Prior to the War Between the States, the federal government largely stayed out of the private affairs of private persons. From the Reconstruction Era to the Progressive Era, the feds moved in and out of private affairs, started printing money legally, taxed personal income, redistributed wealth, regulated private property, engaged in the least moral, least useful, and most catastrophic of modern American wars—World War I—and set the stage for the post-Progressive Era which has brought us the Welfare State, the Warfare State, and the Administrative State.

No one has chronicled all this with more intellectual credibility and using more cogent reasoning than Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs. Bob’s masterpiece, Crisis and Leviathan, remains the standard scholarly critique of the growth of the federal government from the Roosevelt/Wilson to the Carter/Reagan years.

In his new book, Taking a Stand: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Economy, come similar arguments, but often in a non-academic vein. Be prepared for Bob with his hair let down; for here are essays that show a whimsical, introspective, and personal Bob Higgs.

From the myth that the government has derived its powers from the consent of the governed to the role of independent experts in formulating monetary and fiscal policy; from the government’s duplicity in announcing the unemployment rate in a given month to how the state entraps us, if you want to see a true polymath at work, a humble giant thinking out loud about whatever thoughts that great mind found worthy of contemplation, these lofty, serious, sad, and illuminating essays will do the unthinkable—they will educate you beyond Crisis and Leviathan.

In my own television and academic work, I have attempted to use Bob’s fidelity to first principles as a model. I have not always succeeded. Yet, what a joy it has been for me to see that fidelity from a different angle; one just as faithful and beautiful, yet bound to create additional admiration for a good and fearless man’s mind and work that I love so much.