Posted on December 28, 2021

A Dozen Books and a Dozen Years

Chris Roberts, American Renaissance, December 28, 2021

In 2010, I was still in high school, but that year I started to get more serious about life and started to read in earnest. That year was the beginning of my intellectual development. Here are the dozen books I’ve read since then that most shaped how I see the world.

The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama

This was the book that first got me thinking “big.” Before, I’d viewed all political questions as matters of here-and-now policy or historical record. Prof. Fukuyama introduced me to the world of philosophy, giving me overviews of Nietzsche and Hegel. I had never given any thought to what man’s destiny might mean, and how politics might let us achieve that destiny.

Paradise Lost by John Milton

For most of adolescence, I thought poets were depressives who lacked the talent to write books or sing songs. Paradise Lost made me realize that poetry has an epic and beautiful history. It started my interest in the Western Canon; exploring it has been one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

I didn’t manage to finish this one. It was assigned by a liberal teacher. Its thesis that neoliberal economics are similar to torture struck me as absurd, and it was easy to find factual errors. I couldn’t take it seriously and was surprised by how popular it was. It made me doubt the seriousness and honesty of leftist intellectuals. My teacher said sexism might explain why I didn’t like it.

What Hath God Wrought by Daniel Walker Howe

Despite its liberal bias, this enormous tome solidified my fascination with American history. Our heritage is epic.

Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt by Paul Gottfried

Why do today’s whites hate themselves? This book is the closest thing to an answer I have found.

The Managerial Revolution by James Burnham

This unfortunately out-of-print book helps explain how bureaucratization has transformed Western societies, and why that transformation means “democracy” does not completely describe our political system.

Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

This choice really represents all “hardboiled fiction.” These novels mercilessly depict the grittiness of city life in tight, Hemingway-like prose. They also are unflinching in their acknowledgement of sex and race differences.

The Red and the Black by Stendhal

Are you wandering around the chaos of a post-revolutionary nation? If so, this book is for you.

Beautiful Losers by Sam Francis

This collection of essays is the definitive account of the limitations and outright failures of the American conservative movement since World War Two.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

An emperor’s personal prayer book, it is another example of how wise our Greco-Roman ancestors were. This book has spoken to me spiritually more than any other book. I recommend reading passages from it every day.

Silence by Endo Shusaku

This novel (the basis for the Martin Scorsese film of the same name) convinced me that God may exist even if we never see — or feel — him.

Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche

Though at times frustratingly dense, the West’s most notorious philosopher reminds us that another world is possible, one we have the power to create.