T Nation

Best Books on Politics


What political books have most influenced your current idealogy?

The Law - Bastiat
Conscience of a Conservative - Goldwater



In the order in which I think people would get the most out of the material:

The Law -- Friedrich Bastiat
That Which is Seen, That Which is Not Seen -- Friedrich Bastiat
Economics in One Lesson -- Henry Hazlitt
The Road to Serfdom -- Friedrich Hayek
Man, Economy & State -- Murray Rothbard
Human Action -- Ludwig Von Mises
Socialism -- Ludwig Von Mises
For A New Liberty -- Murray Rothbard
Theory & History -- Ludwig Von Mises
Theory of Money and Credit -- Ludwig Von Mises
Democracy: The God That Failed -- Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Defending the Undefendable -- Walter Block

But really, if I were to only choose one of those books it would be "Theory & History" because it lays the philosophical ground work for praxeology where also the myths of what I collectively call anti-market intellectualism, are dispelled. It will foster an existential crisis in even the most died in the wool socialist.


Conservatives should reject any ideology as "armed cant", as Bill Lind put it.

I'd say reading history gave me my political grounding, and the events of the last eight years have gone a long way toward making me re-evaluate what conservatism really means.

Good, fun reads that are thought-provoking:

Rod Dreher - Crunchy Cons
P.J. O'Rourke - Parliament of Whores
Bill Kauffman - Ain't My America
Michael Lewis - Losers

And The American Conservative magazine, constantly challenging and unafraid to attack the status quo.


These aren't all books on politics per se, but they have certainly influenced my current ideology.

The Fates of Nations -- Paul Colinvaux
Civil Disobedience -- Henry David Thoreau
The Prince -- Niccolo Macchiavelli
The Republic -- Plato
Influence -- Robert Cialdini
The Sovereign Individual--James Davidson and William Rees-Mogg
The New Barbarian Manifesto -- Ian Angell
Another Country -- Jeff Cooper
The Idea of America -- Bill Bonner and Pierre LeMieux
Nineteen-Eighty-Four -- George Orwell
Brave New World -- Aldous Huxley
Last of the Mountain Men -- Harold Peterson
Vonu -- Tom Marshall


I never really read much about politics, other than reading a lot of history and a ton of newspapers. While I love history books, I'm not much for the rantings of some political analyst on why things are the way they are... I'm not an idiot, I can figure it out. Reading about history is the only way to understand politics now.

That being said, fiction influenced my politics more than anything. Nothing makes on become a Democrat quicker than the heart shaking depictions of the poverty that unbridled capitalism leads to.

The Iron Heel - Jack London
A Drinking Life - Pete Hamill

And philosophy. Rousseau, Locke, Hobbes, any of the writers of the Romantic Age or the Enlightenment. Why read a book by Bill dicksmack O'Reilly when you can read Rousseau?


Oh yea, and "1984". Probably the single greatest work on politics ever done, truly a landmark in the history of the world. Can't say enough about this book.

And also- anything that's ever been published by The Legend, Hunter S. Thompson. His views on everything, especially politics and politicians, are exquisitely crafted and unendingly amazing.


Great call. One of my favorite books, and incredibly prophetic.


Read "Down and Out in Paris and London"?


Yeah, '84 was, I think, the only book that literally gave me nightmares when I was reading it.


The poverty that capitalism made visible and then overcame in mere decades.

You know why all the poor people fled to the cities with their factories, right?

Because they knew they would find a better live there - and they did.


That's all well and good - if materialism is the be all and end all of our existence.


How can you like 1984 and Brave New World and not mention Farenheit 451? I'd love one day to teach a college English or Poly/Sci class on those three books alone.

Also in this vein, if you have five minutes I highly recommend reading Vonnegut's best work, Harrison Bergeron. It's seriously something like 2-3 pages.


I must also add that Heinlein is fantastic in the way he puts good political theory into novels. I just finished Citizen of the Galaxy a few days ago.



That is such a noble sentiment.

And without capitalism you would be digging for worms with your fingernails.

How does it feel to be beyond "materialism", when one is washed, fed and and sufficiently sheltered?

And would you advise the 80% of humanity that are not, to take a more "enlightened" approach?


In so far as one enjoys a quality of life beyond mere subsistence, material wealth is necessary.


For me, de Tocqueville is a classic: more talked about than read.


Some great authors listed here . . . I would add mine, but my library is now several thousand books . . .sorry.


Indeed. An "A" on a freshman-level essay exam covering Democracy in America and Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations ought to be a prerequisite to holding public office in this country, and a passing grade on a hundred-question short-answer test ought to be a prerequisite for voting.


Good point. I should read Democracy in America.



One of my acquaintances is a Czech sociology professor. He went back to Czechoslovakia after the Fall of the Berlin Wall and was distressed to find every aspect of civil society--voluntary associations outside of government--absent. He sought to correct the situation; his textbook was Democracy in America.


Agreed, it was a flippant remark. It is very easy to question materialism from a position of great material wealth.

I do have a fundamental problem with libertarians who worship at the altar of capitalism, however.