The Library of Freedom:
Books, Readings, Movies and Music Celebrating Americanism, Freedom, the Christian Faith, Godly Virtues, and Western Civilization
Introduction: The Great Election of 2016 for the President of the United States is now over and the 45th President will be Donald Trump of New York, a businessman, not a politician. This election will be the subject of studies for the foreseeable future because it was so very different in many ways from all the elections preceding it. Perhaps the strangeness of the election will not be fully known until after the Trump presidency has had a chance to actually do some things that were promised in the campaign.
This election has clearly demonstrated what many of us have known for a long while: this nation is very divided. In my studies as an amateur historian I would say that our nation is more divided than at any time since the 1850’s- 1860’s. The slavery crisis was a complex issue that touched on what it means to be a human being, what the Bible says about slavery, what the Founders thought and wanted, as well as the sheer economics of slavery and the political divide the issue caused including the issue of states’ rights and individual property freedoms. It took the worst war in our history, a war that killed more Americans than any other war, to settle the issue and the lingering issues of race and racism linger still and will likely never go away. But today we are at least just as divided and maybe more so.
The issues that divide us today are just as fundamental as the issue of slavery. Is an unborn baby a human being with rights? Should men be able to marry men and women marry women? What is marriage? What is a family? Can people switch genders and declare themselves a different gender from what they were born with and then force society to recognize them for who and what they are pretending to be? If you have a religious belief that contradicts the liberal sexual mores can you be persecuted and prosecuted by the State and coerced to act against your religion in order to accommodate those with whom you disagree? Do homosexual rights trump religious freedom? Is Islam compatible with any of our western values? What is a nation? Should we not have borders or an official language? Should we purge our history of inconvenient facts because the public’s values have changed?
For the last hundred years or so conservatives and the religious right have slowly surrendered one part of our culture after another despite winning many elections. Our culture is no longer slouching towards Gomorrah, we are going at breakneck speed off the cliff to Gomorrah. And yet we, the religious right and conservatives in general, have just won another election. Sort of. Trump is problematic at best for purebred conservatives.
While political movements, elections, and policies are important, they are just one part of what we must do to reclaim the culture. I would say, boldly even, that the greatest single cause of the decline of our culture is that we have forsaken Christ and His Inspired, Inerrant, Infallible Word. The Church has failed to hold to sound doctrine and failed to pass the faith down to the next generation, and the next, and the next…. We have failed to proclaim the pure gospel and evangelize the lost, failed to claim every part of our culture for the glory of Christ, and failed to lead our world with a consistent and biblical worldview. We have retreated to our Christian ghettos and have been compromised by the world.
Along with the decline in the Church, the next big reason for the fall of our civilization is that we have ceded control of Education to the pagan Left. From the local elementary schools to the school boards, the teachers’ unions, the Teachers’ Colleges and Universities, to the Dept. of Education, our education system is failing and falling short. Our literacy rates are in decline but our athletics are outstanding. The classics are unread, untaught and forsaken but we are computer literate. Americans no longer are even teaching math at university, immigrants are. The Liberal Left and atheists do not and will not, cannot, teach patriotism and moral values anymore. It is now controversial to require students to say the pledge of allegiance, it is not unusual for the Mexican flag to be more prevalent on campus than the American flag and kids cannot sing Christmas carols during Winter Holidays (it used to be called Christmas!)
In short, the American education system is all about keeping children ignorant of the greatness of our country, ignorant of the biblical basis for morals and values, and is more interested in turning out world citizens who cannot think or reason and know not from whence they came, than they are about turning out moral citizens who think critically and cherish their nation’s heritage.
The same can be said for the American entertainment establishment. Gone are the days when sports heroes and movie stars also served in the armed forces and fought in our wars. Today the sports heroes take a knee when the National Anthem is played and the movie stars threaten to move to Canada when their candidate and political party loses an election. One of the biggest Olympic heroes of all time, Bruce Jenner, has made himself a woman. Sort of.
And the News Media, the so-called journalists of our day…are simply disgusting. Useless. Communists. It took an outlaw set of computer hackers, Wikileaks and Anonymous, to break the decisive stories that revealed how crooked the demoncratic party is. They did what the Main Stream Media used to do.
If our government does not address these issues in our education, media, and entertainment systems then all of our political actions and ideals will come to naught.
So what can I do? What can WE do? One tiny thing I am going to do is to promote good books, movies and music that point us in the right direction. If the education system, modern news media and entertainment industry does not promote Americanism, Patriotism, Western Civilization, Virtue and Good Morals, and the Christian Faith, then I WILL. The lists that I will produce are from my personal library and are books/movies/music that I think are important and share a good message that will build up the Church, build up America and Americans, and fight the overwhelming tide of evil that assaults us every day.
I am inviting you to educate and inform yourself through these resources. Certainly we should exchange ideas, discuss the books and the issues. And have fun!
I. History: the Record of Freedom and Oppression, Greatness in Western Civilization
A. General Histories of America: Here are some general histories of America that I have either found to be outstanding or look very promising with good, strong recommendations.
- A History of the American People, by Paul Johnson. HarperCollinsPublishers: New York, 1997 (1088pp.) Johnson is British and the book was originally published in Britain. This is an outstanding, conservative view of the history of America. I would say that if you could read one volume on the history of America, read this book!
- Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Eighties, by Paul Johnson. Harper&Row Publishers: New York, 1983 (817pp.) While this is a world history, it deals a lot with America and her impact on the world, so I am including it here as a companion volume to the one above. I have read this big book twice it’s so good! Even though it is now a bit out of date, if you want to read a great, conservative account of most of the twentieth-century, this is the book.
- The Growth of the American Republic, Volume One, sixth edition, by Samuel Eliot Morison, Henry Steele Commager and William E. Leuchtenburg. Oxford University Press: New York, 1969 (921pp.) The original edition of this classic came out in 1930. Volume Two, seventh edition, 1980 (923pp.) I read these two classics back in 2000 over about 5 months- that fast for such a large work indicates how much I enjoyed these books! The authors tell the story of America in a rich, invigorating manner.
- America, The Last Best Hope Volume I:From the Age of Discovery To a World at War by William J. Bennett. Nelson Current: Nashville, TN 2006 (673pp.) The portions of this book I have read are outstanding! Volume II: From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom 1914-1989 Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2007 (592pp.) This two volume set may be better in some ways than the previous set listed above because Bennett does deal with some modern trends in American History that are liberal and deconstructive. Bennett takes on controversial subjects like Columbus and sets the Liberals straight! If you can afford the time for a big 2 Volume history of America, go to Dr. Bennett.
- A Patriot’s History of the United States From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror, by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. Sentinel: New York, 2004 (928pp.) I have read parts of this book and am quite impressed! It seems that it started out as a one volume work but the following volumes have been added. A Patriot’s History of the Modern World From America’s Exceptional Ascent to the Atomic Bomb: 1898-1945, Larry Schweikart and Dave Dougherty. 2012 (490pp.) A Patriot’s History of the Modern World Vol.II From the Cold War to the Age of Entitlement: 1945-2012 by Schweikart and Dougherty. 2013 (671pp.)
- The Americans: The Colonial Experience by Daniel J. Boorstin. Vintage Books: New York, 1958 (434pp.) This is an outstanding three book series that takes a series of connected snapshots to lay out the history of this great nation. This is not your normal, straight chronological history; Boorstin’s writing is unique and scintillating. The Americans: The National Experience. 1965 (517pp.) The Americans: The Democratic Experience. 1973 (717pp.) This inexpensive paperback set would be a great addition to any family’s library. The way Boorstin writes and organizes his book is that you can open it to any chapter at random, read it, and feel good about your country and learn a lot. You do not have to read it all the way through, first to last, although that is certainly the recommended way.
- The Oxford History of the American People, volume I: Prehistory to 1789, Samuel Eliot Morison. Mentor: New York, 1972 (422pp.) Volume II: 1789 Through Reconstruction. (540pp.) Volume III: 1869 to the Death of John F. Kennedy 1963. (521pp.) Morison is one of my all-time favorite authors and this series is outstanding. I also have the one volume, hardback edition which can still be purchased: The Oxford History of the American People, Oxford University Press: New York, 1965 (1151pp.) Morison is an old school conservative who is a delight to read. By conservative I do not mean a partisan, rather, an accurate historian who is passionate about our story and seeks to tell it with grace and dignity.
- B. Discovering the Americas: Stories of Adventure, Courage & Greatness: Every American should get to know Christopher Columbus. He has fallen out of favor these days and is blamed for the near extermination of the Native Americans, Indians, and Aboriginal Peoples. I believe that we should celebrate Columbus and his great accomplishments as he had a great faith in God, a sense of divine calling in his life, and he was the most courageous and talented mariner in our American story. Simply put, if Columbus had not persevered in his quest, which was a religious quest, America would not be here.
The study of Columbus does have a particular relevance to our lives today in that he was seeking a way to deal with the problem of Islam in his day. That’s right, Columbus did NOT just sail west because it was there, he did not set out on his journey simply for fame, glory, and riches. He believed God had called him to this task in order to enrich the Spanish Crown and fund a Crusade to reconquer the Holy Land from the Muslims and open new trading routes since the Muslims had blocked the direct route. Along the way he discovered a New World.
- The Log of Christopher Columbus, translated by Robert H. Fuson. International Marine Publishing Company: Camden, Maine 1987 (252pp.) An excellent prime source that demonstrates his faith in God and personal courage.
- The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Edited and translated by J.M. Cohen. Penguin Books: New York, 1969 (320pp.) This book is an Excellent prime source and contemporary account. This is an inexpensive paperback and should be in every American’s home!
- Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem, Carol Delaney. Free Press: New York, 2011 (319pp.) An excellent biography that sheds much light on the religious motives of Columbus. If you can’t read Morison’s lengthy biography of Columbus, read this one!
- Admiral of the Ocean Sea, A Life of Christopher Columbus, by Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison. Little, Brown and Company: Boston, 1942 (680pp.) This Pulitzer Prize winner is one of my top biographies. If you could only read one book on Columbus, read this one.
- The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Two Volumes in One, by Washington Irving. Cosimo Classics: New York, 2011, originally published in 1893, (489pp., 515pp. respectively). Did you catch the author’s name? Yes, that Washington Irving, the famous 19th century author of The Last of the Mohicans, and The Deerslayer. One Great American writing about another. While I have not read this massive 2 volume biography yet, this classic promises greatness. Morison does quote from Irving several times in his books, but there are some inaccuracies in the book that Morison ferrets out.
- The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages A.D.1492-1616, by Dr. Samuel Eliot Morison. Oxford University Press: New York, 1974 (758pp.) This outstanding book tells the stories of the brave, the cruel, the greedy, and the amazing men who led other men in the very dangerous journeys of early trans-Atlantic sailing to the Americas. The book focuses on Columbus, Magellan, and Drake but includes others. These men should be revered as heroes by every American, but, sadly, their stories have fallen on hard times to our great loss.
- The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages A.D. 500-1600, by Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison. Oxford University Press: New York, 1971 (712 pp.) This Harvard Professor and U.S. Navy Admiral begins his story with ancient myths of islands and lands west of Gibraltar and the English Isles and then covers in detail the great mariners like Leif Ericsson, John Cabot, Jacques Cartier and Sir Walter Raleigh. These great men, and the adventures they pursued, should be common knowledge today, but have, sadly, been long forgotten. In my lifetime the only men that come close to these heroes are the astronauts of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs which also are now nearly forgotten.
- B. Conquering and Colonizing the Americas
- Of Plymouth Plantation: Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement 1608-1650, by Governor William Bradford. The Vision Forum, Inc.: San Antonio, TX 1998. Originally published 1856 after being lost and in private possession for over two-hundred years. This edition updated into modern English in 1909 by Harold Paget. (353pp.) I have read this book twice and believe that every American should read this book! Condensed, paperback editions are available.
- Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Heart of a New Nation, by David A. Price. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2003 (305pp.) This outstanding book needs to be read in conjunction with Plymouth Plantation listed above. The two books give you both sides of the founding of this great country- a search for wealth and adventure as well as a search for freedom to worship.
- A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America, by James Horn. Basic Books: New York, 2005 (337pp.) Jamestown is so important that a second book is worthy of your reading.
- Captain John Smith: Jamestown and the Birth of the American Dream, Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, New Jersey, 2006 (274pp.) To understand, love, and appreciate America you must read biographies of the great men and women who founded and built this great country. John Smith was a great man, and here is a worthy biography.
- John Winthrop: America’s Forgotten Founding Father, by Francis J. Bremer. Oxford University Press: New York, 2003 (478pp.) Surely Winthrop deserves the title of a Founding Father, and this biography brings back this forgotten giant of our history.