Amazon list recommendations

1. The Bayadère by Emmerich Kálmán ( Kálmán, along with Léhar the greatest of Viennese operetta composers, was Ayn Rand's favorite composer of what she called her "tiddlywink" music, and "The Bayadère" was her favorite of Kálmán's works (as well as his and mine). It has a hideously unfeminist plot that only Ayn Rand could love, and even she referred to it (in We the Living) as "gayest nonsense." But all operetta plots are ridiculous, and the music is the point anyway. "Bayadère" has some of the most beautiful melodies ("Roses from the Ganges," "Stars on the Stage") ever written. (I have heard it said of both Kálmán and Sigmund Romberg that he was the only composer whose music people went into the theater humming.) The vocal parts are very demanding, and unfortunately a little too much for the lead tenor. But this version is the only one in English, and the only one available for some years. And the Ohio Light Opera can always be counted on for authentic and spirited performances.

2. Behavior: The Control of Perception by William T. Powers ( This book, published in 1973, presents a radically new theory of human behavior-in fact, of the behavior of organisms in general. Like most other radical theories, it has remained on the margins, but I find it compelling. The last chapter contains an astonishingly eloquent psychological argument for anarchy, without using the word-basically that attempting to control people by force won't work, at least over the long run. (The short run, as Powers would now emphasize, can be far too long.) I explained the theory, and its relevance to libertarianism, in an article in the May 2002 Liberty.

3. First Strike ( and Ron Brown's Body ( by Jack Cashill. The LPSF had scheduled Cashill to speak on the subject of the first book, TWA 800, as a fundraising event in September 2001; then 9/11 made the event seem unseemly. Cashill did not begin as a conspiracy theorist, merely as an investigative journalist. The full truth about these events may never be known, but Cashill does a useful job of synthesizing the available evidence into a plausible-and interesting-account.

4. The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe ( This is the book that David Nolan introduced to libertarians, and Strauss and Howe are the ones who introduced the generation concept (Gen-X, Gen-Y, etc.). There's some mystical-sounding stuff about cycles in the early chapters, which can be disregarded; the body of the book present some interesting and plausible arguments about generational cycles and their relevance for history (which they trace back to the Wars of the Roses). The title refers to the idea that every fourth generation brings a crisis-the next one, at the time the book was published, due around 2004.

5. An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought by Murray Rothbard ( Who would have thought a history of economic theories would be such a page-turner? Rothbard was a difficult but lovable person, and his prose is a delight. These volumes were as much an education for me on religious as economic history. It is particularly interesting that, in the eyes of a Jewish author, the good guys all turn out to be Catholic, and the bad guys, like Adam Smith, Protestant.

N.B.: I'm not sure this last item (or some others that have been proposed) is appropriate, just because it is available from the Mises Institute (the publisher), and we may want to give them the business rather than Amazon.