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An original idea? That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them.
– Stephen Fry

The following is a suggested introductory reading list, presented in approximate reading order. I have omitted many books which, though interesting and important, are too much like hard work to recommend. Many of the older works are available free online — please Google for them — or you can visit my Amazon bookstore, which will continue to grow. You can also read my book reviews.

You may wish to start with my top ten:

Introductory books

  • Tansey, Politics — the basics: a slim introduction to the key topics.
  • Paxman, The Political Animal: a polemic against politicians as a class.
  • O’Hara, After Blair: an analysis of the Cameroons.
  • Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
  • Boaz, The Libertarian Reader.
  • Redwood, I want to make a difference, but I don’t like politics.

Politics

  • de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: the chapter “What sort of despotism democratic nations have to fear?” is essential reading, available here.
  • Mises, Liberalism — The Classical Tradition.
  • Paul, The Revolution — A Manifesto: 2008 republican presidential candidate Ron Paul lays out his proposal for a return to strict constitutionalism in the USA.
  • Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto.
  • Engels, The Principles of Communism.
  • Duncan and Hobson, Saturn’s Children: Conservative Shadow Cabinet member Alan Duncan’s early description of “how the state devours liberty, prosperity and virtue”.
  • Wilson, The New Freedom — A Call For The Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People: a President of the United States rails against corporate capitalism.
  • The Conservative Party, Built to Last.
  • Ancram, Still a Conservative
  • Jill Kirby, Who do they think we are? — Government’s hidden agenda to control our lives. (CPS – here)

Philosophy

  • Plato, The Republic: discussions on the nature of justice, knowledge, morality and political authority. A foundation of western philosophy, viciously critiqued by Popper.
  • Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Hard going, but illuminating.
  • Hayek, the Constitution of Liberty: an interpretation of civilization as being made possible by the fundamental principles of liberty.
  • Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volumes 1 and 2.
  • Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom: an essential alternative perspective on liberty.
  • Mill, On Liberty.

Economics

See this longer economics reading list.

History

  • King, The British Constitution.
  • Marr, A History of Modern Britain.
  • Bingham, This Little Britain: how one small country built the modern world.
  • The Bible, 1 Samuel 8: God’s warning regarding kings.
  • Courtois et al, The Black Book of Communism.

Issues

  • Meadows et al, The Limits to Growth.
  • Bartholomew, “The Welfare State We’re in”
  • Booker and North, The Great Deception — Can the European Union survive?
  • Philip Vander Elst, The Principles of British Foreign Policy (Bruges Group)
  • Martin Howe QC, A Constitution for Europe — A Legal Assessment of the Draft Treaty (Congress for Democracy)
  • David Heathcoat-Amory MP, The European Constitution — And What it Means for Britain (CPS)
  • Lindsay Jenkins, Altiero Spinelli — Godfather of the European Union (Bruges Group)

I also recommend a smattering of mathematics and physics — particularly the arithmetic of growth, entropy and chaos theory — and anything by the Centre for Policy Studies.

And remember:

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.
– Milton Friedman

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