Conservative Reading 25 Books
GrassTopsUSA Exclusive Commentary
By Don Feder
August 5, 2017
Explanatory note: I'm not saying these are the 25 most important conservative books (actually, 24 books and a poem), just that they cover some crucial issues and will greatly enhance your understanding of political philosophy, economics and history. That having been said, three are must-reads for all thoughtful conservatives "The Conservative Mind" (#1), "The Clash of Civilizations" (#9) and "Modern Times" (#5). Dates refer to what I believe to be the latest edition, not the original date of publication All are available from Amazon.
1. The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Elliot Russell Kirk, Regnery Publishing (2016). Kirk's opus was originally published in 1953, when he was a doctoral candidate at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. If you want to understand modern conservatism, this is the book to read. Until I read it, I was ignorant of the intellectual roots of conservatism.
2. The Road to Serfdom F.A. Hayek, various editions (2007). Written in 1944 by an Austrian economist living in exile in London at a time when collectivism was everywhere in the ascendency (from the New Deal to the Third Reich to Stalin's Russia). The wisdom is timeless. The author shows how the masses choose their enslavement by trading liberty for benefits
3. Economics In One Lesson Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises Institute (1988). As the name implies, this is economics for beginners, but clear, concise and well-written.
4. Witness Whittaker Chambers, Regnery (1987) Written by the ex-communist who exposed Soviet spy Alger Hiss. One man's journey from ism to reality. The style of writing is beautiful almost poetic.
5. Modern Times: The World from The Twenties to The Nineties (Revised edition) Paul Johnson, Harper Perennial (2001) Johnson's classic is a history and expose of the ideologies that came to dominate the 20th century after World War I.
6. A History of the American People Paul Johnson, Harper Perennial (1999) Leave it to a Brit to write the best single-volume history of the United States. Controversial when it was published and ever since. Among other keen observations, Johnson calls the 1960s "America's suicide attempt."
7. John Adams David McCullough, Simon & Schuster (2007) Inspiring biography of the greatest of the Founding Fathers, by the dean of living American historians. Also read McCullough's "1776."
8. Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning Jonah Goldberg, Three Rivers Press (2009). The author shows how what's come to be called liberalism (as opposed to classical liberalism) has its roots in the fascism of the first half of the 20th century. It's thoughtful, incisive and humorous. Try to overlook the fact that the author writes for the National Review.
9. The Clash of Civilizations and Remaking of World Order Samuel P. Huntington, Simon & Schuster (2011) The book gained prominence after 9/11. A Harvard historian, Huntington identified seven major civilizations that have withstood the test of time, including Western, Eastern Orthodox, Chinese, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu and African. He was widely pilloried for writing about what he called "Islam's bloody borders." Terrorism, totalitarianism and fanatical cults can't be understood without reference to the civilizations in which they arose.
10. Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity Samuel P. Huntington, Simon & Schuster (2005). Written after "Clash of Civilizations," it examines and debunks multiculturalism, open borders, the war on Christianity and the loss of English as our national language. An attack on the core of modern liberalism, the left hated it.
11. Adios America: The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country into A Third World Hellhole Ann Coulter, Regnery (2015) By the commentator who backed Trump from the beginning. You might say she has a bit of a problem with opening the floodgates. Covers crime, welfare, balkanization and identity politics.
12. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940 William Manchester, Bantam Books (2013). Examines the political exile of the man who saved Britain in World War II. In bestowing honorary citizenship, John F. Kennedy said Churchill, "marshalled the English language and sent it to war." Conservatives, who are often outcasts, can take heart from Churchill's story.
13. Men and Marriage George Gilder, Pelican Publishing (1992). If you want to understand the profound differences between men and women, read this. Gilder says it's the mission of women to civilize men. Originally published in the late 70s as "Sexual Suicide"
14. The Natural Family: A Manifesto Allan C. Carlson and Paul Mero, Spence Publishing Company (2007) Carlson is the founder of the World Congress of Families. The phrase "Natural Family" comes from Article 16 of the 1948 United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which acknowledges that, "The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state."
15. This Perfect Day: a novel by Ira Levin, Pegasus (2010) the best of the dystopia novels, better than "1984" or "Brave New World." Set in a global society of absolute equality (almost) and the near total absence of individuality, ruled by a computer called UniComp. The citizenry is kept docile by drug injections and non-stop indoctrination. Many in academia and the Democratic party would find such a society attractive.
16. "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" a poem by Rudyard Kipling. Written in the wake of the general disillusionment that followed World War I. A conservative, Kipling contrasts the Gods of the Copy Book Headings (conventional wisdom) to the Gods of the Marketplace (fashionable, popular delusions). The logic is impeccable and the verse evocative.
"On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbor and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: The Wages of Sin is Death.'"
17. The Children of Men a novel by P.D. James, Vintage (2006) If you want to understand the tragedy of declining fertility (Demographic Winter) and where it's taking us, read this chilling novel. It's set in Britain 25 years after the last child on earth is born, due to a worldwide plague of infertility.
18. The Strange Death of Europe Immigration, Identity, Islam Douglas Murray, Bloomsbury (2017) Murray puts the growing Islamization of Europe in the context of a continent that has lost its purpose that's forgotten what it was for a thousand years. The tragedy of modern Europe is perhaps best illustrated by the mindless multicultural-mongering of the European Union and calls for the acceptance of millions of refugee savages.
19. The Screwtape Letters a novel by C. S. Lewis, Harper Collins (2015) A senior tempter explains to his nephew how to destroy mankind.
20. The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption David Kupelian WND Books (2015) Explains the Cultural War as the clash between the Christian (or Judeo-Christian) worldview and Cultural Marxism. The fronts in this war include abortion, pornography, indoctrination in the guise of education and sexual radicalism.
21. The Book of Virtue: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories William Bennett, Simon & Schuster (1993) Former Secretary of Education Bennett believes the young should be educated with "tales that inspire virtue" hard work, perseverance, friendship, generosity, courage, honesty, loyalty and faith.
22. Liberty and Tyranny; A Conservative Manifesto Mark R. Levin, Threshold Editions (2010). Levin writes of liberalism/leftism's "insatiable appetite" for control, cloaked in "moral indignation." This volume hits on original intent, global warming, globalization, the selling of open-borders and how Obama kept his promise to remake America.
23. The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution Ayn Rand NAL (1999) .I don't agree with all of Rand's theories, but when she wrote about the left's war on reason, progress and rights, she was spot on. The best essay in this anthology is "Apollo and Dionysus," written in 1969, contrasting the Moon landing and Woodstock.
24. The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements Eric Hofer Perennial Classics (2010). The expression "true believer" has become part of our vocabulary. Hoffer coined it, writing about the psychology of those who join mass movements who let others do the thinking for them.
25. Leftism Revisited: from de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddhin (1991) Out of print. Expensive. If you can afford it, it's well worth it. Written by a European aristocrat who started as a journalist covering the Spanish Civil War. Von Kuehnelt-Leddhin is a critic of democracy as well as movements of the far left.
Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains a Facebook page.