Nancy MacLean’s generalized rewriting of James Buchanan’s views on democracy

Knowledge Problem

I have only read a small bit of Nancy MacLean’s book on James M. Buchanan, public choice, and politics. I’m reluctant to buy a copy, but I wanted to see if it was as bad as some critics have said. (Now you know something of my limited knowledge of and pre-existing bias against the book. -MG) A few weeks back I spotted a copy in the bookstore. I opened it up toward the middle, scanned a few pages, took a picture of pages 150-151 and a picture of the related endnotes for later reference.

Given the criticism the book was receiving, I was curious how well the book would stand up to a little quasi-random spot checking. Judge for yourself below.

A paragraph on page 151 stood out for appearing to claim that Buchanan reluctantly conceded that despotism might be the only way he would get his favored system into…

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About Jim Rose

Utopia - you are standing in it promotes a classical liberal view of the world and champion the mass flourishing of humanity through capitalism and the rule of law. The origin of the blog is explained in the first blog post at

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