February 3, 2017

"20 Essential Books to Prepare You for What's Next/A handy reading list featuring not-so-speculative dystopian fiction, political memoirs, and cautionary tales from Nazi Germany."

From Esquire.

What is the point of this list?
 
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124 comments:

campy said...

The Trump 2020 committee thanks Esquire for its contribution.

Yancey Ward said...

Is "Assassination For Dummies" on the list?

David said...

I've already read 8 of those books. The hope of the editors is definitely that people will be affected by reading the list not the books. If you read the books and understand them, it will be clear that Trump is not in any way a reincarnation of Hitler.

rcocean said...

Just reading through the list:

The handmaiden's tale - Wow, i was going to read that. Dodged a bullet. thanks Esquire.

It Can't Happen here - Liberal hysteria - 1930s version.

Hitler Ascent - Wow, Hitler Bio no. 4,384. Yawn.

The Penultimate Truth - Sounds interesting. thanks Esquire.

rcocean said...

"No-one can say when the unwinding began," begins Packer's sprawling 2013 dissection of modern America, "when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way."

Sprawling = unfocused mess that needed an editor.

Bob Loblaw said...

What is the point of this list?

To let me know the writers at Esquire need their safe space?

Jupiter said...

You haven't considered the possibility that the point of the exercise is to make money? What would you say is the editorial motivation of your Amazon Portal (TM)?

Amadeus 48 said...

This is so sweet. As someone else said recently, self-awareness is so rare it's a f*cking superpower. Esquire! Hitler! Trump! Godwin's Law!
Esquire, you just lost the argument.

YoungHegelian said...

It's interesting that they didn't go right to the source & put the 1933 Platform of the Nazi Party on the list.

It have lots of scary stuff on it about immigrants & Germany for the German & what not. But, then, you read further & -----whooooooooooooaaaaa--- it's to the left of BernieSandersLand!

12. ...personal gain from the war must be termed a crime against the nation. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.

13. We demand the nationalization of all enterprises (already) converted into corporations (trusts).

14. We demand profit-sharing in large enterprises.

15. We demand the large-scale development of old-age pension schemes.

16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound middle class; the immediate communalization of the large department stores, which are to be leased at low rates to small tradesmen....

17. We demand land reform in accordance with our national needs and a law for expropriation without compensation of land for public purposes. Abolition of ground rent and prevention of all speculation in land.


The moral of this story -- history doesn't repeat; it just rhymes. Complex historical phenomena are by definition unique, God help you in trying to figure any sort of chains of causality.

John said...

I didn't count but have probably read 6-8 of those books. Certainly 1984 (is it even legal to graduate from high school in the US without reading it and Animal Farm?)

Also, It Can't Happen Here.

I've never realized that either of them was a cautionary tale about trump and his likes. I thought both were about progressivism/socialism.

I would add to the list "Phillip Dru, Administrator" by Woodrow Wilson's right hand man and eminence grise Col Edwin House. Free on Amazon for Kindle. Perhaps scarier than any of the other books on the list, including 1984. Because it is about the need to have a bureaucracy, led by an administrator. For our own good, of course.

Pretty much what Stalin was. Just party secretary. Managed to murder 20mm people or so.

The other one I would recommend is one that nobody ever admits to reading yet sells 100m copies every year. I almost hesitate to whisper its name for fear a progressive lightening bolt will zap me. Atlas Shrugged.

The problem with people reading it is that they will realize what is going on and may see President Trump as a John Galtian figure.

I wonder how many of those books the folks who made the list have actually read?

John Henry

Lewis Wetzel said...

Observe the intellectual flabbiness of America's elites.
Yep, freedom of conscience and private gun ownership are high priorities for totalitarian regimes, Esquire.

chuck said...

Glad to see they included the white power guy, Jack London.

John said...

Buh-buh-buh-but I thought National Socialism was the opposite of socialism, Young Hegelian. Are you saying that all the folks telling me that over the years have been lying to me?

You can't seriously suggest that I actually read any source material about National Socialism or Fascism, can you?

Why I might wind up believing my lying eyes instead of what the deep thinkers tell me to believe.

John Henry

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I've started a Facebook page called Terminal Godwin. Any time I encounter content with the basic theme "X is just like Hitler" it goes in. X can be anybody-- the page is absolutely non-partisan-- but, as you might imagine, 9 out of 10 posts scream X = Trump. It is really too easy. I don't even bother to look for things to post, they just float in over the transom. Surely by now everybody is familiar with Godwin's Law. Do these morons at Esquire and elsewhere not recognize themselves in it?

Amadeus 48 said...

John Henry--Some of us are aware that our hostess has a well-established and somewhat irrational bias against Atlas Shrugged, which she admits she has never read. It's too long or something. Maybe now that she has she has put aside her academic gown she can find that time to read Rand's great fable about what happens when the doers opt out.

John said...

I wonder how many people have read London's "The Iron Heel" In the 90s I got interested in Jack London and set out to read everything of his I could. I found and read a lot. I read some pretty obscure works like tales of the Fish Patrol and John Barleycorn among others. The Iron Heel was almost impossible to find, being out of print. I did finally run a copy to earth. Meh. Not bad but hardly worth the effort.

One book I did not even hear of until a few years ago was "Burning Daylight". Commercially his most successful book in his lifetime and I never even found a mention of it. I ran across an audio version on Librivox and downloaded it from curiosity.

Far and away London's best book. Among many other great books by him it really stands out.

John Henry

Achilles said...

Were there any books detailing how the nazi's started with gun control?

Thought not.

zipity said...

My wife has a nostalgic fondness for Esquire magazine. Her late father was a zillion year subscriber. Otherwise I would cancel that pathetic rag so fast, the mailman would be spinning for a week.

Full of foaming at the mouth Liberal "ideals", ridiculous men's "fashion" that look like it all came from the Onion, "reviews" that extol $100K cars and watches, and fawning lick-spittle interviews with the cream of Hollywood Libtards.

Blech.

YoungHegelian said...

@John Henry,

Are you saying that all the folks telling me that over the years have been lying to me?

Young man, I'm happy to see you raised that question. And in response to that let me say this:

Socialism, at root, means the ownership or control of the means of production by the state. Not necessarily total ownership or control, mind you, but still guiding control. It says nothing about what is the nature of that state.

Now, those on the left like to take their specific form of socialism, usual some form of Bernsteinian social democracy, & turn that specific into the generic. Kind of like calling every brand of petroleum jelly Vaseline, to use an example from everyday life. There are many forms of socialism, some not Marxist at all. All are generic "socialisms", including National Socialism.

Do I think that German National Socialism from 1932 to 1945 was a left wing ideology? I do not. But, it was trying to be a socialism, except this thing called WWII got in the way. The Italian Fascists? They truly were a socialist regime. They got in power in 1925, & by 1932, the European country that had the greatest percentage of state ownership was the USSR. The second was Italy.

Quayle said...

Isolationism and hunkering down behind enforced borders = invading the Sudetenland.

Saying it was a mistake to go into Iraq and Afghanistan = advocating and demanding Lebensraum

John said...

Amadeus,

I was not even thinking about Ann. I was thinking of all the folks I have met over the years, right and left, who seer terrified of the book. Not because it is too long, it's not.

The consensus seems to be that the ideas contained therein are so doubleplusungood that it should be burned, the plates smashed, Ayn Rand's body dug up and fed to hogs and anyone who mentions the book or Chastized from all society polite and impolite.

People seem literally scared of the book, like it is some kind of boogityman. I use "literally" here in its proper sense. As well as a punny sense.

I used it as a text in an MBA course for 20 years. Students came in scared of it. Some had their fears confirmed, many were pleasantly surprised. A few complained to the school that I was unreasonable expecting them to read a book of this length in a single 12 week term. It was an interesting course.

John Henry

tcrosse said...

Esquire used to be pretty good, and funny. Now it's Esqueer.

YoungHegelian said...

@Quayle,

Well, as Insty points out Trump is like Hitler in one regard:

Both of them sent tanks into Poland!

I mean, isn't that just a chilling resemblance? /sarc

Amadeus 48 said...

John Henry--If you look at my Blogger profile, you will see it is one of my favorite books. Rand's contempt for collectivism and her belief in the individual are inspiring.

harryo said...

When Hoover was president, he was convinced that the market should be allowed to correct on its own. He knew that the market was rigged, and that congress would fix it.

The problem was, that the people couldn't wait four years for the market to recover, and commerce again become normalized.

FDR took advantage of this disaster, and found that he could just print money, and the Federal Reserve would charge a small interest. Small enough that even huge sums wouldn't debt the nation too far, for the advantages it provided.

He was smart to create the CCC. My own father worked on the Columbia Gorge highway, and the Devils Den in Arkansas. He drove a bulldozer the size of a Mack truck, and disassembled and re-assembled it for rail transport after each job.

This fundamentally changed the country. The Republicans thought the government should, as a rule, stay out of peoples lives. The Democrats thought that government should be more socialist. To provide services that industry found unprofitable.

I think FDR new it wasn't working. He tried a lot of social experiments, but he knew the only way to get to full employment was to get the nation into the war.

He allowed the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor, and he started Lend-Lease. The military industrial complex was born, and today the F-35 is the child of these socialists.

The socialists formed out of the necessity of keeping the United States from going Communist. They helped in the 50's to get the Republicans to run them to ground.

Today the Communists are rising again, and now they call themselves Progressives.

Don't be fooled. These people don't want to give you a hand up. They want you to bow.

Bow deeply, like Obama did to the King of Arabia. The custodian of the two holy mosques.

Film at 11...

Jeremy Guard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

I chose option two rather than four because I know they don't really think Trump is a fascist but they do want to keep people stirred up.

harryo said...

John said...is it even legal to graduate from high school in the US without reading...Animal Farm?

I graduated in 1972. I never read it then, haven't read it since. But I was in an English class designed for kids who were going on to Vo-Tech. My day was filled with shop classes and Band.

Only kids going to college were abused with that nonsense.

damikesc said...

Again, the same Left so upset over how Trump has a lot more power due to Obama --- they are REALLY going to dislike when conservatives decide to go after them.

WA-mom said...

@annalthouse I wish you would do a poll to see how many of your readers think it's ok to go nuclear on the Gorsuch nomination. Thanks.

mockturtle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
YoungHegelian said...

I can guess the reason why "Bonfire of the Vanities" is not on the list.

mockturtle said...

My friends, boyfriend and I all read Ayn Rand in high school and discussed it at length over coffee. While I found her characters rather soulless, I liked her philosophy [until I joined the 60's Revolution for a time]. Collectivism is not only wrong, it is unnatural which is why socialist/communist countries are such failures. And when government gets involved in altruistic endeavors, corruption follows close behind.

A Russian-American friend told me that the average 'worker' in Russia works for maybe two hours then drinks vodka the rest of the day. There is no incentive to work well or to work hard.

FDR not only started the 'military-industrial' complex, he institutionalized crony capitalism.

mockturtle said...

Hey. Where's Cookie today?

Eric said...

Let's hook up the Esquire staff that contributed to this list to lie detectors to get measures of how many of these 20 books they have actually read. Averaged across these dunces, I'll take the under at five.

Michael K said...

harryo, I apologize to you. When I read your first comments,I thought you were a lefty for some reason.

Bravo. I do disagree a bit about Hoover,. He was a Progressive but only in comparison to Coolidge and Harding.

Coolidge saw the crash coming in 1928 but thought the stock exchange was the responsibility of the NY governor, Roosevelt.

When we got into the war, Roosevelt had to turn to the Republicans, like Knudson, who built the machines that won the war,

I also agree about the F 35. It will take a war to show that the F 35 is another F 111.

Michael K said...

I saw the list and the only one that might be useful is "Hillbilly Elegy." I would also recommend "Rocket Boys" about kids growing up in a coal mining town in West Virginia.

traditionalguy said...

FDR is still loved deeply by Americans for his courage and instinctive understanding of what to say that gave them hope, and then he turned into a great War Commander. And DJT is now displaying many of Franklin's best traits.

And if you really think FDR is to blame for 1933, you are daft.

Comanche Voter said...

There's more than one of those books on the list (other than the one by Hans Fallada) written by someone who was mentally unstable.

urbane legend said...

harryo said...
John said...is it even legal to graduate from high school in the US without reading...Animal Farm?

I graduated in 1972. I never read it then, haven't read it since.


Graduated 1970. Never read Animal Farm, or 1984, or Fahrenheit 451, or Lord Of The Flies. Took the English classes that read Shakespeare and Faulkner and Edith Wharton.

mockturtle said...

Why not include The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, one of the best-written chronicles on modern fascism? Answer: It is too factual.

Big Mike said...

Books like 1984, Hunger Games, and V for Vendetta is where we were headed under Obama. Especially Hunger Games with the "obscenely wealthy one-percent turning its oppression of the masses into high-stakes entertainment." I've never read It Can't Happen Here, but a President of the United States who runs the government by fiat after using the IRS, EPA, and intelligence agencies to attack his opponents sounds as though it came from a book like that.

I haven't gotten around to Hillbilly Elegy, but I intend to. Diary of a Young Girl is always worth reading at any time.

Robert Cook said...

"I've never realized that either of them was a cautionary tale about trump and his likes. I thought both were about progressivism/socialism."

I've read 1984, of course, and I have the Sinclair Lewis novel somewhere on my bookshelf...bought used about 35 years ago...but I haven't read it. (I've also got London's THE IRON HEEL sitting on a shelf waiting to be read.) I've read four of the books on the list.

I didn't infer from 1984 that the government of Big Brother was either left or right...it was simply a totalitarian state. To speak of "left" or "right" about such societies is almost beside the point, as any lip-service given by the rulers to any political philosophy is simply to paint their will-to-power with a vague haze of justification. A totalitarian state of the right would be essentially identical to a totalitarian state of the left.

"The other one I would recommend is one that nobody ever admits to reading yet sells 100m copies every year. I almost hesitate to whisper its name for fear a progressive lightening bolt will zap me. Atlas Shrugged.

"The problem with people reading it is that they will realize what is going on and may see President Trump as a John Galtian figure."


"John Henry--Some of us are aware that our hostess has a well-established and somewhat irrational bias against Atlas Shrugged, which she admits she has never read. It's too long or something."

I read it back in college, fresh from reading THE FOUNTAINHEAD, which I enjoyed. I started out enjoying ATLAS SHRUGGED as well, being young and unsophisticated, but as it went on...and on...I began to realize the author was somewhat...nuts. Her idea of romantic and sexy seems to be violent date-rape. I also became aware of how cardboard her characters were, like comic book characters in prose. Nevertheless, I finished the book. It was after I'd read the book and reflected on it over time that I concluded Rand was a bad, if supremely self-important, writer and her fable of an ideal society was a power-fantasy as envisioned by a narcissist for people whose driving motivation in life is resentment of other people. No wonder those who fall in love with the book do so when they are self-involved, young, and callow. It's fiction for teen-agers and late-blooming 20-somethings. I can't imagine a mature adult being taken by it, (meant in every sense of the phrase).

FullMoon said...

The law of unintended consequences tells me that, as Trump makes America great again, people will begin to think that if Trump+Hitler, maybe Hitler wasn't as bad as we have been told.

Robert Cook said...

"Isolationism and hunkering down behind enforced borders = invading the Sudetenland.

"Saying it was a mistake to go into Iraq and Afghanistan = advocating and demanding Lebensraum."


Said by someone who will never learn.

Jon Ericson said...

It was after I'd read the book and reflected on it over time that I concluded Rand was a bad, if supremely self-important, writer and her fable of an ideal society was a power-fantasy as envisioned by a narcissist for people whose driving motivation in life is resentment of other people.

You were doing great until your word-salad fantasies kicked in.

Robert Cook said...

"The law of unintended consequences tells me that, as Trump makes America great again, people will begin to think that if Trump+Hitler, maybe Hitler wasn't as bad as we have been told."

Gee...I guess it's a good thing we'll never have any basis to adopt that view!

harkin said...

Since the election the mainstream media has gone bonkers.

Since the inauguration they've gone full retard.

Harold said...

Parallels:
1984: "War is Peace:
2016: Islam is a Religion of Peace, unfortunately uttered by politicians of both sides.

1984: government documents, history books, and newspaper articles are continually rewritten
2016: Democrats are responsible for freeing the slaves and the original civil rights act. Repeated ad nauseum in the media. And by Democrats.

Off the top of your head, you could probably do a dozen more for 1984

The Handmaid's Tale: elite group of men had absolute power over women's reproductive rights
2016: Can you say Sharialand? The people Democrats are trying to import into this nation on a grand scale? U.S. reality today- women have complete power over a man's economic future if they get pregnant by him, even if they bamboozled him into sex, or even if he were underage and it was statutory rape.

It Can't Happen Here: Republican dictatorship? Following the man who created U.S. concentration camps he threw natural born citizens in to? And let's not forget Woodrow Wilson, Democrat, who resegregated government. And the lightbringer, Obama, ordering agencies to not uphold the law.

The Road: It was the EPA, government guardians of the environment, who turned the Animus River orange, poisoning everything downstream. The worst pollution in the world today can be found in centralized economies. Like air in Shanghai that can be cut with a knife. And I'm a lot more worried about an ice age then a future where grapes can once again flourish in Greenland. Note- once again.

Jennifer Government: Lot's of dystopian SF runs with this theme. Ain't gonna happen.

Hunger Games: Where are the most well to do counties in the U.S. located? Next to Washington DC. How did they get that way? Decades of Democrats running the government. It takes time to drain the swamp. Reagan tried. Trump's going to try harder.

The Origins of Totalitarianism: Who's shouting down speakers (and has been for decades) and stopping their talks with violence? Democrats. All the parallels in this book would correspond with the Democrat Party of today. Including the anti-Semitism. Can you say Keith Ellison?

The Penultimate Truth: Not enough description there to figure out why they would consider this anti-Trump. Nor to figure out parallels to Democrats. I've read some Philip K. Dick. I find his writing disturbing in a way that I haven't read all of Philip K. Dick's writings.

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America: Neither pro nor anti-Trump from the description. Just another explanation of possibly why he won. There's a thousand of them, all somewhat right and all somewhat wrong.

Fahrenheit 451: Book burning. Both parties are guilty of wanting some books banned for different reasons. But the classics are the ones Democrats concentrate on. Thanks to them, Mark Twain will soon be nothing more then a footnote in history, which will probably be rewritten to describe him as a racist white man who contributed nothing of value to America.

Robert Cook said...

"I was not even thinking about Ann. I was thinking of all the folks I have met over the years, right and left, who seer terrified of the book. Not because it is too long, it's not.

"The consensus seems to be that the ideas contained therein are so doubleplusungood that it should be burned, the plates smashed, Ayn Rand's body dug up and fed to hogs and anyone who mentions the book or Chastized from all society polite and impolite.

"People seem literally scared of the book, like it is some kind of boogityman. I use 'literally' here in its proper sense. As well as a punny sense."


Nobody's "literally scared" of it. They just know life is too short and they have much better uses for the always-diminishing time left to them than to devote any of it to this plodding time-suck.

mockturtle said...

Cookie, I'm glad to see you here. I was getting concerned.

mockturtle said...

I didn't infer from 1984 that the government of Big Brother was either left or right...it was simply a totalitarian state. To speak of "left" or "right" about such societies is almost beside the point, as any lip-service given by the rulers to any political philosophy is simply to paint their will-to-power with a vague haze of justification. A totalitarian state of the right would be essentially identical to a totalitarian state of the left.

You are so very right [and not in the pejorative sense]!

Robert Cook said...

"A Russian-American friend told me that the average 'worker' in Russia works for maybe two hours then drinks vodka the rest of the day. There is no incentive to work well or to work hard."


Hey, and all this time you guys have been telling me the Soviet "Worker's Paradise" was just a lie!

Robert Cook said...

"Cookie, I'm glad to see you here. I was getting concerned."

Well, thank you mockturtle; I'm touched!

I can't spend all my time here, though. I do get get busy with work and life and such.

Jon Ericson said...

A tale of two lefties. One grew up.

Laslo Spatula said...

Robert Cook said...
"Hey, and all this time you guys have been telling me the Soviet "Worker's Paradise" was just a lie!"

THAT was funny! Bravo...

I am Laslo.

buwaya said...

1984 is no longer typical reading in California High Schools English classes.
Neither are the classic books you would usually think would be assigned - no "Moby Dick", no "Grapes of Wrath", etc.

By far the most common books in CA HS are several by Toni Morrison - "Beloved", "The Bluest Eye", and others.

Alice Walkers stuff is also fairly common - "Color Purple", etc.

There are several not-well-known books also favored, for ethnic reasons mainly - "The House on Mango Street", "Farewell to Manzanar",

Art Spiegelmans "Maus" (the comic book) is very common.
Sartrapi - "Persepolis", ditto
Amy Tan "The Joy Luck Club" was very common some years ago, but seems less so now.

This isn't really because the State imposes these selections, the State's own recommendation list is very extensive and fairly eclectic and full of exemplary stuff (with notable gaps and truckloads of dross of course), but because these popular ones are what suits the tastes and inclinations of local English teachers or their departments.

mockturtle said...

Hey, and all this time you guys have been telling me the Soviet "Worker's Paradise" was just a lie!

Touché, Cookie! ;-D

narciso said...

The ideology of 1984, was English socialism, a British adaptation of Stalinist? , but the other regimes in eastasia and Eurasia, are also totalitarian. The memory holing was based on orwell's experience in the BBC wolf service.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

OK. Read 1984, of course, and re-read it recently, for reasons that have nothing to do with the Trump Presidency. Have a copy of The Road, but haven't read it yet. Have so far successfully avoided The Handmaid's Tale. Know Fahrenheit 451, but from the movie. Know and read Anne Frank, of course. The Children of Men I've read about, but not read. The rest I haven't encountered.

Which is to say that this entire list is BS, and transparently biased BS at that. Smarter trolls, please.

Jon Ericson said...

I was a lefty until the towers fell.

sinz52 said...

The "It Can Happen Here" novel that may come closest to the Trump administration is the little-known "Come Nineveh, Come Tyre" by Allen Drury.

Drury wrote a number of novels, each exploring a possible future/allegorical scenario.

In this novel, the usual anti-American Left and internationalist liberals are stunned when the new POTUS turns out to be an actual Russian puppet. He starts taking orders from the new Russian leader and using the powers of the government to crush his political opponents here at home.

And gradually, all those leftists start to realize--maybe too late--that they may actually have to stand up for America and the Constitution after all.

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

"The Penultimate Truth: Not enough description there to figure out why they would consider this anti-Trump. Nor to figure out parallels to Democrats. I've read some Philip K. Dick. I find his writing disturbing in a way that I haven't read all of Philip K. Dick's writings."

I've read it...twice. (PKD is my main man...since 1975!)

It's an intriguing idea hampered by Dick's first-draft writing. It has nothing to do with any Trump-like figure. Rather, it's a neat metaphorical depiction of the way in which the rulers of society use war and threats of war as a means to subjugate the people, keeping them living blindly in a manufactured reality, a "false reality" (or, um, "counter reality," if you will), in which they live hobbled lives of stress and fear that at any time they may be annihilated...all while the rulers take all the resources for themselves and live in a world of privilege and ease.

Fernandinande said...

20 Essential Books to Prepare You ...

says the child who got outa college 6 years ago.

Harold said...
It was the EPA, government guardians of the environment, who turned the Animus River orange,


The Animas River.

Robert Cook said...

"THAT was funny! Bravo..."

Thank you, kind sir!

mockturtle said...

sinz52 reports: And gradually, all those leftists start to realize--maybe too late--that they may actually have to stand up for America and the Constitution after all.

Sounds improbable. ;-)

Robert Cook said...

"Fahrenheit 451: Book burning. Both parties are guilty of wanting some books banned for different reasons."

I read it a mere couple of year ago. I was surprised how little book-burning there actually was.

The real point of Bradbury's book, the real horror from which he recoiled, was the mind-numbing effects of television! Especially the overwhelming sensory-sating, thought-killing onslaught of room-sized televisions. And, in the fullness of time...his nightmare has come true. Bradbury envisioned a world in which books were not read primarily because no one wanted to read them!

Robert Cook said...

Following up on Bradbury and FARENHEIT 451, I read a deft and sharp critique of smartphones last week, in a column at COUNTERPUNCH. The writer called them "concentrated alienation machines."

As much as I like my iPhone, I have to admit, that's what they are!

Lem said...

The answer is two and four.

Clyde said...

Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism seems to have been omitted, for some reason. Sadly, Esquire seems blissfully ignorant that fascism was a socialist movement, and was of the left, not the right.

Mark said...

Since it is permissible, even fashionable, now to make Nazi analogies to the present, by all means let us do so, but with clear, open and honest eyes.

An oppressive, depraved, Nazi-like death cult is not only still a real future possibility, in many ways it is already here -- only it is of the left. To be sure, it is the essence of today's left. From the brownshirts that have their daily putsches and kristallnachts against their political enemies, to their increasing zeal to repeat the gnadentod and sterbehilfe of their medicalized death programs for the untermenschen, useless eaters and others deemed lebensunwertesleben, "never again" has become "Again, again, yes, again!".

buwaya said...

"The real point of Bradbury's book,"

True. People always misunderstood Bradbury.
Television didn't actually kill off books, but it put a large dent in reading.

Much worse has been more modern tech, the Internet, social media and especially videogames.

They are useful, for becoming cultured and informed, for a small minority, but a terrible mind-filler for nearly everyone else.

Chuck said...

Wow, that list is about as subtle as "Black Bloc" mixer in Oakland.

None of those books are on my Trump-era reading list. But I am very much interested in one of the books about Trump mentor Roy Cohn. There is "Citizen Cohn" by Nicholas von Hoffman. There is Roy Cohn's autobiography, which he wrote with Sidney Zion. Then there are about twenty books by Cohn and books in which Cohn figures heavily, chiefly histories of the McCarthy era.

Does anybody have any Roy Cohn recommendations?

Please remember that they are all available very reasonably and with fast reliable shipping through the Althouse Amazon portal.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

Were there any books detailing how the nazi's started with gun control?

National Socialism started with -- or at least was a founding principle -- the will to power, see Nietzsche. Here again, we see it manifested abundantly on the left.

Harold said...

Fernandinande said...
20 Essential Books to Prepare You ...

says the child who got outa college 6 years ago.

Harold said...
It was the EPA, government guardians of the environment, who turned the Animus River orange,

The Animas River.


I copied and pasted from a MSM news article with their layers of fact checkers.

traditionalguy said...

Hannah Arendt is the one that needs reading. She focuses on the ease with which simple Evil hides in plain sight by convincing everyone it is Good to murder others who irritate you.

Of course today that Evil is Islam. We irritate them by existing.

Harold said...

A few commenters have mentioned some books they didn't include. Well, not included was Silent Coup by Len Colodny, which is sitting on my bookshelf.

Nixon was driven out of office for far less then what LBJ did while POTUS.

CWJ said...

"No-one can say when the unwinding began," begins Packer's sprawling 2013 dissection of modern America, "when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way."

This must be a bad joke. Seriously, unless this is the opening line of a novel, how much understanding can Packer have? What makes anyone think he has any insight into that of which he purports to write? Why would you read this?

Crazy Jane said...


The list maker may not have read The Hunger Games carefully. It specifically contrasted the corrupt and vain elites of the capital city with the provincial proles who were ignored, mistreated and forced into life-and-death battles just for entertainment value. It's a young adult book, the one on the list that I read most recently, and I recall thinking to myself that it seemed to be portraying Washington D.C. over the last couple decades.

Laslo Spatula said...

“Heil Baby Heil: I was Hitler’s Groupie” (Excerpt)

You young kids don’t realize what you missed. Yeah, you had the Sixties, but Forty-Two was where it was at, Children: Hitler was like Jim Morrison times a Thousand! He was the German Lizard King, and he could do anything! Hitler WAS Stoned Immaculate, babies…!

I remember riding with him in the back of his limo, home from a rally, and he kept caressing my thigh-high black-leather boots. I know what you’re thinking: OF COURSE I sucked his cock! And all the while I sucked his cock he recited his poetry…

When the Eastern Front conspires an armor
And her sullen and aborted
Currents breed tiny monsters
Poland is dead
Awkward instant
And the first Jew is jettisoned
Legs furiously pumping
Their stiff green gallop
And heads bob up
Poise
Delicate
Pause
Consent
In mute nostril agony
Carefully refined
And sealed over

Adolph was so proud of that — especially the “mute nostril agony” part, because — as you know — Jews have big noses. Man, if he had an Electric Guitar he would’ve been like Hitler AND Elvis…!

Some people say to me: how could I be a Groupie for such a man? I find their shallowness sad: how could you not feel the True Soul of someone who could write this:

"Into this house we're born
Into this world we're thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An Aryan out alone"

How could you not feel that True Soul, and how could you NOT suck its cock?

I’ll tell you the REAL story about Auschwitz later, babies…

I am Laslo.

mockturtle said...

Laslo: :-D

madAsHell said...

The writer called them "concentrated alienation machines."

Situational Awareness denial machines. You might as well be a wildebeest with a limp.

Lewis Wetzel said...

The lack of self-awareness of progressives is breath taking. You would think that at some level they would realize that 'not tolerating intolerance' is literally nonsense, but it's the code they live by.

John said...

Re smartphones as alienation machines.

I've been reading a couple books a week since about 5th grade. Not gonna say how many years but more than a couple.

I have not read a paper book since my son got me a Kindle about 5 years ago. When I try, I find it very hard. I am probably reading even more books now than ever. On my phone outside of the house, on a tablet at home. Given the far wider access I have, the kinds of books I read is probably broader now than ever before.

Currently 1984 and African Explorers from Park to Stanley. Last week a book on Mobutu and the Congo and 2 novels by JD Kerwin. (Excellent, BTW)

So is there a difference between reading books on the phone/tablet and reading them in paper? From an alienation perspective.

If so, what and why?

John Henry

YoungHegelian said...

Ever notice how liberals seem to be of the decided opinion that fiction has the ability to best reflect reality? Look how many of the books on the list are novels. More than half out of twenty.

The histories are, with the exception of the book on Hitler are not histories (the Arendt is political theory/philosophy). They're tendentious screeds. Only one of the histories is from a scholarly press ("Strangers" is from Penguin, which we'll let pass).

I look at this selection & think "What a strange bunch of books to try & use to explain the present political reality!".

wildswan said...


1984
Hitler, The Origins of Totalitarianism
Diary of a Young Girl
Fahrenheit 451
I read these and they were reasons to oppose the left.

Hunger Games, HillBilly Elegy, The Unwinding
I read the first two and they were reasons to vote for Trump

The Handmaid - This is based on the premise that a world wide birth crash is as dangerous to society as an economic crash and will similarly lead to to totalitarianism. But we all know that a world-wide birth-crash would be a good thing - don't we? Such a crash is now happening and it led Angela Merkel of Germany to bring in 1,000,000 Muslims who disregard women's rights. But that means nothing. Wear your pussy hat for protection and march, march, march.

The Road
I read this and do not know why it was written. Directly under it on the list was an ad for a pickup truck which suggested to me that this list is not wholly serious.

Basically it can do nothing but good for everyone to read 1984. It can do nothing but good to be reminded of the consequences of anti-semitism as in Diary of Anne Frank. The people stopping free speech should read about its consequences. Origins of Totalitarianism. The people supporting Planned Parenthood should read about the evils of eugenics under Hitler.

The people opposing Donald Trump should read about the economic plight of post-manufacturing America. And they should look at what a secular civil society controlled by a remote elite and run by bureaucrats looks and feels like. Hunger Games, HillBilly Elegy, The Unwinding

But it's obvious that what coasties are meant to learn is that an economic crisis which is exploited by a populist leads to darkness. They aren't to learn that they themselves in their disregard of America (to the point that they have to read several books to find out that the heartland is having a hard time) were building a ghastly Hunger Games type of society. Look how the Clintons have abused Haiti. Look at Pelosi's wealth which she says was accumulated by doing "God's work." Look at the contempt for workers, the largest group in America, which infested the last election and is rampant in the premises of this list.



Lewis Wetzel said...

Not 1984! The book's title is Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Ambrose said...

I have heard that Trump is not going to allow any books in the internment camps he s planning - so this is all moot.

LYNNDH said...

I read the list. Many good books on the list I agree. Just not in regards to Trump. If they want to read a good book on the rise of Hitler try "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich". Of course they will not identify with the Brown Shirts or Black Shirts, but they should.

SukieTawdry said...

I don't think some of these books mean what the listmaker thinks they mean.

William said...

I saw the movie V for Vendetta. Apparently it's based on a graphic novel, i.e. what we used to call comic books. I can understand how the book can be better than the movie, but how could the movie not help but be better than the comic book......I saw Hunger Games. The first two movies were entertaining, but if your life allows you sufficient leisure to read about teenage heroes saving the world, you're not living in a dystopian society.......Why compare Trump to Hitler? Why not compare him to Burlesconi or some caudillo in a Marquez novel? I suppose it's easier to generate more hatred with such a comparison, but the comparison is so inept as to be self refuting..........How many young people died in failed Marxist guerrilla wars? How many more young people died in successful Marxist guerrilla wars? Where are the YA novels that illuminate the utter futility of Marxist guerrilla wars. There are plenty of other novels about how foolish and futile wars are. What makes Marxist wars so ennobling?

William said...

Just now I'm reading Amity Shlaes biography of Coolidge. It's called "Coolidge". Perhaps the title would have sold better if she called it "Coolidge!!!!!" Anyway, I see absolutely no grounds of comparison between Calvin Coolidge and Donald Trump. Avoid this book if you wish to prepare yourself for the Trump Years. How about the Twilight books. I bet they give more insight on Donald Trump than the Hunger Games.

LordSomber said...

Anthony Burgess's "1985" might as well be taught -- it's been more prescient, at least looking at UK history.

Iconochasm said...

"I didn't infer from 1984 that the government of Big Brother was either left or right...it was simply a totalitarian state. To speak of "left" or "right" about such societies is almost beside the point, as any lip-service given by the rulers to any political philosophy is simply to paint their will-to-power with a vague haze of justification. A totalitarian state of the right would be essentially identical to a totalitarian state of the left."

I can't recall the exact quote, but I think Orwell disagreed with that sentiment. The distinction I'm recalling was that a tyranny of the right was content with compliance, but a tyranny of the left demanded people really, truly believe it. Hence the absolutely insane effort to convert Winston, when the Nazis would have just put a bullet in him. Orwell wrote a fair bit about his disgust with communists and socialists believing their own spin jobs.

mccullough said...

The Road and Brave New World are my favorite dystopian novels

Dr Weevil said...

John (6:07pm):
The Iron Heel should have been easy to find in the '90s if you knew where to look. It's included in the second Library of America volume of Jack London, which Amazon says came out in 1982. The first LoA volume has the better-known stuff: Call of the Wild, White Fang, The She-Wolf, short stories. The second volume ("Novels and Social Writings") includes: The People of the Abyss, The Road, The Iron Heel, Martin Eden, John Barleycorn.

mockturtle said...

I found Brave New World even more frightening in its implications than Nineteen Eighty-four.

Robert Cook said...

"I can't recall the exact quote, but I think Orwell disagreed with that sentiment. The distinction I'm recalling was that a tyranny of the right was content with compliance, but a tyranny of the left demanded people really, truly believe it. Hence the absolutely insane effort to convert Winston, when the Nazis would have just put a bullet in him. Orwell wrote a fair bit about his disgust with communists and socialists believing their own spin jobs."

Granting Orwell's distinction for discussion's sake, (not to say it might not be actually valid), I don't know if the people living in either kind of tyranny would appreciate or even particularly notice the nuanced differences between having to simply obey and having to actually agree with the reasons for their subjugation, given that life would be brutal and (potentially) abruptly deadly in either case.

Jupiter said...

Chuck said...

"None of those books are on my Trump-era reading list. But I am very much interested in one of the books about Trump mentor Roy Cohn."

Roy Cohn was a "Trump mentor"? Both NY, I guess.

Robert Cook said...

"The Road and Brave New World are my favorite dystopian novels."

THE ROAD is that exceedingly rare novel: it actually brought me to tears in its final paragraphs. For weeks after I finished reading it, and sporadically even years after), I would imagine myself, when walking through a grey NYC winter morning, that I was in the world of the Road. It was unnerving.

I don't know if THE ROAD is actually a dystopia, is it? I think of a dystopia as depicting a society that is harsh or otherwise inhospitable, whereas THE ROAD simply depicts the world devastated by an unspecified (possibly natural) catastrophe. To me, it's more of natural disaster novel. (I suppose the distinction is exceedingly fine as to be possibly nonexistent.)

I've never read BRAVE NEW WORLD, though I also have a paperback of that. I really should get to it. From what I understand of it's concept, I'd say America has taken the road of BRAVE NEW WORLD whereas certain other latter day societies have gone the way of Ninteen Eighty Four.

Bob Loblaw said...

John Henry--If you look at my Blogger profile, you will see it is one of my favorite books. Rand's contempt for collectivism and her belief in the individual are inspiring.

Unfortunately here ability to write engaging fiction isn't inspiring at all. Personally I'd rather she'd written essay collections.

SukieTawdry said...

The "It Can Happen Here" novel that may come closest to the Trump administration is the little-known "Come Nineveh, Come Tyre" by Allen Drury.

I so enjoyed that series of books. I was sorry only Advise and Consent made it to film (great film). But, please, don't give the loons any more ideas.

I saw the list and the only one that might be useful is "Hillbilly Elegy." I would also recommend "Rocket Boys" about kids growing up in a coal mining town in West Virginia.

It turned out to be not nearly so useful as I'd hoped. I didn't read Rocket Boys but saw the movie. It's a wonderful story and a testament to what can be accomplished by strong, determined people.

Esquire used to be pretty good, and funny.

My father subscribed back in those good years and I read the magazine faithfully through my teens (I know, odd choice of reading material for a teenage girl). He belonged to the book club as well so I was reading things like The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War and The Winter of Our Discontent. I'd say Esquire contributed to my education.

College was my Ayn Rand phase. I read them all, sometimes cover to cover. Although I don't recall a blessed thing from it, at the time I read it, I considered The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich the hands down most interesting book I'd ever read. Books, what would be do without them. It's too bad about the left going batshit crazy though.

(If you've managed to avoid A Handmaid's Tale up to now, congratulations and keep it that way.)

Jupiter said...

Robert Cook said...

"I don't know if the people living in either kind of tyranny would appreciate or even particularly notice the nuanced differences between having to simply obey and having to actually agree with the reasons for their subjugation, given that life would be brutal and (potentially) abruptly deadly in either case."

"Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short", was Hobbes' alternative. His argument being that any government is better than no government. Just as Peace is better than War. The Devil is, as always, in the details. If Peace is preferable to War, then I need only threaten War, and you will give me whatever I want. So that you may have Peace. And if any government is better than none, then take this one, which I shall impose upon you. And thank me, while I rob your children. For what I give you is a government, and that is what you most require.

rcocean said...

"It can do nothing but good to be reminded of the consequences of anti-semitism as in Diary of Anne Frank."

"nothing but good" - really? Why is that? Too much of anything is bad for you. And why single out anti-semitism? Why not have everyone read "To Kill a Mockingbird" instead for its anti-racism?

Jupiter said...

What we have forgotten is that phrases like "Live Free or Die", and "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" were not (only) political slogans, they were considered opinions as to which risks are worth taking.

I prefer, "Live Free or Kill". And "Give Me Liberty, or Watch Your Fucking Ass".

Kyzernick said...

@ Jon Ericson, 7:35PM

Me too. Not quite a "leftie", but I trusted my parents and they're both Democrats. September 11th, 2001, made me political. When I seriously examined the arguments of conservatism, I understood that it was superior in almost every way.

Lewis Wetzel said...

William wrote:
Where are the YA novels that illuminate the utter futility of Marxist guerrilla wars.

In Alexievich's Borrowed time: the last of the Soviets, the overriding emotions of the people telling their stories, especially the people who were around in Stalin's time, are loss and anger. Loss, because the Utopian future they were promised was an illusion, literally nowhere. It could never have been. And anger because of the terrible sacrifices they had made for nothing.

Jay Elink said...

sinz52 said...
The "It Can Happen Here" novel that may come closest to the Trump administration is the little-known "Come Nineveh, Come Tyre" by Allen Drury.

***************
Uh huh. Two weeks into the Trump adminsitration, and you claim to have enough information to arrive at that conclusion.

You're an effwit.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger Robert Cook said...
. . .
I don't know if the people living in either kind of tyranny would appreciate or even particularly notice the nuanced differences between having to simply obey and having to actually agree with the reasons for their subjugation, given that life would be brutal and (potentially) abruptly deadly in either case.


The world of Nineteen Eighty-Four was worse, because Big Brother would tolerate nothing in which he was not present. Big Brother needed to look at the world, and see nothing, anywhere, past, present, or future, that was not Big Brother. It calls to mind Tolkien's description of the goal of Sauron, to look with his fiery eye where he would and see nothing that was not the will of Sauron.
Orwell had seen fighting in Spain against the fascists. The pre-Spain Orwell and the post-Spain Orwell are very different. In Spain Orwell saw his beloved POUM destroyed by the Stalinists, who considered them allies of Franco's Falangists. Stalin's Comintern had decreed that any socialist group not under its direct control was to be labeled 'fascist.'

Yancey Ward said...

Tyrone Slothrop said...

"I've started a Facebook page called Terminal Godwin."

Just like a Nazi would.

tim in vermont said...

I am pretty sure that lefties are not worried that any of their little proto fascist followers will actually read 1984 and possibly notice anything.

jaydub said...

Mockturtle: "A Russian-American friend told me that the average 'worker' in Russia works for maybe two hours then drinks vodka the rest of the day. There is no incentive to work well or to work hard."

When asked what it was like to live in communist East Germany, one of my wife's German cousins, who describes himself as a former slave of the GDR, said, "We pretended to work and the state pretended to pay us, but the state always won because our pretend work was still more valuable than their pretend pay, there being nothing to buy at any price." One uncle, who was on a waiting list for ten years to purchase a GDR manufactured Trabant 2 door, 29 HP, plastic clunker in 1988, still keeps the car in his garage. He needs a special permit to operate it now since the emissions are five times the current limit, so he doesn't drive it, just keeps it as a physical reminder of how bad things really were in the GDR. He told me the Trabant was the most expensive purchase he ever made, costing the better part of a year's salary, not to mention the unluckiest purchase since just two years later when the wall fell he could have bought a "real" car for an equivalent price. I've always thought it would be good for some of the current campus lefties to get the perspective of my wife's German kin who lived in a real socialist society. Not that all of the socialist paradises they are planning would bear any resemblance to any of the social paradises that have gone before.

Rusty said...

I also agree about the F 35. It will take a war to show that the F 35 is another F 111.
I've been reading about this and it seems that with all the electronic integration that it is potentially a game changer.Beyond the horizon SciFi stuff. With the new engine they keep claiming is in development it will make a respctable dog fighter. The idea though is to not let anything get that close.

mockturtle said...

Saw/heard some F 35s flying yesterday! [I'm fairly close to the Marine Air Base in Yuma]. They make the most amazing sound, quite different from the F16 or F18. All are beautiful. Love fighter jets!

LarsPorsena said...

Blogger Rusty said...
I also agree about the F 35. It will take a war to show that the F 35 is another F 111.

NO. There are a boatload of articles on why the A-10 should not be retired and that the F 35 can't do the same job. The US armed forces have had air dominance so long they think this is the natural state of affairs. There will be no uncontested air space in the future and the only way to penetrate it will be with the F-35.

All major systems have bugs. Take a look at the development of the V 22 Osprey. Not only expensive but took a lot of lives. Today every armed force wants them.

LarsPorsena said...

The list should have included 'Animal Farm', 'Darkness at Noon', and 'Homage to Catalonia'.

Robert Cook said...

"The world of Nineteen Eighty-Four was worse, because Big Brother would tolerate nothing in which he was not present. Big Brother needed to look at the world, and see nothing, anywhere, past, present, or future, that was not Big Brother."

And, of course, there is no Big Brother. "He" is an invention of the state, a personification of the state, a malevolent Unclr Sam. Of course, the residents of the society are (apparently) unconscious that he is nonexistent...except in their imaginations.

Roger Sweeny said...

The text is so closed-minded and full of hate. It reads like a satire of the left by some right-winger.

Mark said...

Big Brother needed to look at the world, and see nothing, anywhere, past, present, or future, that was not Big Brother.

Whether it is the "character" of Big Brother, as real or as invented figurehead, or whether simply the idea of power over truth and time and all reality, the ending which I did not fully comprehend in my first reading, adds to the terror and the warning of it all.

In the final sentences, Winston has been thoroughly broken. He has lost all free will. No longer knowing truth and seeing lies, no longer the doublethink of knowing truth and knowing lies and embracing them both, he knows and lives only the lie.

Look around the liberal world today. Many if not most are good and decent people. Yet they have been so thoroughly conditioned that they do not even realize that the lies they believe and promote are lies. That is why it is so frustrating and such folly to try to understand their thinking, much less engage with them. There is no common ground of reality with them.

DavidD said...

"A totalitarian state of the right would be essentially identical to a totalitarian state of the left."

That's because Left-Right is a false dichotomy.

The real dichotomy is between Totalitarianism and Anarchy, with the wanna-be Totalitarian taking advantage of the demands for order that sometimes arise as a reaction to the chaos sparked by the Anarchists.

Our Constitution was written to give us a fixed center between the two, but the center doesn't always hold....


mockturtle said...

I agree that Left vs. Right is a false dichotomy. In purely American political terms, it would amount to Progressive vs. Libertarian, both well within the extreme margins of Totalitarianism and Anarchy. Most people do want 'common sense' government. But when the media completely skews reality and convinces the people that shit is, in fact, Shinola, we have a problem.

Martin said...

Most of the books on the list would have been much more appropriate had Clinton won.