For people who give books as Christmas presents to political junkie friends, here are my 2021 gift book picks:
“James Madison: America’s First Politician” by Jay Cost. This is a very readable biography of the father of the U.S. Constitution and the nation’s fourth president, by Dr. Cost, the Gerald R. Ford Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. Cost skillfully describes Madison’s lifetime mission “to forge a stronger union of the states around the principles of limited government, individual rights, and, above all justice.”
“The Dying Citizen” by Victor Davis Hanson. Dr. Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, has written an important book that explains how progressives are undermining citizenship, sovereign borders and destroying the middle class. Without a middle class, Hanson persuasively argues, “society becomes bifurcated. It splinters into one of modern masters and peasants.” And he concludes that in this situation, “the function of government is not to ensure liberty but to subsidize the poor to avoid resolution and to exempt the wealthy, who reciprocate by enriching and empowering the governing classes.”
“The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide to Chivalry” by Brad Miner. With wit and charm, Miner, a former literary editor at the National Review, invites readers to discover the oldest and best model of manhood—the gentleman. He “lays out the thousand-year history of this forgotten ideal and makes a compelling case for its modern revival.”
“American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent 2008-2020” by George F. Will. This is the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist’s ninth collection of his commentaries on U.S. culture, institutions, political arenas, and social venues. Will, who turned 80 this year, has been a leading conservative columnist for almost half a century. His reflections on current controversies and the recently departed confirm The Wall Street Journal’s observation that Will is “perhaps the most powerful journalist in America.”
“The Last Days of New York: A Reporter’s True Tale” by Seth Barron. In this work, Barron proves he has a keen detective’s eye for uncovering what Mayor Bill de Blasio’s progressive formulas have wrought: debt, decay and government bloat. Barron “brings to life the inner workings of how a corrupted political system hollowed out New York City, leaving it especially vulnerable, all in the name of equity and fairness.”
“The Prince: Andrew Cuomo, Coronavirus and the Fall of New York” by Ross Barkan. Published several months before Cuomo’s resignation, journalist Ross Barkan explains why Cuomo’s “heroism” during the pandemic was built on lies. Cuomo, he writes, “was too slow to shut down the state. He compared coronavirus to the flu and downplayed the threat. He failed to adequately coordinate hospitals to handle the surge of patients…. The Cuomo myth grew in proportion to the bodies piling up in hospital morgues. It lingered beyond any point of rationality.”
“San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities” by Michael Shellenberger. The author, himself a man of the left, argues that the Bay Area’s underlying program “is an ideology that decimates some people by identity or experience as victims entitled to destructive behaviors.” As a result, while homelessness has been in decline in many major cities in the past five years, it grew by 32 percent in San Francisco. Seventy-three percent of the homeless live on the streets. A vast majority are drug addicts or mentally ill. California progressives are, in Shellenberger’s judgment, ruining California’s local cities because “they defend the right of people they characterize as victims to camp on sidewalks, in parks and along highways as well as to break other laws, including against public drug use and defecation.” To get a preview of what New York City could turn into, read this book.
“Mario Cuomo: The Myth and the Man” by George J. Marlin. Pardon me for promoting my latest book. But if you want to understand what makes Andrew Cuomo tick, you must understand his father. My book explains why Mario Cuomo was the most complicated, self-righteous, pugilistic and exasperating governor in New York state’s history.
Happy Reading in 2022!