Book recommendations

Do any readers have any recommendations?


23 Responses to Book recommendations

  1. Good Calories Bad Calories is well worth reading, not so much as a diet book but as an example of science gone wrong.

    Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics gives a valuable perspective on how to think about China (hint: not as a unified juggernaut.)

    On the fiction side, Blindsight is one of very few works of fiction to have blown my mind.

    The sequences on Less Wrong have some pretty good applied philosophy with a good smattering of neuroscience and evo-psych:

  2. JD says:

    Second the Good Cal Bad Cal book.

    Also, would recommend any books discussed over at the Le Parvenue blog (

  3. Stretch says:

    The Gun, a technical and social history of the AK47.

  4. RS says:

    Nietzsche’s ‘Beyond…’ in Walter Kaufmann’s English, and if you like that, ‘Genealogy’. It’s an often electrifying read. Mencken is largely made of Nietzsche (who in his turn takes fairly much from Pascal, Montaigne, Stendhal, La Rouchefoucauld, Schopenhauer). To a somewhat lesser extent, so is fascism-nazism, and the whole Conservative Revolution new-right ferment in Germany and beyond, 1890-33. ‘New right’ here is not the same sense as the American old/new right or paleo/neo right — it’s in the sense of being (1) agnostic/atheist/nominally-christian/anti-christian/neopagan (2) more generally iconoclastic, often cuttingly anti-bourgeois and, not unrelatedly, taken with an ideal of almost frantic super-creativity and disquiet (shades of Romanticism). Those are the two reasons that Nietzsche was initially (1885ish – 1910ish) embraced by many more leftists (and nominally apolitical bohemian-experimental artists of obviously leftist ethos) than he was by rightists.

    But by no means is it only of historic interest. It still vastly underpins the great conversation to this day and is of incalculable intrinsic value.

    That’s about all I got for nonfiction. I get a kick out of Kierkegaard (Stages, Repetition, Fragments), but that’s more literature than philosophy, and rather laborious to read. The best poem ever written is the Song of Songs in the King James English – only three pages. My favorite novels are the first two by Celine, in Manheim’s English. His other books suck, and he was a nasty piece of work. As for music, this little number tops the list for me:

    Moldbug teaches us a lot (though not everything) about leftism and the modern state, and Anglophone classical liberal rightism and ‘Hobbesian’ rightism. To get a comparable start in understanding fascism and the ‘new’ (agnostic-atheist) right from 1890, one should sidle up to the font (Nietzsche) and follow up with secondary literature (monograph of Kaufmann and monograph and other works of Steven Aschheim). The Michael Burleigh tome on nazism recommended by MM, I don’t recommend. ‘Wages of destruction’, a primarily economic history by A. Tooze, is better.

    Despite being anything but a historical materialist, Mencius doesn’t say much about nazi or fascist ideology. Who knows to what extent the ideas were just BS to cover the nakedness of the propaganda-economic-military-power project… but personally my sense is I don’t think they were particularly close to being solely an expedient cover.

  5. Gian says:

    Heretics by GK Chesterton. It would be interesting to have your criticism on GKC’s criticism of alt-right thinkers such as Carlyle, Shaw, Kipling.

  6. Vladimir says:

    I’ve been rummaging through your book reviews a bit recently, and here are a few suggestions based on what I’ve seen.

    I see you liked Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s “Liberty or Equality.” I highly recommend the even superior “Leftism Revisited” by the same author. You’ll have to find a well-stocked library or spend a lot of money on Amazon, but the book is well worth the effort and cost. (Note: “Leftism Revisited” is the updated version, published circa 1990, of his earlier book “Leftism.” I haven’t read the latter, and I don’t know how large the differences are.)

    An extremely interesting writer I don’t see among your book reviews is Michel Houellebecq. He is possibly the best chronicler of the modern Western decadence; reads like a cross between Albert Camus and Roissy. I recommend “Whatever” and “The Elementary Particles” best, followed by “The Possibility of an Island.”

    Also, one very interesting book I read recently is Geoffrey Miller’s “Spent.” It’s probably the most intellectually powerful and sound attack on capitalism ever penned, certainly well worth reading regardless of how much or little you end up agreeing with the author. The book includes occasional moments of noble-savage silliness, kooky economics, and self-aggrandizement, but this doesn’t detract from the main points. More interestingly and surprisingly, some of Miller’s proposals are in fact shockingly reactionary.

  7. Kalim Kassam says:

    [comment re-submitted, with better html formatting, and slightly edited]

    Perfect; I was just this weekend thinking of emailing you two book recommendations in hopes that you might review them. I would categorize both as traditionalist, anti-statist, Anglo manifestos.

    The first is Sean Gabb’s Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England and how to Get It Back (available here for purchase and in free pdf). This book is a masterful analysis of Britain’s current ruling class and their ideology. What’s particularly wonderful is not just Gabb’s clear-eyed diagnosis of the problems regularly discussed here, but that he also puts forward a possible program for counter-revolution. One of the first steps he recommends for a libertarian-traditionalist UK government is to strike at the root of The Cathedral by shutting down all the universities.

    The second, William Gairdner’s The Trouble with Canada…Still!, I’ll admit I haven’t yet read (I plan to pick it up when I hear him speak tomorrow in Vancouver). Nonetheless, I expect you’ll be intrigued as I was when I read these excerpts:

    “The people tend not to complain about the historical losses of their political and economic freedoms, or of being controlled in their speech and inner attitudes, as long as they get complete sexual and personal bodily freedoms as a substitute. We no longer crave an escape from the body (the objective of so many in the past who saw human beings as slaves to their own appetites), but rather the opposite– immersion in its functions and pleasures as a democratic right.

    “Accordingly, the past century has been a perfect correlation between rising taxation, government regulation, and citizen dependency, paralleled by increasingly open sexual expression and claims of “sovereignty” over the body. The old spiritual ecstasy in contemplation of transcendent spiritual meaning (an ultimate meaning higher than, an out of reach of the state) is a goner.”
    “Instead, we may think of the sexualized democratic State as a political entity that strives through the offer of substitute physical ecstasy to incorporate transcendence into itself. That is to say, by means of a generalized and open sexualization of the masses (which must include a vigourous moral and legal attack on the former restrictive biologically based natural sexual order as “discriminatory” and “anti-democratic”), the democracies of the West have sought to answer the great political problem of the missing moral and spiritual transcendence in secular societies. This was a move that entailed a certain loss of our real freedoms.”

    Not sure if he mentions the money masters or the neocons, lzozol!

    It looks like it’s available on Amazon US, but if you have any difficulty getting your hands on it, I’d be happy to mail you a copy.

    • Kalim Kassam says:

      He mentioned the fiat money men! (but not in connection to the sex stuff)

      Gairdner joked that this is the second time one of his book’s publishers has gone bankrupt! The paperback run was pretty large, but copies still might be fairly scarce until he finds a new publisher.

      Here’s something surprising I learned from his handout:

      * Why Do We Have a Hug-A-Thug Mentality? According to UN international comparisons, Canada has a rate of police-reported criminal incidents among the highest in the world–almost double the US rate (p.330). “In the 33-year period from 1975 to 2008, some 508 criminals released from your prisons murdered a total of 557 innocent Canadians”(p.373)

  8. josh says:

    “The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal As Ethnic Cleansing” is pretty good.

  9. dearieme says:

    James Hogg, Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Read it and tremble.

  10. Brent says:

    Read one of the sagas – ‘Burnt Njal’ is very good.

  11. Handle says:

    Try some Cormac McCarthy – “The Road” (a quick read) and “Blood Meridian” (less accessible, but considered his masterpiece). After you read The Road, you can explore McCarthy’s “natural revelation” semi-religious angle in a well-done review found here.

    Blood Meridian has many symbolic layers, and can be a hard slog at times even for an advanced reader. Many of the reviews and analyses out there are agenda-driven and useless, but it’s an experience that rewards high-level contemplation and conversation. You have to be in the mood for an overwhelmingly gruesome and violent work like this though.

    McCarthy is at his best creating an inescapable nightmare hell-scape of a world to which his characters are totally accustomed though everything in their universe is outright hostile to their survival or success.

  12. Jeff Singer says:

    I’d second the GKC, although I’d love to read your take on_The_Everlasting_Man_which is sort of a Christian take on anthropology and social evolution.

    Concerning fiction, other than the classics, I’d recommend_Gilead_as one of the best modern novels written over the past 20 years. Strong Christian themes (do you detect a bias here) but stunning prose and probably as stark as McCarthy but without the gore and with lots of hope. The author wrote a sequel of sort which I haven’t read yet called_Home_.

    I might have more non-fiction ideas later.

  13. Thomas Gold’s 1998 book, “The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels. He assembles a chain of evidence which IF true and IF followed to its conclusion means that natural gas should effectively be unlimited (Oil is still subject to ‘oil window’ temperature considerations)
    I think certain tests should be done on this hypothesis because the gain if true is so huge.

  14. Jeff Singer says:

    How about something by Lukas? I just came across this review and I suspect this book is very, very good:

    (also, don’t you love that Housman quote at the beginning of the review?)

  15. Jeff Singer says:

    Whoops, I spelled his name wrong: Lukacs is the correct spelling. That’s all for now.

  16. Eumaios says:

    R. A. Lafferty, The Fall of Rome (alternate title, Alaric: The Day the World Ended).

    Lafferty was primarily a writer of bizarre reactionary SF, but he wrote this one rococo history concerning Theodosius, Stilicho, and the Goths.

  17. RS says:

    Anyone read Chesterton’s attack on eugenics? Free online, looks about 50 pages.

  18. […] Also in the comments on another post, was a link to this review of Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred, which is worth reading. […]

  19. Cinnamon says:

    Peter Beinart – The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris

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