Peter references the Claremont Review’s Christmas book list below. For some reason, theCRB folks didn’t receive/didn’t use my submissions, so NLT gets to have them:
Jeremy Paxman, The Political Animal
This book, by veteran British journalist Jeremy Paxman, is not out in a U.S. edition and is several years old by now, but is readily available from Amazon.UK in paperback. (I ran across it in a bookshop in London.) It is a splendid look at the character of Britain’s political class and contains great descriptions of life in the House of Commons and on the campaign trail. It’s a great read. (Sample: Paxman quotes Margaret Thatcher’s one-sentence putdown of Michael Heseltine, who attempted to bring down Thatcher with a flamboyant cabinet resignation: Whereas both of us are ambitious, Thatcher said, "whereas with me it is certain political principles that provide a reference point and inner strength, for Michael such things are unnecessary."
Robert Faulkner, The Case for Greatness: Honorable Ambition and Its Critics
For a thoughtful treatment--and defense--of political ambition and therefore a good companion to Paxman, see this new book just out from Yale University Press. Faulkner rescues political ambition from the slights and deprecations of social scientists, cynics, and egalitarians, surveying examples and analysis from antiquity through Lincoln and Churchill. This book deserves a wide audience among serious students of politics and statesmanship.
James Piereson, Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism
Piereson offers a remarkably fresh analysis of what should have been obvious for a long time: liberalism suffered a nervous breakdown in the aftermath of JFK’s killing, couldn’t process the significance of the fact that his killer was a hard-core Communist (thus making JFK a martyr of the Cold War), and hasn’t put itself back together again in the four decades since. (My Weekly Standard review of the book can be found here.
Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods
Goldberg’s book isn’t officially available until January 8 of next year (I got an advance galley), but it’s worth pre-ordering. It is a deeply sober and serious book, and Jonah’s well-known wit and snark from National Review Online is conspicuously absent. His research is staggering and wide-ranging, and he makes a solid case that American Progressivism, and its heir, contemporary liberalism, rests on the same philosophical and historicist assumptions that generated European fascism. The left is already raising hackles about the book before it is even released (its Amazon page has been hacked, and is already the scene of flame wars), so buckle your seat belts, this is going to start some fights. I think Jonah is up to it.
Donald T. Critchlow, The Conservative Ascendancy: How the GOP Right Made Political History
Fresh off his fine biography of Phyllis Schlafly, Critchlow offers this new synoptic history of how the conservative movement triumphed within the Republican party. And he got Harvard University Press to publish it! Worth reading a fresh treatment in this season of conservative discontent.