Nobel laureate economist James Buchanan was fond of telling students that after completing his dissertation, he stumbled upon Knut Wicksell’s 1896 book on public goods, taxation, and the political process—a serendipitous discovery that altered Buchanan’s thinking and the course of public choice economics. Some scholars question the veracity of Buchanan’s anecdote, but a comparison of his multiple accounts of the story provides some corroboration and sheds light on the early development of public choice.

Michael Brooks is senior lecturer in the School of Economics at the University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia.
Economic PolicyEconomistsEconomyPhilosophy and ReligionPublic Choice
Other Independent Review articles by Michael Brooks
Spring 2003 A Free Market in Kidneys Would Be Efficient and Equitable: A Case of Too Much Romance