Tevi Troy offers his selections for the best books of 2016. At the top of the list is Yuval Levin’s Fractured Republic, which I discussed here (Steve’s podcast with Yuval is here.) It is certainly among the best books I read this year. So is Tevi’s own contribution, Shall We Wake the President?.
Ross Douthat of the New York Times offers a different sort of list — “books for the Trump Era.” Since I was as surprised as anyone by the onset of that Era, books that help explain it should be required reading for me.
At the top of Douthat’s list are Christopher Lasch’s The Revolt of the Elites (1995) and Samuel Huntington’s Who Are We? The Challenges to American National Identity (2004). I haven’t read either one.
However, few books ever made a stronger impression on me than Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism (1979) and Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations (1996). If Lasch and Huntington have more to teach me, I’m not surprised.
Douthat recommends another unforgettable book — The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana (1999) by Peter Hitchens, the brother of Christopher Hitchens. I think it’s the best piece of modern reactionary writing I’ve ever encountered.
Douthat describes the book this way:
Writing early in the Tony Blair era, Hitchens argued that Britain’s rulers had broken faith with the island nation’s past, burying its history, customs and traditions, subjecting their people to a misguided European pseudo-empire, and tolerating social decay and disarray as the price of tolerance and progress.
Nearly 20 years on, you will not find a clearer case against both Blair and David Cameron’s shared worldview, or a clearer explanation for why so many Britons voted for Brexit.
I don’t believe that the American equivalent of Hitchens’ masterpiece has been written. But the case against America’s “rulers” seems almost as compelling today as Hitchens’ case against Britain’s was 25 years ago.
At any rate, it was compelling enough to launch, albeit very narrowly, the Trump Era.