Best Books of 2008

Below is a brief overview of my top 10 books read in 2008, and the books sitting on my pile to start off 2009 with. I am committed to 50 books for 2009 (one per week, give or take), and hope to review each and every one of them. In the meantime, Happy New Year, and happy reading! Your recommendations for additions to the list are always appreciated. Note: I don’t do novels, and I don’t do theology (any more). =)

(10) Blue Blood and Mutiny: The Fight for the Soul of Morgan Stanley – Patricia Beard

Not all of you would find it interesting. I read it cover to cover, barely stopping to eat. But I am a Sr VP at the company … =)
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(9) Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy – Natan Sharansky

The man whose Case for Democracy finalized my conversion out of paleo-conservatism outdid himself with this delightful repudiation of multi-culturalism
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(8) King of the Club – Charlie Gasparino

The story of the rise and fall of Richard Grasso, the head of the New York Stock Exchange over the last couple of decades, and the ultimate victim in Eliot Spitzer’s despicable and self-serving series of crusades from 2002-2006. Grasso, of course, did not resign in the midst of a massive hooker scandal while serving as the moral watchdog on Wall Street (that would be Spitzer). Grasso resigned for taking the paycheck that the compensation committee gave him.
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(7) Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity – Michael Lewis (ed.)

I reviewed this a week or so ago, and remain blown away that the things I read were written as commentary of the 1987 crash, the 1998 meltdown, and the dotcom crash, as it sure felt like I was reading current events.
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(6) The Return of History and the End of Dreams – Robert Kagan

A short but sweet piece from one of the most important foreign policy minds alive today. Kagan’s Dangerous Nation convinced me several years ago that I have been fed a load of bull about the founding fathers being isolationists; his newest piece convinced me that China and Russia remain as great of a threat as the Islamic terrorists do.
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(5) Economic Facts and Fallacies – Thomas Sowell

Sowell, whom I wish more than anything was the first black President in American history, ruffles the feathers of those whose economic logic can always be reduced to redistributionism. The book is not as insightful as Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, but it is equally cogent and needed in today’s atmosphere of economic illiteracy.
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(4) Democracy’s Good Name: The Rise and Risk of the World’s Most Popular Form of Government – Michael Mandelbaum

The author of the paradigm-shifting Case for Goliath and Ideas the Conquered the World returns to top shelf in this extraordinary work documenting how democracy came to be the prominent form of government on planet earth and what conditions exist today that pose a threat to it.
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(3) Liar’s Poker: Rising through the Wreckage on Wall Street – Michael Lewis

I have to confess, rarely has a book been so hard to put down once I started reading it (and he wrote this in 1989, believe it or not)
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(2) The Victory of Reason – Rodney Stark

Well, what do you know. Reason, science, and morality have progressed because of Christianity; not despite it.
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(1) God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World – Walter Russell Mead

It is not just the best book I read in 2008. It is the best book I read by far. It is one of the best books I have ever read, and I hope to read it every year for the rest of my life. No book has ever done a finer job of covering the historicity and integration of religion and economics in the Anglo world. The book is a descriptive and prescriptive masterpiece, evaluating the unique elements in England and later America that gave birth to this empire of freedom we enjoy today.