Thursday, August 14, 2008

" If you don't know the Puritans, you don't understand America": a review of Gary North's 'Puritan Economic Experiments' on Amazon

"I don't think my title is extreme. If we don't know and understand the Puritans (not the "Pilgrims" -- though frequently confused, they were 2 separate and distinct groups), much of what has happened in the last 300 years in American history won't make sense.

Gary North is a self-described neo-Puritan, and a Ph.D. in economic history. Both of these facts make him a good one to analyze Puritan life and thought, since he's sympathetic with their religious views (arguably the most important driving force in their culture) he gives a good and concise summary of various experiments in economics that the Puritans made, and how those experiments worked or didn't.

By economics, North means -- following Ludwig von Mises -- the actions people take with scarce resources. Economics thus understood covers a vastly larger area of life than most of us initially think.

Economics can be a fascinating read, given the right author. North is such a man. One doesn't have to agree with him always -- I don't -- to appreciate his insightful and precise analysis."

(Gary North is many things, but he is not a stupid man. He likely knew that the title of this book would not attract many readers. He also probably knew he wasn't going to get rich from it. So, preferring to get readers even if he couldn't get their money, the book is available online here).

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