The greatest thinking and inquiries into human nature and society can come from the pages of a book. In between two covers, writers can present truths not always seen by the naked eye — and challenge the status quo of society and power structures.
Some of the most powerful conservative thinking has come from the written word.
Through novels, artists have helped to define the meaning of individualism and to give power to the ideas of conservatism and free-thought philosophies.
Here is a list of five novels every conservative should read, whether to deepen one’s understanding of liberty principles, to challenge societal views of power — or to just have a fine read.
“Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand (1957) — This novel of 60 years ago seems to ring truer every year. The story is both a celebration of individual accomplishment and an indictment of groupthink and the thuggery of bureaucracies.
“A fast-paced novel that is also a capitalist manifesto; it celebrates the entrepreneurs who build and make new things,” wrote conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza (“Hillary’s America”) on his official website.
The story turned capitalists and entrepreneurs into its heroes. Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden fight an increasingly powerful government that is shaming individualism and accomplishment and holding back society’s thinkers and innovators. When the world”s leading influencers and successes begin to disappear, the characters begin a search for a mysterious figure named John Galt who may be behind the mystery.
President Reagan called himself an “admirer of Ayn Rand” in a published letter he once wrote. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky also cited Rand as an “influence” of his at a speech at Dartmouth College in 2007.
Reportedly the second highest-selling book behind The Bible, “Atlas Shrugged” has influenced conservatives, libertarians, Republicans, and individualists everywhere. Rand managed to create an exciting novel with larger-than-life characters that used a love of capitalism as its driving force, and it was brilliant.
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“It’s much more than a story,” said former Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) in a video for the “Atlas Shrugged” movie trilogy YouTube page. “It’s influenced millions of people already and because of its greatness, it’s going to continue to influence a lot of people.” Paul added that the novel challenged the “conventional wisdom” of government and made him a stronger person and conservative.
“Hidden Order” by Brad Thor (2013) – Thor once received death threats from Islamist extremists for his novel, “The Last Patriot.” Never afraid to take on a controversial subject deemed politically incorrect, this writer brought attention to an issue libertarians and conservatives have been leading the charge on for years with “Hidden Order” — the Federal Reserve.
Following Thor’s fan-favorite character, Scot Harvath, as he investigates the murders of the candidates who were in line to take over the Federal Reserve, the novel brought a lot about the secretive and inflation-loving government organization to light through sharp, intelligent, and thrilling writing.
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While Thor always enjoyed a healthy audience of conservatives, 2013’s “Hidden Order” won him new and bigger praise. “A great, great thriller,” radio host Rush Limbaugh said of “Order.” Fox News host Bill O’Reilly also recommended the novel on his show.
“I’m a big believer in less government is better government and we don’t have less government now, and so my big push is transparency. I would talk to friends who had no idea what the Fed was,” said Brad Thor to Reason TV last year of his novel — also saying his goal was to inform readers while giving them an entertaining “beach read.”
“Empire of Lies” by Andrew Klavan (2008) — If readers didn’t know novelist Klavan was a conservative before “Empire of Lies,” they certainly knew afterward. Klavan’s novel follows a conservative Christian named Jason Harrow who discovers the media and left-wing groups may be concealing the details to an Islamist terrorist plot.
The novel certainly didn’t earn Klavan many friends in the mainstream media. “Klavan occupies the portion of the political spectrum commonly known as right-wing crackpot,” said the Associated Press of Klavan’s novel. “Through Harrow he tells us, among other things, that the entire media is a left-wing conspiracy, that taxes steal from the rich to give to the poor, that America is in a holy war with Islam, that the truth about darned near everything in the United States is obscured by a blizzard of politically correct lies and that anyone who disagrees with him is deluded.”
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Klavan’s thriller was peppered with conservative messages and clicked with readers — it became a best-seller. It’s a wonderful read and the type of thriller every conservative should own, as it hits on truths about the media, the government, and political correctness that unfortunately still ring true today.
“Point of Impact” by Stephen Hunter (1993) — The Washington Post is not exactly known as a conservative-friendly newspaper, but it did once employ Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Stephen Hunter.
Hunter not only reviewed movies for the publication, he also often wrote pro-Second Amendment stories, the type of well-constructed, intelligent pieces from someone who’d actually held a gun — the type of pieces that are typically nowhere to be found in the mainstream media.
Hunter’s respect for the right to bear arms and the inner workings of weapons fed into his successful novel career. His breakout hit, 1993’s “Impact,” was turned into a movie and a television series — both called “Shooter.”
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The novel is a thriller about an assassination conspiracy, with Vietnam veteran Bob Lee Swagger as the government’s scapegoat. Through Swagger, Hunter helped to culturally redefine people who own and use guns and Vietnam veterans — two crowds that often co-mingle and are too often given not-so-nice or inaccurate treatment in the media and in film and storytelling.
It’s an exciting read about how one individual goes up against a corrupt government that conservatives will love. Its open embrace of gun culture and Vietnam vets are two major bonuses. Readers have embraced Hunter’s Swagger: The character has been in a total of nine books, with a 10th on the way this summer called “G-Man.”
“Animal Farm” by George Orwell (1945) — “A parable about the totalitarian temptation embodied in socialism,” wrote D’Souza on his website about “Animal Farm.”
“Farm” was Orwell’s direct criticism of the authoritarianism of Joseph Stalin and the rise of Stalinism in Moscow.
Brilliantly and simply told through farm animals, “Farm” examines the philosophies of aggression, individualism, and groupthink as animals on a farm plot a rebellion to be free of their farming masters.
It’s not just a novel conservatives should read and re-read — it’s also one they should passing along to their children.