Top 10 Books Every Republican Congressman Should Read

HUMAN EVENTS asked a panel of 22 distinguished scholars and public policy experts to help us develop a list of the Top 10 Books Every Republican Congressman Should Read.

Each panelist was asked to nominate some titles, and then we sent them a ballot that included every book that had been nominated, asking them to mark their top ten recommendations in numerical order.

A book received 10 points for every first-place vote it received, nine for every second-place vote, etc.

10. “The Constitution of Liberty”

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Score: 26 (Tie with No. 9)
Author: F.A. Hayek
Published: 1960

Hayek defends classical liberalism, which he distinguishes from European-style “conservatism.” Europe’s political rivalry was between Socialistic centralizers and “conservatives” who resist change, but are gradually pulled in the Socialistic direction. Europe’s classical liberals, by contrast, sought change in the direction of liberty. “There is nothing corresponding to this conflict in the history of the United States,” wrote Hayek, “because what in Europe was called ‘liberalism’ was here the common tradition on which the American polity had been built, thus the defender of American tradition was a liberal in the European sense.” Critics might argue that in recent years the Republican Party has become “conservative” in the Hayekian sense, being incrementally dragged toward socialism by U.S.-style “liberals.”

9. “Mexifornia”

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Score: 26
Author: Victor Davis Hanson
Written: 2003

An elegant book written by a native of California’s San Joaquin Valley, “Mexifornia” examines how Victor Davis Hanson’s hometown of Selma—and by extension California and America—are being transformed by the combination of unchecked illegal immigration and multiculturalism. “We must reject the new cultural relativism, situational ethics and arrogant utopianism that have escaped from the university and circulate like an airborne toxin in the popular culture,” writes Hanson.

8. “The Pig Book: How Government Wastes Your Money”

Free Online

Score: 30 (Tie with No. 7)
Author: Citizens Against Government Waste
Published every year

Each year, Citizens Against Government Waste publishes “The Pig Book,” highlighting the egregious pork-barrel earmarks that have been inserted into the appropriations bills passed by Congress. The latest “Pig Book” pointed out that the appropriations for fiscal 2006 included 9,963 earmarked projects costing a record $29 billion in tax dollars.

7. “The Conscience of a Conservative”

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Score: 30
Author: Barry Goldwater
Published: 1960

Barry Goldwater’s brief manifesto was published at a time when the prospects for Republicans looked bleak. Having abandoned limited government, the GOP had been defeated in the last national elections. “We are daily consigned by ‘enlightened’ commentators to political oblivion: Conservatism, we are told, is out-of-date,” wrote Goldwater. “The charge is preposterous, and we ought to boldly say so. The laws of God, and of nature, have no dateline. The principles on which the conservative political position is based have been established by a process that has nothing to do with the social, economic, and political landscape that changes from decade to decade to decade and from century to century. These principles are derived from the nature of man, and from truths that God has revealed about His creation.”

6. “The Law”

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Score: 32
Author: Frederic Bastiat
Published: 1849

Frederic Bastiat was a French economist (1801-1850). In “The Law,” he makes a natural law argument, reminiscent of the Declaration of Independence, for a free society and free economy based on God-given rights and a God-given moral order. “We hold from God the gift which includes all others,” wrote Bastiat. “This gift of life—physical, intellectual, and moral life. But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility to preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life my run its appointed course. Life, faculties, production—in other words, individuality, liberty, property—this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it.”

5. “Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics”

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Score: 33
Author: Henry Hazlitt
Written: 1946

A self-taught journalist, Hazlitt used straight-forward language and simple illustrations to debunk the fallacies embraced by those who advocate government intervention in the economy. “Everything we get, outside of the free gifts of nature, must in some way be paid for. The world is full of so-called economists who in turn are full of schemes for getting something for nothing. They tell us that the government can spend and spend without taxing at all; that it can continue to pile up debt without ever paying it off because ‘we owe it to ourselves,’” wrote Hazlitt. “Here I am afraid that we shall have to be dogmatic, and point out that such pleasant dreams in the past have always been shattered by national insolvency or a runaway inflation. Here we shall have to say simply that all government expenditures must eventually be paid out of the proceeds of taxation, and that inflation itself is merely a form, and a particularly vicious form, of taxation.”

4. “Free to Choose”

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Score: 39
Authors: Milton and Rose Friedman
Written: 1980

Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman, who passed away last week, and his wife Rose delivered this clearly written explanation and celebration of how hard-working people in a free economy can create wealth and better their lives, and how excessive government threatens this process. The book was developed from a series of television documentaries produced for PBS.

3. The Bible

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Score: 45

God’s Revelation of Truth to mankind, including the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, which ought to be followed by politicians as well as private citizens, in both their public and private acts.

2. “The Federalist Papers”

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Score: 68
Authors: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay
Published: October 1787 to May 1788

“The Federalist Papers” were the greatest series of conservative newspaper columns ever written. After the Constitution was drafted in the summer of 1787 and submitted to the states for ratification, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, who were among the leading framers, and John Jay, later first chief justice of the Supreme Court, wrote a series of articles published in New York newspapers making the case for ratification. Later published as “The Federalist,” the articles explained the principles and purposes of the various elements of the Constitution. “It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force,” wrote Hamilton in “Federalist 1.” “If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.”

1. “The Road to Serfdom”

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Score: 71
Author: F.A. Hayek
Published: 1944

Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992) was an Austrian economist awarded the Nobel Prize in 1974. He defended capitalism and individual liberty against collectivism. In “The Road to Serfdom,” he describes how government planning of the economy leads to tyranny. President Reagan cited Hayek as one of his favorite economists. “To decentralize power is to reduce the absolute amount of power, and the competitive system is the only system designed to minimize the power exercised by man over man,” wrote Hayek. “Who can seriously doubt that the power which a millionaire, who may be my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest bureaucrat possesses who wields the coercive power of the state and on whose discretion it depends how I am allowed to live and work?”

Honorable Mention

These books were nominated by at least one judge and received votes from at least two.

“Basic Economics: A Citizens Guide to the Economy”
Author: Thomas Sowell
Score: 24

“The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot”
Author: Russell Kirk
Score: 24

“The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God”
Author: George Weigel
Score: 22

“Democracy in America”
Author: Alexis de Tocqueville
Score: 22

“The Abolition of Man”
Author: C.S. Lewis
Score: 21

“Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America”
Author: Mark Levin
Score: 20

“The Lord of the Rings”
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Score: 18

“Income and Wealth”
Author: Alan Reynolds
Score: 17

“American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia”
Edited by: Bruce Frohnen, Jeremy Beer, Jeffrey Nelson
Score: 16

“Animal Farm”
Author: George Orwell
Score: 16

“Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy”
Author: Joseph Schumpeter
Score: 16

“Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government”
Author: Stephen Slivinski
Score: 15

“The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy”
Author: Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw
Score: 15

“Losing Ground”
Author: Charles Murray
Score: 15

“Atlas Shrugged”

Author: Ayn Rand
Score: 14

“Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know About Wealth and Prosperity”
Author: James Gwartney, Richard L. Stroup, and Dwight Lee
Score: 14

“The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values”
Author: Alan Sears and Craig Osten
Score: 13

“The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today”
Author: Alan Sears and Craig Osten
Score: 13

“The Conservative Revolution: The Movement That Remade America”
Author: Lee Edwards
Score: 12

“Great American Conservative Women”
Author: Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute
Score: 12

“A Humane Econom”
Author: Wilhelm Roepke
Score: 12

“It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good”
Author: Sen. Rick Santorum
Score: 12

“Market Education: The Unknown History”
Author: Andrew Coulson
Score: 11

“The Myth of the Robber Barons”
Author: Burton W. Folsom
Score: 11

“A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles”
Author: Thomas Sowell
Score: 10

“The Fair Tax Book: Saying Goodbye to the Income Tax and the IRS”
Author: Neal Boortz and John Lindner
Score: 10

“The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially”
Author: Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher
Score: 9

“The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization”
Author: Patrick J. Buchanan
Score: 9

“The River War”
Author: Sir Winston Churchill
Score: 9

“Speaking My Mind”
Author: Ronald Reagan
Score: 9

“Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures”
Author: Pope Benedict XVI and Marcello Pera
Score: 8

“Robert E. Lee on Leadership: Executive Lessons in Character, Courage, and Vision”
Author: Harry Crocker
Score: 8

“The Tragedy of American Compassion”
Author: Marvin Olasky
Score: 8

“The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success”
Author: Rodney Stark
Score: 8

“In Defense of Freedom”
Author: Frank Meyer
Score: 7

“The Way the World Works”
Author: Jude Wanniski
Score: 7

“America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It”
Author: Mark Steyn
Score: 6

“Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause”
Author: Richard A. Viguerie
Score: 5

“The Theme is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition”
Author: M. Stanton Evans
Score: 5

Author: George Orwell
Score: 4

“Slouching Toward Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and the American Decline”
Author: Robert Bork
Score: 4

“Two Cheers for Capitalism”
Author: Irving Kristol
Score: 4

“The Wealth of Nations”
Author: Adam Smith
Score: 4

“The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation As a Basis for Social Policy”
Author: Thomas Sowell
Score: 3

The Judges

These 22 scholars and public policy experts served as judges in selecting the
Top 10 Books Every Republican Congressman Should Read.

Alan Reynolds
Senior Fellow
Cato Institute

Allan Carlson
The Howard Center

Rabbi Aryeh Spero
Caucus for America

L. Brent Bozell
Media Research Center

Brian P. Janiskee
Associate Professor of Political Science
California State University, San Bernardino

Brian T. Kennedy
Claremont Institute

Alan Sears
President, CEO and General Counsel
Alliance Defense Fund

Donald J. Devine
Second Vice Chairman
American Conservative Union

Pete du Pont
National Center for Policy Analysis

Gary L. Gregg II
McConnell Center, University of Louisville

Harry Crocker
Regnery Books

Herbert I. London
Hudson Institute

John Berthoud
National Taxpayers Union

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Richard A. Viguerie
Author, “Conservatives Betrayed”

Mark Henrie
Director of Academic Affairs/Senior Editor
Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Michelle Easton
Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute

Rev. Robert A. Sirico
The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty

Ron Robinson
Young America’s Foundation

Thomas A. Schatz
Citizens Against Government Waste

Walter Williams
Professor of Economics
George Mason University

Wendy Wright
Concerned Women for America