A Brief Book Guide (Part III)

Part one of our book guide covered some basic, entry-level, easily read books on the contradictions, lunacy, and general evil that modern liberalism and Leftism embodies.  Part two introduced conservative and Christian texts in brief, looking at the connection between Christianity and Western Civilization.  Part three begins where part two left off: here, the Christian worldview is on full display, distinctions between so-called liberalism (“classical liberalism”) and conservatism are better defined, and the nature of Modernity is revealed in its full excessive, brutal detail. 

This guide is a bit less substantial in content than the previous two, but it has almost twice as many texts, with several links to reviews of books I did on this very site.  For those of you who interested in the thought of the Right that still remain unconvinced of the Christian metaphysic—atheists, agnostics, etc.—worry not!  Christianity is not the easiest pill to swallow by those of us left out in the rain of Modern thought.  It is particularly with this in mind that prompted me to formulate this list.  The journey toward Truth is greater than what can be done through a simple reading list, certainly, but sometimes that door is stepped through by intellectual means rather than by means of the heart.

Philippe Bénéton – Equality by Default
Recently reprinted, this prophetic text tracks the disintegration of values as the churning industrial metaphysics of Modernity has marched ever onward.  See my review here for more information.

Alexander Boot – How the West Was Lost
Boot is one of the best writers actively blogging today, and perhaps the most astute political commentator in the Western sphere.  This book highlights the depth of his knowledge of history and music, contextualizing the difference between the Western Capitalist and Eastern Communist modes of modern thought and how both are rotten to their core fundamental values.

Pat Buchanan – The Death of the West
Time for some paleo-conservative scaremongering at its best!  Riddled chock-full of well-sourced citations and harrowing facts about immigration, Buchanan’s most well-known best-seller remains one of the best warnings and prophecies of the West’s future under what was then-present immigration rates and anti-life (abortion, euthanasia, and contraception) policies.  Published in 2000, Buchanan’s projections have so far turned out to be completely correct: the birthrates have continued to decline across Europe and the US, immigration has not only continued but even increased, and the future looks grimmer than ever.

J. Budzsezewski – What We Can’t Not Know
One of the more popular scholars in the field of Natural Law philosophy, J. Budzsezewski’s work is both accessible to the non-scholarly audience while maintaining intellectual chops. This book is a specific defense and explanation of the Natural Law, relying on both common sense and philosophical sources to make his defense rather than strictly Biblical citations, as some authors do. A good rundown and introduction for students looking for an alternative to the hollowed-out moral relativism of today.

Daniel Lane Craig – Reasonable Faith
Among the best contemporary introductions to Christian apologetics, Reasonable Faith outlines the most common defenses for God as outlined from a generally mainline Protestant point of view.  It offers detailed explanations as to specific arguments, and in particular, Craig’s favorite—the Kalam Cosmological Argument.  For those of you still with shorter attention spans, Craig’s book On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision is a general summary of Reasonable Faith lacking in the more detailed and precise explanations and argumentations.

Edward Feser – The Last Superstition
Written as a reaction to the rise of New Atheism during the ‘00s and early ‘10s, Feser’s book not only offers thorough rebuttal to the absurd claims raised by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, but also functions as an erudite but succinct rundown on the classical metaphysics of Scholasticism and Aristotelian thought.  While certainly not comprehensive, Feser’s explanations of the four causes and his defenses of the philosophical arguments for God’s existence remain some of the best introductory material around.

Hans Herman-Hoppe – Democracy: The God that Failed
This is probably Hoppe’s most well-known and significant work to date, and a good introduction to his general thought.  Although one of the leading anarcho-capitalists, Hoppe’s thought—best on display in this work—resembles the traditionalist work of thinkers like Kuenhelt-Leddihn and, to some degree, even de Maistre.

John Lawrence Hill – After the Natural Law
This is a slightly more philosophical exploration into the field of Natural Law than the Budzsezewski book listed above.  Worth the read.  See my full review for more information.

Fredrick Jameson – Postmodernism, or, The Culture Logic of Late Capitalism
Although hardly a conservative thinker, Jameson’s Marxist critiques of late-capitalist society remain relevant today, despite attributing the problem to the wrong horse.  Whatever capitalism’s faults, classifying it as an ideology in itself is more a fault of Marxism than of capitalists, but certain Leftist misidentifications and misdiagnoses are to be expected from the writings of a Marxist professor.  But this fundamental critique of Modern man—his adolescent phase dubbed numbly as “postmodern”—remains insightful even for right-wingers.

Bertrand de Jouvanel – On Power
Easily among one of the best Twentieth Century Continental Philosophers That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of, Jouvanel’s works remain criminally under-read by a majority of the West.  This work chronicles theories of power and the way in which it has been wielded in the last two centuries.

Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli – Handbook of Catholic Apologetics
A massive compendium of defenses for the Christian faith and worldview, this tome is absolutely invaluable to both newcomers to the faith and those with long-standing beliefs looking to streamline their argumentative prowess.  This covers far more than just standard philosophical proofs, getting into moral, theological, and eschatological questions common to both atheistic arguments and those lost from the faith in the sea of agnosticism.

Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn – Liberty Or Equality
Perhaps his most well-known volume, this work serves as a great introduction to one of the foremost defenders of the ancient regime in the twentieth century, Kuehnelt-Leddihn.  The book expounds on exactly what the title proclaims: that a system of political and social liberty is antithetical to a system of political and social equality, and he does so while providing a defense of the monarchist principles that make freedom of thought a cornerstone of Western civilization.  It just got a paperback reprint last year that should still be available.

Ryszard Legutko – The Demon in Democracy
In similar vein to Boot’s book listed above, Legutko analyzes the similarities between the Soviet regime’s culture and the liberal democracies of the West—and in particular, the post-Cold War European Union.  My review here explains in more detail.

John P. Safranek – The Myth of Liberalism
One of the single most succinct demolitions of liberal thought, Safranek’s text takes aim at the very foundations of the classical liberal worldview and connects it to the modern liberal-Leftist agenda.  He explains how the classical liberalism of Bentham and Mill not only opened the doors for the degeneration of Leftism to sweep in, but how it actively promoted the metaphysical confusion, moral vacuum, and individual alienation that Leftism is founded on.

Sir Roger Scruton – The Meaning of Conservatism
This volume can sometimes be hard to find these days, but it’s worth grabbing if you can get it.  Scruton sets out to argue fundamental premises of conservatism, cutting through the noise of the contemporary pedagogical pundits.  Although Scruton’s basis is that of English conservatism, the distinctly traditionalist flavor of his premises—that free market economics are not innate or necessary to conservative philosophy, that libertarianism is an alien to conservatism, etc.—are refreshing to read and worth the attention of newcomers to the Right on both sides of the Atlantic.

Bonus Round

Allan Bloom – The Closing of the American Mind
A staple of the genre, Bloom’s book covers most of the bases that, at this point, you’ve probably already covered.  Notable in the sense that it was published in 1987, Bloom’s arguments—that the West has turned away from its traditions, that America in particular harbors little interest in the roots of its own culture and order, and that the increasing secularization of culture has done irreparable damage to the social fabric—are even more relevant now than they were in the eighties.

Alvin Plantinga – God and Other Minds
Written by something of a crash course on philosophical proofs of God’s existence, Plantinga’s thought is worth being familiar with if you want to dive deeper into the background of Christian metaphysics.  This particular book of his adds little to what you’ll have already gotten out of Craig, Kreeft, and Feser above, other than being able to read Plantinga’s own thoughts on the best defenses for the existence of God.  His best-known work, the three-volume series of tomes known as the Warrant trilogy, and in particular Warranted Christian Belief, are written for a more scholarly audience and focus on the connection between epistemology, ontology, and metaphysics.  I can’t exactly recommend that unless you’re already inclined to read that sort of thing.

Michael Walsh – The Devil’s Pleasure Palace
A cultural critique of the Frankfurt School, Walsh’s book covers similar ground that Scruton’s Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands covers, except with distinct focus on the spiritual, artist, and cultural strains of conspiratorial decay that ravages the West.  See my review for that here.


Part four coming shortly.

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