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Niall Ferguson: By the Book

What books do you think best captures your own political principles?

I suppose it would have to be Edmund Burke’s “Reflections on the Revolution in France.” I wish I could force-feed — or perhaps force-read — it to every progressive who is convinced that her latest untested and hare-brained policy initiative will magically eliminate inequality, discrimination, climate change and all the rest, without any unintended consequences for individual liberty.

Do you and your wife, the activist and writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, share similar taste in books? What books has she recommended to you, and vice versa?

Very similar, so books frequently cross the bedroom from one nightstand to the other. A good example was Hayek’s “The Constitution of Liberty,” her favorite work of political philosophy, which she urged me to read. I recently gave her Tom Holland’s “Dynasty,” the sequel to “Rubicon,” and of course his “In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire,” which I am waiting my turn to read after her.

Which books do you think capture the current social and political moment in America?

I shared the widespread enthusiasm for J. D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” last year, but the must-read book for Trump’s election and presidency remains Charles Murray’s astonishingly prescient “Coming Apart.” I wish the contemptible “students” who disrupted his lecture at Middlebury College earlier this year — not one of whom I’ll bet had ever read a word of his — would read “Coming Apart” and then look in the mirror and realize: “Oh God, I’m a member of that loathsome coastal cognitive elite that is completely out of touch with middle America.”

Which fiction and nonfiction writers — playwrights, critics, journalists, poets

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/books/review/niall-ferguson-by-the-book.html

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