Not only is “read more” a good New Year’s resolution, but so too is “read better.” Below are some recommendations based off of some of my favorite 2021 reads.
Storm of Steel by Ernst Jünger—
This is a stick to the facts, non-editorialized account of Jünger’s time as a German Lieutenant during the WW1. Only on a couple occasions does Jünger tell you how he feels about the events happening around him; otherwise, it’s all about what he experienced while at war, allowing you to formulate your own opinions on the events. In a strange and very tragic way, this book is incredibly beautiful. Love of country, brotherhood, devotion, duty, and honor—all of this is on display; as is, of course, war and death.
“It has always been my ideal in war to eliminate all feelings of hatred and to treat my as only an enemy in battle and to honour him as a man according to his courage.”
Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fischer—
If you want to understand American history and culture before the Revolutionary War took place, this is the book for you; however, it doesn’t just end at that war. The four dominant cultures that existed in the thirteen colonies are still quite present today, and can be clearly observed in our current political discourse.
(an article I wrote that was inspired by this book: Liberty Defined and Decentralized.)
“An English traveler William Oliver observed in 1843 that pioneers from various cultural regions [in the US] were as unlike one another “as if they were different nations.”
Sun and Steel by Yukio Mishima—
Yukio Mishima was declared physically unfit to serve in WW2, which eventually led to him becoming a body-builder and martial artist. He was also a novelist. This short book is about the conflict between physical and creative exertion, and the author striving towards mastering both—an ambitious endeavor, but one that made him both physically stronger and more creative. Listen to this while working out/exercising.
“I had no taste for defeat—much less victory—without a fight.”
The Sovereign Collection: Carl Schmitt, a collection including the following works: Political Theology, Concept of the Political, and Theory of a Partisan—
Schmitt was a brilliant political theorist who’s still quite relevant today. As with the aforementioned Jünger, as well as with Oswald Spengler, much of Schmitt’s work coincided with the interwar period in Germany. History likes to act as if this period can be distilled into “Nazis and fascism bad, all else good,” when in reality the conflict between fascism and communism, and even liberalism, during that time isn’t so black and white; reading Schmitt in this light makes for an enlightening read.
“The works created by several masters are not as perfect as the others on which a single one has worked.” (Political Theology)
“Exchange and deception are often close together.” (Concept of the Political)
“It would be the seemingly harmless game of a precisely controlled irregularity and an ‘ideal disorder,’ ideal in that it could be manipulated by the great powers.” (Theory of a Partisan)
The 7 and 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton—
I’m not much of a thriller reader but this one had me hooked. The main character wakes up as a different person each day of the week, and for the 24 hours he has in each body, he needs to work towards solving a murder. The problem: each new character adds a whole new subset of dilemmas and new perspectives. And as the week goes on, the main character increasingly loses his own persona as he becomes more entrenched within the ones of each subsequent new body he finds himself in. In this story you find interesting elements of addiction, free will, and rehabilitation.
“Nothing like a mask to reveal somebody's true nature.”
Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt by Paul Gottfried—
Paul Gottfried is the best sociologist of American conservatism alive today. In this book, which he wrote in the early 2000s, Gottfried first analyzes and then predicts where basing society upon forced diversity might lead: a hodge podge managerial state in which not only does the government act as big brother, but also as the purveyor of what constitutes an acceptable society—“should,” meaning that they’ll use force and the allocation of guilt wherever and whenever necessary.
(I will be do doing a review of this book with Caleb Brown on his YouTube channel Faith, Liberty, and Praxis in February.)
“Identity is something to be extended or withheld, depending on whether a person or collection of persons is beneficial to what the regime in question is undertaking.”
Dune by Frank Herbert—
I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t read Dune until this past year. Sci-Fi can be so hit or miss, but Dune is so much more than just that genre. Read it for the dialogue. For the chaos versus order elements. For the entertaining story and its enriching characters. This is the kind of book that contains parts you might not think deeply upon while reading in real-time, but then will come back to you later, causing you to go, “hmm.”
“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”
Let Them Look West by Marty Phillips—
An entertaining novel about a “Red Caesar” who’s elected governor of Wyoming. His election is largely due to a right-wing disillusion with a society dominated by the left, and he largely succeeds in making Wyoming out to be an alternative to the rest of the country. The story revolves around a big city journalist visiting Wyoming to experience the change first-hand and write an article about it, with the intention of finding dirt. Included in his visit is a trip to the Mount Calvary monument, Wyoming’s new tourist destination as well as its spiritual pillar.
“But stability is not a rejection of motion.”
The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene—
This book can be read as a stand-alone or as an addendum to Robert Greene’s more well-known 48 Laws of Power. Both books should not only be read for utilizing strategies in any kind of situation—personal conflicts, job interviews, exercise, etc—but they should also be read as a means for recognizing when someone is using tactical/power strategies against you. For this specific book, war does not just mean physical collision. War is politics. War is love. War can be any situation in life. It’s best to know what strategies work for you, and what ones might be used against you.
“But the greatest battle of all is with yourself—your weaknesses, your emotions, your lack of resolution in seeing things through to the end. You must declare unceasing war on yourself.”
It’s Better To Be Feared by Seth Wickersham—
I’m obsessed with the Patriots Dynasty and this book deals with its two most important figures: Brady and Belichick. The book details their relationship from its inception 2000 to its divorce. It’s also an account of what best motivated the two men, and how the difference in their motivations initially strengthened their relationship as well as the Patriots organization as a whole, but how they eventually led to the relationship’s and the dynasty’s demise.
“Mr. Kraft, I’m the greatest decision this organization has ever made.” —Tom Brady
Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!