The Triumph of Liberty


Through the author bio on an article I read somewhere I came
to learn about the book “The Triumph of Liberty” by Jim Powell.  I immediately went online, as I often do when
something intrigues me, and purchased a previously owned copy from Amazon and
waited expectantly.  A few days later,
the book arrived; a plain blue hardback cover with the word “WITHDRAWN” stamped
in bold red across the binding like an ugly indictment.  The book had been checked into a university
library in the Midwest a decade before, and never checked out – not once.

Unfazed, I began to read. 

This remarkable book is a compendium of short biographies of
dozens of the men and women who dedicated their lives for the cause of
liberty.  Some are well known; names like
Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass.  Some are controversial; people like Lysander
Spooner and Ayn Rand.  Some of them are
from ancient history; like Cicero.  Some
are economists like Ludwig Von Mises and Frederic Hayek; others are novelists
like Victor Hugo and Louis L’Amour; while still others are musicians like
Ludwig Von Beethoven.  Many of them are
virtually unknown, like Thomas Szasz who fought against the medieval treatment
of mental patients in the United States in the 20th century.  All of them are patches in freedom’s
extraordinary quilt.    

There are two things that struck me about the stories in this book.  The first is the amazing diversity in which those who love freedom labored.  The protagonists fought for the free man in parliament, through literature and music, in the arena of economics and philosophy.  Some struggled publicly and have their names enshrined on marble monuments; and some privately and have been forgotten.  Yet all of them made liberty a life’s cause.  

The second thing
that struck me is the effect of this struggle on the people themselves.  The fight to be free became an all-consuming
passion for these men and women of courage; costing them reputations, money, employment
and for many even their lives.  Despite
knowing this, they still embraced the cause; they could do nothing else.

As I closed the book, my heart reinvigorated by so great a
cloud of witnesses, I saw again the blood red accusation “WITHDRAWN”.  What a telling statement; in a country
founded upon the ideals of liberty, a book about her champions
cannot find a place.  I wonder what the
book’s protagonists would have thought about the modern era.  I suppose they would not have been surprised –
as those who still struggle today are not surprised – that our bright ideas are
so often discarded.  What I know for
certain, they would not have surrendered; their own lives are proof of

Today, there is a new generation who also is not surrendering.  Novelists like Mario Vargas Llosa; authors
like Mustafa Akyol; politicians like Maria Corina Machado; economists like
Walter Williams and so many others.  Like
those who came before, they have made the cause of liberty their life’s

And so the struggle goes on, as it probably always
will.  Those whose ideas bring liberty
and prosperity – the men and women of the mind – “keenly setting brush-fires in
people’s minds” as they struggle against those who chose violence and
slavery.  But as we go forward, we can
take solace in “The Triumph of Liberty”, knowing that we are making common
cause with a great movement of people and that our idea – the freedom itself which
we love so much and wish was the birthright of every man – is and always will be inevitable.  

Joel D. Hirst is a
novelist, author of “The Lieutenant of San Porfirio” and its Spanish language
version “El Teniente de San Porfirio: Cronica de una Revolucion Bolivariana” 

About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright. His most recently released work is "Dreams of the Defeated: A Play in Two Acts" about a political prisoner in a dystopian regime. His novels include "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps and "Lords of Misrule" about the making and unmaking of a jihadist in the Sahara. "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio" are about the rise and fall of socialist Venezuela (with magic).
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4 Responses to The Triumph of Liberty

  1. Ian Mathie says:

    This sounds like a fascinating book, Joel. But what an indictment of the university that it should sit on their shelves for so long and remain unread. Why, I wonder, didn’t some professor put it on his or her students’ reading list?I take it that your Lieutenant of San Porfitio is your own first thrust into the fight for liberty – in Venezuela?


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