In the 20th century Murray Rothbard was known as the state's greatest living enemy, and The Anatomy of the State is his most succinct and powerful statement on the topic, a daring evidence of how he came to wear that designation proudly.
He explains what a state is and what it is not. He shows how it is an institution that purports to hold the right to violate all that we otherwise hold as honest and moral, and how it operates under a false cover now and always. He shows how the state wrecks freedom, destroys civilization, and threatens all lives and property and social well-being.
The essay is seminal in another respect. Here Rothbard binds together the cause of private-property capitalism with anarchist politics — truly the first thinker in the history of the world to fully forge the perspective that later came to be known as anarchocapitalism.
He took all that he had learned from the Misesian tradition and the liberal tradition and the anarchist tradition to put together what is really a new and highly systematic way of thinking about the entire subject of political economy and social thought.
Understanding his point of view has the effect on the reader of putting things together in a way that profoundly changes the way one sees the world.
And Rothbard explains all of this in a very short space — short enough to be read again and again as an inoculation against the creeping disease of statism.