Perhaps the most valid justification of government is its defense of citizens against foreign aggressors. But when governments wage war, a thin line separates defense and offense. And even in a defensive war, governments typically deprive their own citizens of many liberties. Historically, war has done more than anything else to enhance the power of governments and to diminish the liberties of the people. Classical liberals have always recognized the dangers of war and supported policies, such as free international trade, that reduce the likelihood of war.
Every year, I try to highlight some of the best recent and classic books about Christianity, libertarianism, and the books addressing both at the same time. Last year I was not able to put together a list, so I have included a few books from 2012 as a result. Any of these would make for a great gift for a friend or good reading material in the upcoming year for you. And of course, you can find much more in LCC’s other book lists, or in our little bookstore. So without further adieu and in no particular order…
1. Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – This essential new biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, by the same man who authored Amazing Grace (also a hit movie), pays special attention to Bonhoeffer’s political involvement during the rise of Nazi Germany. LCC will be reviewing this book in early 2014.
2. Anthony Gregory, Habeas Corpus in America – Although this book is expensive, anyone with an interest in the legal history of one of the most important principles of the last thousand years ought to find a way to read it. LCC will be reviewing this book VERY soon.
3. Radley Balko, Rise of the Warrior Cop – I have not had the opportunity to read this yet but everyone is raving about Balko’s latest book smashing the police state. I just acquired a copy and will be reviewing it in early 2014.
4. Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, Declaration of Independents (2012) – These two Reason.org luminaries have written a great book explaining why libertarianism has the best potential to solve the pressing problems in America. This is a good reading for all libertarians, and a stepping stone for those on the fence about libertarianism but consider themselves in the “independent” camp (which includes a lot of people).
5. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, The Great Fiction – Hoppe may be a controversial figure, but one cannot deny that he has a great way of explaining the nature of the state. This book continues Hoppe’s excellent work on anarcho-capitalism and libertarian theory.
6. Laurence Vance, The War on Drugs is a War on Freedom – This is a collection of great essays by LCC author Laurence Vance all about the War on Drugs. Besides making the general libertarian case against the War on Drugs, he also makes very clear why Christians should oppose it as well. Read the LCC review of the book here.
7. Laurence Vance, War, Christianity, and the State – Vance’s latest book is a definitive compilation of his essays against war. His work is well worth studying and understanding, and you cannot help but benefit from his persistent work opposing the warfare state from a Christian perspective.
8. Robert Sirico, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy – The good Reverend has blessed us with a wonderful book presenting why the free market is the most moral and productive way to provide for the common good of the world. Whether food, health care, or advanced electronics, the marketplace works and government fails. The only moral economic position out there is that men and women should be free to cooperate, and the world shall benefit as a result.
9. Mark Henderson, The Soul of Atlas – Henderson’s recently released book explores a very controversial topic: reconciling Christianity and the philosophy of Ayn Rand. He does this through an exploration of the views of his biological father, a Christian, and his stepfather, a die-hard Objectivist. Any Christian with an interest in Rand will probably benefit from Mark’s frank discussions. If you have Amazon Prime, you can even read it on your Kindle for free. LCC will be reviewing this book very soon.
10. Lawrence Reed, Are We Good Enough for Liberty? – This great little book by Lawrence Reed presents the critical idea that character and virtue are essential in a free society. It also includes the classic essay by Leonard Read entitled “I, Pencil”, from which Lawrence draws an additional point about character, especially humility. It has been published as part of FEE’s Blinking Lights Project. You can get a free PDF to check it out here.
BONUS #11. Copperhead (Movie) – Ron Maxwell’s recent film contains a wonderful message for our time about the importance of peace. The explicitly Christian take on war is striking. Read the LCC review of the film and watch it as soon as you can. You won’t regret it!
What other books have you read this year that you would recommend? Let us know in the comments, and have a merry Christmas!