A Year in Books: What TAT Recommends You Read
Stories from the Past Showing How We Can Win in the Present
With pretty much every single thing on the television or silver screen getting woker by the minute, one good way to avoid the trap of falling into spending your time watching insane leftist nonsense is to sit down and read a good book instead of turning on the television. Further, whereas watching even the better shows on TV falls somewhere between being mindless entertainment and slightly entertaining propaganda, many books are both quite good and teach lessons that support our worldview rather than attack it.
So, with that in mind, what should you read? Here are ten main recommendations, eight non-fiction and two fiction, with a number of secondary suggestions on related subjects. All are books I read in 2023 and think are well worth taking the time to sit down and read, with a brief explanation for why each is important.
Featured image credit: By NYC Wanderer (Kevin Eng) - originally posted to Flickr as Gutenberg Bible, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9914015
1. Defenders of the West: The Christian Heroes Who Stood Against Islam by Raymond Ibrahim
One of the bigger problems facing the modern right is that its approach to every situation is to retreat, back down, and then accept the status quo. Europe used to understand that flooding itself with migrants who hate it and everything Christendom stood for is a terrible idea. Now Englishmen, Danes, Swedes, Italians, Germans, and others seemingly accept becoming minorities in their homelands and millions of illegal immigrants pour across America’s southern border every year. Americans used to honor their ancestors, now they don’t even protest when the government tears down statues of Confederate heroes and Founding Fathers. And on and on and on it goes, with the whole West turning slowly into South Africa because those in it would rather hope the alligator eats them last than stand up and fight back.
But that wasn’t always the case. Men used to respond to evil with agency, and ride into battle against it on Destrier war horses rather than sit idly by as barbarians sacked their cities. In fact, Christians used to not just fight back, but glorify and lionize those who did so. Richard the Lionheart was the living embodiment of chivalry, El Cid was remembered for generations because of how he began the Reconquista and retook Spain from the Moors, and Godfrey of Bouillon led the Crusaders against overwhelming odds to recover Jerusalem from those who were terrorizing Christians and tearing down churches.
Those are the stories, among many others, Ibrahim tells in Defenders of the West. He explains who the greatest of the brave men who defended the West from the jihadists of the Middle Ages were, how their Christian faith kindled their spirit of resistance, and the great lengths to which they and their followers went, often to the point of death, to defend their coreligionists and lands from the invaders. It’s a powerful book about some of the greatest men who have ever lived, the ones who we can thank for speaking our native tongues in Christian churches this Christmas rather than Arabic in mosques.
If you like this book, Richard the Lionheart by John Gillingham and God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark are also quite good.
2. The Great Betrayal: The Memoirs of Ian Douglas Smith by Ian Douglas Smith
Few Americans now remember Rhodesia, though it is a subject with which they should be acquainted intimately, as what happened to it is what our horrid regime wants to happen here. The short story can be read in our Substack article on the topic, but for the long story you should turn to The Great Betrayal: The Memoirs of Ian Douglas Smith by Ian Douglas Smith.
Ian Smith was the Prime Minister of Rhodesia from the time of its Universal Declaration of Independence to shortly before it accepted the demands of America and Britain for majority rule, a fateful decision that led to Mugabe’s reign of terror and the country’s collapse.
Before Mugabe, Rhodesia was the most successful country in the Dark Continent. It was quickly industrializing, its capital of Salisbury was a thriving and modern city, its highly efficient agricultural sector was profitable and fed the continent, and anyone who showed his responsibility by acquiring a small amount of property and remained in good standing with the community could vote, black or white. It fought bravely in World War II, committing the most troops per capita out of any nation in the Commonwealth, and its decade and a half Bush War against communist rebels set the standard for counterinsurgency and showed the immense bravery of the average Rhodesian.
Much of that occurred under the leadership of Ian Smith, a fighter pilot from World War II, successful farmer, and great man who fought for years for Rhodesia’s right to responsible government rather in a desperate attempt to stop it from following in the blood-drenched footsteps of the Congo, Kenya, Zambia, and Angola. Though he lost in the end, with practically the whole world, West and East, arrayed against him, it was a valiant effort, and The Great Betrayal tells the tale of how it happened and how the leftist West stabbed Rhodesia in the back.
If you like The Great Betrayal, Rhodesia Accuses by AJA Peck is an excellent collection of essays on the truth of what was happening in Rhodesia when the communist rebels began their attacks, and Three Sips of Gin: Dominating the Battlespace with Rhodesia's Elite Selous Scouts by Tim Bax, A Handful of Hard Men: The SAS and the Battle for Rhodesia by Hannes Wessels, and Fireforce by Chris Cocks are excellent books on the Rhodesian Bush War.
3. The Case for Space: How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up a Future of Limitless Possibility by Robert Zubrin
Where does humanity go from here? All frontiers are closed, the once-New World is now densely settled and as full of cosmopolitan corruption as the Old World, and regulation and bureaucracy are the name of the game everywhere you go. There are a few bright spots, such as El Salvadore under Bukele and Hungary under Viktor Orban, but generally the world is drifting in the wrong direction. In fact, with the Cold War over and rapacious, “liberal” capitalism (which really just means corporatism now) being the dominant ideology, the world seems to be drifting nowhere. There are no more glorious causes, hardware innovation other than some personal technology products has long been stagnant, and that lack of purpose or exciting innovation is weighing on people’s souls.
What can fix that? Settling and exploring space is likely the best option. When the vast expanse of the cosmos is opened, a new frontier will be as well, and with a new frontier will come the benefits that came with opening the New World. Those with hearts for adventure will have a chance to explore the stars and settle barren planets, innovation will abound in the critical, harsh environments those settlers found, economic activity will come with it, and humanity will, hopefully, rebound.
Further, that space exploration and colonization is possible. For a few tens of billions of dollars a year, a Mars settlement program could start near immediately and scale up with haste. The technology for it already exists and, with Musk’s Space X remaining one of the few bastions of innovation, is getting better by the year. For similarly small sums compared to America’s welfare budget, bases on the moon could be built, asteroid mining could begin, and projects beyond our current comprehension could exit the realm of science fiction and become reality in our solar system.
Such is what Zubrin explains in his highly interesting The Case for Space, a truly excellent book about how humanity could settle the solar system, what the benefits of that gargantuan project would be, and how the technology we need to get started already exists, but the only thing lacking is the will to get started. If you’re horrified by the stagnant civilization we live in and dream of something greater, this is a book you need to read.
If you like The Case for Space, then The Case for Mars is also excellent.
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4. The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz
Two things are true about ideas of diet in America are true, and both are problems for the average person trying to eat in a way that helps them stay healthy and feel good. The first is that what the regime tells us is absolutely a lie. If you follow the “food pyramid” the feds recommend and eat 11 servings of pasta a day and little meat, eggs, or dairy, you’re going to be weak and unhealthy. To build muscle, you need to be eating at least a gram of protein per pound of body weight, and animal-based protein is far more bioavailable than plant protein (the protein in milk and egg is the best in terms of bioavailability and quality), and to keep your testosterone up as a male, you need to be eating foods with dietary cholesterol in them. The other problem, however, is that most people on the internet giving advice about diet are grifters trying to sell a product rather than help you build a healthy life and lifestyle.
That makes Nina Teicholz’s The Big Fat Surprise a critical book to read, as in it Teicholz examines the studies that form the foundation of the modern dietary advice the regime promulgates and picks those studies apart piece by piece. Rather than issue equally broad and vague pronouncements about diet that are unsupported by science, Teicholz plumbs the depths of the post-World War II studies into fat, cholesterol, and carbs, and then uses the actual data from those studies to explain what a healthy diet looks like, particularly in terms of whether saturated fat is healthy or not. If you want to lose weight or stay healthy as the hospital system declines in quality, this is a must-read book.
If this topic interests you The Eggs Benedict Option is also quite good, and explains what forces are behind the war on protein and animal-based fats and protein.
5. The Galaxy’s Edge Series by Jason Anspach
One of the saddest aspects of Disney’s ruining its content with wokeness is that Star Wars, once an exiting way to think about how humanity might settle the stars and then wage war for them, has been utterly ruined by the woke morons in charge of Disney.
But if you’re interested in science fiction and can’t stand how the entertainment complex ruined Star Wars, Star Trek, and other stories like them, there’s a great series of science fiction books that is based in conservative thought and uses an interesting storyline, compelling characters, and excellent action scenes to tell a good story and attempt to explain where the American project went wrong, how it transformed from an entrepreneurial republic into a corrupt and sclerotic regime that mainly engages in evil at home and abroad. While not moralizing or overly imbued with ideology, the books explore that captivating concept in a deep way. Those books are the Galaxy’s Edge series by Jason Anspach, a collection of books great for all ages that make for a fun read and will get you thinking about where it all went wrong.
6. English Landed Society in the Nineteenth Century by Francis Michael Longstreth Thompson
This book is a bit more academic than the rest, but English Landed Society in the Nineteenth Century by Francis Michael Longstreth Thompson is a book you need to read because, when paired with Defenders of the West, it explains how we can scrape and build toward escaping our present situation.
In it, Thompson explains the social history of England’s landed society at the time of its peak, the Victorian Age. Though eventually ushered out of power with the 1909 Reform Bill, that class of landowning gentry and aristocrats managed to hold onto its power, wealth, and privileges at a time when aristocrats across the Continent, from the boyars in Russia to the aristocrats in France, were losing their power and privileges to violent mobs and absolute rulers. So, how’d they do that? Well, that’s what Thompson explains, making it a critical read. In short, they managed to strike a balance between being tied to the land and maintaining independent incomes, incomes that gave them the time and resources to dedicate to political power while their land gave them ties and bonds to the farmers of England, and also remaining on the forefront of business by buying shares in companies and railroads while exploiting natural resources on their lands, thus giving them the ability to maintain the same amount of monetary power as the generally more liberal plutocrats.
How’s that useful? Because it’s an illustration of how the right can start to claw back some degree of power and respect for tradition. Ties to the land and a desire to build one’s patrimony for ones heirs are influences that make one deeply conservative. Seventh-generation thinking brooks no progressive impulses. Meanwhile, money is power in liberal society, so managing to look for the future while maintaining those ties to the land, as England’s gentry and peers did, is critical. In the present, that might mean crypto, companies commercially exploiting space, or something else, but it’s important to remember that focusing on the future while remaining tied to the traditions of the past is the way to hold onto financial independence and direct that independence toward political power. Though not directly about that, Thompson’s book is an interesting study of how the English landed society, the class of a few thousand men who conquered a quarter of the globe’s surface, managed to do it.
If this book interests you, The Diehards: Aristocratic Society and Politics in Edwardian England by Gregory D. Phillips is an interesting study of how they lost their power, and how a few brave souls tried to fight back.
7. The Flashman Papers by George MacDonald Frasier
If you want something truly fun to read, with equal dashes of hilarity and exciting adventure, Fraser’s Flashman Papers series is wonderful. About a fictitious scoundrel and rake from the early Victorian days, the series spans the wars and intrigues that created the empire and is a fun way to learn about how the gentleman of England and their red-coated brigades built the empire on which the sun never set. It’s also just hilarious and is quite fun to read.
8. The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones
One of the worst aspects of modern liberalism is that, much like communism in days past, its anti-hierarchy underpinnings have led to people forgetting their heritage and history. That’s particularly true of America, where a large chunk of the population is of English ethnicity but knows nothing about that Anglo-Norman society from which they come.
Particularly, even if they know vaguely that Alfred stopped the Vikings, William the Conqueror later conquered the Anglos, somehow George III was in charge when America declared Independence, and Elizabeth II reigned for a long time, they know little of the rest. That’s unfortunate, as the part between William and the Windsors is quite interesting. Namely, for the time Angevin monarchs, the members of the Plantagenet dynasty, ruled, England ruled nearly half of modern-day France, Richard I was the living embodiment of chivalry, and rulers like Edward III inspired generations. There’s much to learn from them and their medieval times, and Dan Jones’s The Plantagenets is an excellent way to learn lessons of critical importance in understanding how to rule, when to fight, how subterfuge can lead to victory, and why there is nothing worse for a nation that a weak ruler with foreign sympathies.
If chivalry interests you, Chivalry: The Everyday Life of the Medieval Knight by Léon Gautier and A Knight's Own Book of Chivalry by Geoffroi De Charny are interesting books on it from the French perspective.
9. Stalin's War: A New History of World War II by Sean McMeekin
Why did World War II happen? Who started it? Was it a war started only by an evil and megalomaniacal Hitler trying to throw Prussia’s remaining strength against the world, as mainstream history would have you believe, or was their more going on? That’s what Stalin's War: A New History of World War II by Sean McMeekin answers, and McMeekin does a tremendously good job of it.
Instead of accepting the mainstream telling of how tensions in Europe led to the horrific bloodletting of the Second World War, McMeekin jumps into what the motivations of each party were and how communist aggression, rather than a Nazi drive to conquer the world, were the main catalysts for war and determinants of how it went. He shows how Stalin was preparing for an offensive and the Wehrmacht beat him to the punch with Operation Barbarossa, how pinkos and agents of the Red Menace within the FDR Administration directed the full might of American industrial enterprise toward helping the communists, a great sacrifice for which we got nothing other than tirades from Stalin and more subversion of our body politic by communist agents, and how the communists were the ultimate beneficiaries of the war and the civilization of Old Europe was the ultimate loser of the war. The British and French lost their empires, but the far-left FDR administration and genocidal Stalinist regimes gained empires of their own.
That, at least, is the story McMeekin tells. It’s an incredibly convincing one, backed up as it is by primary sources, and it helps explain why the following years went as well for the Soviets as they did. Reading it with an open mind is well worth your time.
10. 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War by Charles Emmerson
Steeped as we are in the mythology of the twentieth century, particularly the lies, half-truths, and oversimplified stories that have arisen about World War I, World War II, and the ensuing cultural catastrophe that was the 60s, it’s hard to remember that an entirely different world existed before the Great War. As Emmerson describes that world in 1913:
A European could survey the world in 1913 as the Greek gods might have surveyed it from the snowy heights of Mount Olympus: themselves above, the teeming earth below…
To be a European, from this perspective, was to inhabit the highest stage of human development. Past civilisations might have built great cities, invented algebra or discovered gunpowder, but none could compare to the material and technological culture to which Europe had given rise, made manifest in the continent’s unprecedented wealth and power.
Critically, not only were the Europeans of the Belle Epoque civilized and far more competent than the rest of the world at waging war and producing industrial goods, they also were confident in their civilization. That is hard to understand in the here and now, as America might be able to obliterate uncivilized militias half the world away, much as Chinese Gordon or Lord Kitchener did in their day, we lack their confidence and their belief in the civilization which they represented being the best.
For example, in the days of King Edward, every man, even the lowliest laborer in the worst slums of London, had at least one suit and wore it nearly every day. They wanted to look their best, wanted to feel the power imbued by being part of a youthful, healthy, and thriving civilization. Now, even billionaires wear collarless t-shirts. Apathy and slovenliness rule the day, not belief in the ascent of a glorious civilization.
If we’re to win, the mindset of 1913 has to be restored. The rotten, caustic nature of the liberalism that rose out of the despair of World War I and decay of the 60s has to be done away with wholesale and replaced with something better. History doesn’t repeat, so our exact views won’t be theirs. The Belle Epoque isn’t coming back, however much we might want it to. But the spirit at the base of it, the belief that the world not only can be conquered and bent to one’s will in the name of transforming it into something higher, can be. That is the spirit that sent steamboats up the Zambezi, that created the splendor and advancements of the days of Victoria and Edward, and that sent explorers to freeze in the Antarctic and sweat searching for the source of the Blue Nile. It was a spirit of greatness and belief that the impossible could be made possible, and it’s one we need to bring back.
For further reading, check out The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War 1890-1914 by Barbara W. Tuchman, Victorian Duke by Gervas Huxley, and The Fall of the Dynasties: The Collapse of the Old Order: 1905-1922 by Edmond Taylor
Happy Reading and Merry Christmas!
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