The 3rd Battalion 506th Regiment 101st Airborne — not the famous “band of brothers” of Stephen Ambrose/HBO fame — is the focus of one of the best accounts of the daily life of a combat soldier ever written. “The Forgotten Battalion” landed in the dead of night before the D-Day invasion to capture and hold two wooden bridges — the only way off Utah Beach. Heroism at its most real.
The Civil War: A Narrative, by Shelby Foote
This is America’s War and Peace. Foote began as a novelist and brings the techniques of fiction to bear on a nonfiction narrative of incredible power. The work formed the intellectual framework for Ken Burns’s The Civil War. There’s no better way to begin one’s understanding of the conflict during the 150th anniversary.
Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe, by George Dyson
How did “code” take over the world? Dyson shows us the origin of the “most powerful technology of the 20th century — software not the atomic bomb.” This is a journey with the team that destroyed “the distinction between numbers that ‘mean’ things and numbers that ‘do’ things.”
What the ‘Bleep’ Just Happened? by Monica Crowley
Nationally syndicated radio host, Fox News analyst, and rising conservative star Crowley delivers a 400-page smackdown of the Age of Obama. The snarky title aside, this is a serious, tightly argued indictment of this administration from somebody who will not “drop the mic.”
— Stephen K. Bannon is a conservative filmmaker and radio host.
For many discriminating readers, Perelandra is Lewis’s finest work of fiction. The drama of the first sin plays out on another planet with a man from Earth there to witness it and perhaps intervene. Though the book is part of a trilogy, it stands alone. A truly beautiful novel.
Ancestral Shadows, by Russell Kirk
In this outstanding collection of ghost stories by the great conservative man of letters, you can read about a half-lost soul in an English bar somewhere between suicide and starting over; a big, gentle giant of an ex-con trying to take heaven by storm; a family of hermits who keep to themselves for good reason; and an exotic minister-without-portfolio named Manfred Arcane who could easily be the inspiration for the “most interesting man in the world.” These tales and many others make for one of the most absorbing reading experiences possible.
Dynamite Road, Shotgun Alley, and Damnation Street (the Weiss and Bishop detective novels), by Andrew Klavan
This trilogy is written in the voice of a first-person participant whom some have mistakenly believed to be Klavan himself. The sad, wise, and unexpectedly tough Weiss and the wild, edgy, violent Bishop make an amazing team, almost like Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin plus a half-century of cultural decline. Probably the best hard-boiled crime stories I have ever read, but much less well known than his novels Don’t Say a Word or True Crime.
Lancelot, by Walker Percy
A southern moderate-liberal is slowly fading out of his own life. He doesn’t know what his purpose is or where his marriage and family are going. Then, something strange happens. He discovers there is such a thing as evil. Percy won the National Book Award for The Moviegoer, but Lancelot is my favorite. The last few pages cause the hairs on the back of my neck to rise as a priest answers questions of cosmic significance with a single word.
The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, by Robert E. Howard
Howard is much better known for creating his most popular character, Conan the Barbarian (and his Atlantean predecessor Kull the Conqueror), but he first had success with Kane. Solomon Kane is probably the world’s only Puritan hero of pulp fiction. The tall, dark-haired “landless wanderer” with a corpse-like pallor is the most frightening foe monsters, murderers, and slavers will ever encounter this side of the grave.
Year of the Warrior, by Lars Walker
Walker tells the story of Erling the noble Viking warrior and Aillil, the Irishman who becomes a real priest by first pretending to be one when he is purchased at a slave auction. The novel perfectly illustrates the tension between Viking paganism and a nascent Christian faith under the old system of “his rule, his reign.” A book that will stir you emotionally. Amazingly, unjustly out of print, but available used. Let’s hope Baen issues a new edition.
Witness, by Whittaker Chambers
A colleague recently read this book at my insistence. He texted me, “Whittaker Chambers is a genius.” Surely, the greatest memoir of any man of the Right. Possibly, the greatest memoir ever. If you want to really understand what was at stake in the Cold War, read Chambers.
The End of Economic Man, by Peter F. Drucker
Drucker was the most well-known management theorist of the 20th century. His works in social and political thought are less well-remembered. This book masterfully explains how the desire for security and yes, social justice, can be twisted into totalitarianism. Winston Churchill supposedly issued it to the British officer corps.