Beltway Books: Ten that might've been overlooked

Culture | Ten history, politics, and policy books whose importance is felt well beyond the beltway

Issue: "Year in Review 1996," Dec. 28, 1996

Naming the top 10 books of the year is fraught with difficulty (is history better than fiction?). Instead, I will offer 10 books, not mentioned in prior columns, that deserve to be read.

1. Active Faith, by Ralph Reed (Free Press, ISBN 0-684-82758-1). You don't have to agree with Mr. Reed on everything to be impressed with his attempt to make Christians important yet responsible players in the political game.

2. Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany, by Nathan Stoltzfus (Norton, ISBN 0-393-03904-8). This inspiring volume explores one of the few public protests in Nazi Germany, in which Gentile wives banded together and saved their Jewish husbands from deportation and almost certain death.

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3. Lime 5: Exploited by Choice, by Mark Crutcher (Life Dynamics, ISBN 0-9648886-0-2). America faces its own moral crisis--abortion. Mr. Crutcher reviews the misdeeds of the abortion industry, "pro-choice" organizations, and U.S. government.

4. Primary Colors, by Anonymous (Random House, ISBN 0-679-44859-4). This novel offers a wonderful look at a candidate and his wife who look suspiciously like the First Couple. The indictment is particularly devastating because the author, political commentator Joe Klein, is a disillusioned liberal. Warning: If this book deserves to be read for its political insights and skilful writing, it also deserves to be boycotted for its non-stop raw language and sexual themes.

5. A House United? Evangelicals and Catholics Together, by Keith Fournier and William Watkins (NavPress, ISBN 0-89109-861-5). Mr. Fournier and Mr. Watkins advocate rediscovering "how to build principled alliances throughout the Christian community that can help defend and, in many instances, recover the soul of the West." The authors deserve a hearing. Nevertheless, although Evangelicals and Catholics may find themselves on the same side in the culture war, the theological differences should never be downplayed.

6. The Life of Nelson A. Rockefeller: Worlds to Conquer, 1908-1958, by Cary Reich (Doubleday, ISBN 0-385-24696-X). Rockefeller earned widespread distrust around the nation, but he was a fascinating political creature. One can enjoy reading about the man despite his misguided career.

7. The Demise of Environmentalism in American Law, by Michael Greve (American Enterprise Institute, ISBN 0-8447-3980-4). The courts have taken over much of American life, as is readily evident in environmental law. Judges may finally be abandoning this disastrous course and returning to more traditional doctrines, though analyst Michael Greve makes the case for further reforms.

8. The Oxford History of the American West, edited by Clyde Milner et al. (Oxford, ISBN 0-19-511212-1). The West, America's great frontier, has long dominated the national imagination. The Oxford History collects fascinating writings by 28 historians on different facets of the Western experience.

9. Individualism and the Economic Order, by F.A. Hayek (Chicago, ISBN 0-226-32093-6). One of the truly great economists, F.A. Hayek made the case for liberty when socialism seemed on the march. His words continue to resonate today.

10. War Beneath the Sea, by Peter Padfield (Wiley, ISBN 0-471-14624-2). Serving on a submarine, especially in wartime, was tough duty. I prefer reading about the experience in the safety of my home.


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