I began working on Free the Market! long before it was fashionable (once again) to call for a greater government role in the economy. Eventually, I all but shut down my law practice for two years to complete the manuscript.

Antitrust rules affect just about every aspect of modern life, from the price of clothing to the availability of lifesaving pharmaceuticals, from the selection of new computer products to the variety of music on the radio. Yet in recent decades, the development of sound antitrust policy has too often been ignored. Liberals and moderates offered only the most feeble resistance when conservative thinking came to dominate the discipline during the Reagan years. Advocates of laissez faire convinced just about everyone who matters that the free market works best when the government leaves it alone.

We have now seen the folly of excessive reliance on the notion of self-correcting markets. Our economy faltered largely because too few of the right people were paying attention to the need for adequate government oversight. “This crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye,” President Obama observed in his inaugural address, “the market can spin out of control.”

I wrote Free the Market! to make competition policy interesting and accessible – to restore antitrust to its rightful place near the top of the progressive agenda. Expert practitioners will see in the many vignettes a discussion of subtle, cutting edge antitrust issues. But every reader can easily follow the narrative and argument to gain an understanding sufficient to participate in the debate about the relationship between government and business in a capitalist economy.