The Books “They” Say Every Conservative and Every Liberal Should Read

By January 24th, 2017

This Is What “They” Say
– The Books Every Conservative and Every Liberal Should Read –

In the course of my research for several of my forthcoming books, I uncovered a series of lists, variously named, but all addressing the same subjects – namely, “The Books Every Conservative Should Read” or “The Books Every Liberal Should Read.”

As will be evident, the list of books “that every conservative should read” is more expansive than the list books “that every liberal should read.” Evidencing the viral dominance and organization of conservative authors and associations, there are a number of conservative websites which include recommended reading lists for conservatives. Contrariwise, liberals are left wandering, and the liberal must-read website lists are scarce.

In addition, there are more books on the conservative “must-read” list. Conservatives have 63 must-read books, whereas liberals only have 49 such books. Possibly this suggests that conservatives are more wonkish. Possibly conservatives are more avid and devoted readers. Possibly this just means that conservatives issue more homework. It is impossible to know, and it probably doesn’t matter.

However, the sad truth is that the must-read lists are, in the opinion of this author, entirely reversed. In light of the acrimonious nature of political and social discourse in Modern America, it would be far more useful if conservatives read the books on the liberals’ list and liberals read the books on the conservatives’ list. 

But this will not occur. We live in a stubborn age. People, consciously or otherwise, are strongly drawn only to materials which support and reinforce their pre-conceived opinions. Without serious consideration, contrarian readings are quickly dismissed.

Nevertheless, these lists are offered for your enjoyment, review and consideration. Where applicable, I have inserted the sub-titles when such sub-titles were used by the authors. Such sub-titles are especially important in the world of non-fiction because the main titles are normally designed only for marketing and eye-catch appeal. The scope and purposes of the books are, therefore, frequently better revealed in such sub-titles.

All such lists are dangerously subjective, and this author believes that every reader would recommend both additions and deletions to the list. On the other hand, these “must-read” lists and these books are being “pushed” by various writers and websites. To that extent, they may be influencing to others; to that extent, they are important and relevant.

The list of conservative must-read books are compilations from various sources. All books are presented alphabetically, by author, within the respective chronological period in which the book was initially published. The date of such initial publication is indicated in parentheses.

A few books appeared on “must-read” lists of multiple conservatives. In these instances, the number of such multiple listings are noted. Only one book (Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Santayana (1953)) appeared on four lists, but five other books appear on three separate conservative lists thus indicating some rough consensus.

Lastly, it is interesting to note that only Hamilton, Madison, and Jay’s The Federal Papers (1787-1788) and John Stuart Mills’ On Liberty (1859) appeared on both the conservatives’ and the liberals’ must-read lists.


General or Annual Publications
Citizens Against Public Waste, The Pig Book: How Government Wastes Your Money (Published annually)
18th Century
Burke, Edmund, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
Hamilton, Alexander; Madison,James; Jay, John, The Federal Papers (1787-1788) (3 lists)
19th Century
Bastiat, Frederic, The Law (1850)
Mill, John Stuart, On Liberty (1859)
Tocqueville, Alexis de, Democracy in America (1831) (2 votes) 
Hayek, Friedrich A., The Road to Serfdom (1944) (3 Votes)
Hazlitt, Henry, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (1946)
Lewis, C. S., The Abolition of Man (1943)
Mead, Margaret, Male and Female (1949)
Mises, Ludwig von, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics (1949)
Orwell, George, Animal Farm (1945)
Waugh, Evelyn, Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder (1945)
Weaver, Richard, Ideas Have Consequences (1948) (2 Votes) 
Buckley, William F., Jr., God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of Academic Freedom (1951)
Chambers, Whittaker, Witness (1952) (2 Votes)
Jaffa, Harry, The Crises of the Houses Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates (1959)
Kirk, Russell, The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Santayana (1953) (4 Votes)
Rand, Ayn, Atlas Shrugged (2 votes) (1957)
Voegel, Eric, The New Science of Politics: An Introduction (1952) 
Friedman, Milton , Capitalism and Freedom (1962) (3 votes)
Goldwater, Barry, The Conscience of a Conservative (1960) (3 Votes)
Hayek, Friedrich. A., The Constitution of Liberty (1960) (2 votes)
Laslett, Peter, The World We Have Lost: England Before the Industrial Age (1965)
Oakeshott, Michael, Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays (1962)
Strauss, Leo, Natural Right and History (1965) 
Solzhenitsyn, Alexandr, The Gulag Archipelago (1973)
Nash, George, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 (1976) (2 votes) 
Bloom, Allan, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students (1987)
Buchanan, Patrick, Right From the Beginning (1988)
Friedman, Milton and Rose, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement (1980) (3 Votes)
Gilder, George, Men and Marriage (1986)
Hollander, Paul, Political Pilgrims: Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society (1981)
Kirk, Russell (Editor), The Portable Conservative Reader (1982)
Murray, Charles, Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980 (1984)
Skousen, W. Cleon, The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World (1981)
Skousen, W. Cleon, The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution (1985)
Sowell, Thomas, Ethnic America: A History (1981) 
Bork, Robert, The Tempting of America: The Political Solution of the Law (1990)
Evans, Lee, The Conservative Revolution: The Movement That Remade America (1999)
Kristol, Irving, Neoconservaticism: The Autobiography of an Idea (1995)
Noonan, Peggy, What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era (1990)
Piper, John, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (1991)
Steele, Shelby, The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America (1991) 
Baker, Dr. B. Leland, Tea Party Revival: The Conscience of a Conservative Reborn: The Tea Party Revolt Against Unconstrained Spending and Growth of the Federal Government (2009)
Buchanan, Patrick, Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart (2007)
Frohnen, Bruce; Beer, Jeremy; Nelson, Jeffrey O. (Editors), American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia (2006)
Goldberg, Bernard, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News (2001)
Hanson, Victor, Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (2003)
Levin, Mark, Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America (2005)
MacDonald, Heather; Dee, Ivan, The Burden of Bad Ideas: How Modern Intellectuals Misshape Our Society (2000)
Micklethwait, John, Wooldridge, Adrian, The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America (2004)
Schneider, Gregory L., Conservaticism in America Since 1930: A Reader (2003)
Schoenwald, Jonathan M., A Time for Choosing: The Rise of Modern American Conservatism (2001)
Sowell, Thomas, Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy (2004)
Weigel, George, The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God (2005) 
2010 – 2015
Breitbart, Andrew, Righteous Indignation – Excuse Me While I Save the World (2011)
Cole (Stein), David, Republican Party Animal: The “Bad Boy of Holocaust History” Blows the Lid Off Hollywood‘s Secret Right-Wing Underground (2014)
Coulter, Ann., Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama (2012)
Sommer, L. B., The Next American Revolutionary War (2012)
Ward, Beth, Dying in Indian Country: A Family Journey from Self-Destruction to Opposing Tribal Sovereignty (2012)
Wikker, Benjamin, 10 Books Every Conservative Must Read: Plus Four Not to Miss and One Imposter (2010)
Primary Sources of Recommended Conservative Reading Books
D’Souza, D., “27 Books Every Conservative Should Read,”, January 18, 2013; (Top 10 Books to Understand REAL Conservatism); Human Events (Conservative Website – Top 10 Books Every Republican Congressman Should Read, November 21, 2006) (Books receiving votes of 20 or more are included in the above list); Quinn, Justin, “Top 10 Nonfiction Books for Conservatives,”; Wyler, G., Szoldra, “The 13 Books That Every Young Conservative Must Read,” Business Insider, March 29, 2013.


18th Century
Hamilton, Alexander; Madison, James; Jay, John, The Federal Papers (1787-1788)
Paine, Thomas, Common Sense (1776)
Paine, Thomas, Rights of Man (1791) 
19th Century
Mill, John Stuart, On Liberty (1859) 
Cardozo, Benjamin N., The Nature of the Judicial Process (1921)
Croly, Herbert, The Promise of American Life (1909)
Orwell, George, 1984 (1949)
Sinclair, Upton, The Jungle (1906)
Steinbeck, John, The Grapes of Wrath (1939) (Pulitzer Prize) 
Bradbury, Ray, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
Galbraith, John Kenneth, The Affluent Society (1958)
Hofstadter, Richard, The Age of Reform (1955) (Pulitzer Prize)
Carson, Rachael, Silent Spring (1962)
Durant, William F. and Hannah, The Lessons of History (1968)
Friedan, Betty, The Feminine Mystique (1963)
Fulbright, Senator J. William, The Arrogance of Power (1966)
Harrington, Michael, The Other America: Poverty in the United States (1962)
Hofstadter, Richard, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963) (Pulitzer Prize)
King, Martin, I Have a Dream/Letter from Birmingham Jail (1963)
Lee, Harper, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) (Pulitzer Prize)
Morgenthau, Hans J., The Purpose of American Politics (1960)
Brown, Dee, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (1970)
Halberstam, David, The Best and the Brightest (1972)
Manchester, William, The Glory and the Dream – A Narrative History of America – 1932-1972 (1974)
Sheehan, Neil, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (Pulitzer Prize)
Zinn, Howard, A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (1980) 
Bartlett, Donald; Steele, James, America: What Went Wrong? (1992)
Diamond, Jared, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997)
Goodwin, Doris Kearns, No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt – The Home Front in World War II (1994)
Hacker, Andrew, Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal (1992)
Krugman, Paul, Peddling Prosperity: Economic Sense and Nonsense in an Age of Diminished Expectations (1994)
Lakoff, George, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think (1996)
Lind, Michael, Up from Conservatism: Why the Right Is Wrong for America (1996)
Phillips, Kevin, Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and the American Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath (1990)
Putnam, Robert D., Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (1995)
2000 – 2009
Andersen, Kurt, Reset – How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America (2009)
Chomsky, Noam, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (2006)
Frank, Thomas, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule (2008)
Frank, Thomas, What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2004)
Gore, Al, An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It (2006)
Gore, Al, The Assault on Reason (2007)
Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007)
Krugman, Paul, The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century (2003)
Krugman, Paul, The Conscience of a Liberal (2007)
Obama, Barack, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (2004)
Rosenblatt, Roger, Where We Stand – 30 Reasons for Loving Our Country (2002)
Wellstone, Paul, The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda (2002) 
2010 – 2015
Hacker, Jacob S.; Pierson, Paul, Winner-Tate-All Politics – How Washington Made the Rich Richer – And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (2010)
Lewis, Michael, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (2010)
Stieglitz, Joseph E., The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future (2012)
Primary Source of Recommended Liberal Reading Books (Top Books to Understand Progressiveness in American social and political life) and Other Collected Sources

What “They” Say – The “Must-Read” Books Every Conservative and Every Liberal (Supposedly) Should Read

Blog No. 70 

January 25, 2017

By Mack W. Borgen
Santa Barbara, California
Copyright (c) 2017. Mack W. Borgen. All rights reserved. University of California at Berkeley (Honors, Economics); Harvard Law School; Author, The Relevance of Reason – Business Politics (Volume 1) and —  Society and Cultue (Volume 2) – As Advertised in The New York Review of Books and Recipient of Four National Book Awards
FORTHCOMING BOOKS:  Dead Serious and Light-Hearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America (Volume I (1957-1976); Volume II (1977-1992), and Volume III (1993-2015)
RESERVE YOUR COPY TODAY:  c/o Schmitt & Brody Publishers at Please merely indicate (i) the number of requested sets of Vols 1, 2 and 3; (ii) hard-copy or paperback sets, and (iii) your shipping address and contact information. Your order will be email-confirmed prior to shipment and billing.

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