In many regards, 2012 has been a troubling, nay, bewildering year. 2013 offers the possibility of a recovery and the renewal of our political tradition. Here are the books that I am giving as Christmas gifts.
- Kevin Gutzman’s James Madison and the Making of America (St. Martins, 2012), offers the best assessment of Madison available today. Gutzman strips away the hagiography, and we can at last see the true Madison
- Ian Crowe’s Patriotism and Public Spirit: Edmund Burke and the Role of the Critic in Mid-18th Century Britain (Stanford University Press, 2012) is a groundbreaking study of the great political philosopher Edmund Burke from a leading scholar and devotee of Burke. The survey of the early influences on Burke’s life and political thought are worth the price of the tome. Crowe also confirms our suspensions that the “Enlightenment” was overrated.
- Russell Kirk, The Roots of American Order (I.S.I Books). A classic that can sustain us amidst the confusion in American political life.
- András Sajó, Constitutional Sentiments (Yale, 2011). In the confused jurisprudence of Justice Breyer, European law should inform American legal thinking with great regularity. In a refutation of Breyer and his epigones, Sajó suggests a return to older and more philosophical approaches to the law. As a practicing judge at the European Court of Human Rights, he offers a compelling legal and theoretical alternative to the positioning of reason and emotion as the extremes of jurisprudential thinking, while also explicating the pivotal function emotion assumes in constitutional design and law. Disciples of Burke will find much to appreciate in this volume.
- David Frisk’s If Not Us, Who?: William Rusher, National Review, and the Conservative Movement (I.S.I. Books, 2012) is the best critique and survey of conservatism in America in a decade. While a brilliant and lucid commentary on the importance of Bill Rusher to the success of contemporary conservatism, Frisk is also an excellent chronicler of the larger movement as well.
- Brion McClanahan’s and Clyde N. Wilson’s Forgotten Conservatives in American History (Pelican, 2012) reminds us of what has been lost and how we can begin the recovery. The book is also an excellent survey of genuine statesmanship, a vital concern completely misrepresented in much conservative scholarship today.
Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.