In no particular order, here’s a look at some of the best conservative books of 2013.
1. The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters by Gregory Zuckerman
Zuckerman’s gripping tale is a story of men who risked everything they had, and in many cases won (or lost) fortunes betting against the conventional wisdom: That perfecting fracking would be a revolutionary improvement in the means of harvesting more fossil fuel (not the wind/solar/geothermal sources the best and brightest tell us are the future) that would do more for the American energy business than anyone could have foreseen even 15 years ago.
“Creative destruction can render public policies irrelevant, as seems to be the case with several decades of conventional-wisdom energy policy,” noted Michael Barone in National Review. “It reminds us that people with ingenuity and daring can reshape the world in ways few can imagine.”
2. Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World by Daniel Hannan
The Conservative British politician who defends the ideals of the Anglosphere as elegantly as anyone on either side of the Atlantic says it is mostly the values and institutions of the English-speaking peoples –including respect for individual freedoms and property rights — that underpin what conservatives treasure most about contemporary society. “A thought-provoking and stirring read,” said The Blaze.
3. The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty by Nina Munk
Economist Jeffrey Sachs is the rock star of Third World anti-poverty programs — just ask his rock-star buddy, Bono. Over a six-year period, Munk chronicles his failure, as he attempts to fix Africa with a series of “model villages,” to realize that outsider development schemes are not the answer to the continent’s longstanding and deeply rooted problems. Commentary’s Armin Rosen called the book “a readable and fast-paced chronicle of the real-world consequences of elite intellectual arrogance.”
4. Things That Matter: 30 Years of Passions, Pastimes and Politics by Charles Krauthammer
“A marvelous, and at times moving, collection” said Commentary about this long-awaited debut omnibus of the syndicated columnist’s work, which carries a surprising amount of whimsical and biographical material, such as the story of how, when he was a student at Harvard Medical School and suffered an accident that left him paralyzed, he completed his studies and became a psychiatrist.
5. Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence by Joseph J. Ellis
As Jefferson, Franklin and Adams met in Philadelphia, the overwhelming odds against the ragtag Continental Army were becoming alarmingly obvious. A roaring history of the founding makes a familiar story exciting and suspenseful. “Superb and dramatic,” ruled the Wall Street Journal.
Where did our conventions about political faultlines begin? By returning to the 18th century and its debates over monarchism and the French and American Revolutions, former Bush administration official and scholar Levin delivers a surprisingly contemporary take on our current divisions.
“A readable intellectual history that fairly crackles with contemporary relevance,” said The American Conservative, adding that this is “the must-read book of the year for conservatives.”
7. Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, From Grantham to the Falklands by Charles Moore
Volume one of the projected two-volume set, written with years of direct access to Lady Thatcher herself, is a work by a “true artist,” wrote The American Spectator. Moore shook off his early doubts about the Tory standard bearer for capitalism to produce “a masterpiece of the biographer’s art.”
8. American Gun: A History of the US in Ten Firearms by Chris Kyle
The late sniper who was killed last February was, at the time of his death, just finishing this look back at the crucial role played by such weapons as the Springfield 1903 rifle and the Colt .45 revolver in the winning of the West, the American Revolution, the Civil War and other historical fulcrums.
“Immersive reading,” said Publishers Weekly, noting that Kyle “brings to life the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral and the Battle of Cowpens during the American Revolution, recounting close calls, colossal errors, and the weapons that gave one side a key advantage over another.”
9. Coolidge by Amity Shlaes
American history might have been very different if Calvin Coolidge, unlike his statist successor Herbert Hoover, had been president when the Great Crash of 1929 happened and wrought the kind of panic that Cool Cal proved largely impervious to as president.
The Coolidge years represent the country’s most distilled experiment in supply-side economics—and the doctrine’s most conspicuous success. That success is the central Coolidge legacy, brought home with telling authority in Ms. Shlaes’s work. This book’s time is propitious.
10. America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century — Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come by James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus.
After the federal government’s welfare-state model goes broke, what then? By 2040, argue the authors, America will return to its decentralized roots from the state level up, only this time with a highly networked charge that will enable innovation at an undreamed-of pace, with the income tax repealed and replaced by consumption taxes. “A very important evergreen book making a strong case for [the authors’] myriad arguments,” said National Review.
MORE: Click here to see the Freedom Academy Book Club’s top-rated books read in 2013 and then enter your own favorites.