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Item Number: IN0002
ISBN: 0930073215
List Price: $24.95
LFB Price w/ Extra 15% Off: $21.21
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by Rose Wilder Lane
foreword by Hans F. Sennholz & Roger Lea MacBride
Fox & Wilkes, 1993, hardcover
50th Anniversary Edition

Also available in paperback and as an audiobook on CD.

The soaring prose of Rose Wilder Lane, who passionately affirmed the spirit of liberty

A half-century ago, when the world was engulfed in the worst war ever, and hundreds of millions were enslaved, a bold woman named Rose Wilder Lane wrote a passionate book which reasserted the supreme importance of individual freedom.

In The Discovery of Freedom, she talked not about rulers marching through history books, but the epic 6,000-year struggle of ordinary people who defy rulers to raise their families, produce food, develop industries, pursue commerce and in myriad ways improve human life.

Lane celebrated the American Revolution which showed dramatically how ordinary people could achieve extraordinary freedom--and how they could do it again. "As human material," she wrote, our immigrant forebears "were nothing to brag about... Starving wretches lucky to escape debtors' prisons, vagrants from highways and slums who sold themselves to slavery for years to pay for their steerage passage across the Atlantic, peasants shipped like cattle, shiploads of hungry women and girls without dowries, auctioned in the ports to settlers who needed wives."

Reviving the radical spirit of Tom Paine, she declared that "Individuals began this Revolution... They acted as individuals, each man with his own knowledge of reality. The respected and respectable men were against him; the teachers, the thinkers, the writers of books, were against him; the important men, the rich men, all men in high places, stood with the King."

Only about a thousand copies of The Discovery of Freedom were printed initially, but the book inspired individuals who were to have substantial influence over the years. The Discovery of Freedom inspired the charismatic journalist and teacher Robert Lefevre who launched the Freedom School, an important stimulus for the libertarian movement during the postwar era. General Motors consumer researcher Henry Grady Weaver adapted The Discovery of Freedom as The Mainspring of Human Progress, and the Foundation for Economic Education distributed more than 400,000 copies. We at Laissez Faire Books have reprinted Discovery of Freedom before, and we're proud to help bring it back again--this time with a reminiscence by Lane's literary heir Roger Lea MacBride and a poignant memoir by Foundation for Economic President Hans F. Sennholz.

Who exactly was Rose Wilder Lane? Born in 1886, in the Dakota Territory, she grew up on Rocky Ridge Farm, the Mansfield, Missouri spread built by her parents, Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Following high school graduation, she got a job with Western Union, which took her to San Francisco. Later, she started her writing career, working for the San Francisco Bulletin.

After World War I, the Red Cross hired her to write about their activities in the Middle East, the Balkans and Russia, so she saw quite a bit of the world. She had mingled with American Communist Party founder Jack Reed and was close to being a Communist herself, but she sobered up after she encountered ordinary Russian people who hated Communism.

Meanwhile, she had started writing books--biographies of Henry Ford and Herbert Hoover, a fictionalized biography of Jack London, bestselling novels about pioneer life in the Ozarks. She encouraged her mother to write about the dramatic experiences of her childhood and helped with what became the beloved Little House books.

By the early 1940s, World War II raged on, and Lane decided to articulate her political views to a wider audience by developing her 1936 Saturday Evening Post Article, "Credo," into a book.

Fortunately, the publishing house John Day asked her to write a book on political philosophy, and she was off. She started The Discovery of Freedom in a McAllen, Texas trailer park where she had gone to gather material for some magazine articles. She finished the book at her Danbury, Connecticut home.

Ironically, she became dissatisfied with the book because of some historical inaccuracies and refused permission to reprint it until she completed a new edition, but work was cut short by her death on October 22, 1968. So The Discovery of Freedom became an underground classic. That stubborn individualist Albert Jay Nock had sagely observed: "When it comes to anything fundamental, Mrs. Lane never makes a mistake. She is always right. In this respect, the book is really remarkable." Now you can discover, or rediscover, Lane's exhilarating work.

262 pages