People who want to get a basic understanding on a particular subject, or who simply want to educate themselves more generally, often ask for a list of suggested readings. There are innumerable outstanding writings on many subjects but plainly written books that can take the reader from square one — little or no previous knowledge of the subject — to a fundamental understanding of the issues involved are all too rare. Here are some that I would recommend.
The Americans by Daniel Boorstin
A very readable history of the social and economic evolution of the American people, from colonial times to the twentieth century.
Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell
An easy to read introduction to economics without graphs, equations or jargon.
Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell
A collection of long essays challenging prevailing beliefs about blacks, Jews, slavery, Germans, and education.
Choosing the Right College by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute
By far the best guide to colleges, including the presence or absence of political correctness. Shows little-known colleges with outstanding education and big-name institutions with little or no curriculum.
City Economics by Brendan O'Flaherty
An excellent and very readable introduction to the use of economic analysis in general, with urban problems as the focus. A few graphs and a few technical terms may bother some people with no knowledge of economics but even they can get something from this book.
Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies by Gregory Jackson
Devastating facts contradicting popular liberal notions. Ideal for de-programming students who have been indoctrinated in schools and colleges.
Equality, Delusion, and the Third World by Peter Bauer
One of the best debunkings of fashionable beliefs about Third World countries and foreign aid by an economist with both sharp insights and personal experience.
FDR's Folly by Jim Powell
A factual study of the actual consequences of New Deal welfare state programs, in painful contrast to their rhetoric.
The Federalist by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay
Essays explaining in plain English the reasons for the various provisions in the Constitution of the United States by three men who helped write the Constitution. A rare combination of wisdom, knowledge and common sense.
The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill
A history of the events and misconceptions that led to World War II. Very relevant to the misconceptions of our own time, which are remarkably similar.
History of the American People by Paul Johnson
A complete history of the United States, political and economic, foreign and domestic by one of the best writers and best minds of our time.
Life at the Bottom by Theodore Dalrymple
An incisive and brutally honest eye-witness account of the social degeneracy created by the welfare state among the white underclass in Britain-- remarkably similar to the social pathology in American ghettoes but without such supposed causes as slavery or racism.
Mexifornia by Victor Davis Hanson
A must-read book for anyone who wants to understand the actual consequences of our policies toward Mexican immigration and toward people of Mexican ancestry in the United States. A gem for its combination of knowledge, insight, compassion, and utter frankness on a subject too often discussed elsewhere in political spin and media cant.
Modern Times by Paul Johnson
A wise and knowledgeable international history of the past two centuries by one of the most readable and accomplished writers of our time.
The Rise of the West by William H. McNeill
A scholarly but readable history of the rise of both Western and non-Western civilizations from ancient times to the present.
They Made America by Harold Evans
An illustrated coffee-table book with the inspiring story of the American inventions that revolutionized life in the United States and beyond.
Underdevelopment Is a State of Mind by Lawrence E. Harrison
An account of the reasons for Latin America's economic lags far behind the United States, Western Europe or Japan. Written by a man who once believed conventional explanations before he went to live in Latin America as an official trying to help its economic development.
What Went Wrong by Bernard Lewis
A small book presenting a top scholar's very readable account of the history that led the Islamic world from its pinnacles of achievement in the past to its present pathology and poisonous and dangerous hatreds.