Naomi Oreskes at Harvard Book Store
The Big Myth:
How American Business Taught Us to
Loathe Government and Love the Free Market
February 22, 2023
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes NAOMI ORESKES—author and Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University—for a discussion of her new book The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market.
A Return to In-Person Events
Harvard Book Store is excited to be back to in-person programming. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:
- Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.
About The Big Myth
In their bestselling book Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway revealed the origins of climate change denial. Now, they unfold the truth about another disastrous dogma: the “magic of the marketplace.”
In the early 20th century, business elites, trade associations, wealthy powerbrokers, and media allies set out to build a new American orthodoxy: down with “big government” and up with unfettered markets. With startling archival evidence, Oreskes and Conway document campaigns to rewrite textbooks, combat unions, and defend child labor. They detail the ploys that turned hardline economists Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman into household names; recount the libertarian roots of the Little House on the Prairie books; and tune into the General Electric-sponsored TV show that beamed free-market doctrine to millions and launched Ronald Reagan's political career.
By the 1970s, this propaganda was succeeding. Free market ideology would define the next half-century across Republican and Democratic administrations, giving us a housing crisis, the opioid scourge, climate destruction, and a baleful response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Only by understanding this history can we imagine a future where markets will serve, not stifle, democracy.
Praise for The Big Myth
“At last, an antidote to the toxic fiction that now imperils our planet and our democracy. For decades, self-interested businessmen have promoted the canard that any government effort to make markets work more safely and fairly will cost us our freedom. Not true, show Oreskes and Conway as they boldly exhume the buried truth: that what's really at stake is the form of capitalism we choose. If you read only one book this year, make it The Big Myth.” ―Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
“Both a carefully researched work of intellectual history, and an urgently needed political analysis explaining how Americans have become so deeply alienated from their own government. In a compelling narrative, the authors show how a small but zealous cadre of conservative businessmen, many of them selling harmful products, waged and largely won an undeclared ideological war for Americans' hearts and minds. The magical thinking they promoted has profited them handsomely, but cost the rest of the country tragically.” ―Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money
“Admirers of the authors' Merchants of Doubt will find the same trenchant investigative brilliance here, deployed on an even wider canvas. They show how wealthy industrialists praising free enterprise shamelessly put vast sums of money into manipulating the free market of ideas. The target: well over a century's worth of progressive movements from child labor regulation to the New Deal to the fight for renewable energy.” ―Adam Hochschild, author of American Midnight
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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