Summer Reading, Part 1

by | Jul 10, 2003

From time to time, parents write to ask how they can counter all the steady diet of slanted political correctness their children are getting in the schools and colleges. The summer vacation is probably as good a time as any to get them something to read to let them know that there is another side […]

From time to time, parents write to ask how they can counter all the steady diet of slanted political correctness their children are getting in the schools and colleges. The summer vacation is probably as good a time as any to get them something to read to let them know that there is another side of the story, other than the one that classroom propagandists keep forcing down their throats.

There is probably no subject on which the facts are so twisted by the schools, the media and academia as racial issues. If you want to find something rational that you or your youngster can read on this subject, one of the best and most lively books is “The Myths that Divide Us” by John Perazzo.

Its sub-title is “How Lies Have Poisoned American Race Relations.” This book demolishes a whole spectrum of cant. Anyone who reads it will definitely be educated on the subject of racial issues in America.

They may also be saddened, if not outraged, at how political rhetoric and media spin have distorted reality beyond recognition — and in the process created huge and unnecessary racial polarization and strife. But — most important — any reader of this book will be a lot less susceptible to rhetoric and spin in the future.

If you want to find out about the history of the United States, without getting politically correct rhetoric about “dead white males” and the like, then “A History of the American People” by British historian Paul Johnson is the book to read. His rounded treatment of American history is in sharp contrast with those historians who seem to think that the only thing interesting about American history are the things that went wrong and those who protested.

A writer both popular and profound, Paul Johnson has also written a very readable and insightful book on world history in the 20th century called “Modern Times.” Our schools and colleges do such a poor job of letting young people know what happened in the world before they were born that “Modern Times” should be must reading.

Economics is another important subject on which there is widespread ignorance and misinformation, despite many brilliant books by economists — books which even graduate students often have trouble reading. Writing a readable book about economics is not easy — as I discovered when I wrote “Basic Economics,” an introduction to the subject without graphs, equations, tables, or jargon.

Obviously, I am not the most objective judge of how good or how readable “Basic Economics” is. However, it has sold well and has been translated into Japanese and Polish, so apparently some people like it.

For a more philosophical — but also very readable — discussion of free market capitalism, you cannot do better than “Free to Choose” by Rose and Milton Friedman. Reading this book can undo years of collectivist indoctrination in the schools and colleges. [Even better: Ayn Rand’s Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand–Editor]

The desire for a collectivist world in which government controls more of our lives has survived many disastrous attempts to create such a world. “Heaven on Earth” by Joshua Muravchik is a lively and dramatic history of these disasters — and of the good intentions that led to them.

One book that every American ought to read is “The Federalist,” also known as “The Federalist Papers,” since it is a collection of popular 18th century essays written to explain to the general public why the government of the United States was being created the way it was in the Constitution. It is a gem.

One of the most important things for young people to understand, early on, is how much hostility there is to this country and its values by the intelligentsia in the media and in educational institutions. “Useful Idiots” by Mona Charen spells it out in plain English with unmistakable examples.

A landmark experience is reading “Life at the Bottom” by Theodore Dalrymple, about the effect of the welfare state on poor people and the social degeneracy to which it has led in Britain. “A Brief History of Crime” by Peter Hitchens tells the same story as regards crime in Britain, where leftish fads have gone even further than in the United States, with even more disastrous results.

Thomas Sowell has published a large volume of writing. His dozen books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college. Please contact your local newspaper editor if you want to read the THOMAS SOWELL column in your hometown paper.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

Have a comment?

Post your response in our Capitalism Community on X.

Related articles

Are the Democrats betraying Israel?

Are the Democrats betraying Israel?

Both Biden and his predecessor, President Barack Obama, promised that they had Israel’s back, but it now appears that they are painting a target on its back at a time of its greatest vulnerability.

No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.

Pin It on Pinterest