When young Paul Ryan became a staffer to Sen. Bob Kasten of Wisconsin, the senator's Chief of Staff, Cesar Conda (now Chief of Staff to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida), according to ABC News, "gave Ryan two books that are classics among conservative economists: 'The Way the World Works' by Jude Wanniski and 'Wealth and Poverty' by George Gilder." AP also has the story.
The Way the World Works still may be available, but it is Wealth and Poverty that has gone through two revisions and reprints--and is enjoying new life right now. As of today, Regnery Publishing is releasing W&P as "A New Edition for the 21st Century." Updates include a new Prologue and Epilogue. Gilder has a current cover article in National Review and a major piece coming in The American Spectator. He is appearing on C-Span several times this week and next, and on The (Larry) Kudlow Report tonight, Lou Dobbs tomorrow, Fox News and various radio talk shows.
What has not been reported yet (you read it here first!) is that Rep. Ryan himself has given at least some of his own staffers Wealth and Poverty to read. This is interesting, since he did not (as has been reported, but denied by ex-Ryan staffers) assign the reading of Atlas Shrugged, although he praised it strongly. Ryan obviously appreciated that novel's support of individual creativity as the basis of freedom. So does Gilder and many other people who nonetheless don't buy Rand's pessimism or atheism. You can appreciate a writer for some things and not others.
For example, Gilder says he still admires some things about Atlas Shrugged despite the fact that Rand's last speech was a heartfelt denunciation of Wealth and Poverty and George Gilder for their emphasis on giving as a motivation in capitalist endeavor. The greatest appeal of Wealth and Poverty for most readers lies in its defense of the morality of capitalism. That there is generosity in the entrepreneur (who offers a product before people have even demanded it) was odious to Rand. Too bad. Gilder's right, she's wrong.
Paul Ryan, like most serious politicians who actually read books, is not responsible for the views of other people. He probably doesn't agree with everything George Gilder has written. On the other hand, it's surely worth noting that he owns a dog-eared, heavily underlined book of the original Wealth and Poverty.