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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Books for Christmas

The American Spectator dead tree) has its annual Books for Christmas lists featuring conservatives (for the most part) advising various books to give to this Christmas season. Here is my list.

Michael Howard's War and the Liberal Conscience (Oxford, 1978). This short, excellent volume examines the delusions under which liberals operate when it comes to their thinking about war.

The Liberty Fund's three-volume set of Edmund Burke's work (1999). If you can't purchase the complete works of Burke, this will do nicely. (Vol. 1 - "Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents" and "The Two Speeches", Vol. 2 - "Reflections on the Revolution in France", Vol. 3 - "Letters on the Regicide Peace.") Liberty Fund also has a nice edition of "A Vindication of Natural Society" (1982) which every true conservative should read.

I return every couple of years to Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot (1953 and six editions since), a splendid intellecutal history of conservatism that demonstrates that there is more to conservatism than tax cuts.

Another fine book, which Robert Novak commends in TAS is Whittaker Chambers' Witness: An Autobiography (1952) which Novak describes as "a memoir, a spy story, and account of the epochal struggle between communism and freedom, between those who accept and those who reject God." I could not agree more with Novak who concludes that "Reading this book is an essential act for young people unfamiliar with the most important conflict in history."

Only two books from the past year come to mind that really stand out: William F. Buckley's literary autobiography Miles Gone By (which Milton Friedman said in TAS was a "resurrection of pieces published during more than half a century" -- I like that: resurrection) and John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge's The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America. Despite minor flaws, it is the most comprehensive history of the conservative movement and conservative politics by anyone outside the movement and it benefits from the disinterest of its authors. It also recognizes that conservatives had to win the battle of ideas before winning office was meaningful.

And I would be remiss if I did not include my own Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal. (Americans can order it through Barnes and Noble.)

(Cross-posted at Sobering Thoughts)

Posted by Paul Tuns on December 21, 2004 in Books | Permalink


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