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The Top Books for Understanding the Left

Posted on September 8 2009 3:00 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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radical son

David Horowitz’s recent appearance on Glenn Beck and the subsequent resignation of former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones has brought a renewed interest in understanding the nature of the political Left.

I got an email yesterday from Robert, one of our readers:

I am an avid reader and have followed David Horowitz for some time.  Just finishing Liberal Fascism, I would like input into what you might consider to be the best 10-12 books an individual could read to best understand the progressive movement.  Could you forward some recommendations?

I promised Robert a post in which I made my recommendations.

Before leaping into the books a great place to start is with Discover The Networks, the Freedom Center’s online encyclopedia of the Left. Go there and browse around a bit. (You’ll note that here at NewsReal we link to DTN extensively — something we encourage other bloggers to do.)

As far as books go first, you’ll want to start out with David Horowitz’s work. He is the country’s definitive analyst of the Left. Here are the key books he’s written that you’ll want to read in order to understand the Left. (These are in order of importance, by the way):

Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey by David Horowitz — His memoir.

The Politics of Bad Faith: The Radical Assault on America’s Future by David Horowitz — The intellectual companion piece to Radical Son in which he lays out his political philosophy.

Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties by Peter Collier and David Horowitz — A collection of journalism and essays about the New Left.

Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations For Slavery by David Horowitz — One part narrative of Horowitz’s reparations campaign, one part exciting description of the American Idea.

Left Illusions: An Intellectual Odyssey by David Horowitz, edited and with an introduction by Jamie Glazov — A large collection of Horowitz’s work touching on many subjects.

Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left by David Horowitz — This book’s “The Mind of the Left” section is VERY IMPORTANT for this subject.

Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes by David Horowitz — This collection of essays has many essential pieces.

For some important books by other authors you need to read:

United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror by Jamie Glazov

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer

A Conservative History of the American Left by Dan Flynn

Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left by Ronald Radosh

It’s important, though, to not just read books about the Left. You need to read books and publications by leftists themselves.

Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky This was my favorite Noam Chomsky book back when I was a leftist. It’s one of his more accessible texts, though if you want to get a decent idea for what the Left’s preeminent guru is about you can also watch the documentary Manufacturing Consent – Noam Chomsky and the Media. And then you might appreciate Collier and Horowitz’s book-length rebuttal to Chomsky’s work, The Anti-Chomsky Reader.

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. This popular “history” of our country will show you how the Left views America: a greedy, genocidal, racist, exploitative “empire.”

What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News by Eric Alterman. Alterman, a media critic for The Nation, isn’t quite as far out there as Chomsky and Zinn (he’s criticized Chomsky a fair amount.) This was also an important book for me back in my leftist days.

So does anyone else have any recommendations?

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