Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World - by Harry Browne (Book Review)

Do you feel like your head is going to explode when you read, watch, or listen to the news these days? The continuous assault on personal liberty in the good ol' U S of A has, I have to admit, been driving me bonkers. The bailouts, the lack of personal responsibility - really maddening to anyone with a semblance of a libertarian bone in their body.

If you feel similarly, I'd highly recommend you head to your local library and pick up a copy of How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World: A Handbook for Personal Liberty, by the great Harry Browne. All I can say after reading it is: wow, I needed that!

I've become a huge fan of Harry Browne's thinking and works over the past year or so. It started when I stumbled across a fantastic Ebook that his wife put together from his old writings about sales. It's called The Secret of Selling Anything to Anyone - available on his website for like 11 bucks, it's one of the best two books on sales I've ever read (Dale Carnegie's sales bible being the other). Highly recommended reading for anyone, no matter if you're in sales or not.

But back to the book at hand - what I really love about Harry's style is that he doesn't buck the trend. Many libertarians seem to live in a constant state of frustration. Probably because they see the folly of many actions for the "common good" - and they just can't bear to watch. They literally seem to drive themselves insane.

Harry is different. He developed an interesting philosophy for seeing the world exactly how it is - and maneuvering himself accordingly. I believe he referred to it as direct action vs. indirect action.

Harry Browne basically says "screw it." I'm gonna do my thing, whether you like it or not. Because at the end of the day, as a human being, I'm driven by self interest - everyone is - and I'm not embarassed to admit it.

The book is highly readable, and has some real funny parts. In one section Harry poo poo's the notion that future US citizens will be in lockdown government control, a la 1984. Because frankly, the government isn't smart enough to control everyone - he quips that maybe they will put a camera in every room, but odds are that the camera won't work!

He also has a lot of personal advice - some that may come across as a bit over the top (like don't get married because it's an affront to your personal freedom). But he's got a lot of practical advice for dealing with everyday life.

This book really gets to the heart of the frustration that a lot of people have, I think. Most people feel a sense of guilt about who they should be. Thus, they don't follow their passions, they endure crappy family relationships, and live overall passionless, aimless lives.

If you are libertarian minded in any way, this book is a great, fun, quick read. And if you've felt really frustrated over the past 12-18 months amidst the bailouts, increasing creep of the government, and the rise of Amerika, this is a great read to get your Zen about you.

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