Watch LIVE

3 foundational books on political philosophy


The books that most influenced the National Review's Kevin Williamson.

Blaze Books sat down with National Review's roving correspondent, New Criterion theater critic, outspoken libertarian and author of titles including the recently released What Doomed DetroitThe End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, Kevin Williamson, in order to get his book recommendations on a variety of subjects near and dear to readers' hearts. Below is the second in a multi-part series, in which Williamson gives us the three books that most influenced his political philosophy, followed by some pithy commentary on his selections.

And in case you missed part I: 3 books for progressives friends and family members for the holidays.

1. Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton Friedman

The book that had the greatest impact on my political philosophy was Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose, which was required reading in my high-school economics course. It is still probably the best introduction to the free-market analysis of social problems. Because I had up-close-and-personal experience with the welfare state, my politics already were libertarian by that point, but Friedman was my first introduction to systematic libertarian argument.

2. Christianity and Culture by T.S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot’s essays on religion and culture remind us that it matters far more what kind of civilization we live in than what kind of laws we pass, that cult, or belief, is the first word in culture: “If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God) you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.”

3. Against the Grain: The New Criterion on Art and Intellect at the End of the Twentieth Century by Roger Kimball

The New Criterion, which is named in honor of a journal founded by Eliot, works to carry on his critical mission and to understand our decadent culture without sentimentality. When I first encountered Against the Grain, I had no idea who most of the subjects of those essays were, to be honest. It was a book full of writing so far over my head that it was a true discovery, and my introduction to a dozen or so writers and subjects that are today a large part of my basis for understanding the world. In general, libertarians should pay much more attention to culture: “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws,” and all that."

Via National Review*: Kevin D. Williamson is National Review’s roving correspondent. His Exchequer blog covers debt, deficits, and the intersection of finance and politics. He is the author of The End Is Near and It’s Going To Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure, The Dependency Agenda, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, and contributed chapters to The New Leviathan: The State Vs. the Individual in the 21st Century and Future Tense: Lessons of Culture in an Age of Upheaval. When he is not sounding the alarm about Fiscal Armageddon, he is the theater critic at The New Criterion.

Williamson began his journalism career at the Bombay-based Indian Express Newspaper Group and spent 15 years in the newspaper business in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. He served as editor-in-chief of three newspapers and was the founding editor of Philadelphia’s Bulletin. He is a regulator commentator on Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC, and NPR. His work has appeared in the New York Post, the New York Daily News, Commentary, Academic Questions, and other publications. He is a native of Lubbock, Texas, and lives in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @KevinNR.

*Links added by Blaze Books

Most recent
All Articles