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In The Noblest Triumph, Tom Bethell looks at the history of property rights and shows that the key role played by the institution of private property has been misunderstood by Western elites for more than a century. Beginning with the ancient Greeks and arriving at the present day, Bethell looks at basic ideas about property found in the writings of Plato, Adam Smith, Blackstone, Bentham, Marx, Mill, and others. He shows that the institution of property is inextricably tied to traditional conceptions of justice and liberty, and he argues that prosperity and civilization can only arise where private property is securely held by the people. The Noblest Triumph is an indispensable book for anyone interested in this fundamental aspect of civilization and the progress of humankind through the ages.
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The phenomenal success of Western civilization and the remarkable economic expansion fueled by modern capitalism, says Tom Bethell, depend chiefly on the institution of private property and the development of secure property rights, yet this simple, striking idea is misunderstood by elite opinion leaders in the United States and around the world. Bethell, a reporter for the American Spectator, offers a history of property as an idea and a reality around the world. His sweeping narrative will appeal to fans of David Landes's The Wealth and Poverty of Nations and Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel. Yet, in many crucial respects, The Noblest Triumph (the title comes from British philosopher Jeremy Bentham's line that property laws represent "the noblest triumph of humanity over itself") is better than both, displaying a keener understanding of human nature and of how incentives shape behavior. In a chapter sure to inspire controversy, Bethell argues that the Irish potato famines of the 1840s were due primarily to Ireland's lack of stable property rights in the 19th century. Full of astute observations and written with real clarity, The Noblest Triumph makes a unique and welcome contribution to the debate over why some countries thrive while others languish. --John J. MillerFrom the Publisher:
"Bethell's book is enjoyable...learned and amusing..." --The New York Times Book Review
"...wide-ranging and elegantly written..."--Wall Street Journal
"...bold and unconventional..." --Richard Pipes, Commentary
"An intellectual milestone" --Hernando de Soto
"Mr. Bethell has written a clear, cogent book that both sums up and advances our knowledge of property. In learning and suggestiveness, The Noblest Triumph is a triumph indeed." --Chronicles
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