LFB Price: $14.95 The Incredible Bread Machine, 2nd edition

by Richard W. Grant 
illustrated by Richard Stein 
Fox & Wilkes, 1999, paperback 

Also available as an audiobook on CD

The original 1966 edition, an underground classic about the follies of government and the creativity of capitalism, became legendary in libertarian circles. It sold by the thousands almost entirely on word-of-mouth. It was cherished among the most exciting works about individual liberty. 

During the 1970s, thousands of copies of a condensed version were distributed to universities and organizations throughout the United States. An outfit called World Research made a half-hour live action film based on an adaptation of the book. 

In this splendid edition, Grant refreshed his work, and it's a dandy. Grant is especially good at rebutting gross misunderstandings about history that lead people to support bad policies. He takes the most famous muckraking attack on capitalism, The Robber Barons, and shows that by author Matthew Josephson's own account, crooks like Jay Gould, Jim Fisk, and Daniel Drew thrived on government privileges and subsidies. By contrast, Josephson acknowledged that entrepreneurs such as Cornelius Vanderbilt provided valuable services and cut prices. "In spite of his ill-concealed hostility to capitalism," Grant observed, "Josephson continues to provide example after example of just where the real trouble lay: not with capitalism, but with government." 

Grant talks about the government's persecution of Michael Milken, then covers some more recent outrages: "Microsoft and Intel, two of the latest targets of Antitrust, are repeating the profound strategic error committed by Milken's high-priced lawyers: trying to fight the battle exclusively on terms defined by the government. But when the law is whatever the bureaucrat says it is, even innocence will be no defense, for the regulation will simply be shifted and reinterpreted to describe whatever the accused did do. The better defense would be to challenge the validity and constitutionality of rules which are designed not to protect rights, but merely to further the amorphous goals of ideology: 'fairness,' 'the level playing field,' etc. Perhaps the challenge would not succeed but it would beat losing by default." 

Grant makes a graceful case for natural rights principles: "Can we assume that a thing is right if it is legal? But slavery was once legal; Nazism was legal. Well, can we assume a thing is right if it is endorsed by majority rule? But a lynch mob is majority rule. Is a thing sure to be right, then, if it comes about through the democratic process? But fascist dictator Juan Pern of Argentina was democratically elected by majority rule on two occasions.... Well, how about the Constitution? But again we run into difficulties, for the Constitution can be amended to say anything the society wishes it to say. Suppose, for example, the Constitution were amended to permit the lynching of blacks -- would this practice become ethically correct merely because the Constitution permitted it? 

As you can see, Grant knows how to make the case for liberty very appealing. A good read. 

"A good basic primer on liberty. Pick it up and read a few pages when you need to be inspired or reminded of the best arguments."
--John Stossel

"This is one of the all-time classics of liberty. How wonderful to see it back in print. The new, revised edition is even better than the original."
--Robert Poole, president of Reason Foundation 

299 pages

The Keepers of the Flame are we,
Where mumbo-jumbo is the key;
So 'round about the cauldron go
As in the poisoned entrails throw
Of bills and hearings, laws and pleas,
To fill the pot with legaleze!
    Double, double, toil and trouble,
    Fire burn and cauldron bubble!

[ ... ]

Tongue of serpent, wing of bat,
Here is where the action's at:
Create a maze of regulations,
Codes and laws and incantations;
Spin this web of rules precise  -
Then extricate you - for a price!
      Double, double, toil and trouble,
      Fire burn and cauldron bubble!

<BACK to Book Categories