Conservative Education - A Wealth of Knowledge

This is part two to the concept of RedState University.  The first part can be found here.  This post is my promised “Suggested Reading List” to enhance our knowledge and understanding of the principles of Conservatism that our Founding Fathers laid out for us in the Constitution.  So much of what they believed and incorporated in those early documents in the founding of this nation came from incredible thinkers and writers before them.  Those that have come after them helped to expand on those principles and apply them as our nation grew.  Philosophers, economists, historians, theologians, Doctors of the Church and modern day writers are all part of this abundance of knowledge out there.

There are literally thousands of works that could supplement our understanding of Conservatism; this list is a compilation from all of the suggestions I received from you, the great members of RedState.  It is a preliminary list, one that can be modified and updated; it is just a way to start somewhere. Categorizing them was difficult because there is so much overlap.  Philosophy almost encompasses all of them; that makes sense when you think about it – economic philosophy, theological, social, cultural, etc.  History is probably separate, but many writers note history from a philosophical viewpoint as well.

So the categories are broad vs specific, but by including a bullet point, I hope to give the prospective reader at least some idea about the selection.  Title and author are listed; where possible I included the date of publication and the author’s lifespan.  I think it is relevant.  Links are provided to the first few (those wonderful Constitutional Documents) so you can read them outright.  The rest are available by any internet search engine to either read about further or obtain the book itself.  One warning, if you start looking them up you will go off on pleasurable and fascinating reading tangents, learning not only about the book but the author as well.

Suggested Reading List (Not in a particular order so you can peruse the entire list).

The Bible, Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, Articles of Confederation, and The Bill of Rights.

Message to Garcia (1899) – Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) (A favorite of Erick Erickson’s)

Federalist Papers (1787-1788) – Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), James Madison (1751-1836), and John Jay (1745-1829).
– philosophy, democracy – essays written in support of the Constitution. Insight into the vision and philosophy behind it.

Common Sense (1776) – Thomas Paine (1737-1809).
– philosophy, democracy – early and powerful political writing openly calling for separation from Great Britain, challenging the authority of the British Monarchy.

On Liberty (1859) – John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) – philosophy, liberty, democracy – regarding the limits of power by the government over the people.  Talks about the “tyranny of the majority” and interesting concept of the “harm principle.”

Democracy In America (1835) – Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) French philosopher
-philosophy, history – an overview of our fledgling Democracy, examines the principles of our free government and compared our nation with his.  de Tocqueville was appreciative of this new nation.

Road to Serfdom (1944) – F.A. Hayek (1899-1992)
– philosophy, economics, socialism, fascism – collectivism lead to tyranny.  Warning abut the Socialists and the “end justifies the means” danger.

Five Thousand Year Leap (1981) – W. Cleon Skousen (1913-2006)
– history, philosophy,The Constitution, liberty.  Lists 28 basic principles of the Founding Fathers. One of my favorites.

The Conservative Mind: from Burke to Santayana (1953) – Russell Kirk (1918-1994)
– political philosophy – traditional principles of Conservatism, focused on the connection between Christianity and Western Civilization.  The Conservative movement post WWll.

Witness (1952) – Whittaker Chambers (1901-1961)
– philosophy, history, conservatism, anti-communism – insight into 20th century America and the dangers of Communism and Liberalism.

Political Writings of St. Augustine (354-430) Doctor of the Catholic Church
Summa Theologica – St. Thomas Acquinas (ca 1225-1274) Doctor of the Church
-philosophy, religion, morality – ethics, virtues from God

Mere Christianity (1952, made up of radio lectures he gave in England 1941 -1944) – C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
– philosophy, Christian apologetics, morality, religion – discussion and focus on the doctrine of Christian Belief and its foundation.
Abolition of man – an essay on educating man and the losses in modern education.
The Quotable Lewis – collection of C.S. Lewis’ philosophical thoughts and insights.

Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism (2005) – Ronald J. Pestritto
– history – politically where it all started, the Progressives’ assault on the Founding Fathers foundation of Constitutionalism.

Orations and Addresses of George William Curtis (3 vol) (1824-1892)
-philosophy, history – focus on citizenship and reforming the Civil Service.  Who knew then we had a corrupt Civil Service?

American Progressivism:  A Reader (2008) edited by Ronald J. Pestritto and William J. Atto
– collection of essays focusing on the Progressive Era.

Liberty and Tyranny (2009) – Mark R. Levin
– conservatism, philosophy – preserving liberty, recognizing tyranny.
Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American left (2007) – Jonah Goldberg
-traces the roots of Fascism and Socialism in the 20th century.

The next two titles are, “know thy enemy.”  Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals – Saul D. Alinksy (1909-1972) -the definitive treatise for the Left on how to gain power and undermine Constitutional government.

Case For Socialism (1911) – Fred Henderson (1867-1957) – all about Socialism from an author who wanted it.  Considered a handbook for the Independent Labor Party.

Slouching Towards Gomorrah (1996) – Robert H. Bork
-philosophy, culture – focuses on decline of Western culture secondary to modern Liberalism.

Conscience of a Conservative (1960) – Barry M. Goldwater (1909-1998).
– political and economic conservatism, noted for “firing up” the modern conservative movement.

What Has God Wrought: The Transformation of America -1815-1848 (Oxford History of the United States) Daniel Walker Howe
– history, American democracy.

Patriots History of the United States (2004) – Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen
– history – from Columbus to the War on Terror, history as it should be told and none of this revisionist writing.

The Case For Democracy (2004) – Nathan Sharansky and Ron Dermer
-history, politics – focus on freedom to overcome tyranny, and you cannot appease tyrannical regimes and expect democracy to survive.

A Conservative History of the American Left (2008) – Daniel J. Flynn
-history, American Left – broad perspective and recounting the history of the American Left.

God and Man at Yale (1951) – William F. Buckley (1925-2008).
– philosophy, education – Liberalism taking over institutions of higher learning, lack of academic freedom.

Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation (1983) – Ronald W. Reagan (1911-2004)
-morality, abortion, philosophy – President’s Reagan essay on the wrong of Roe v Wade and his whole philosophy on the value of life.
Reagan, In His Own Hand (2001) – Kiron K. Skinner – collection of his radio addresses 1975-1979, laying out his vision for America.
The Reagan Diaries (2007) edit. Douglas Brinkley – Reagan’s thoughts and observations during his eight years as President.
Reagan’s War (2003) Peter Schweizer
-history, philosophy – the story of Reagan’s 40 yr. war against Communism.

Party of Death (2006) Ramesh Ponnuru
-morality, abortion – the Left’s disregard for human life, destroying the inconvenient life.

Godless: the Church of Liberalism (2006) – Ann Coulter, focus on liberalism’s animosity towards Judaism and Christianity.

What’s So Great About America (2003) – Dinesh D’Souza -philosophy, morality, religion – defends his adopted country against criticism from Islamic nations.

Discovery of Freedom (1943) – Rose Wilder Lane (1886-1968) (dgt. of Laura Ingalls Wilder).
-libertarian philosophy – shows what is wrong with statism  and collectivism.

Conservative Comeback to Liberal Lies (2006) Gregory Jackson


This section is last but not least.  I was fascinated by how closely liberty and freedom are tied to economics.  If we do not have economic freedom, we will not be free.

Economics in One Lesson – (1946) Henry Hazlett (1894-1993).
-libertarian – looking at the long term effects of economic policy, not just short-term.  Responsible for bringing Austrian Economics to the US.

Economic Sophism (1845) Frederick Bastiat (1801-1850).
-focus on the negative of statist policies, look at the big picture.
The Law (1850) – Frederick Bastiat –
-philosophy, Socialism. liberty -Stopping the police powers of the state, natural rights from God to defend life, liberty, and property.

Free to Choose (1980) – Milton and Rose Friedman
-economics – focus on free markets being the best for all in society.

Wealth of Nations (1776) – Adam Smith (1723-1790).
-economic philosophy – Considered the cornerstone to modern economic theory and a free market being better for society.

New Deal or Raw Deal (2009) – Burton W. Golsom, Jr.
-FDR’s economic policy and the effect on the U.S.

Basic Economics – Thomas Sowell 3rd ed. (2007).
Almost a textbook – how the economy functions.

The Forgotten Man (2007) – Amity Shlaes.
-The Great Depression – focus on government intervention by Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt; examination of the New Deal policies.

Capitalism:  The Unknown Ideal (1946) – Ayn Rand (1905-1982).
Belief in freedom of the individual and property rights, laissez faire capitalism.

The Art of War (ca 6thcentury BC) – Sun Tzu.
-military treatise – tactics and strategies on war, considered a classic to read even in the business world.

From Hillsdale College: Hillsdale Constitution TownHall

The Conservative Book Club has a group of 15 titles, some of which I have noted.  Several others to look at would be The Best Of Burke, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Political Writings of John Adams, Political Writings of James Monroe, and The Language of Liberty: The Political Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln.

In conclusion, there are a multitude of additional titles by these excellent authors. These books are meant to be a gateway for gaining further knowledge and an understanding of philosophy and history, which shaped our Constitution and Conservative principles.