Publishing Hayek’s Road to Serfdom
The March 30th edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education is running an article about F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents—The Definitive Edition recently published by the Press. The piece details “the story behind the publishing of Hayek’s seminal volume” and how close the book’s critics came to shutting down publication of one of the Press’s most influential and best-selling titles. The article begins:If the University of Chicago Press had listened to one of its reader’s reports, it might not have published one of its best-selling books of all time. The story of how Chicago came to issue The Road to Serfdom, by the Austrian scholar F.A. Hayek, in 1944 is provided in a new definitive edition coming out this month.
As The Road to Serfdom, a seminal volume in modern libertarian thought, was wending its way to publication in Britain, three American university presses turned it down. Chicago decided to go ahead despite a review from a prominent economist at the university who said it wouldn’t sell. The original print run was gone in a month, and Chicago went on to sell more than 350,000 copies over the years. Some 600,000 more were distributed in condensed form via Reader’s Digest, and the book has been translated into more than 20 languages.
The Chronicle article reprints two of the original readers’ reports from Frank H. Knight and Jacob Marschak. You can read the full article including the reports at the Chronicle.
We also have an excerpt from the book entitled “The Publication History of The Road to Serfdom” on our website.