“How could such a book speak so powerfully to our present moment? The short answer is that we, too, live in dark times, even if they are different and perhaps less dark, and “Origins” raises a set of fundamental questions about how tyranny can arise and the dangerous forms of inhumanity to which it can lead.” Jeffrey C. Isaac, The Washington Post
Hannah Arendt's definitive work on totalitarianism and an essential component of any study of twentieth-century political history
The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.
Sadly, where there is light, there must be shadow and the topics you’d find in this category pertain to the darker parts of human existence. We’ve included some books that espouse such ideals, such as various communist treatises or books that advocate various forms of socialism or those that hail democracy as some crowning achievement of mankind. I, for one, feel that it is important to know the arguments of the opposing side to strengthen your understanding of your own position. But if you do buy these books and enrich the authors or their publishers, please buy through our links so that at least a liberty-loving outfit would gain a buck or two out of this deal…
Aside from a few books that support such views, the majority of the titles tagged with the above topics are there to shine light on, and provide a critique of these views. Other anti-individualist topics include: the seemingly benign bureaucracy that makes the State inefficient; the deceptive egalitarianism and the nanny state, a path paved with good intentions that we all know where it leads (hint: may include redistribution of wealth and slavery); the outright evil in ideologies such as Fascism and Marxism that lead to despotism, dictatorship, tyranny and totalitarianism; and crony capitalism (corporatism) and its predecessor mercantilism, which masquerades as capitalism in most people’s minds and leads to anti-capitalist views.
Shedding more light where once was dark, this topic includes a wide array of critiques surrounding the function of the State, but mostly around policy critiques and warfare. As it relates to the State’s functioning, everything from central planning, coercion and government expansion through to propaganda, taxation and the act of voting are discussed.
The State apparatus and its institutions, the CIA, FBI, NSA, and other alphabet soup organizations – they are all brought to account together with their counterparts in the military-industrial complex and the deep state. The Supreme Court, criminal justice system and the prisons are not immune to critique. And the filth of politics and lobbying are described in great lengths.
Policy critiques cover everything from abortion to welfare. It all starts with state intervention in the affairs of private individuals and foreign intervention (which includes the seemingly benevolent foreign aid) in the affairs of other groups of people. More specifically, US foreign policy and US military intervention are popular policies to critique.
Some of the other more common topics include: drugs, eminent domain, environmentalism, poverty, protectionism, muh roads, slavery, and other forms of public policy. Needless to say, these and other policies lead to ridiculous levels of government spending, itself a valid topic to critique.
And of course, the most destructive activity perpetrated by the State is warfare. The wars abroad and at home are discussed at length. Of the ‘traditional’ wars, World War I and II and the so-called American ‘Civil War’ (always in quotation marks) feature in the most number of books, some of which include discussions on genocide and war crimes. But then there are also the wars on amorphous, undefined entities, such as: the war on drugs, which leads to domestic violence, militarization and a police state; and the war on terror, which brought us torture, more terror and the ever-increasing drone warfare.
A note from the curator: The State is thoroughly critiqued within Liberty Classroom and the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program. In full transparency, I have no direct experience in homeschooling but I have heavily researched Ron Paul’s program and found it to be an outstanding alternative to the public school system (a system where you would never hear a critique of the State).
I am a very satisfied Master Member of Liberty Classroom and have taken the Introduction to Government course that is available through the Ron Paul Curriculum. Between this course and others available through Liberty Classroom, you can’t get a better or more thought out exposition critiquing the State and all its failures or faulty premises (and in a way that is suitable for the younger ages too). I’ll disclose that Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our links.
We find topics about the law, laws and legislation, justice, law enforcement and judicial systems fascinating, especially when combined with anarchy, as this seems to be one of the last bastions on the road to understanding an anarchist system and how legal order and property rights would be maintained.
Administrative law, regulations, and licensure as we know them today are artefacts of the State that are critiqued in our featured books, but so are dozens of other legislative issues, such as: labor laws (child labor, labor unions, minimum wage), issues relating to the US Constitution or the Articles of Confederation (e.g. the commerce clause, nullification, fugitive slave laws, gun control / second amendment), civil rights issues, Obamacare, Prohibition, and even earlier established legal concepts, such as the Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus.
A note from the curator: One of the reasons I am a very satisfied Master Member of Liberty Classroom is that I have access to courses like US Constitutional History and others featuring topics related to the law. In full disclosure, Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our link.
Legal and political issues aside, it is often the cultural and social issues that are upstream from any legislative action. Especially in a democracy, politicians know that to get reelected they need to tread a fine line and take a stand on topics that are culturally in vogue. Books providing cultural analysis or ones that talk of the social order are numerous within our site.
These books include racism, sexism, feminism and other such social justice issues relating to discrimination, freedom of association, freedom of speech, human rights, or political correctness. The topics of popular culture, American culture and Western Civilization are also represented.
Observations from many writers on these issues are provided through commentary and opinion and often investigative journalism leads down an interesting path, shedding light on these and other topics.
One of the most popular topics on this site, history, is a fascinating subject to read. Given the nature of this site it didn’t quite make sense to create a category of ‘revisionist history’ since most of the history books featured are of that nature. Sure enough, we have uncontested historical accounts of various historical events, but when you search for history and drill further down into a specific topic (such as various wars, Pearl Harbor, The New Deal or the Great Depression), you are going to get intellectually honest ‘revisionist’ accounts of these events.
While you may expand your history search by historical event or by selecting US history or the history of some other area or nation, we have classified the history texts by period as well. You can indulge your curiosity if you are an avid reader of one of or more of the following periods: Antiquity, Biblical period, Classical period, Medieval period or the Middle ages, Early modern period, the Renaissance, or specifically within the last few hundred years, as grouped by: 16th Century, 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, or the 20th Century.
And speaking of indulging yourself, with several dozen books on conspiracy theories, you may brush up on such topics as 9/11, the New World Order, False Flag operations, or on the Kennedy deaths, or various institutions and secret societies like The Illuminati, The Freemasons, Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, Tavistock Institute, or even Skull & Bones.
A note from the curator: The variety of history courses within Liberty Classroom, including two US History courses, two Western Civilization courses, and many (many!) more will, no doubt, make you as big of a fan of Liberty Classroom as I am. The Western Civilization courses are also available to students of the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program along with many other courses you will not find in public schools (or most private schools either).
In full transparency, I have no direct experience in homeschooling but if you want your kids to learn the real history you were never taught, you can’t get much better than providing them Ron Paul’s program. Books of Liberty is happy to promote both these programs in exchange for a small advertising fee because I cannot reiterate enough what terrific history resources these programs are.
Between education, entrepreneurship, communication skills and other such important topics, personal development forms a key component of one’s path to personal freedom. No human is perfect and while we ought to balance the recognition of this fact with self-esteem and acceptance of our nature, there is room for improvement in us all (and if nothing else, there is room for us to at least maintain our level of awesomeness).
I've included books covering important components of personal development and tools to increase your efficiency. These include productivity and time management methodologies (such as the highly recommended Getting Things Done or GTD), leadership skills, creativity, resilience, organizational skills and many more, all of which require the formation of great habits, self-discipline and willpower. Other intriguing topics like stoicism and minimalism are covered too.
Topics related with personal development include physical and mental wellbeing as well as psychology.
The main aspects of your physical wellbeing that help prevent disease and ill-health are diet and fitness. Each body is unique and we have insufficient information to assess the efficacy of the ideas represented in the diet and fitness books linked within our pages. Healthcare is another important component and the books within this topic may include not just a "how to" on healthcare but also theoretical expositions, commentary and opinion and other economic analyses or policy critiques.
One’s mental wellbeing is influenced by a large number of factors, over which we are even less qualified to talk about than we are on diet and fitness. However we have compiled books on a variety of topics that will help educate you on matters of self-esteem, stress management, the effects of trauma or punishment and reward on mental health and happiness, as well as help you gain more self-awareness through mindfulness and a focus on authenticity.
Related topics within the psychology area will bring you more insight into a variety of factors affecting our minds and our emotional intelligence. These include our inclination to obedience, authority and conformity and, with some, this includes outright psychopathy and narcissism, as represented by most who seek political office. These are very important topics to grasp for all who seek to understand the root cause of our lack of freedom in the world today.
Real world experiments on behaviorism, including controversial experiments (such as the Milgram experiment or the Stanford prison experiment) shine light on topics like the Lucifer Effect where otherwise good people end up doing evil.