Books for the News, Economics

Serf City, U. S. A

jacket imageWe’ve entered week two of the summer of Hayek, and though The Road to Serfdom has descended a few spots on the Amazon sales charts (we’re still outselling Stephenie Meyer’s vampires and the Twitter-to-book musings of a grumpy father), interest in the most unexpected beach read of 2010 continues apace.
Last week, Newsweek weighed in on the phenomenon, noting Glenn Beck’s role in the sales spike: “To state that Beck holds an extraordinary amount of sway with his millions of viewers is, by now, roughly equivalent to suggesting that BP slightly underestimated how much oil spilled into the gulf.”
Then chief business commentator John Gapper of the Financial Times wrote about the surprise best seller on his blog, pointing out that Beck has “become publishers’ new best friend.”
Locally, the Chicago Tribune observed on its Printers Row book blog that, before Beck, Hayek had another supporter to thank for his perennial popularity: Milton Friedman.
And finally, late last week, the gray lady chimed in. Writing in Inside the List column in the New York Times Book Review, Jennifer Schuessler explains that Hayek was doing well even before Beck took up his cause: “A perennial seller for the University of Chicago Press, Hayek’s libertarian cri de coeur had already received a big boost from Barack Obama, who has been cited by conservative pundits as the embodiment of the kind of creeping government tyranny that Hayek warned of.”
The Road to Serfdom has also been named one of the ten books every conservative must read (it keeps company with titles by Aristotle and de Tocqueville, among others) in a book of the same name, out this month.
The summer of Hayek, it seems, shows no signs of cooling down. And perhaps, it’s already claimed its first victim. In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Gina Barreca, professor of English at the university of Connecticut, writes that Hayek made her take to her bed… and the bottle.