Bastiat was the leading French classical liberal economist of his era [masked]) who carried on the theoretical and political tradition of Cantillion, Turgot, and JB Say. This school was the chief competitor to the British school founded by Ricardo and promoted to orthodoxy by JS Mill.
Bastiat began his life in business, but at age 24 he inherited a little money and turned his attention to political economy and related subjects. He was essentially self-educated, as were most thinkers of his era; political economy was not yet established as an academic discipline. Bastiat's chief means of education was a reading and discussion group he founded which lasted for more than a decade.
He published his first work at age 43, and died of TB at age 49. However, in that short period of time he produced several volumes of essays, speeches and longer works which were very influential in his time and afterwards. His work is probably read morewidely today than any other economist of his era -- far more than Ricardo or Mill, for example.
He was also possibly the best, most readable writer ever on these subjects. His literary qualities refute the idea that writings on economics must be turgid, obscure, and painful to read.
Bastiat served in a number of elected positions, including the National Assembly after the revolution of 1848. This revulution was the first in which socialism appeared as a political movement, and Basitat, along with Tocqueville, became the leading intellectial opponent socialist ideas.
The reading selections are:
What is Seen and What is Not Seen
The Broken Window
A Petition From the Manufacturers of Candles
Property and Plunder (a series of letters on socialism and with socialists)
A PDF of the reading is available on this site. Go to "More", then "files"