Thomas Ernest "Tom" Woods, Jr. (born August 1, 1972) is an American historian, political analyst, and author.[2] Woods is a New York Times best-selling author and has published twelve books.[3] He has written extensively on the subjects of American historical fiction, contemporary politics, and economics. Woods identifies as a paleolibertarian and a proponent of the Austrian school of economics.

Education and affiliations

Woods holds an A.B. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Columbia University, both in History. He is a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama - which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a "neo-Confederate organization"[4] - and a member of the editorial board for the Institute's Libertarian Papers.[5] Woods is also an associate scholar of the Abbeville Institute, in McClellanville, South Carolina. The Abbeville Institute promotes the cultural inheritance of the American Southern tradition as "a valuable intellectual and spiritual resource for exposing and correcting the errors of American modernity," as opposed to "colleges and universities [which] have come to be dominated by the ideologies of multiculturalism and political correctness.[6]

Woods was an ISI Richard M. Weaver Fellow in 1995–96.[7] He received the 2004 O.P. Alford III Prize for Libertarian Scholarship and an Olive W. Garvey Fellowship from the Independent Institute in 2003.

He has additionally been awarded two Humane Studies Fellowships and a Claude R. Lambe Fellowship from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University.[8] His 2005 book, The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, won the $50,000 first prize in the 2006 Templeton Enterprise Awards.[9]

Woods is co-editor of an eleven-volume collection of articles, Exploring American History: From Colonial Times to 1877.


Woods was received into the Roman Catholic Church from Lutheranism.[11] He wrote How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. For eleven years, he was associate editor of The Latin Mass Magazine, which advocates traditional Catholicism. As a traditionalist Catholic,[12] Woods is also recognized for his books attacking the post-Vatican II church.[13][14] Woods advocates what he calls the Old Latin Mass[15] and cultural conservatism.[16][17]


Woods is the author of twelve books, most recently Real Dissent: A Libertarian Sets Fire to the Index Card of Allowable Opinion, Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse and Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century. His other books include the New York Times bestsellers Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse (foreword by Ron Paul) and The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, as well as Who Killed the Constitution? The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to Barack Obama (with Kevin R.C. Gutzman), Sacred Then and Sacred Now: The Return of the Old Latin Mass, 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, and The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy. His critically acclaimed book The Church Confronts Modernity was released in paperback by Columbia University Press in 2007. A collection of Woods’ essays, called W obronie zdrowego rozsadku, was released exclusively in Polish in 2007.

Woods' book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History was on The New York Times Best Seller list for paperbacks in 2005.[2] His 2009 book Meltdown also made the bestseller list in 2009.[18] His writing has been published in numerous popular and scholarly periodicals, including the American Historical Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Investor's Business Daily, Modern Age, American Studies, Journal of Markets & Morality, New Oxford Review, The Freeman, Independent Review, Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, AD2000, Crisis, Human Rights Review, Catholic Historical Review, the Catholic Social Science Review and The American Conservative.[19]

Woods' Laws

In 2006, Woods stated "Woods' Law," which states that "whenever the private sector introduces an innovation that makes the poor better off than they would have been without it, or that offers benefits or terms that no one else is prepared to offer them, someone—in the name of helping the poor—will call for curbing or abolishing it.[20] In 2010, Woods stated "Woods' Law #2", which states that, The "progressive" Left always prefers a neoconservative to an antiwar libertarian.[3]

Views on conservatism

Woods makes a sharp distinction between paleoconservative thinkers with whom he sympathizes, and neoconservative thinkers. In articles, lectures and interviews Woods traces the intellectual and political distinction between the older conservative, or paleoconservative, school of thought and the neoconservative school of thought.

Of the latter he writes:

The conservative's traditional sympathy for the American South and its people and heritage, evident in the works of such great American conservatives as Richard M. Weaver and Russell Kirk, began to disappear.... [T]he neocons are heavily influenced by Woodrow Wilson, with perhaps a hint of Theodore Roosevelt.... They believe in an aggressive U.S. presence practically everywhere, and in the spread of democracy around the world, by force if necessary.... Neoconservatives tend to want more efficient government agencies; paleoconservatives want fewer government agencies. They generally admire President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his heavily interventionist New Deal policies. Neoconservatives have not exactly been known for their budget consciousness, and you won’t hear them talking about making any serious inroads into the federal apparatus.[3]

These views have provoked a strong response from some neoconservatives. On the release of Woods' Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, the book was scathingly reviewed by Max Boot of The Weekly Standard (whose James W. Haley had already favorably reviewed the book). Boot accused Woods of racism and cited Woods' participation in the allegedly racist League of the South. Haley's Weekly Standard review of the book, in contrast, stated that it "provides a compelling rebuttal to the liberal sentiment encrusted upon current history texts..." the book is "ultimately about truth" and "[t]his is a book everyone interested in American history should have in his library." [3] Woods responded to Boot by questioning Boot's objectivity and defending his association with the League of the South as an organization dedicated to states rights, including secession as a "salutory restraint" on Federal power. Woods denied he held racist views. Woods concluded his reply to Boot's review by saying "[s]ince in my judgment Max Boot embodies everything that is wrong with modern conservatism, his opposition is about the best endorsement I could have asked for." [3]


Tom Woods Show

Since September 2013, Woods has delivered a daily podcast, The Tom Woods Show, originally hosted on investment broker Peter Schiff's website. On the podcasts, which are now archived on Woods' own website, Woods conducts interviews on economic topics, foreign policy, and history.

Contra Krugman

In September 2015, Woods began Contra Krugman, a weekly podcast, with economist Robert P. Murphy that critiques the New York Times columns of economist Paul Krugman. The podcasts seek to teach economics "by uncovering and dissecting the errors of Krugman."