Tuesday, January 11, 2005

National Review's 100 Best 20th-Century Non-Fiction Books

This is a bit older, but you can find the list with commentary here. Apparenly I have read less than a quarter of the books that are must-reads for conservatives; although there are a few books here that are not really very readable (look me in the eye and tell me that you have read The Joy of Cooking from cover to cover). I have bolded the ones I have read. (Hat-tip to Fides Q.)

1. The Second World War, Winston S. Churchill
Vol. 1, The Gathering Storm
Vol. 2, Their Finest Hour
Vol. 3, The Grand Alliance
Vol. 4, The Hinge of Fate
Vol. 5, Closing the Ring
Vol. 6, Triumph and Tragedy

2. The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (excellent, but everyone should find an abridged version)

3. Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell

4. The Road to Serfdom, F. A. von Hayek

5. Collected Essays, George Orwell

6. The Open Society and Its Enemies, Karl Popper (meh.)

7. The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis (Lewis's Durham Lectures; they deserve more recognition than they get)

8. Revolt of the Masses, José Ortega y Gasset

9. The Constitution of Liberty, F. A. von Hayek

10. Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman

11. Modern Times, Paul Johnson

12. Rationalism in Politics, Michael Oakeshott

13. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, Joseph A. Schumpeter

14. Economy and Society, Max Weber

15. The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt

16. Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Rebecca West

17. Sociobiology, Edward O. Wilson

18. Centissimus Annus, Pope John Paul II

19. The Pursuit of the Millennium, Norman Cohn

20. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

21. The Great Terror, Robert Conquest

22. Chronicles of Wasted Time, Malcolm Muggeridge

23. Relativity, Albert Einstein (a genuinely great introduction; I wish all books intended to introduce people to scientific issues were as good)

24. Witness, Whittaker Chambers

25. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas S. Kuhn (overrated)

26. Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis (cut my teeth on this one)

27. The Quest for Community, Robert Nisbet

28. Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed.

29. Up in the Old Hotel, Joseph Mitchell

30. The Everlasting Man, G. K. Chesterton

31. Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton

32. The Liberal Imagination, Lionel Trilling

33. The Double Helix, James D. Watson

34. The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Richard Phillips Feynman

35. Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, Tom Wolfe

36. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, Albert Camus

37. The Unheavenly City, Edward C. Banfield

38. The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud

39. The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs

40. The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama

41. Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker

42. The Age of Reform, Richard Hofstadter

43. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard Keynes

44. God & Man at Yale, William F. Buckley Jr.

45. Selected Essays, T. S. Eliot

46. Ideas Have Consequences, Richard M. Weaver

47. The Economy of Cities, Jane Jacobs

48. The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom (utterly blah.)

49. Ethnic America, Thomas Sowell

50. An American Dilemma, Gunnar Myrdal
An American Dilemma, Vol. 1
An American Dilemma, Vol. 2

51. Three Case Histories, Sigmund Freud

52. The Struggle for Europe, Chester Wilmot

53. Main Currents in American Thought, Vernon Louis Parrington

54. The Waning of the Middle Ages, Johann Huzinga

55. Systematic Theology, Wolfhart Pannenberg
Systematic Theology, Vol. 1
Systematic Theology, Vol. 2
Systematic Theology, Vol. 3
(skimmed some of the rest; I don't find Pannenberg particularly interesting)

56. The Campaign of the Marne, Sewell Tyng

57. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein
(why the Tractatus rather than the Philosophical Investigations? - although I have an affection for the Tractatus that I do not for the Investigations)

58. Insight: A Study of Human Understanding, Bernard Lonergan (it's OK; Lonergan is rather tiresome and unoriginal sometimes. Verbum is much better; at least there he's looking at Aquinas, who actually has interesting things to say.)

59. Being and Time, Martin Heidegger
(no, I haven't read it. I've looked at its binding on the library shelf sometimes and said, "I should read that sometime." But I haven't ever done so.)

60. Disraeli, Robert Blake

61. Democracy and Leadership, Irving Babbitt

62. The Elements of Style, William Strunk & E. B. White (the worst thing to happen to the English language in a long, long time)

63. The Machiavellians, James Burnham

64. Reflections of a Russian Statesman, Konstantin P. Pobedonostsev

65. The Hedgehog and the Fox, Isaiah Berlin

66. Roll, Jordan, Roll, Eugene D. Genovese

67. The ABC of Reading, Ezra Pound

68. The Second World War, John Keegan

69. The Making of Homeric Verse, Milman Parry

70. The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling, Angus Wilson

71. Scrutiny, F. R. Leavis

72. The Edge of the Sword, Charles de Gaulle

73. R. E. Lee, Douglas Southall Freeman

74. Bureaucracy, Ludwig von Mises

75. The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

76. Balzac, Stefan Zweig

77. The Good Society, Walter Lippmann

78. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson (meh. The Sense of Wonder is better)

79. The Christian Tradition, Jaroslav Pelikan (but I have no recollection of most of it)

80. Strange Defeat, Marc Bloch

81. Looking Back, Norman Douglas

82. Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres, Henry Adams

83. Poetry and the Age, Randall Jarrell

84. Love in the Western World, Denis de Rougemont (not great, but not bad either)

85. The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk

86. Wealth and Poverty, George Gilder

87. Battle Cry of Freedom, James M. McPherson

88. Henry James, Leon Edel

89. Essays of E. B. White, E. B. White

90. Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov

91. The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe

92. Darwin's Black Box, Michael J. Behe

93. The Civil War, Shelby Foote

94. The Way the World Works, Jude Wanniski

95. To the Finland Station, Edmund Wilson

96. Civilisation, Kenneth Clark

97. The Russian Revolution, Richard Pipes

98. The Idea of History, R. G. Collingwood (boooooooring)

99. The Last Lion, William Manchester
Last Lion: William Spencer Churchill: Vol. 1 Visions of Glory, 1874-1932
Last Lion: William Spencer Churchill: Vol. 2 Alone, 1932-1940

100. The Starr Report, Kenneth W. Starr (!?!)

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