Thomas Sowell

If your family includes a college student, "Letters to a Young Conservative" by Dinesh D'Souza would be a thought-provoking gift, whether or not that student is in fact conservative. In a very readable and engaging style, this book cuts through the political correctness found on most college campuses and provides a breath of fresh air in the form of facts and insights that are unlikely to be found in a classroom. It is an enlightening book, not only for young conservatives, but for people of any age and any politics.

For those who want to understand the Supreme Court of the United States and the hot issues it has dealt with in recent times, there is no better introduction than "First Among Equals" by Kenneth Starr. It is a model of clear writing and honest presentation of the issues involved.

In his book "Power Plays," shrewd political consultant and JWR columnist Dick Morris has analyzed how political leaders -- past and present, American and foreign -- have succeeded or failed in trying to pursue their goals and carry out their policies. While most are success stories (Lincoln, Churchill, de Gaulle, Reagan), there are also some notable failures (Woodrow Wilson, Thomas E. Dewey, Barry Goldwater, Al Gore) that teach valuable political lessons as well.

"Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson" by Kenneth R. Timmerman is a book that you are unlikely to see even mentioned in the media, unless you happen to watch "The O'Reilly Factor." But it is a cold dose of reality about one of the sleazy sacred cows of our times.

Whatever your politics, David Horowitz's book "How to Beat the Democrats" provides penetrating insights into the current political scene. Its first chapter -- on the reckless and cynical sacrifice of American security by the Clinton administration -- says more than most whole books. Horowitz also understands that the ideology of the left is about self-aggrandizement, not helping others.

My own book this year is a collection of these columns, titled "Controversial Essays." I like it but that could be a biased opinion.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate