That's what makes this book such a good read.

Basically, mr. Browne is equal parts individualism in the positive sense of the word and dimwit libertarianism. He's obsessed with tax evasion and conceptualizes everything in terms of markets (children can be given away, because it's nothing you couldn't reacquire?), which is creepy. At the same time, he stresses some very workable points: that relationships should be kept free
...more
Alex Gluchowski
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, liberty
If freedom is living your life the way you want it, how free are you?

Nothing is more important, simply by this definition.

A lot of psychology. Understanding what stops you from being free and some useful strategies.

The wisest presentation of libertarian ideas I ever read. No politics at all, no manifests, no macro bullshit.

A life-changing book.
David
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended on a financial independence podcast over a year ago. I routinely checked every used book store I went into and eventually found it at Powell's in Portland. It was not on the shelf but hidden away in the back in a protective covering. What a build up!

I had long forgotten why the book was recommend and assumed it had some money tips. It turns out I was reading a book about Libertarianism.

The book goes through many “traps” that we put ourselves in that keep us from being
...more
Laura JC
Jun 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is a 25th anniversary edition in 1998, little revised from the original 1973 book. Not much of it seemed to apply to me, and it's often out-of-date information. I was surprised by the author's advocating of tax evasion. We know that you don't have to live your life based on others' opinions. Maybe the book is helpful to people who need encouragement to leave a less-than-good situation.
The book is peppered with quotes from other people. I liked some of them, such as this one from Rudyard
...more
Maura
Dec 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
Have no idea why this book from the 70s is still so highly rated. The ideas that you don't have to life your life for other people are not so novel. Maybe the people who like this book are from other cultures? Most Americans are well aware you don't have to get married to have a romantic partner, you don't have to follow the religion you were raised with, etc.

One of the few notions raised in the book that isn't in vogue today was the notion that it's okay to abandon your kids if you don't want a
...more
Will
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it

PART I

The Identity Traps
1) The belief that you should be someone other than yourself
2) The assumption that others will do things in the way you would

The Intellectual Trap
1) the belief that your emotions should conform to a preconceived standard

The Emotional Trap
1) the belief that you can make important decisions at a time when you’re feeling strong emotions

The Morality Trap
1) the belief that you must obey a moral code created by someone else
Personal Morality: an attempt to consider all the
...more
Candle
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
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This book teaches you how to start living your life in your own way , making your own choices , your own thoughts and How to accept Your own self. How to respect your own view of the world and making sure that it really your view not something you have been told.

It was boring little bit but I enjoyed reading it .
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“ You Need Time alone to act completely on your own desires “
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“ To Be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best nights and day to make you somebody else means to fight
...more
Aaron Leyshon
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
While I don't agree with everything Browne outlines in his book, that is precisely the point. Browne presents a world in which all possibilities can be acted on in accordance with your authentic self and does so in a way that is not the slightest bit prescriptive. Well worth reading.
Andrew
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it
My first libertarian "self help" book.

This is a pretty funny book. Especially in the second half when Browne starts going into his personal life. The guy likes to fuck, folks. But his practical advice is so anti-social and atomizing that this book could have only come out in the radical libertarian publishing boomlet of the 1970s. Browne doesn't pull many punches. Many popular libertarians steer clear of the "children problem." What do to with children in an ideal world? Browne suggests not
...more
Travis
Apr 21, 2014 rated it liked it
laissez-faire, yo. this book offers an abundance of very practical information about improving freedom in one's personal life across many domains, and I am disappointed that it had not been recommended to me prior to adulthood. Harry discusses many types of traps and ways in which we become entangled and encumbered by social imposition, circumstance, poor decisions, and getting up in other people's business, and offers strategies in addressing these all-too-common, largely avoidable challenges. ...more
Alli
Jan 03, 2009 rated it liked it
This book was simply the begnning of some questions and thoughts that I have been using to change my life. It asks you a few things (assuming that you are an individualistic American, implicitly...if you are not, please don't bother to read on...)

It makes you dig down into yourself and explain why you do the things you do. Why do you put yourself into situations where you feel obligated to others in ways you don't wish to be obligated? It can be as simple as your mother making you feel obligated
...more
Shayne
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
This book made me deeply uncomfortable, challenging several basic premises of my life. After making it all the way through, I still think the author is selfish and hedonistic. Some good ideas, though, and enough of a challenge that it was worth reading.

There is truth in here, but the elements he chooses are often extended to absurd lengths. This is accomplished mainly by making gross simplifications of human behavior. For example, he asserts that all humans make choices in their own
...more
Ronald Roschnafsky
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my top5 books I read so far. It really shaked some beliefs about my worldview and it gave really practical advice how to find your personal freedom in life.

Everything comes with an price, it depends if you are willing to pay the price. Being free as well as unfree have their price-tag on them.

After all, stop trying to change the system. Stop trying to change people. Rather improve the relationships with people you just have common values. To find those quality relationships you firstly
...more
Ken Doggett
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read the first edition of this book, it was new, refreshing, and its Libertarian outlook did nothing more than change my life. When Harry Browne ran for the U.S. Presidency in 1996 he was the first candidate of any stripe who made perfect sense to me. He was certainly the first with whom I agreed on every point. It takes an open and unbiased mind to consider his point of view, and so many of his readers and critics, resorting to name-calling and labeling, seem not to possess that ...more
Kate
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it
My rating of this book may change as the ideas percolate further into my brain. I'll definitely be mulling over some of these concepts for a while, which is as the author intended. I like how the author says upfront that he doesn't expect or even intend for people to wholeheartedly accept every idea he lays out to incorporate into their lives. We as readers are invited to take or leave concepts as we please.

His main premise is that each person should focus on their own happiness above all else.
...more
Vex
Jul 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ebook, unfinished
I've had this book since forever, because someone somewhere recommended it and I got it, meaning to read it later. Well, I finally got to it, completely forgetting about any context or additional information on the book. I didn't even read the subtitle before digging in. So I had no idea it was sort of a libertarian manifesto.

The first couple of chapters on being true to yourself and recognizing that you can't change others sounded promising, because, hey, it's true. But then he got into
...more
Darius Murretti
Nov 07, 2018 rated it liked it
He defines freedom as the ability to live you life the way you want to live it. The book is on

1) achieving financial independence by investing (I don't have much money to invest so this did not interest me greatly )
2) changing our selves rather than others (having an inner freedom )
3) adjusting to what ever political system you live in without getting trapped in politics

He asks how to find freedom in an unfree world ( as migratory farm worker i can relate to that)

Itsd about the traps(within
...more
Hbaraiki
Oct 15, 2019 added it
Shelves: summary
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nathik
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, 2017
For most people, Freedom is an "if only". Harry Browne provides a Libertarian's road map to personal freedom in his book. The central theme of the book is that "You're a sovereign individual. You're the one who decides every one of your actions. You're the person who determines what is right and wrong for you".

Part 1 explains Why you are NOT free. It is my favourite section of the book because it provides road map to freedom via negativa (Addition by Subtraction). It describes varies mental
...more
Frisco
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's rare that a book makes me feel like my entire worldview has been shifted, but this was one of them. I've read lots of material on things like Stoic philosophy, the "art of saying no," etc - things that would, theoretically, lend to having a great amount of personal freedom and a less restricted worldview. Yet, within the first five chapters, this book had helped me identify multiple areas of my life where I was unwittingly lying to myself about my circumstances.

I'm not sure how Harry has
...more
Mihai Cosareanu
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I read this book because I found it recommended on JL Collins website. It was a tough read. I think it's too long and it could easily be made shorter. I gave it three stars because I just can't agree with a few things mentioned in this book, some of these are nicely treated in the epilogue of the 25th anniversary edition (I understand that the context has changed quite a bit).

For example, the chapter about of being free from the government and avoiding to pay taxes as much as possible. I totally
...more
ActualBarista
Child-level libertarianism

This is a truly awful book. I want my money back.

General message: work out what makes you happy (fair enough) and then do whatever you need to get it. Including, in particular, avoiding paying taxes. Unsurprisingly, the "recommended reading" cites "Atlas Shrugged". That pretty much tells you all you need to know.

The author explains, with evident satisfaction, how he divorced his wife and happily gave her sole access to his daughter, whom - at the point of writing - he
...more
Ron Shoemaker
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
Very good advice on how to become free in personal life, job, etc.,but there were some glaring contradictions even though his disclaimers could be said to cover them. The biggest was his dislike for "government" and the uselessness of voting, politicking, and trying to change the minds of others then running for president twice.

He also carried a theme of using direct action to make yourself free and not worrying about the beliefs of others, yet how can you not when the actions of statists
...more
Corey
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: not-at-kcls
This was a unique and interesting book. I wanted to give it more stars, but didn't for the reasons addressed below. First, the book is too long and repetitive; it could have easily been 1/3 the length without losing much content. Second, he spends the majority of the book talking about freedom from social aspects (wife, children, parents, friends etc.) and emotional traps (I should do this to be a "good" person), while what I am most interested in is freedom from financial perspective. The ...more
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“An individual might say, “I don’t want to change anyone.” And yet, he might still spend a great deal of his time trying to get others to agree with his views, or trying to prevent someone from doing something he thinks will be bad for him, or trying to change people by participating in a movement over a burning issue, or voting to prevent others from doing what they want to do. In all these ways, he’s trying to change others — to make them do other than what their natures lead them to do.” 5 likes
“To be nobody but yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you somebody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. — e.e. cummings” 5 likes
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