All Commentary
Friday, July 19, 2013

The Great Hope: Essays on Liberty and Character

People acquainted with FEE president Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed know that he regards it as more than a badge of honor to practice what one preaches—it’s a moral commandment. In many places in the United States and abroad over the years, he has written and spoken about the character traits required of adults in a free society. One of those traits is modesty. And that’s why you won’t hear Larry bragging about his new book, The Great Hope: Essays on Character and Liberty, available right here.
But we are quite happy to brag on his behalf.
The book is itself modest, but only in its length. In 116 pages, Larry offers 32 brief essays that originated as columns in the local newspaper in Newnan, Georgia, where he lives. These essays “inspire, educate, and connect,” to use a phrase from FEE’s new mission statement. The subjects are so wide-ranging (from Calvin Coolidge to corporate welfare) that when the idea to assemble them into a book was first suggested by a friend and FEE donor, Larry was concerned the collection wouldn’t hold together. 
“They’re all over the place,” he said. “And besides, they’re just newspaper columns and some of them I wrote in about five minutes.”
It turns out the book holds together just fine because the columns scream the two things Larry just can’t stop talking about—liberty and character, and how one depends upon the other. He’s advocated for them both, non-stop and full-time, for the past 40-plus years. We can’t imagine he could write a book that didn’t mention them somewhere.
Make no mistake about it: character and liberty are the stuff of great nations. They are our “great hope,” as the anthology’s title suggests. Without them, we wither and die as individuals and then as a people. That’s why low-priced, easy-to-understand, quick-to-read, handy-to-pass-along books that champion those values are vital. Many people will likely order multiple copies of this book and thereby help spread its simple but profound messages to others. That’s how successful movements grow.
Do you know someone who thinks that acts of destruction stimulate the economy? That the drug war is working? That politicians can plan an economy without screwing it up? Give them this book. Have you ever wanted to give someone that one slim volume that, in an hour or two, could turn them on to freedom and free markets? The Great Hope just might do it.
Even when he’s critical of a trend or policy, Larry has a way of uplifting you. He calls us all to the higher standards essential for a civil and peaceful society. He’s not one of those shrill and nasty attack dogs who spend their hours beating their breasts while churning out holier-than-thou screeds to audiences you could stuff into a phone booth. He makes friends and converts when he writes. He calls you to think better and act better as a person. 
Larry thinks this little volume is “no big deal.” His modesty vastly understates its likely popularity. The Great Hope will turn lights on in a great many minds. Get your copies today!

  • The Freeman is the flagship publication of the Foundation for Economic Education and one of the oldest and most respected journals of liberty in America. For more than 50 years it has uncompromisingly defended the ideals of the free society.