Well, this is pretty amusing. I have been “tagged” by my friend David Beito of the University of Alabama (author of such exceptionally good books as From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1967 and Taxpayers in Revolt: Tax Resistance During the Great Depression and co-editor of The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society the topic and title of the last of which I suggested to David quite a long time ago). So, here are the questions to which I have been tagged to give the answers.
1. How many books do you own?
Well, I don’t rightly know. Every room of my place is filled with them and many of the bookshelves are two rows deep. I just took a bit of time to count what each shelf contains and have come to the estimate of …. um, five to six thousand.
2. What was the last book you bought?
The French Revolution, by FranÃ?Â??Ã?Â?Ã?Â§ois Furet and Denis Richet. (I bought it partly for the excellent timeline appendix.)
3. What was the last book you read?
I usually have a number of books going at the same time, but the last non-fiction fully completed would probably be Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, by Stephen Hicks, Social and Political Thought of the French Revolution, 1788-1797: An Anthology of Original Texts, ed. by Marc A Goldstein, and Water for Sale: How Business and the Market Can Resolve the World’s Water Business, by Frederik Segerfeldt.
4. What are the five books that mean the most to me?
Well, that’s another tough one, but here’s a try:
The Nicomachean Ethics, by Aristotle
(The deepest book I’ve ever read and a good companion through life.)
Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition, by Harold Berman
(The book that has done more than any other to encourage my interest in history; it is the intersection of so many paths of enquiry and the starting point of many intellectual adventures.)
Classics in the Theory of Public Finance, ed. by Richard Abel Musgrave
(A great collection of essays in the systematic study of state behavior utilizing the tools of modern economics; I especially benefited from the essays by Giovanni Montemartini and by Knut Wicksell.)
Two Treatises of Government, by John Locke
(The greatest statement ever of the principles of a free society; its somewhat fragmentary character makes it an especially interesting work to explore.)
As for the fifth book……I keep thinking of one, but just as soon as I do, another just chases it out of place. So I’ll settle on one that has a lot of meaning to me because I read it as a small boy, because my father had read it when he was a boy: Tom Swift and his Aerial Warship. (Wait, wait…another book from my father, The Handbook, by Epictetus, which is a rather better companion for an adult than Tom Swift and His Aerial Warship.)