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Yuval Levin's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Yuval Levin recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Yuval Levin's favorite book recommendations of all time.

The Beginning of Wisdom is a book that, like Genesis itself, falls naturally into two sections. The first shows how the universal history described in the first eleven chapters of Genesis, from creation to the tower of Babel, conveys, in the words of Leon Kass, "a coherent anthropology" - a general teaching about human nature - that "rivals anything produced by the great philosophers." Serving also as a mirror for the reader's self-discovery, these stories offer profound insights into the problematic character of human reason, speech, freedom, sexual desire, the love of the beautiful, pride,... more
Recommended by Yuval Levin, and 1 others.

Yuval LevinI was Leon Kass’s researcher for part of the time he was working on this book. It’s on this list because, to my mind, it’s the best example of social conservatism as an intellectual exercise that I’ve seen. It’s a close reading of the Book of Genesis, but it’s not a dogmatic reading, it’s really not even a theological reading – it’s not about God exactly. It’s a philosophical reading in the sense... (Source)

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Recommended by Yuval Levin, and 1 others.

Yuval LevinThat’s right, and George Will says as much in the book. This book is on my list for a few reasons. One of them is personal – this book was a path to conservatism for me. I discovered it as a high school student in the mid-90s – by then I was interested in politics and it was clear to me that I was a conservative. What this book showed me was that there was a way to be a conservative that was not... (Source)

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Democracy in America

Democracy in America has had the singular honor of being even to this day the work that political commentators of every stripe refer to when they seek to draw large conclusions about the society of the USA. Alexis de Tocqueville, a young French aristocrat, came to the young nation to investigate the functioning of American democracy & the social, political & economic life of its citizens, publishing his observations in 1835 & 1840. Brilliantly written, vividly illustrated with vignettes & portraits, Democracy in America is far more than a trenchant analysis of... more

Karl RoveTocqueville was seized by the sharp contrast between Paris and America, where people did not wait for the central government, but went ahead on their own, and I think that’s vital part of what it is to be both an American and a vital part of what is America. (Source)

Yuval LevinIt lays out how ideas are translated into political institutions, and even more so into mores and habits and practices of everyday life. (Source)

Robert ReichTocqueville was not only a brilliant sociologist but he also saw the connections between American society and the budding capitalism of the 1830s. (Source)

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Recommended by Yuval Levin, and 1 others.

Yuval LevinI chose this one in part because it’s a lot less known than Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, but in part also because it shows a different side of Burke, which I think is more representative. Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs was published in 1791. In a way it’s not a book, but a kind of pamphlet, though quite long, and it was a response to critics. It’s a response that denies... (Source)

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An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in 1944—when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program—The Road to Serfdom was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with... more

Geoffrey Miller@bdmarotta No, The Road to Serfdom by Hayek is the best book on modern evil (Source)

Yuval LevinThe Road to Serfdom is a very polemical book. It was published in 1944. It’s a warning not exactly about Communism, but about the coming of statism in the West, about the ways that some of the governing élites that Hayek saw, especially in Britain, thought about governing. The book is really mostly about Britain. He talks about the dangers of central planning, of the attempt to take over the... (Source)

Mitch DanielsThis book convincingly demonstrated what was already intuitive to me: namely, the utter futility, the illusion of government planning as a mechanism for uplifting those less fortunate. (Source)

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