Anyone shocked by how hard it is to create a free society in Iraq might read "1776" by David McCullough, which shows how hard it was to create a free society in the United States.
Another book about history that has heavy implications for our own time is "The Gathering Storm" by Winston Churchill. It is about the events of the 1930s that led up to World War II. But the same kinds of arguments being made today about war and peace were made then -- and we now know what kinds of wonderful-sounding words led straight to catastrophe.
"Myths of Rich and Poor" by W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm is a book that shoots down many of the myths and misconceptions about income differences that are constantly being turned out by the media.
Another book that debunks much organized hysteria is "Sprawl" by Robert Bruegmann. If you or someone you know happens to believe the "open space" and "smart growth" advocates -- or even take them seriously -- the plain facts and no-nonsense analysis in this book will make the hysteria collapse like a house of cards.
My own two books this year are very different from one another. "Ever Wonder Why?" is a 460-page collection of my columns, including many "random thoughts."
My other book this year, "On Classical Economics," is frankly one that only an economist could love. But anyone who has studied enough economics to understand simple graphs and a few technical terms should sail right through it.
"Merry Christmas" -- if we are still allowed to say that.