27 Books Every Conservative Should Read

Here is my list of the most important works produced in the last half century or so that every conservative should read. The list includes books written by conservatives as well as book that discuss themes that are important to conservatism. Some writers who would not call themselves conservatives, including Margaret Mead and George Orwell, are on the list.

I should caution that this is not a comprehensive catalog; it is necessarily biased toward books that I have found persuasive and profound. Finally, I have kept the list brief, because life is short.

Happy reading.

Robert BorkThe Tempting of America
The single best critique of liberal jurisprudence, and an argument for interpreting the Constitution by consulting the intentions of the framers.
(Kindle)

Allan BloomThe Closing of the American Mind
A great teacher’s learned account of how our best young minds came to the conclusion that there are no truths.
(Kindle)

Patrick BuchananRight from the Beginning
A pugnacious and absorbing account of how the author came of age as a conservative.

Whittaker Chambers, Witness
A profoundly personal and deeply moving account of on man’s liberation from the shackles of Communism.
(Kindle)

George Gilder, Men and Marriage
An iconoclastic argument for why “women’s liberation” produces angry women and emasculated men.
(Kindle)

Milton FriedmanCapitalism and Freedom
Capitalism’s most powerful advocate in recent decades makes his argument in the free market.
(Kindle)

Friedrich HayekThe Road to Serfdom
This hugely influential book shows the similarities between Communism and fascism and makes one of the first and best defenses of libertarian individualism.
(Kindle)

Paul HollanderPolitical Pilgrims
A devastating account of the gullibility and outright stupidity of prominent liberal intellectuals who made pilgrimages to Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China , and Castro’s Cuba.

Harry JaffaThe Crisis of the Houses Divided
Through an examination of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, this book offers deep and subtle reflections on the exercise of political statesmanship.

Russell KirkThe Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot
A broad survey of the intellectual breadth of conservative thought, with a special emphasis on Edmund Burke.

Irving KristolNeoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea
Learned and incisive essays by a former liberal who was “mugged by reality” and moved right.

Peter LaslettThe World We Have Lost
This study of England before the Industrial Revolution shows the virtues, and the limitations, of the world that was transformed by technological capitalism.

Ludwig von MisesHuman Action
Why capitalism works and socialism doesn’t, by the great man of Austrian economics.
(Kindle)

Margaret MeadMale and Female
A comprehensive and politically incorrect survey of sex differences and their social consequences.

Charles MurrayLosing Ground
One of the best arguments against the welfare state, this book became the intellectual blueprint for welfare reform.
(Kindle)

George NashThe Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945
A useful historical account of how American conservatism went from obscure philosophizing to a mainstream political movement.
(Kindle)

Peggy NoonanWhat I Saw at the Revolution
A wonderfully revealing book that tells the reader a lot about Reagan, and a lot about Peggy.

Michael OakeshottRationalism in Politics and Other Essays
The limits of social engineering and of rational blueprints for society, advanced elegantly and reasonably by the English philosopher and essayist.

George OrwellAnimal Farm
A parable about the totalitarian temptation embodied in socialism.
(Kindle)

Ayn RandAtlas Shrugged
A fast-paced novel that is also a capitalist manifesto ; it celebrates the entrepreneurs who build and make new things.
(Kindle)

Aleksandr SolzhenitsynThe Gulag Archipelago
A devastating indictment of Soviet Communism, and a story of one man’s spiritual triumph over the gulag.

Thomas SowellEthnic America
Just one—because I had to choose one—of Sowell’s many books refuting the presumption that discrimination is the main reason why ethnic groups succeed or fail.
(Kindle)

Shelby SteeleThe Content of Our Character
A revealing look at the psychological underpinning of affirmative action and other race-based policies.

Leo StraussNatural Right and History
One of conservatism’s most important philosophers makers an eloquent defense of natural right against the twin currents of relativism and historicism.

Eric VoegelinThe New Science of Politics
A learned, sometimes cryptic, account of liberalism as the modern version of an old Christian heresy.

Evelyn WaughBrideshead Revisited
One of the great novels of the twentieth century makes the argument against the twentieth century.
(Kindle)

Richard WeaverIdeas Have Consequences
The Southern Agrarian diagnosis of the ailment of Western civilization—the decline of belief in an abiding moral order.

Keep reading:

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Live from Nixon Library - Nov. 1
A United States of Islam in the Middle East?
Fact-Checking AP's Fact Check on "2016: Obama's America"
Obama's America: Unmaking the American Dream Now in Bookstores

Through D'Souza's trademark incisiveness, wit, and originality, United States of Socialism reveals how the Left uses the Venezuelan formula for socialism, decisively refutes this new face of socialism, chillingly documents the full range of the Left’s gangster tendencies, and provocatively exposes the tactics of the socialist Left.

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40 Comments

  • Mary says:

    January 18, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    Thank you!

  • Arthur Yeo says:

    January 18, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    About the Conservative reading list, I would certainly not want to leave out Charles Colson’s book on God and Govn’t and his other books. He is a good example of a man after God’s heart after he converted.

  • Jason Morrison says:

    January 18, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    Maybe I’m thinking of a different kind of list but I would’ve put Bernard Goldberg’s “Bias” on this list. As well as at least one book by Ann Coulter. Some of her more recent books have been very analytical of the left’s tactics.

    • Joseph deutsch says:

      January 22, 2013 at 9:56 PM

      Yes, Coulters Demonic, would be my pick

  • Nathan says:

    January 18, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    I put the list on Goodreads.com.

  • Kcc says:

    January 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    Thank you! There are so many good books out there it is hard to know where to start…but, now I know. I definitely trust your guidance and it is much appreciated. I hope you someday appear close enough to me that I’m able to come see one of your lectures or debates in person. (Florida)

    • Scott says:

      January 27, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      I’m surprised that Radical Son by David Horowitz is not on this list and is a must read. It provides a clear picture of the long term incremental strategy that marxists in the United States have used to successfully manipulate and now dominate the political left. It is a critical book to read so that one can understand how the left works, the evolution of leftist thinking and who the players really are. I highly recommend it to all.

  • nate bell says:

    January 18, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Animal Farm was a criticism of Stalinism, not socialism. It would be a bit odd for Orwell to criticize socialism when he was a member of the socialist party.

    • Dave Loduca says:

      April 12, 2013 at 9:08 AM

      Actually, it was a criticism of elitism and the mentality of the ruling class.

  • John Fury says:

    January 18, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    We have Voegelin to thank for the phrase “immanentizing the eschaton”. I studied Voegelin’s works under his student and philosophical heir, Ellis Sandoz at LSU. His work completely changed my life and my thinking. That The New Science of Politics appears on this list speaks to it’s credibility and to the deep and thoughtful nature of Dinesh’s conservatism.

    • joe says:

      February 5, 2013 at 9:45 AM

      Stalinism is an implementation of socialism, and therein lies the irony.

      Every socialist knows that it isn’t the dogma that is wrong, only the incorrect way that it was implemented.

  • Lily says:

    January 18, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    May I also make a few suggestions about books that are relevant to our time to read are:
    Tragedy & Hope by Carroll Quigley, The New World Order by William Still, The Return of the Anti-Christ & The New World Order, by Patrick Heron, Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow by Constance Cumbey, Inside the New Age Nightmare by Randall Baer, Pawns in the Game by David Spangler, Our Global Neighborhood by the UN, Apollyon Rising by Tom Horn. Please put together a new documentary on the New World Order.

  • Chip says:

    January 21, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    Interesting reading list. I recognize the names of many of these authors. However, I’ve never read their books. I need to check them out.

  • Barry Mascarenhas says:

    January 23, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    Thank you Dinesh. You are spot on as always! I enjoyed your “What’s So Great About Christianity” and “Life After Death”. I admire your acute thinking on Christianity, Apologetics and Politics. We need more thinkers like you!

  • Dan says:

    January 25, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    I would include all of the standard works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on this list: The Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Why? So one will understand the importance and value of liberty and freedom that God has endowed men with, the importance of using that freedom correctly, and the consequences of using that freedom incorrectly.

    • Steven says:

      February 9, 2013 at 1:26 AM

      Other than the Bible, those other books have nothing to do with conservatism. I have read them and they have nothing to do with understanding the importance and value of liberty and freedom. They are largely plagiarisms of the Bible and Joseph Smiths religious beliefs and historical fabrications. This forum is about conservative values, not promotion of your particular church. I have had many Mormon friends and they are very good people, but that doesn’t make their theology correct, nor a justification for abusing a forum designed for other purposes.

  • Peter Kieffer says:

    January 25, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    I would include “Constitution in Chaos” by Andrew Napolitano. It will be the most important book of the century, either because we listened, or because we didn’t.

  • Emily says:

    January 25, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Excellent list and cannot wait to read some of these i didnt know about. i am about 100 pages from finishing Atlas Shrugged right now. it is scary how closely this book relates to what i see going on today. i have never connected with a book emotionally quite like i have this one. i find it an incredible piece of work!!

  • John Hubbell says:

    January 25, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    1997: Ronald Reagan: How An Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader (ISBN 0-684-84823-6) should be added to that list. It’s short, very readable, and a good place for anyone who does not know Reagan to begin.

  • Phil says:

    January 25, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    I would highly recommend Eric Hoffer’s book, The True Believer. It should be mandatory reading for conservatives and liberals alike in our time of increasingly coarse, uncivil and absolutist discourse.

    • Mark says:

      January 26, 2014 at 11:14 PM

      Great choice Phil. I read Hoffa when I was in college and its stuck with me for decades. A critical thinker.

  • Jean says:

    January 27, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Thank you for being there for us. I would add to this list Andrew Breitbart’s book, Righteous Indignation; and Thomas Sowell’s book, Dismantling America.

  • Scott S says:

    January 28, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    Needs more works of fiction!

  • Rob Right says:

    January 29, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Love your work, Dinesh– keep it up. –Personally, these next few years may be tough… but perhaps it will take tough times for people to wake up to the threats of our democracy. God speed, DD–

  • Walker says:

    February 8, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    I am surprised there are no Richard Epstein selections recommended.

  • Dave says:

    February 9, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    I would put in at least one Mark Levin book, probable “Liberty and Tyranny”.

  • John Hendricks says:

    April 15, 2013 at 5:02 AM

    Christ’s parable of the good Samaritan holds up the clear example for all Christians of universal health care. Following the example of Isaiah, forty percent of the words of Jesus teach social justice for the poor. The book “A People’s History of Christianity” by Diana Butler Bates reveals how Jesus’ Christ’s ultra egalitarian teachings have been hijacked by materialists. Fostered by Constantine, the 4th Century theological battle that defeated the earlier dominant doctrine of a subordinant trinity perverted Western and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. America was great because idealistic hard working Christians were able to utilize a previously unexploited bounty of natural resources already exhausted in Europe, and corporate raiders were not yet invented. The problem with many conservatives is they imagine that good ideas and elbow grease alone can create wealth without abundant biological resources, and clean water and soil. Ayn Rand was an idiot regarding the biological sciences. The Japanese industrial approach, based on the economist Edward Deming, emphasizing the lowly worker’s hands-on knowledge, is more productive than Rand’s C.E.O. worship.

    Ayn Rand is the antithesis of Jesus Christ.

  • Shirley T. Domer says:

    May 9, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Loved your book, What’s So Great About America, and video of you I have seen. I am an immigrant from England since 1955, so know exactly what you mean about new immigrants’ perceptions of lovely America…I’m afraid it might be damaged by Muslims and socialists now, though, and have myself suffered from the economy of the last few years. Keep up all your literary and speaking pursuits…I’ll be reading and watching. Shirley

  • Miss Paige Quintel says:

    July 5, 2013 at 3:13 AM

    I have read most of those books and I still kept wondering what is the end look like well. It is science that is driving the politics look behind the politics and you will see the creation of a scientific dictatorship.

    The Coming Rise of a Scientific Dictatorship:
    1. To create a Utopia on Earth
    See Book: Rewilding North America By Dave Foreman at Amazon. Com
    See Article: Rewilding Network—Saving Globe Through Big Wilderness: Another UN Agenda 21 Hoax

    http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/rewilding-network-saving-globe-through-big-wilderness-another-un-agenda-21
    Perhaps the most jaw-dropping part of the rewilding plan involves reintroducing long-gone American animal groups back onto the North American continent. This could happen in several ways. The first would be to reintroduce former indigenous species who once roamed our land—such as elephants and the (wooly) rhinoceros. The second, reminiscent of a sci-fi movie, would be to find DNA materials to recreate extinct animal groups. For example, under this plan, well-preserved extinct animals—such as glacier-bound woolly mammoths, recently disappeared passenger pigeons, or the La Brea Tar-pits’ saber toothed cats could be raised as fetuses from scratch. On this Science Daily published: A Plan For Reintroducing Megafauna To North America:

    2. Trans-humanism the new Eugenics program with the same goals as before and the same institutions involved.
    Read: War against the Weak by Edwin Black

    The desire to become a god: In antiquity the Kings and Emperors thought of themselves as gods now everyone is doing it. There are many articles and YouTube videos dealing with trans-human, post human, humanity plus and H+ articles. They are not shy about posting their ideas for perfecting mankind nor their threats to those who want to stop them. We will live in communal cities modeled after a bee or ant colonies and have a hive mind as well. We will be bred for specific jobs. Not everyone will be allowed to breed therefore the need to queer the American population, so they don’t breed. Population control 535 million will be the absolute top population for earth.
    2010 Trans-human conference called “Fear and Trembling at the Tower of Babel”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=muIXsGaTOoU There is a Trans-human documentary trailer called “The Singularity is Near” by Ray Kertzweil on YouTube. Article: We’ll be uploading our entire MINDS to computers by 2045 , Google expert claims
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2344398/Google-futurist-claims-uploading-entire-MINDS-computers-2045-bodies-replaced-machines-90-years.html

    The Casual Transhuman By: Travis James Leland Published: May 24, 2012
    “HTTP://hplusmagazine.com/We are the Borg… And That is a Good Thing.”Army of the future: Soldiers will be able to run at Olympic speed and won’t need food or sleep with gene technology,Pentagon scientists researching gene manipulation to build the soldiers of tomorrow,They hope to be able to trigger the cells of injured soldiers’ bodies to rebuild lost limbs .Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2187276/U-S-Army-Soldiers-able-run-Olympic-speed-wont-need-food-sleep-gene-technology.html#ixzz2Bh6Lwyi6

    3 .Hackers backdoor the human brain, successfully extract sensitive data
    Using a commercial off-the-shelf brain-computer interface, the researchers have shown that it’s possible to hack your brain, forcing you to reveal information that you’d rather keep secret.
    http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/134682-hackers-backdoor-the-human-brain-successfully-extract-sensitive-data
    Obama Seeking to Boost Study of Human Brain
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/18/science/project-seeks-to-build-map-of-human-brain.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

    4. Utilitarianism as the new code of morality “For the greater Good” article:
    Utilitarianism: The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4224805/k.B792/Utilitarianism_The_Greatest_Good_for_the_Greatest_Number.htm

  • Kent says:

    October 3, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Ayn Rand’s Atlas is a great novel, but her collection of articles from the Objectivist Newsletter, including Alan Greenspan, Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal is a great example of detailed analysis of what statists policies do to the country. Interestingly, many of them were written in the 60’s when LBJ was in office and she specifically, and accurately, predicts what would happen if his ridiculous policies were allowed to continue. They still continue to this day and have grown exponentially…and are still as ineffective as always. It would be interesting to hear a big government liberal to name the success their programs have had for all the money and effort spent. That would be a silence welcomed in a library.

  • Nancy Carvalho says:

    January 24, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    A good basic explanation of what is happening in America is found in “The Creature from Jekyl Island.”

  • Cathy says:

    January 24, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    FREE DINESH!…

    Thank You for all you do. We stand with you!

  • Brett says:

    January 26, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    Mark Levin is a seminal conservative intellectual of our time. Don’t be fooled by his shtick on radio. He is a true conservative thinker of our time.

  • pam says:

    January 27, 2014 at 6:37 AM

    What about the books of Mark Levin?

  • tom says:

    January 27, 2014 at 9:05 PM

    AMERICA IN PROPHESY also known as THE GREAT CONTROVERSY BETWEEN CHRIST AND SATAN

  • K E Espenant says:

    January 29, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    The most obvious book missing on this list is the Bible. Is it not the foundation for all the others?

  • Kent says:

    February 6, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    As another addition, to really understand the nature of the battle we face trying to bring back America, I strongly suggest COMING APART, the state of White America 1960 – 2010. We can’t win the hearts and minds of Americans who have neither. The ‘lower class’, who would never be on this site and never read ANY of these books, is becoming larger by the day and are virtually immune to logic and facts…like most liberals.

  • Walt Zeitfuss says:

    March 11, 2014 at 8:02 AM

    You should have all of Ayn Rand’s fiction books. Others are:Atlas Shrugged; Anthem and We the Living.

  • Sudduth Cummings says:

    April 15, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    Good list. I’m glad that Edmund Burke is till studied since he influenced my younger years in high school via a tv series about his writings. I’d like to suggest Mark Levin’s book, “Ameritopia” as an addition to the list–he rightly discerns the kind of social perfecting motive behind so much of what the Left does, including justifying their standard use of deception, manipulation, propaganda, demonization of opponents, and the unlimited use of government power.