This past weekend, the legendary Dr. Thomas Sowell celebrated his 89th birthday, and what better occasion to celebrate his remarkable achievements and contributions to conservative and free-market thought.

Dr. Sowell was born in North Carolina and moved to Harlem when he was young. He was able to get into Stuyvesant High School, one of the elite high schools in New York City, but was forced to drop out when he was seventeen due to a deteriorating family situation. He was then drafted into the United States Marine Corps.

After serving his country in the Marines during the Korean War, he graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, then Columbia University with his master’s degree in economics, and then the University of Chicago with his Ph.D. in economics. Since then, he has been a college professor, a syndicated columnist, and an author.

Before he became a powerful defender of the free market economic system, Dr. Sowell was a Marxist. However, working for the federal government opened his eyes to many of the problems inherent to a centrally-planned economy, and he has been a free market-advocate ever since. Dr. Sowell has authored numerous books on the topic, and one of his greatest gifts is being able to explain a complicated topic in such a way that someone with no background in economics can still grasp his argument. 

Young America’s Foundation recommends in particular two of his books to both high school and college audiences: Basic Economics and A Personal Odyssey. A Personal Odyssey is a memoir about Dr. Sowell’s life, and it highlights his incredible story and the immense obstacles that he had to overcome throughout his life. Basic Economics, on the other hand, is an expansive first glance at economics that is excellent for those who have never taken any economics classes before. Dr. Sowell’s insights also make the book valuable to those who have studied economics more formally. In addition to these two works, Dr. Sowell has written over two dozen other books on a wide variety of topics that students can delve into.

Thank you to Dr. Sowell for courageously advancing the principles of individual freedom, limited government, and free enterprise. Here’s to many, many more birthdays!

Karl Stahlfeld is the associate director of YAF’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise.