Reading List for Summer and Fall

Intercollegiate Review re-posted their “Fifty Best Books of the 20th Century” list yesterday. Here are my picks for my summer and fall reading –

C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (1947)

Preferable to Lewis’s other remarkable books simply because of the title, which reveals the true intent of liberalism.

Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History (1934–61)

Made the possibility of a divine role in history respectable among serious historians. Though ignored by academic careerists, Toynbee is still read by those whose intellectual horizons extend beyond present fashions.

Herbert Butterfield, The Whig Interpretation of History (1931)

Every day, in every way, things are getting better and better? No, and Butterfield provides the intellectually mature antidote to that premise of liberal historiography.

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (1908)

The master of paradox demonstrates that nothing is more “original” and “new” than Christian tradition.

Christopher Dawson, Religion and the Rise of Western Culture (1950)

An essential work of European history that shows how the rise of Christianity altered civilization in the West. Credits the Roman Catholic Church with keeping civilization alive after the fall of Rome and during the barbarian invasions.

Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars (1992)

Revisionist history as it was meant to be written: as a correction to centuries of Whig historiography. Demonstrates that the brute force of the state can destroy even the most beloved institutions. What do you know . . . Belloc was right.

Frederick von Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty (1960)

Thoughtful reflections on the conditions and limitations of liberty in the modern world, written by a deeply cultured Austrian who found his home in the Anglo-Saxon world. The Summa of classical political economy in our century.

Will Herberg, Protestant, Catholic, Jew (1955)

The first sociologist to take religion in America seriously.

Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind (1953)

Did the impossible: showed a self-satisfied liberalism that conservatism in America could be intellectually respectable. A book that named a major political movement.

Arthur Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (1936)

The classic historical narrative of the coherent and complex worldview that lies at the foundation of the West.

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (1981)

Won a new hearing for virtue ethics after nearly two centuries of intellectual domination by Kantian morals. We live today in the time “After MacIntyre.”

Robert Nisbet, The Quest for Community (1953)

Anticipated all the concerns of contemporary communitarians and did so with the sophistication of the century’s premier sociological imagination.

Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (1942)

A great economist presents a dark vision of politics in a book which is accurately reasoned and brilliantly written.

Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History (1953)

Strauss revealed the philosophical nerve of the Modern Project and retrieved the political dimension of classical philosophy.

William Strunk & E. B. White, The Elements of Style (1959)

An extraordinary little book that explains with clarity the use and misuse of the written word. In it the reader will not only learn the difference between such words as “while” and “although,” and “which” and “that,” but also find demonstrated beyond a doubt that language and civilization are inextricably intertwined.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (1953)

In a century littered with ill-considered arguments about the linguistic “construction of reality,” this landmark of the later Wittgenstein stands in a wholly different category. At once ingenious, humane, and humble, it puts philosophy on the right track after the sins of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and others.

Granted, this reading will take some time, but these look like good reads.


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