Best Conservative Book of 2008

by Kathy Shaidle | January 3, 2009 12:41 pm

I assume that most lists of the Best Conservative Books of 2008 will place Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism in the number one spot.

The long-awaited first book by the National Review‘s deservingly popular young writer didn’t disappoint; not only was it an instant bestseller, but it contributed a new phrase to the conservative vocabulary, and helped many of us understand and discuss political history and theory in a new way.

Here’s my problem: I’ve followed the Liberal Fascism blog at NRO, listened to Goldberg’s entertaining guest spots on show after radio show, and read excerpts of Liberal Fascism in National Review and elsewhere.

But… I haven’t read the whole book yet.
So Liberal Fascism can’t very well qualify as my “Best Conservative Book of 2008.”

My actual choice surprises me as much as it might surprise you.

When the prestigious Conservative Book Club[1] (CBC) chose my new book The Tyranny of Nice[2] as a special selection, I was bowled over. I decided to join the Club myself, so that I could recommend it to my blog readers in good conscience.

Trying to choose “3 Books for $1” is pretty daunting. I already owned Mark Steyn’s America Alone, and the entire Ann Coulter ouvre.

In the end, I picked Thomas Sowell’s classic, Basic Economics, the acclaimed memoir by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — and a rather “out there” title: Larry Elder’s new book, Stupid Black Men.

Yes, that really is what it’s called.

I’ve always enjoyed the libertarian Elder’s radio show, and his 10 Things You Can’t Say in America made a big impression on me during my post-9/11 exploration of American conservative thought. So I thought, hey, it’ll only cost me a buck. I’ll check out Stupid Black Men.

Reader: I’ve been blogging every day for going on nine years, which means I spend a LOT of time reading conservative blogs and news sites, and listening to talk radio, when I’m not devouring conservative books in what little time remains.

Often, I find myself saying, “Oh brother: not that corny old quote/anecdote/historical tidbit/statistic again.” (I forget that not everyone spends hours a day in the thick of “rightwing” thought — once upon a time, that quote or tidbit was news to me, too.)

So it really is saying something that Larry Elder’s Stupid Black Men features a wealth of facts that were news to me.

For example, I didn’t think there was anything new (and even more horrible) to learn about the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, but Stupid Black Men set me straight.

There’s more. For example: did you know that if America’s “blacks represented their own country”, the “black GDP” would “place them within the top sixteen countries of the world”?

Or that today’s armed forces recruit is “more likely to hold a high school diploma than a non-recruit” and to be of a middle class background — the opposite of what anti-military liberals like John Kerry would have you believe.

And by the way: “During the Vietnam War draft era, blacks comprised 13.5 percent of the population. Of those who died in Vietnam, 12.5 percent were black…” Another popular anti-war liberal myth bites the dust.

Larry Elder’s Stupid Black Men is packed with similar (footnoted) facts that debunk beloved liberal “talking points” about race, economics, sports, culture and politics.

Elder’s family background is really interesting, and he talks about his mother, father and grandparents’ struggles in pre-Civil Rights America in ways that are revealing and inspiring, but not bitter or sentimental.

He also shares conversations he’s had with callers to his radio show and other ordinary folks in the black community, trying to get them to think outside the Democratic, “victocrat” box of fake politically correct history, and stop blaming long dead slave owners and (mostly Democratic) Dixicrat villains for their own often exaggerated misfortunes.

Now, Elder isn’t a dazzling prose stylist like Mark Steyn. Stupid Black Men is conversational and casual, as you’d expect by a book by a radio talk show host trying to popularize fresh thinking and common sense. It was a breezy yet sometimes infuriating read, chock full of provocative facts. You’ll want to keep it nearby during your next argument with your neighborhood liberal.

In fact, maybe you can get that liberal to read it. If they get through it with an open mind, Larry Elder’s Stupid Black Men may help change it.

(Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury[3]. This review was crossposted at her Conservative Examiner[4] site.)

  1. Conservative Book Club:
  2. The Tyranny of Nice:
  3. FiveFeetOfFury:
  4. Conservative Examiner:

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