Jonathan Rauch guest edited a very interesting little symposium on the best conservative books. The consensus winners were:
1. The Road to Serfdom, by Friedrich Hayek
2. Witness, by Whittaker Chambers
3. Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville
4. The Federalist, by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay
5. Free to Choose, by Milton Friedman
I’ve got to ponder it a bit, but it’s hard to argue against the merits of these five, even if I might come up with a slightly different list. Personally, The Road To Serfdom has always struck me as more significant as a political document than a great book (though it is a great book). I don’t even think it was Hayek’s best work, but it remains the stand-in for Hayek’s contributions generally. (Oh man, here comes the e-mail.)
Lovely to see The Federalist Papers cited as a conservative book. You’d think liberals like E. J. Dionne would pause before applying the label “conservative” to what amounts to the liner notes of American constitutional democracy.
Perhaps some more thoughts later.
Update: Woops! I guess my quick thoughts were too quick. Dionne didn’t vote for Federalist Papers. My apologies.