Monday, May 26, 2014

Brooklyn College's Role in the Publication of FA Hayek's Road to Serfdom

I teach at Brooklyn College.  I'm always delighted to see historical references to it.  For instance, I recently learned that John Hospers, the first Libertarian Party presidential candidate, had taught philosophy at Brooklyn before moving on to USC and Harvard.  As well, Ayn Rand spoke at Brooklyn in the early 1960s.  I just learned that a former president of Brooklyn College, Harry Gideonse, had worked on behalf of FA Hayek to secure a publisher of what became Hayek's most famous book, The Road to Serfdom. In his introduction to Volume II of the Definitive Works of FA Hayek, Bruce Caldwell writes this:

In a letter dated August 8, 1942, Hayek asked Fritz Machlup, who was by then in Washington at the Office of Alien Property Custodian, for his help in securing an American publisher...Machlup's first stop was Macmillan, but they turned him down...Machlup's next move was, at Hayek's request, to send the (by now completed) typescript to Walter Lippmann, who would promote it to Little, Brown. This was done, but they also declined...Machlup then turned to Henry Gideonse, by now the [p]resident of Brooklyn College, but who previously had served as the editor of public policy pamphlets in which [Hayek's] "Freedom and the Economic System" had appeared.  Gideonse took the manuscript with his strong endorsement to Ordway Tead, the economics editor at Harper and Brothers.  This initiative also failed...Nearly a year went by...It was at this point that Aaron Director came to the rescue.  Director wrote to fellow Chicago economists Frank Knight and Henry Simons to see if the University of Chicago Press might want to consider publishing it...The acceptance letter to Hayek was dated December 28, 1943.

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