Ben Murphy Coach

This list of recommended books focuses on Personal Freedom, Liberty, and History. If you want to understand where we are headed you first must understand where we came from, the questions that were asked, and the answers we got.

”Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.” - Thomas Jefferson

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 Personal Freedom, Liberty, & History

 

Drawing on his twenty five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, Haidt shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns. In this subtle yet accessible book, Haidt gives you the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation, as well as the curse of our eternal divisions and conflicts. If you’re ready to trade in anger for understanding, read The Righteous Mind.

The left and right have gone to great lengths to blame the problems plaguing our society but neither Washington DC, Wall Street, Mexico, China, the Feds, nor the media are the cause of our problems—nor are they the cure.  

The key to American prosperity in this new era of populism is for moral people to make responsibility matter again by renewing personal virtue and form lasting, mediating institutions that will trump the elitist bogeymen and scapegoats for generations to come. If we fail as individual Americans to address this core crisis of responsibility, we have only ourselves to blame for what happens next.

When asked simple questions about global trends―what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school―we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.

In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and global TED phenomenon Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators, Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens. They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective―from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse).

Now available as a newly revised and expanded edition, Kling’s book could not be any more timely, as Americans—whether as media pundits or conversing at a party—talk past one another with even greater volume, heat, and disinterest in contrary opinions.The Three Languages of Politics is an accessible, precise, and insightful guide to how to lower the barriers coarsening our politics. This is not a book about one ideology over another. Instead, it is a book about how we communicate issues and our ideologies, and how language intended to persuade instead divides. Kling offers a way to see through our rhetorical blinders so that we can incorporate new perspectives, nuances, and thinking into the important issues we must together share and resolve.

In Them, bestselling author and U.S. senator Ben Sasse argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, our crisis isn’t really about politics. It’s that we’re so lonely we can’t see straight―and it bubbles out as anger.

Local communities are collapsing. Across the nation, little leagues are disappearing, Rotary clubs are dwindling, and in all likelihood, we don’t know the neighbor two doors down. Work isn’t what we’d hoped: less certainty, few lifelong coworkers, shallow purpose. Stable families and enduring friendships―life’s fundamental pillars―are in statistical free-fall.

As traditional tribes of place evaporate, we rally against common enemies so we can feel part of a team. No institutions command widespread public trust, enabling foreign intelligence agencies to use technology to pick the scabs on our toxic divisions. We’re in danger of half of us believing different facts than the other half, and the digital revolution throws gas on the fire.

There’s a path forward―but reversing our decline requires something radical: a rediscovery of real places and human-to-human relationships. Even as technology nudges us to become rootless, Sasse shows how only a recovery of rootedness can heal our lonely souls.

First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt show how the new problems on campus have their origins in three terrible ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; always trust your feelings; and life is a battle between good people and evil people. These three Great Untruths contradict basic psychological principles about well-being and ancient wisdom from many cultures. Embracing these untruths—and the resulting culture of safetyism—interferes with young people’s social, emotional, and intellectual development. It makes it harder for them to become autonomous adults who are able to navigate the bumpy road of life.

Unlike many examinations of postmodern theory, Springtime for Snowflakes is a first-person, insider narrative. Likening his testimony to that of an anthropologist who has gone native and returned, the author recalls his graduate education in English departments and his academic career thereafter. In his graduate studies in English and Literary and Cultural Theory/Studies, the author explains, he absorbed the tenets of Marxism, the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, as well as various esoteric postmodern theories. He connects ideas gleaned there to manifestations in social justice to explain the otherwise inexplicable beliefs and rituals of this religious creed. Altogether, the narrative works to demystify social justice as well as Rectenwald’s revolt against it.

What has happened to the American spirit? We've gone from "Give me liberty, or give me death!" to "Take care of me, please." Our colleges were once bastions of free speech; now they're bastions of speech codes. Our culture once rewarded independence; now it rewards victim-hood. Parents once taught their kids how to fend for themselves; now, any parent who tries may get a visit from the police.

In Not a Day Care, Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University and author of the viral essay, "This Is Not a Day Care. It's a University!," takes a hard look at what's happening around the country--including the demand for "safe spaces" and trigger warnings at universities like Yale, Brandeis, and Oberlin--and digs in his heels against the sad and dangerous infantilization of the American spirit.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century
By Yuval Noah Harari

How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human? How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news? Are nations and religions still relevant? What should we teach our children?

Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.

In twenty-one accessible chapters that are both provocative and profound, Harari builds on the ideas explored in his previous books, untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in: How can we retain freedom of choice when Big Data is watching us? What will the future workforce look like, and how should we ready ourselves for it? How should we deal with the threat of terrorism? Why is liberal democracy in crisis?

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.

The international bestseller on the extent to which personal freedom has been eroded by government regulations and agencies while personal prosperity has been undermined by government spending and economic controls.

Basic Economics
By Thomas Sowell

Basic Economics is a citizen's guide to economics, written for those who want to understand how the economy works but have no interest in jargon or equations. Bestselling economist Thomas Sowell explains the general principles underlying different economic systems: capitalist, socialist, feudal, and so on. In readable language, he shows how to critique economic policies in terms of the incentives they create, rather than the goals they proclaim. With clear explanations of the entire field, from rent control and the rise and fall of businesses to the international balance of payments, this is the first book for anyone who wishes to understand how the economy functions.

The Myth of the Robber Barons describes the role of key entrepreneurs in the economic growth of the United States from 1850 to 1910. The entrepreneurs studied are Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, James J. Hill, Andrew Mellon, Charles Schwab, and the Scranton family. Most historians argue that these men, and others like them, were Robber Barons. The story, however, is more complicated. The author, Burton Folsom, divides the entrepreneurs into two groups market entrepreneurs and political entrepreneurs. The market entrepreneurs, such as Hill, Vanderbilt, and Rockefeller, succeeded by producing a quality product at a competitive price. The political entrepreneurs such as Edward Collins in steamships and in railroads the leaders of the Union Pacific Railroad were men who used the power of government to succeed. They tried to gain subsidies, or in some way use government to stop competitors.

Animal Farm
By George Orwell

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned—a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.

1984
By George Orwell

In 1984, London is a grim city in the totalitarian state of Oceania where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston Smith is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.

Lionel Trilling said of Orwell’s masterpiece “1984 is a profound, terrifying, and wholly fascinating book. It is a fantasy of the political future, and like any such fantasy, serves its author as a magnifying device for an examination of the present.” Though the year 1984 now exists in the past, Orwell’s novel remains an urgent call for the individual willing to speak truth to power.

Brave New World
By Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley's profoundly important classic of world literature, Brave New World is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically-advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively uphold an authoritarian ruling order–all at the cost of our freedom, full humanity, and perhaps also our souls.

Brave New World has enthralled and terrified millions of readers, and retains its urgent relevance to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying work of literature. Written in the shadow of the rise of fascism during the 1930s, Brave New World likewise speaks to a 21st-century world dominated by mass-entertainment, technology, medicine and pharmaceuticals, the arts of persuasion, and the hidden influence of elites. 

Fahrenheit 451
By Ray Bradbury

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

Atlas Shrugged
By Ayn Rand

Who is John Galt? When he says that he will stop the motor of the world, is he a destroyer or a liberator? Why does he have to fight his battles not against his enemies but against those who need him most? Why does he fight his hardest battle against the woman he loves? You will know the answer to these questions when you discover the reason behind the baffling events that play havoc with the lives of the amazing men and women in this book.

Atlas Shrugged, a modern classic and Rand’s most extensive statement of Objectivism—her groundbreaking philosophy—offers the reader the spectacle of human greatness, depicted with all the poetry and power of one of the twentieth century’s leading artists.

Defying Hitler: A Memoir
By Sebastian Haffner

Written in 1939 and unpublished until 2000, Sebastian Haffner's memoir of the rise of Nazism in Germany offers a unique portrait of the lives of ordinary German citizens between the wars. Covering 1907 to 1933, his eyewitness account provides a portrait of a country in constant flux: from the rise of the First Corps, the right-wing voluntary military force set up in 1918 to suppress Communism and precursor to the Nazi storm troopers, to the Hitler Youth movement; from the apocalyptic year of 1923 when inflation crippled the country to Hitler's rise to power. This fascinating personal history elucidates how the average German grappled with a rapidly changing society, while chronicling day-to-day changes in attitudes, beliefs, politics, and prejudices.

From the author of the New York Times bestseller A Train in Winter comes the absorbing story of a French village that helped save thousands hunted by the Gestapo during World War II—told in full for the first time.

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small village of scattered houses high in the mountains of the Ardèche, one of the most remote and inaccessible parts of Eastern France. During the Second World War, the inhabitants of this tiny mountain village and its parishes saved thousands wanted by the Gestapo: resisters, freemasons, communists, OSS and SOE agents, and Jews. Many of those they protected were orphaned children and babies whose parents had been deported to concentration camps.

The 5000 Year Leap
By W. Cleon Skousen

In The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World, Discover the 28 Principles of Freedom our Founding Fathers said must be understood and perpetuated by every people who desire peace, prosperity, and freedom. Learn how adherence to these beliefs during the past 200 years has brought about more progress than was made in the previous 5000 years. These 28 Principles include The Genius of Natural Law, Virtuous and Moral Leaders, Equal Rights--Not Equal Things, and Avoiding the Burden of Debt.

Every year millions of Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but they may not be aware of how great an influence St. Patrick was on the subsequent history of civilization. Not only did he bring Christianity to Ireland, he instilled a sense of literacy and learning that would create the conditions that allowed Ireland to become "the isle of saints and scholars" -- and thus preserve Western culture while Europe was being overrun by barbarians.

In this entertaining and compelling narrative, Thomas Cahill tells the story of how Europe evolved from the classical age of Rome to the medieval era. Without Ireland, the transition could not have taken place. Not only did Irish monks and scribes maintain the very record of Western civilization -- copying manuscripts of Greek and Latin writers, both pagan and Christian, while libraries and learning on the continent were forever lost -- they brought their uniquely Irish world-view to the task.

It will help you quickly and easily reach a deep understanding of the Bill of Rights by...

Walking you through each amendment, clarifying the precise definitions of key words, so you understand exactly what the Founders wanted you to know. Providing you with the key historical context you need to fully grasp and spirit and importance of the amendments, so you understand how they apply to our 21st century society. Sharing powerfully insightful quotes on each amendment, straight from the Founders and their peers, so you have absolutely no questions as to their purposes and intentions. Supplying you with an extensive glossary of terms so you never get lost in a dictionary or encyclopedia trying to understand what you're reading. And more.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people...They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."

Setting the Record Straight is a unique view of the religious and moral heritage of black Americans, with an emphasis on the untold yet significant stories from our rich political history. The material presented is ground-breaking and revolutionary, leaving viewers amazed and inspired.

An essential resource for anyone interested in our nation's religious heritage and the Founders' intended role for the American judicial system. Original Intent combines hundreds of quotes from primary sources with the author's exposition on hot topics such as revisionism, judicial activism, and separation of church and state. A substantial appendix encompasses full texts of the founding documents, biographical sketches of numerous Founders, and extensive reference notes.