The Corner

Back to School

Let’s help an NRO reader save his high-school daughter from indoctrination! He writes:

Hello Mr. Miller, I have followed your posts for years on NR’s Corner, including putting together lists of conservative books, movies, etc.  My daughter is taking an AP U.S. History course at her high school [in Maryland]…  One of her assignments is to read and do a report on one of three books (only one of the three and no other).  They are: Kerouac’s “On The Road”, Friedan’s “Feminine Mystique”, and Carson’s “Silent Spring”.  As you can quickly determine, all books of a nihilist, leftist bent, written during the  50′s and 60′s.  While I am not concerned about my daughter being radicalized, as I’ve taught her critical thinking, l am concerned about the limitiing, one-sided approach that is being dictated to students at least at this high school …  My problem is that despite growing up during this era, and now teaching college history at the local community college, I cannot think of intellectually challenging books that would offer a counterbalance to these three.  During my formative years, I read “Conscience of a Conservative”, “God and Man at Yale”, and other books by, then, contemporary conservative authors.  I would like to meet with my daughter’s teacher and suggest three alternate books for him to consider in the future to equlaize this one-sided requirement.  If you have any recommendations, I would appreciate them.

My advice had two parts. First, of the three choices, I recommended On the Road. I wouldn’t trust this particular teacher to teach it well, but it’s better than the others. As for three alternatives, I proposed Witness by Whittaker Chambers (in part because of the Maryland connection), The Road to Serfdom by Hayek (everybody’s reading it!), and a book of our correspondent’s choice on the American founding (thinking that if it’s a book he knows well, he’d advocate for it well–if it were me, I would go with something like Founding Father by NR’s very own Richard Brookhiser).

What three books would you recommend as an alternative to Kerouac/Friedan/Carson? Go here and enter your ideas in the comments section.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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