Christmas books

Thomas Sowell

12/21/2006 12:01:00 AM - Thomas Sowell

People who dread Christmas shopping and the hand-wringing over what present to buy for which person should consider giving books. No need to know what size to get, as with clothing, or what dietary restrictions the recipient might have, as with candy or fruit cake.

One of the biggest advantages of books is that you can buy them on line, without having to inspect the merchandise personally before buying, so you can avoid the mobs in the malls.

Among the new books this year, "Londonistan" by Melanie Phillips is an eye-opening account of how the British have so succumbed to political correctness as regards their Muslim minority that even incitements to murder by Muslim extremists go unpunished.

While the Brits have gone further down this road than Americans have, we are being led in the same direction by our academic and media elites. So "Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."

The British have also gone further down the road to letting criminals escape punishment for their crimes. Here again, their experience can be a valuable warning, since Britain has gone from being one of the most law-abiding nations on earth to having a crime rate higher than that in the United States.

How was this achieved? By carrying the left-wing view of criminal justice even further than it has been carried in the United States, along with a dogmatic refusal to face the hard facts about the growing evidence of what disasters their "progressive" ideas have created.

Ann Coulter's new book this year is titled "Godless." Like her other books, it is a gem -- witty and factual, amusing and incisive, logical and angry.

It ranges across a wide sweep of political issues but its unifying theme is that liberalism is a religion, Godless but faith-based, with its faith being in a social vision that is impervious to any facts to the contrary.

For the benefit of the rest of us, Ann Coulter supplies those facts -- and they are often devastating to the liberal faith, as her previous books have been.

For anyone who has a child who is planning to go to college, the most valuable book you can give them is the latest edition of a 900-page college guide titled "Choosing the Right College."

It tells you about the campus atmosphere at numerous colleges, including which colleges have a real curriculum and which ones allow students to graduate knowing nothing about history, science, math, economics, etc.

It also tells which colleges have a suffocating political correctness and which ones still allow a free marketplace for ideas without the threat of being zapped by speech codes.

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.