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Our annual list of holiday gift suggestions from distinguished readers and writers.
Roughing It by Mark Twain: Having worked as a “buckaroo” near Winnemucca, Nevada, I find this to be one of my all time favorite books and a true classic. It relates the adventurous story of life moving west in the boomtown days of Virginia City, Nevada. Sometimes I pick it up just to read a chapter or two, and over the decades I have always enjoyed the descriptions of colorful characters, animals, and lands that remind me of the unlimited potential and spirit of Nevada.
Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose: This is the great story of the Lewis and Clark expedition and their challenges exploring the Louisiana Territory. Not only do I like the connection to Virginia and Thomas Jefferson, but I also enjoyed Ambrose’s retelling of the story of these courageous men living by their resourcefulness in wild and uncharted lands. Lewis and Clark’s story has lessons for all of us in the world today. Sometimes as I sit through hours and hours of endless meetings in Washington where senators think they are working hard, I think of real hard work and the determination of the Corps of Discovery as their findings opened new opportunities for our young nation. We must always be a country limited only by our diligence and imagination. Every new generation should have the spirit of the Corps of Discovery.
When Character Was King by Peggy Noonan: A great book about a great man by one of the most eloquent writers of our time. I always enjoy reading about my political hero, Ronald Reagan, especially when the stories come from the unrivaled pen of Ms. Noonan. This book is filled with wonderful anecdotes and stirring tales about the life of the man who was, in my view, the greatest leader of the 20th century.
The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman: Essential reading for anyone who is concerned about America’s place in the competitive world marketplace. While I don’t agree with every surmise in this book, Mr. Friedman pulls together an impressive array of facts and figures on the fast-changing global economy and its effects. It’s further evidence that American business and government leaders need to redouble our efforts to innovate, adapt, and improve if we are to compete and succeed in the future.
Strategies for Winning by Coach George Allen: I know some will say I am biased, but this book is one of the best collections of admonitions and advice for success on the football field and in life. If anyone ever wants to know what it was like being one of Coach George Allen’s players or growing up as one of his children, this is the book to read to find out. As my father would say, “The future is now!”
Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey: The old adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” adorns the cover of Covey’s book, which teaches the importance of applying principles throughout one’s life. I find this approach essential to leadership. I enjoyed Covey’s thoughtful book on the value of standing by principle. It was a most helpful book for me running for and serving as Governor of Virginia.
George Allen is a former governor from Virginia and currently serves as a United States Senator from the Commonwealth.
You can never go wrong with Thomas Sowell, the great public intellectual at the Hoover Institution. He turns out a book a year so there’s a lot to choose from. I’d read eight or nine of them on subjects as varied as ethnic groups, immigration, Marxism, and late-talking children. Then to get ready for an interview with Sowell for a Fox News special on him, I read five more over the summer. My favorite was The Vision of the Anointed, first published in 1995. It’s a brilliant skewering of liberalism and all its deceits and pretensions. Liberals — the anointed — are better than you and I. They’re morally superior and never have to buttress their opinions with anything as mundane as evidence. They simply know better and nothing is ever their fault. “Problems exist because others are not as wise or as virtuous as the anointed,” Sowell writes. I’d say read this if you’re only going to read one Sowell book. But if you read it, you’re certain to read more Sowell.
I also stumbled onto Pursuit of Justices: Presidential Politics and the Selection of Supreme Court Nominees by David Alistair Yalof of the University of Connecticut. It’s an extremely well-reported and enthralling account of how presidents from Truman to Clinton picked justices. Why did Eisenhower choose Earl Warren for chief justice? He felt sorry for Warren after passing him up for a Cabinet post and promised him the first Supreme Court vacancy as consolation. Ike was shocked when that turned out to be chief justice. But he kept his promise.
Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard, a Fox News commentator, and author of a book about President Bush, Rebel-in-Chief, to be published in January.
Patricia Buckley Bozell
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?