Continuing the theme of must read books for conservatives from the previous article. The fields of economics and politics are very complicated as anyone who has looked into either can attest to. These twin studies underlie everything all the current events that grab the headlines. One can understand the happenings in Washington just fine from the news but to truly appreciate their depth, one must understand what is behind them. To do this, one must sit down and crack some books. Only when one obtains a solid foundation of political and economic theory can one get the most out of the daily happenings in DC. That is where this list comes in. Without further ado, here is the second half of the list of the top 10 books that every conservative should read.
5. The Road to Serfdom by F. A Hayek
It is a classic of economics and it is Hayek’s magnum opus. In this wide ranging and beautifully written treatise, he writes about the dangers of central planning in all of its forms. If his book was to have one unifying theme it would be that the government control of the economy is fundamentally undesirable and even dangerous. Though that is his thesis, The Road to Serfdom encompasses many subtopics. He discusses the violence of totalitarian, socialistic regimes for instance. Elsewhere he determines that government can never know the desires of every man under its jurisdiction and that is what would be required for planning to function as well as a market economy in delivering the wants and needs of its citizenry. Planning can never then be as desirable as the free market. He also made the important point that socialists of all stripes be they orthodox socialists, Nazis or communists differ only in their goals and very little in their methods. Anyone looking to understand the root of the hard left philosophies and where they go wrong must should start with Hayek.
4. The Law by Frederic Bastiat
Bastiat is one of those hidden gems in the field of economics. He is most known for this book when he is known at all. Since it is only around 60 pages, it is a quick read. His thesis boils down to the fact that perverting the law of the nation to destroy justice is as equally possible as it is immoral. Specifically that it is immoral for the government to take from one and bestow upon another without justice. Much contempt is lathered on the planners who would use the coercive instruments of the state to remake society in their own image as if they were God. A parallel can be made here with Hayek which makes these two books go especially well together.
3. A Patriot’s History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen
This one is a behemoth by anyone’s standards which may turn some off but it is worth the commitment. Totaling over 900 pages, this volume tells the story of America from Columbus’s journey until the early 2000s. Unlike other historians who without mincing words hate America such as the late Howard Zinn, Schweikart and Allen look at our collective history from a viewpoint that is definitely positive without being obnoxious about it. They weigh the negatives but find that overall, American history is long narrative of the triumph of liberty, free markets and the Judeo-Christian way. No stone is left unturned in their pursuit of the truth of history. They devastate the New Deal and the Great Society, reinforce Reagan, show the selflessness of the Founding Fathers, redeem the so called “robber barons” and debunk misnomer after misnomer. For those who are seeking the conservative view of American history, this is a one stop shop.
2. 48 Liberal Lies About American History by Larry Schweikart
Written by one of the authors of the previous selection, this read is a pleasure for history lovers. As the title suggests, it is partisan and reflects the conservative view of history. No claims are made that aren’t backed up with copious sources and no cheap shots are taken. Rather, the goal of this book is to hit back at cheap shots doled out by school textbooks about American history. He is explicit about this. At the opening of each chapter, he quotes a few textbooks that claim they teach history with some grisly misrepresentation. Then he pounces and proves it categorically incorrect no fewer than 48 times. He tackles numerous (reoccurring) lies in these books such as the free market caused the depression, Columbus killed millions of Indians, the A-bomb strikes on Japan were done to intimidate Stalin and women had no rights in early America. For the conservative unwilling to submit to leftists monopoly on history education, this is a must read.
- New Deal or Raw Deal? By Burton Folsom Jr.
For the final book on this list of the best books for conservatives in no particular order, we come to New Deal or Raw Deal, the defining criticism of FDR’s economic policy. Full disclosure, one of the deciding factors for adding this book to the list was that I spoke with Dr. Folsom at a conference with the student group Young Americans for Freedom. He may or may not have autographed my copy that I happened to bring with me. This aside, it is one of the best history books I have stumbled across. He theorizes that contrary to the popular belief among academics, the Great Depression was a result of the policies of Uncle Sam not Wall Street. Most of the book is made up of long, well-researched criticisms of each of Franklin Roosevelt’s most recognizable programs. Negative externalities ran rampant, business was stifled, and the crisis was actually lengthened. New Deal or Raw Deal presents a fresh look at Roosevelt’s era without the cult like worship of the man so prevalent among historians.
Indeed, politics and economics are complicated endeavors that require deep understanding of the underlying theory. Not everyone is willing to spend the time needed to get through these books neither will they appeal to every single conservative for one reason or another. There is nothing at all wrong with that because these are merely a few ideas on where to start for he who is just beginning the research.
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