The Reader’s Digest condensed version of ‘The Road to Serfdom’.

Now includes ‘The Intellectuals and Socialism’

In The Road to Serfdom F. A. Hayek set out the danger posed to freedom by attempts to apply the principles of wartime economic and social planning to the problems of peacetime. Hayek argued that the rise of Nazism was not due to any character failure on the part of the German people, but was a consequence of the socialist ideas that had gained common currency in Germany in the decades preceding the outbreak of war. Such ideas, Hayek argued, were now becoming similarly accepted in Britain and the USA.

On its publication in 1944, The Road to Serfdom caused a sensation. Its publishers could not keep up with demand, owing to wartime paper rationing. Then, in April 1945, Reader’s Digest published a condensed version of the book and Hayek’s work found a mass audience. This condensed edition was republished for the first time by the IEA in 1999. Since then it has been frequently reprinted and the electronic version has been downloaded over 100,000 times. There is an enduring demand for Hayek’s relevant and accessible message.

The Road to Serfdom is republished in this impression with The Intellectuals and Socialism originally published in 1949, in which Hayek explained the appeal of socialist ideas to intellectuals – the ‘second-hand dealers in ideas’. Intellectuals, Hayek argued, are attracted to socialism because it involves the rational application of the intellect to the organisation of society, while its utopianism captures their imagination and satisfies their desire to make the world submit to their own design. Read the summary here.

The Road to Serfdom

with The Intellectuals and Socialism


The condensed version as it appeared in the april 1945 edition of reader’s digest.


Friedrich A. Hayek (1899–1992) was born in Vienna and obtained two doctorates from the University of Vienna, in law and political economy. He worked under Ludwig von Mises at the Austrian Institute for Business Cycle Research, and from 1929 to 1931 was a lecturer in economics at the University of Vienna. His fi rst book, Monetary Theory and the Trade Cycle, was published in 1929. In 1931 Hayek was made Tooke Professor of Economic Science and Statistics at the London School of Economics, and in 1950 he was appointed Professor of Social and Moral Sciences at the University of Chicago. In 1962 he was appointed Professor of Political Economy at the University of Freiburg, where he became Professor Emeritus in 1967. Hayek was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1944, and in 1947 he organised the conference in Switzerland which resulted in the creation of the Mont Pèlerin Society. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974 and was created a Companion of Honour in 1984. In 1991 George Bush awarded Hayek the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His books include The Pure Theory of Capital, 1941, The Road to Serfdom, 1944, The Counter-Revolution of Science, 1952, The Constitution of Liberty, 1960, Law, Legislation and Liberty, 1973–9, and The Fatal Conceit, 1988.