The John Locke Institute encourages young people to cultivate the characteristics that turn good students into great writers: independent thought, depth of knowledge, clear reasoning, critical analysis and persuasive style. This brand-new competition invites students of any age, who have not yet begun a university degree, to read and review a book by one of our faculty members. The experience will help you engage actively and closely with a talented author about an important subject. If you are applying to university in the next year or so, this will be a great way to explore exciting ideas beyond the normal high school syllabus.
How does it work?
Choose a book from the list below. Read it, re-read it, reflect on it, and then write a critical review of the book of 1000 to 1500 words. The best reviews will help potential readers understand the main outline of the book's argument, why it is important, its strengths and weaknesses, and whether (in your judgment) the author was persuasive.
What happens if you win?
The best reviews will be published in News & Opinion, the online journal of the John Locke Institute. Everyone whose review is published will receive a prize of $50. The three best reviewers, overall, will win the following prizes:
Third Prize: $100
Second Prize: $250
First Prize: $500 plus a $1000 scholarship to one of our summer programmes.
The deadline for submissions is Monday, 31 May, 2021 at 11:59pm (GMT). Winners will be announced the following month. We look forward to reading your reviews!
Jason F. Brennan is the Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Jason Brennan has taught at our Washington DC gap year course in 2018 and 2019.
In this trenchant book, Brennan argues that democracy should be judged by its results - and the results are not good enough. Just as defendants have a right to a fair trial, citizens have a right to competent government.
"The book makes compelling reading... This is theory that skips, rather than plods." - Molly Sauter, Los Angeles Times
Markets Without Limits: Moral Virtues & Commercial Interests
Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski give markets a fair hearing. The market does not introduce wrongness where there was not any previously. Contrary to the conservative consensus, they claim there are no inherent limits to what can be bought and sold, but only restrictions on how we buy and sell.
When All Else Fails: the Ethics of Resistance to State Injustice
The economist Albert O. Hirschman famously argued that citizens of democracies have only three possible responses to injustice or wrongdoing by their governments: we may leave, complain, or comply. But in When All Else Fails, Jason Brennan argues that there is a fourth option. When governments violate our rights, we may resist. We may even have a moral duty to do so.
Prof. Caplan is a world-renowned authority on public-choice theory and a professor of Economics at George Mason University. He has taught Economics at our summer schools in 2018 and 2021, and our gap year course in Washington DC in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Open Borders: the Science and Ethics of Immigration
"A clear and inescapable economic, moral, and political case for reopening the borders that artfully counters the common objections." - John H. Cochrane, Hoover Institution at Stanford University
The Case Against Education: Why the Education System is a Waste of Time and Money
"Caplan delivers a tightly knit, compelling indictment of the vastly inflated and scandalously over-priced Ponzi scheme that is American higher education." - Aram Bakshian Jr. Washington Times
Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies
The greatest obstacle to sound economic policy is not entrenched special interests or rampant lobbying, but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases held by ordinary voters. This is economist Bryan Caplan's sobering assessment in this provocative and eye-opening book.
Steven Landsburg is a professor of economics at the University of Rochester and one of the foremost commentators on matters of economics, the law and politics. Steven Landsburg will teach at our summer schools in 2021.
The Armchair Economist: Economics & Everyday Life - Economics
The Armchair Economist shows how the laws of economics reveal themselves in everyday experience and illuminate the entire range of human behavior.
"Enormous fun ... Landsburg has done something extraordinary: he has expounded basic economic principles with with and verve." - Fortune
More Sex is Safer Sex: the Unconventional Wisdom of Economics - Economics
In More Sex is Safer Sex, Professor Landsburg offers readers a series of stimulating discussions that all flow from unsettling economic facts.
"Landsburg is provocative and playful in his mission to demonstrate how an understanding of economics will change the way you live your daily life. I loved this book." - Steven D. Levitt, coauthor of "Freakonomics"
Fair Play: What Your Child Can Teach You about Economics, Values and the Meaning of Life - Philosophy, Economics
In co-operation with his daughter, Landsburg demystifies the laws of supply and demand, interest rates and inflation, and cultivate an understanding of free trade, the value of money and investment.
Professor Friedman is a professor of law at Santa Clara University in California. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago. Professor Friedman has written many seminal books, including the ones below. He has taught at our summer school in 2018.
Law's Order: What Economics has to do with Law and Why it Matters - Law, Economics
This book undoubtedly raises the discourse on the increasingly important topic of the economics of law, giving both supporters and critics of the economic perspective a place to organise their ideas.
"A thoroughly entertaining, creative, and provocative addition to the law and economics literature." - Choice
The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism - Philosophy, Politics, Economics, Law
This book argues for a society organized by voluntary cooperation under institutions of private property and exchange with little, and ultimately no, government.
Ilya Somin is a law professor at George Mason University, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, a blogger for the Volokh Conspiracy, and former co-editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review. Professor Somin taught at our gap year course in Washington DC in 2017 and 2018.
Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom - Politics, Economics
In Free to Move, Ilya Somin explains how broadening opportunities for foot voting can greatly enhance political liberty for millions of people around the world.
"If Jason Brennan's Against Democracy met Bryan Caplan's Open Borders, the result would be Ilya Somin's [Free to Move]" - Joakim Book
Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Better - Politics, Economics
Ilya Somin mines the depths of the current state of ignorance in America and reveals it as a major problem for democracy.
"In this [work] Ilya Somin significantly strengthens his already compelling case for a more limited government." - Christopher Robichaud, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
The Grasping Hand: "Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain - Law, Economics
In this detailed study of one of the most controversial Supreme Court cases in modern times, Ilya Somin argues that the Supreme Court made a grave error on both economically and morally.
Dr Davies is Head of Education at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Distinguished Fellow in History at the John Locke Institute. Dr Davies has taught on our summer schools every year since 2015, and has taught on our gap year programme in Oxford from 2015-2018, as well as in Princeton in 2018.
The Wealth Explosion: the Nature and Origins of Modernity - Economics, History
How did the modern dynamist economy of wealth and opportunity come about? This major new analytical work emphasizes the often surprising, fundamental and continuing processes of innovation and transformation which has produced the world we live in now.
Professor Hanson is Professor of Health Economics & Political Economy at George Mason University and Research Associate at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford. He holds a Ph.D. from Caltech. Professor Hanson taught on our summer school in 2018, and our gap year course in Washington DC in 2017 and 2018.
The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life - Economics, Psychology
The aim of this book is to confront our hidden motives directly - to track down the darker, unexamined corners of our psyches and blast them with floodlights.
"[Hanson] bring[s] together research on various topics of limited reach that, when combined, speak to the outrageous gall of the mind in recreating reality to its own liking, and then covering its tracks." - Katherine Oktober Matthews,
Professor Ryan was Warden of New College, Oxford, professor of politics at Princeton University and professor of philosophy at Stanford. He is the author of eleven books, including the authoritative On Politics. Professor Ryan taught on our summer school in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
On Aristotle: Saving Politics from Philosophy - Philosophy, Politics
In this book, Alan Ryan examines Plato's most famous student and sharpest critic, whose writing has helped shape over two millennia of Western philosophy, science, and religion.
"Ryan's erudite introduction is followed by substantial extracts from Aristotle's political works, making this text ideal for classroom use." - Booklist
Jamie Whyte is a Cambridge educated philosopher, who won the Analysis prize for the best piece of philosophical writing by anyone under 30, and is the former leader of New Zealand's ACT party. Jamie Whyte taught on our summer school in 2020 and our gap year programme in Oxford, also in 2020.
Crimes Against Logic: Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists, and Other Serial Offenders - Philosophy
In Crimes Against Logic, Whyte take us on a fast-paced, ruthlessly funny romp through the mulligan stew of can, folderol, and bogus logic served up in the media, at the office, and even in your own home.
"An incisive philosopher." - Sunday Telegraph
Peter Millican is a Gilbert Ryle Fellow and Professor of Philosophy at Hertford College, University of Oxford. He is one of the preeminent scholars on the philosophy of David Hume. Professor Millican taught on our summer school in 2018 and our gap year programme in 2017.
Reading Hume on Human Understanding: Essays on the First Enquiry - Philosophy, Politics
Reading Hume on Human Understanding is an excellent companion to the study of one of the great works of Western philosophy, especially for first time readers.