James M. Buchanan, a prominent political economist of the 20th century and a Nobel laureate in economics, was a founding thinker of the public choice tradition and was instrumental in the reintroduction of politics into economic analysis. He was also an intellectual entrepreneur who developed new and innovative centers for research, graduate programs, and outlets for academic publication. Having taught at a variety of institutions, including the University of Tennessee, Florida State University, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech, he moved the Center for Study of Public Choice to George Mason University in 1983, where he remained for the rest of his academic career. After his passing in 2013, the Special Collections Research Center for the Mason University Libraries began to compile a formal archive, the James M. Buchanan Papers, documenting Buchanan's contributions to social science and his intellectual legacy.
This volume, The Soul of Classical Political Economy: James M. Buchanan from the Archives, edited by Peter J. Boettke and Alain Marciano, provides a unique window into not only the man, the scholar, and the teacher, but also the fields of public choice and public economics that Buchanan advanced over his productive and esteemed career. The sections in this volume correspond to important themes for understanding Buchanan's views on political economy as a social philosophy. The editors illustrate Buchanan's views by using archival material-most of it original and previously unpublished-and offering context as a guide through the evolution of Buchanan's expansive scholarship that took place over roughly seven decades and spanned the fields of philosophy, politics, and economics. This volume is essential reading for anyone interested in Buchanan's work, in public choice theory, and in the continuing study of political economy.