There are more than a hundred books every conservative must read. I mean, there’s hardly a bookstore without books written by right-wing authors.
Conservatism has gained unforeseen followership in recent years. One may attribute this growth to several factors, some of which are the renewed interest in the history behind America’s Conservatism, Obama’s presidency, the Tea Party groundswell, and a growing list of Conservative authors.
Below, there are essential books you must read as a Conservative. This list doesn’t claim to be thoroughly exhaustive or comprehensive, but it suggests the fundamental texts that you have to read to know and understand Conservatism.
“The conscience of the Conservative is pricked by anyone who would debase the dignity of the individual human being. Today, therefore, he is at odds with dictators who rule by terror, and equally with those gentler collectivists who ask our permission to play God with the human race.”
People refer to this classic as the spark that rekindled interest in Conservatism in the 1900s. It was written in 1964 by Barry Goldwater, the Arizona Senator, who was then making a bid for the White House.
The opening pages of the book differentiate between the right-wing and left-wing. The Conscience of A Conservative has remained relevant in the right-leaning circles since its first publication 56 years ago. It is a must-read for any young conservative.
Many regard Democracy In America as one of the most detailed and impactful books ever written on America’s political society. The pages span across 17 out of 24 states in the former Union, reporting and assessing the observations of nearly the entire American nation. The book interviewed all categories of persons, be it settlers, accountants, lawyers, doctors, artisans, homemakers, or politicians.
Democracy In America reported a quest that lasted nine months. The book was co-written by Gustave de Beaumont, Alexis’ friend, who traveled with him out of their post-revolutionary hometown.
If you typed “Atlas” on your keyboard now, I bet that “Shrugged” would be the next suggestion. This should hint you of the book’s popularity and influence across America. Ayn Rand, the founder of Objectivist, wrote Atlas Shrugged as her fourth and final book, and it turned out to be the peak of her writings.
The book fuses fiction with reality. It narrates the travails of dystopian America, describing a society that fails due to excess government intervention and the disappearance of patriotic and productive individuals, most notably John Galt. Through the characters, Rand preaches her fundamental principles of individualism, philosophy, capitalism, reasoning, and “rational selfishness.”
Although published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged remains a must-have on the shelf of any Conservative reader. And so, the next time you see “Who is John Galt?” on a Tea Party sticker, remember Ayn Rand.
Written in 1787 by three of America’s Founding Fathers, The Federalist Papers is a series of 85 essays documenting the debates surrounding the ratification of the American constitution.
The Federalist Papers is very critical to history. The judiciary uses The Federalist Papers to make decisions on issues concerning the constitution.
According to a study by the Georgia School of Law, Federalist 78 is the most quoted chapter in the book. This chapter deals with judicial powers.
If you are interested in knowing the perspectives of opposing Fathers, you should read the Anti-federalist Papers.
Witness was written as a type of autobiography. The book follows the author’s life from childhood right until adulthood. Whittaker describes his life as a Communist spy for the Soviet Union as well as the outing details of some high-ranking government officials. A notable example is Alger Hiss, a top officer in the United States department of state.
Whittaker’s chronicles had a significant influence on the American political horizon. It caused the infamous hunt of Senator Joseph McCarthy by the Communists and introduced low-level congressman, Richard Nixon, to national limelight.
The most telling contribution of Witness, however, was the ignition of the conservative movement that climaxed with Ronald Reagan becoming President in 1980.
Since its release in 1944, The Road to Serfdom has remained evergreen in the library of Libertarians and the free-market thinkers. The author, Friedrich, backed by his then recent Nazi experience, campaigned against government control while he advocated that individuals were allowed more economic freedom.
The Road to Serfdom strongly criticized the increased central planning that the whole of Europe considered in that era. Thankfully, Hayek’s book spurred some success.
The establishment of the Liberty Movement by Ron Paul and the dominance of the Tea Party have reignited interest in the works of Von Hayek and his Austrian compatriot, Ludwig Von Mises. As a statement, Fox News dedicated a complete episode to The Road To Serfdom in 2010.
The Conservative Mind was published in 1953 as a dissertation of Conservatism after the second world war. The author, Russell Kirk, who is one of the most respected and read Conservative authors, follows the development of Conservatism from the 1800s.
The book assesses the 18th-century works of Edmund Burke, whom Kirk earmarked as “the father of modern conservatism” down to those of Santayana, another well-read philosopher. Throughout the book, Kirk maintains that Conservatism is a way of life, and not an ideology as many thought.
“In essence, the body of belief that we call ‘conservatism’ is an affirmation of normality in the concerns of society. There exist standards to which we may repair; man is not perfectible, but he may achieve a tolerable degree of order, justice, and freedom….”
Conservatism is a way of life, a viewpoint, and not an ideology. If you’re just starting the movement or interested in some insightful reading, the list of books every Conservative must read discussed above is a great place to start.