I've just received my copy of Eamonn Butler's latest primer, on Austrian Economics (download as a PDF here). As far as short, accessible introductions to Austrian Economics go I highly recommend it (see here for others). It is a useful addition to the secondary literature, but writing this as a contributor to primary literature I do have a couple of gripes.
Firstly, I'm a little disappointed in the scope of the book. The most recent reference is to Larry White, and on my reading of the draft manuscript this ignores the work of Roger Garrison, Jerry O'Driscoll, Mario Rizzo, Pete Boettke, Steve Horwitz, Nicolai Foss, Peter Klein, Fred Sautet, Ed Stringham, Chris Coyne, Pete Leeson, Peter Lewin etc. This is just a list of author's who've published peer-reviewed books since the 1980s that I think are especially notable. On top of this you have excellent work by the likes of Jesus Heurta De Soto, Walter Block, Tom Woods, Guido Hulsmann that deserve attention.
Now, I appreciate that this is a primer, but here's what I said to Eamonn last December:
For a young Austrian reading this I want them to know that the amount of Austrian research is growing exponentially, and we're no longer a marginalised, wacky school or thought. We have a well attended track at the SEA meetings each year, and more and more grad students coming through the program.
This primer does a great job condensing and summarising the Austrian school, but I fear it reinforces a stereotype that Austrians are backward looking.
Indeed this comes to my second gripe - Eamonn mischaracterises some of the subtler points of methodology. Although many Austrians are guilty of what he attributes to the school as a whole, as I say in my own "primer":
a priorism is not an Austrian tenet
Indeed, Eamonn says that "it may be technically true that only individuals choose. But that ignores useful macro-explanations, like culture, history, ethics, and tradition". I disagree. Later this year Edward Elgar are publishing "The Handbook on Contemporary Austrian Economics" and my contribution is a chapter on the proposition that "Only Individuals Choose". In short, methodological individualism - as understood and practiced by Austrians - does not preclude macro-explanations. There is room for culture, history, ethics and tradition, and Hayek's "Individualism: True and False" is a classic attempt to distinguish between a naive and rich view. The Handbook is expensive as a hardback, but I do hope that people read it in conjunction with the likes of Eamonn's Primer since it demonstrates the recent work that is being done and tackles head on the stereotypes that Austrians often get lumbered with.
(As an aside, consider the comment section of the Conservative Home article. Two of the strengths of Austrian economics are the grass-roots movement that has flourished in the internet age and the support received from excellent think tanks. But do not confuse internet articles and Primers with scholarly research. Kevin Dowd is the person you should be reading to learn about Austrian economics in the UK).
I think Chapter 13 is to a large extent a strawman, but reiterate my admiration for Eamonn's ability to produce these well-written, straightforward Primers. I sincerely hope it is well read, and that this perks interest in Austrian economics. I also desperately hope that people view it as a complement to contemporary applied Austrian scholarship.
Update: Peter Klein helpfully suggests Mario Rizzo's entry in the New Palgrave dictionary, "Austrian Economics: Recent Work". Here's a link to a PDF version.
Update II: I was looking at the Mises Institute's introduction to the book, and also Jeff Tucker's comment on Eamonn's Mises Primer. My comments above aren't intended to contradict Jeff's excellent point:
He cites none of the secondary literature that has emerged over the last few decades, and here it would be easy to criticize him. However, this is not what the book set out to do. As an introduction and overview, it really does succeed
Update III: Pete Boettke jumps in, and also see the comments. The point is this: a primer needn't cite any secondary literature, but if it *could* have been written in the 1980s, it implies that none of the primary literature since then has advanced our understanding of economics. Obviously this would be deeply concerning, but I think it is false.