At any book store in the country, you can find hundreds of titles from right-leaning authors — and they are selling like hotcakes.
Over the past few years, the Tea Party groundswell and the presidency of Barack Obama has fuelled a new and growing crop of conservative authors, as well as renewed interest in the canon of nonfiction works that have shaped conservative thought in American culture and politics.
The following is a list of 13 books that are staples to any Republican bookshelf. While the list by no means comprehensive, its a good starter guide for any young conservative looking to get his or her feet wet in the movement.
The 1960 publication of Goldwater's book is often credited with reigniting the conservative movement and boosting the Arizona Senator's 1964 bid for the White House.
In the opening chapter, Goldwater makes a clear distinction between the right and left, writing, 'the conscience of the Conservative is pricked by anyone who would debase the dignity of the individual human being. Today, therefore, he is at odds with dictators who rule by terror, and equally with those gentler collectivists who ask our permission to play God with the human race.'
More than 50 years since its publication, The Conscience of a Conservative, has endured and continues to inspire conservative thought.
In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont embarked upon a nine-month quest across the American landscape. Leaving behind their post-revolutionary homeland, they saw a flourishing democracy they believed could serve as a model for other nations (including their own).
They traveled to 17 out of the 24 states in the union, interviewing settlers, lawyers, bankers, and even two presidents, finally recording their observations in one of the most insightful and influential analyses of American political society.
The fourth and final novel by Objectivist founder Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged is considered her magnum opus, and a must-read for any budding conservative.
The book describes a dystopian America, in which society collapses under increasingly oppressive government intervention, as the most productive members disappear, led by the hero John Galt. The story lays out the basic tenets of Rand's philosophy, championing reason, individualism, capitalism, and 'rational selfishness.'
Despite being very long and very, very dark, Atlas Shrugged has enjoyed enduring popularity since its 1957 publication. Sales of the book have spiked since the 2007 economic downturn, and the opening line, and its opening line, 'Who is John Galt?' has become a common slogan on Tea Party signs and bumper stickers.
The heated debate over the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 is chronicled in the 85 essays penned by founding fathers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in the Federalist Papers.
The historic collection is often used in judicial opinions to understand the framers' intent when constitutional questions arise. Federalist 78, which deals with judicial powers, has been cited the most, coming up in at least 37 opinions, according to a study from the Georgia School of Law.
For the other side of the coin, you can see opposing viewpoints in the Anti-Federalist Papers.
Published in 1952, Witness detailed the author's upbringing and rise as a communist spy for the Soviet Union. The book delved into the famous outing of government officials as communists, including Alger Hiss, a high-ranking member of the U.S. State Department.
The Hiss-Chambers spy case of the late 1940s had far-reaching effects on the political landscape. It elevated obscure congressman Richard Nixon to the national stage and brought on the notorious communist hunt of Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
Even further, it marked the beginning of a conservative ascendancy that would culminate in Ronald Reagan's election as President in 1980.
First published in 1944, The Road to Serfdom was written by Austrian-born economist Friedrich von Hayek and remains one of the most influential books in defence of the free market and libertarian thought.
With the experience of Nazi Germany fresh in his mind, Hayek strongly argued against central planning and advocated for more individual freedom, pushing back against the increase in government control that he saw happening in Europe at the time.
The works of Von Hayek and his fellow Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises have come back into style in a big way with the rise of the Tea Party and Ron Paul's Liberty Movement. In 2010, Glenn Beck devoted a whole episode of his Fox News show to The Road To Serfdom, causing the book to skyrocket to No. 1 on Amazon's book list.
The right's femme fatale, Coulter has built a media empire around her take-no-prisoners defence of conservative ideas and outraged condemnation of the political left.
Coulter's eight best-selling novels are a go-to read for anyone looking to mainline right-wing ideas. Her most recent book, Mugged, argues that liberals have unfairly claimed credit for civil rights by demonizing Republicans as 'racists.'
But Mugged can also be substituted for one of Coulter's other titles, including:
- Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right
- Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism
- Godless: The Church of Liberalism
- If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans
- Guilty: Liberal 'Victims' and Their Assault on America
Conservative ideas about -- and borderline obsession with -- the decline of Western civilisation can largely be credited to Richard Weaver's 1948 treatise Ideas Have Consequences.
'This is another book about the dissolution of the West,' the book begins. Weaver goes on to argue that the 14th century idea of 'nominalism' -- or the denial of universal truths -- marked the beginning the long deterioration of Western culture and morality.
Like Kirk, Weaver has had a lasting impact on post-World War II conservative thought, and the phrase 'ideas have consequences' has become a common refrain in the movement.
Published in 1980 by Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman and his wife Rose, Free To Choose is a highly influential primer to Friedman's economic policy views, using practical examples to show how the free market creates prosperity.
The book advocates free market capitalism, and criticises interventionist government policies, including gas and tobacco taxes, public education, the Federal Reserve, welfare, the FDA, and labour unions.
The book was a companion to a 10-part television series of the same name.
The 1859 work of British philosopher John Stuart Mill, On Liberty highlights the struggle between liberty and government encroachment. Mill's seminal work discusses the relationship of the individual to society, his objections to government intervention, and outlines his conception of 'basic liberties' -- including freedom of speech and freedom to pursue tastes (even offensive ones), as long as they do not harm others.
Mill also offers harsh criticism of an untethered democracy infringing upon individual liberty, writing that the 'tyranny of the majority' could turn out to be worse than tyranny of government.
Working against the prevailing opinion and feeling of the society, he writes, can be much harder to counter than a despot.
In 1951, the 25-year-old William Buckley burst onto the political scene with his first book, God and Man at Yale, an impassioned invective against his alma mater, Yale University, which he accused of forcing a liberal academic orthodoxy on to its students.
Buckley went on to become a renowned leader in the modern conservative movement, founding the conservative political magazine National Review. He was arguably one of the most influential political intellectuals of the late 20th-century, and is credited with combining political conservatism with free-market capitalism and anti-Communism -- thus shaping the ideology of the GOP as we know it today.
Although Buckley's later works are arguably more polished, God and Man at Yale continues to resonate with new generations of Young Republicans fed up with marginalization of conservative ideas in academia.
Reverence of Andrew Breitbart borders on hero-worship within the modern conservative movement, and his book Righteous Indignation is required reading for any budding right-wing blogger.
Released less than a year before his death in 2012, Righteous Indignation focuses largely on 'Weinergate,' the bizarre texting scandal that took down New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, and which was first exposed by Breitbart's website.
More broadly, the book serves as a how-to manual for conservative provocateurs, laying out Breitbart's vision for how the right can 'gain back control of the American narrative' by battling the 'Democrat-Media Complex.'
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