The Top Ten Best Conservative Books in the Wabash Lilly Library
We have a great library but an even greater library staff. They are not only knowledgeable and technologically savvy but also very supportive of book requests of any kind. Last summer I requested some of the best of a new wave of conservative scholarship, and the library staff was efficient and gracious in response. Here are my top ten conservative books recently acquired by our library.
Palestine Betrayed by Efraim Karsh (Yale, 2010).
This is a must-read for anyone interested in why the Palestinian people have managed to perform so poorly in their pursuit of a state of their own. A few years ago, a new wave of scholarship focused on Israel’s abuses of power after the 1947 partition, but this book examines the abysmal failure of Palestinian leadership to move their people forward in any constructive, positive way. Indeed, has there ever been an oppressed people more poorly served by their own political leadership than the Palestinians? Arab leadership has never concerned itself primarily with the plight of the Palestinian people. Instead, Arab leaders scapegoat Israel in order to secure their own power and line their pockets. That is the real tragedy of this conflict. Karsh, Director of Mediterranean Studies at King’s College in London, has also written a great book called Islamic Imperialism.
Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working and How there is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009).
One problem with liberalism is its blind idealism, which leads to a naïve belief that giving poor people money will make for a better world. Conservatives know the law of unintended consequences, which shapes all of our best moral intentions. Africa is the best example of how misguided compassion can provide a great ego trip for the morally self-righteous while making victims out of the very people that are being helped. Aid to Africa has been a disaster; churches, with their sense of community, personal responsibility, and moral standards, have done much more good in Africa than all the Western aid put together. Read this book and then support more missionaries to Africa.
The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism by Pascal Bruckner (Princeton, 2010).
Why do Western liberals love to exaggerate how bad the West is and how much harm American has done in the world? Why do liberals love collective guilt (but never personal guilt; individually, liberals can do no wrong)? Bruckner, a French novelist and essayist, demonstrates just how silly post-colonial guilt-making is. “Victim studies” is a great career path in higher education today, but there is no worse way to trade on the suffering of others. Those who profit by portraying the third world as victims of the West are not only historically ignorant but also do an injustice to the way that American democracy, capitalism, and Christianity represent the only real future for anyone who wants to exit poverty and oppression.
Lost in the Sacred: Why the Muslim World Stood Still by Dan Diner (Princeton, 2009).
Well, there are many answers to that question, but why isn’t it asked more often? Diner’s book shows that there is something in the Islamic religion itself that impedes progress. The Muslim view of time and the sacred hinders social change and development. There are reasons why the Christian West invented democracy and religious freedom and open markets; read this book and find out.
Whittaker Chambers: The Spirit of a Counterrevolutionary by Richard M. Reinsch II (ISI, 2010).
If there were any justice in this world, Chambers would be read in history, English, religion, philosophy, and political science departments, but Chambers knew better than anyone else in the twentieth century that there is no justice in this world. Chambers grounded political theory in the supernatural; how a people conceptualize good and evil and other ultimate questions will determine the kind of politics they embrace. Chambers saw the dark clouds of relativism and secularism gathering on the horizon; his work is shelter from the storm.
Infidel by Ayaan Hisi Ali (Free Press, 2008).
Hirsi Ali is one of the great heroes of our age, a woman whose story of how she escaped Muslim repression of women is exciting and dramatic. But even more importantly, she has developed a critique of Islamic societies that is provocative, factual, and fascinating. Why don’t more feminists celebrate and applaud her work? Why don’t we have her visit Wabash? Instead, she has been demonized by the left as someone who is prejudiced against Islam! Tolerance trumps compassion for Muslim women, I guess. It takes someone who grew up in a Muslim society to truly appreciate freedom of religion and Christian values. Read this book and fall in love with the Christian West all over again.
Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth behind the Pay Gap—and What Women Can do About it by Warren Farrell (AMACOM, 2005).
There are so many myths and disinformation about the alleged gender pay gap. The fact is that men tend to work longer hours at more dangerous jobs than women. They also go into more competitive fields, like engineering, while women go into fields like elementary education. Moreover, statistics show that men and women who work the same kinds of jobs with the same years of experience earn the same amount of money.
A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam by Lewis Sorley (Mariner Books, 2007).
You can’t talk to liberals about the Vietnam War; their opinions are so dogmatic, and they have read none of the newest scholarship on the subject. Books like this one challenge the conventional wisdom with hard evidence. America lost interest in Vietnam and liberals succeeded in turning the country against the war there, but we did not lose the war, and in fact, we were winning it when the political will collapsed. If all you know about the Vietnam War is what liberals have told you, this book will blow your socks off.
The Hidden Origins of Islam by Karl-Heinz Ohlig and Gerd-R. Puin (Prometheus, 2010).
Islam was and is a Christian heresy. Muhammed’s ideas about Jesus were taken from Syrian Christians who themselves took heretical positions on Jesus Christ. That does not mean that Islam is wrong, but its debt to Christian heretics is rarely pointed out. Indeed, read the last essay in this book and you’ll see just how much Muhammed was influenced by Syrian Christianity in all aspects of his beliefs. Unfortunately, liberal tolerance is such that you cannot talk about these things in “higher” education today. So be careful when you check this one out of the library.
The Dome of Eden: A New Solution to the Problem of Evolution and Creation by Stephen H. Webb (Cascades, 2010).
Hey, what can I say? It just so happens that I’ve written the best critique of evolutionary extremism and dogmatism, and it came out this past year. Wabash has not exactly promoted this book in any way, so I thought I would alert you to its existence. At the very least, it would make for a nice Christmas present for someone in your life who shares with me the suspicion that complex biological forms could not have arisen on the basis of chance alone.
Happy Reading and Merry Christmas!