Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 406, February 18, 2007

"Simply the best libertarian novel to come
along in a quarter of a century or so."


The Walton Street Tycoons by Jim Lesczynski
Reviewed by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

As a published author, I get asked to read new, unpublished works a dozen times a year. It's always a risk to agree to read somebody's work because they obviously like me or they wouldn't have sent it to me. I often put it off, sometimes for months or even years, because I'm so afraid I'm going to hurt them by not being able to recommend it.

All of this gets squared, of course, when the fledgling author happens to be a friend, cubed when it's a friend I deeply respect and admire. Basically—in this context, anyway—I'm a moral coward. If you've sent me something I haven't written back to you about, it's likelier I haven't read it yet, than that I read it and didn't like it.

I'm also mistrustful of reviews, even my own. When you know you're going to write about a book, you approach it with a different set of predispositions than if you had bought it at Barnes & Dalton as brain candy. The interests of a reviewer so are very different from those of a reader that it's difficult to write an honest or particularly useful review.

Then, too, there's the fact that I seem to have been persona non grata in New York publishing for quite a while. To my knowledge, my recommendation has never done anybody any good in that particular venue. Odds are that it's a whole lot more like the proverbial Kiss of Death.

Because of all that, I'm extremely happy (and very relieved) to be able to testify that sometimes it's worth the risk. As Exhibit A, I offer The Walton Street Tycoons by Jim Lesczynski, which is simply the best libertarian novel to come along in a quarter of a century or so. That you can buy it directly from Jim, and not the northeastern gatekeepers who would have censored him and kept 94% is icing on the cake.

Jim's new novel has exactly the same true heart and unerring eye that we love in so many of Robert A. Heinlein's "juveniles"—books, in truth, fully as entertaining and engrossing to adults as they are to kids—a spirit and vision perfectly suited to the 21st century, and a trust of children, of their energy and essential goodness, that presently appears otherwise extinct in a world that takes the best and brightest of them, sentences them to twelve years of day-prison, and drugs them into a stupor when they won't cooperate quietly with their overseers.

Not to give anything away, The Walton Street Tycoons is about the entrepreneurial genius of a big, bright double handful of almost junior high kids in an economically moribund community whose corrupt socialist leaders are jealous and want to shut them down and steal all they've accomplished—with no more understanding of how it was done than the second-handers who tried to torture John Galt into leading them.

It's also about the way taxation, "safety", "health", and other regulation, and—100 extra points for Jim!—professional licensure destroy what others have striven with all their might to build. It's about a new Renaissance that will result if all that can be done away with.

The whole story is seen from the viewpoint, spoken in the voice, of an individual at once authentically young—I promised myself I would always remember how I thought and felt at that age, so I know—and at the same time every bit as sophisticated as kids that age can be.

I've always been proud to know Jim Lesczynski. He's absolutely the most courageous activist for liberty I've ever known, and on the Ernie Hancock scale for sheer guts, spine, and cojones, I give Jim a full, frontal 10. Now I'm even prouder to be able to welcome him into the storytelling trade and to have enjoyed his extremely satisfying first novel.

Jim tells me it's already available at

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

A decensored, e-published version of Neil's 1984 novel, TOM PAINE MARU is available at: Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at, or at

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