The most recommended books on conservatism

Who picked these books? Meet our 34 experts.

34 authors created a book list connected to conservatism, and here are their favorite conservatism books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of conservatism book?


Book cover of The Republican Reversal: Conservatives and the Environment from Nixon to Trump

David Stradling and Richard Stradling Author Of Where the River Burned: Carl Stokes and the Struggle to Save Cleveland

From my list on the environmental movement in America.

Why are we passionate about this?

We grew up, brothers, in Cleveland’s Ohio antipode – Cincinnati – and so we knew Cleveland mostly in contrast to our home. Despite the many differences, both cities experienced the urban crisis. Richard, a journalist, was drawn to the story of Cleveland’s frequently burning river. How did the Cuyahoga become a poster child for the environmental movement? And David, an environmental historian, was drawn to Carl Stokes, a Black man with the skills to become mayor of a predominantly white city in 1968. How did he propose to solve the many problems running through the urban environment? We both wanted to know what Cleveland’s changing relationship with its river could tell us about environmental politics. 

David's book list on the environmental movement in America

David Stradling and Richard Stradling Why did David love this book?

Of all the changes in environmental politics since the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969, perhaps the most perplexing – and disappointing – is the Republican turn away from environmental protection. From the Reagan Administration through the Trump regime, the Republican Party has staked the claim not just to passivity toward environmental regulation but has engaged in an all-out assault on government protection of the human and nonhuman environment. Turner and Isenberg make sense of this policy turn, emphasizing the roles of libertarian ideologues, multinational corporations with a stake in the status quo, and rural Americans who tired of federal intrusions in their lives and livelihoods. As aspects of the urban crisis have eased, and specific places like the Cuyahoga River have improved, environmental activists would do well to figure out how to make environmental protection bipartisan once again.

By James Morton Turner, Andrew C. Isenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Republican Reversal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Not long ago, Republicans could take pride in their party's tradition of environmental leadership. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the GOP helped to create the Environmental Protection Agency, extend the Clean Air Act, and protect endangered species. Today, as Republicans denounce climate change as a "hoax" and seek to dismantle the environmental regulatory state they worked to build, we are left to wonder: What happened?

In The Republican Reversal, James Morton Turner and Andrew C. Isenberg show that the party's transformation began in the late 1970s, with the emergence of a new alliance of pro-business, libertarian, and anti-federalist…

Book cover of Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences

James Blachowicz Author Of The Bilateral Mind as the Mirror of Nature: A Metaphilosophy

From my list on the nature and capacities of our bilateral minds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had equally balanced interests in the arts/humanities and the natural sciences. I like to think that I inherited much of this from my analytical “algebraic” mother, who was a nurse and tended to our family finances, and my holistic “geometrical” father, who was a carpenter. It’s probably no accident that my double major in college was in physics and philosophy...and, down the line, that I should develop a focused interest in human brain laterality, where the division between analysis and holism is so prominent.

James' book list on the nature and capacities of our bilateral minds

James Blachowicz Why did James love this book?

One could almost have predicted that the concept of brain laterality would provide material for explaining the division between the political left and right.

Do political conservatives and liberals have brain differences that may, in part, determine their politics? This volume is valuable as a rare source of material for addressing this question. Political conservatives apparently have larger amygdalas (which register reactions to threat), while liberals may have a reverse valuation. These two brain features may contribute to determining hemispheric preferences.

By John R. Hibbing, Kevin B. Smith, John R. Alford

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Predisposed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Buried in many people and operating largely outside the realm of conscious thought are forces inclining us toward liberal or conservative political convictions. Our biology predisposes us to see and understand the world in different ways, not always reason and the careful consideration of facts. These predispositions are in turn responsible for a significant portion of the political and ideological conflict that marks human history.

With verve and wit, renowned social scientists John Hibbing, Kevin Smith, and John Alford-pioneers in the field of biopolitics-present overwhelming evidence that people differ politically not just because they grew up in different cultures or…

Book cover of No More Secrets: The Candy Cavern

J. Trevor Robinson Author Of The Mummy of Monte Cristo

From J.'s 4-year-old's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Christian Cryptozoologist Armchair economist Alternate-historian

J.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, J.'s 4-year-old's favorite books.

J. Trevor Robinson Why did J.'s 4-year-old love this book?

My daughter loves the illustrations and feeling like she’s outsmarting the book by seeing through Mr Wooly’s disguise from his first appearance.

Every time we get to the climax of Rose’s father stepping in to help her, she recites “Stay away from my Rose!” in a big voice with me. Hopefully it helps the book’s message to sink in of “don’t trust people who want you to keep secrets from your family.”

By Chaya Raichik, James Scrawl (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No More Secrets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chaya Raichik the face behind the popular Twitter handle libsoftiktok has come out with her first children's book. This kid's book for ages 4-8 reveals the dangers of keeping secrets from your parents. The conservative children's book is a modern twist to the familiar Grimm's-style fairy tale, even including a big bad wolf. No More Secrets: The Candy Cavern

Rose the Lamb was so excited to begin second grade. But when her new teacher focused more on candy than teaching, Rose knew that something was wrong.

Rose must decide whether to keep secrets from her parents or to listen to…

Book cover of Lessons on Seduction

Annabel Allan Author Of Edgeplay

From my list on strong, confident female main characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I definitely wouldn’t say I’m an expert…but I definitely have a passion for the topic of dominant, strong women! Especially when it comes to kink and BDSM, but in all aspects of life. I think most readers would agree, we are sick of seeing the Damsel in Distress and want someone who can kick some serious butt. I connect strongly with those stronger, sassier characters, and aim to write the same for other readers to connect with.

Annabel's book list on strong, confident female main characters

Annabel Allan Why did Annabel love this book?

I definitely recommend Lessons On Seduction because not only is main character Julian Richland a perfect book boyfriend, but main character Sapphire Blake is confident, sexy, and whip-smart. She’s not your typical “church mouse” but so relatable to those who have grown up in a sheltered world. She can be both spicy and sweet, unleashing her vulnerability while being dominant in the bedroom. She’s everything you want your heroine to be!

By Estelle Pettersen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lessons on Seduction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When college student Sapphire Blake finds herself fresh out of a breakup, she is ready to embark on a new journey in her life. A dark, sensual journey. Freeing herself from the expectations set by her family, friends, and church, an innocent and unworldly Sapphire begins experimenting with her new casual lover, Vera Richland. Julian Richland is ridiculously handsome, smart, and intimidating. This university professor finds himself enthralled in a sensual relationship with a woman willing to pay top money for his time in the bedroom. To pay off his debts and continue leading his lavish lifestyle, Julian discovers the…

Book cover of Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism

William D. Danko Author Of Richer Than A Millionaire: A Pathway to True Prosperity

From my list on building wealth.

Why am I passionate about this?

William D. Danko, Ph.D. has studied wealth formation since 1973. He is the co-author of The Millionaire Next Door, a research-based book about wealth in America that has been ranked as a bestseller by The New York Times for more than three years. More recently, he co-authored Richer Than A Millionaire ~ A Pathway To True Prosperity, a book that shows how to build wealth with a greater purpose in mind. Dr. Danko resides in upstate New York with his wife, and is the father of three, and the grandfather of five.

William's book list on building wealth

William D. Danko Why did William love this book?

It is personally rewarding to donate your time as a volunteer, no matter what your financial wealth is. But money certainly helps to fund causes in this material world. Brooks’ book shows that compassionate conservatism is an important driving force in America. He shows through extensive survey work that giving money to charity speaks louder than just talking about caring. He argues successfully, that those who are charitable improve life for all of us, and the selfish make us all worse off. Clearly, money can help you achieve true prosperity by helping others with it.

By Arthur C. Brooks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Who Really Cares as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We all know we should give to charity, but who really does? In his controversial study of America's giving habits, Arthur C. Brooks shatters stereotypes about charity in America-including the myth that the political Left is more compassionate than the Right. Brooks, a preeminent public policy expert, spent years researching giving trends in America, and even he was surprised by what he found. In Who Really Cares , he identifies the forces behind American charity: strong families, church attendance, earning one's own income (as opposed to receiving welfare), and the belief that individuals-not government-offer the best solution to social ills.…

Book cover of James Kent: A Study in Conservatism, 1763-1847

Joseph A. Ranney Author Of Bridging Revolutions: The Lives of Chief Justices Richmond Pearson and John Belton O'Neall

From my list on the role states played in American law and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a retired trial lawyer and a legal history professor and fellow at Marquette Law School in Wisconsin. As a young lawyer, I was struck by how much Americans focus on federal lawmakers and judges at the expense of their state counterparts, even though state law has a much greater effect on people's daily lives than federal law. The scholar Leonard Levy once said that without more study of state legal history, “there can be no … adequate history of [American] civilization.” I want to help fill that need through my books and articles, and I enjoy sharing this fascinating world with my readers.  

Joseph's book list on the role states played in American law and history

Joseph A. Ranney Why did Joseph love this book?

Although he is virtually unknown today, New York chancellor James Kent ranks as one of America's greatest state judges. Kent was an old-time Federalist, a believer in government by gentlemen. During his lifetime his views steadily lost ground to Jeffersonian and Jacksonian democracy, but he made a permanent imprint on American law. Among other things, he authored the first general treatise on American law and arranged for national circulation of New York judicial decisions, thus giving his state an outsize role in shaping American law, and he helped preserve the central place of federal authority and protection of private property in the law. Kent deserves a modern biography, but until one is written, readers interested in New York history and legal history will find John Horton's older 1939 biography a lively and easy-to-read book, well worth their time.

By John Theodore Horton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked James Kent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reprint of the first and only edition. Originally published: New York: D. Appleton-Century Co., [1939]. xi, 354 pp. Well-annotated, with a thorough bibliography and index.

Book cover of Does Love Always Win?

Emma Brand Author Of Dial One For Revenge

From Emma's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Reader Counsellor Hot chocolate lover Black Mirror & Buffy obsessed Redhead and proud

Emma's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Emma Brand Why did Emma love this book?

I loved how Diane made the characters, particularly Shorty, so relatable in terms of her exploration of her sexuality and her coming out experience alongside her peers.

The book made me feel less alone, and the representation was something I would have loved as a teenager. The scene settings and imagery descriptions were so vivid and refreshing; it made me laugh and cry and the story had so much heart it was a joy to read. 

By Diane Billas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Does Love Always Win? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Does Love Always Win is a sapphic coming of age young adult novel that explores coming out and understanding one's sexual orientation.

Sam "Shorty" Daniels has a plan for her senior year, but her romantic life being a hot mess was not part of the agenda. Shorty quickly discovers she's not attracted to her newest boyfriend and fellow marching band member Zack, despite her many hours of daydreaming of what it would be like to date him. Their previous flirting had been so intense that those feelings have to come back again, right?

When Shorty's asked to show the snarky…

Book cover of How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America

Mary E. Stuckey Author Of Deplorable: The Worst Presidential Campaigns from Jefferson to Trump

From my list on why American politics are terrible and what to do.

Why am I passionate about this?

I believe in democracy. I think the US has the opportunity to be the world’s first multicultural and inclusive democracy. And I think that’s a very, very hard thing to do. I’ve been writing about democracy through the lens of presidential history my whole career, and I think the US has done some things so impressively well while at the same time it frustratingly keeps failing to live up to its own ideals. The tensions and contradictions in our history as we try to expand and enact those ideas are endlessly fascinating. And I’m nervous that we may be seeing the end of a national commitment to democracy. 

Mary's book list on why American politics are terrible and what to do

Mary E. Stuckey Why did Mary love this book?

She’s a super-smart Civil War historian, and this book does something I haven’t seen in a lot of Civil War books—it shows how important the West was to the way the US developed after the Civil War—it wasn’t just that the nation expanded, but she writes about how both the North and South relied on racial hierarchies, and she centers Native Americans, which I think is a really important part of that story.

By Heather Cox Richardson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How the South Won the Civil War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this provocative new work, Heather Cox Richardson argues that while the North won the Civil War, ending slavery, oligarchy, and giving the country a "new birth of freedom," the victory was short-lived. Settlers from the East pushed into the West, where the seizure of Mexican lands at the end of the Mexican-American War and treatment of Native Americans cemented racial hierarchies. The Old South found a new home in the West. Both depended on extractive
industries-cotton in the former and mining, cattle, and oil in the latter-giving rise to a white ruling elite, one that thrived despite the abolition…

Book cover of Harnessing Harmony: Music, Power, and Politics in the United States, 1788–1865

Mark R. Cheathem Author Of The Coming of Democracy: Presidential Campaigning in the Age of Jackson

From my list on early U.S. presidential campaigning.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian of the U.S. presidency, I have long been fascinated by the ways in which aspirants for the White House energize and harness popular support for their candidacy. Tracing the development of electioneering practices from the early 1800s to today has been fascinating. Is there a connection between the hickory sprigs worn by Andrew Jackson’s supporters and the MAGA hats worn by Donald Trump’s supporters? Between the political rallies of William Henry Harrison and those of every modern presidential candidate? Between the derision leveled at politically active women in the 1830s and that directed at Sarah Palin and Hilary Rodham Clinton in the twenty-first century? You betcha!

Mark's book list on early U.S. presidential campaigning

Mark R. Cheathem Why did Mark love this book?

The connection between music and contemporary politics is obvious, but it is easy to forget that before Woody Guthrie, the protest songs of the 1960s, Green Day, and Keke Palmer, music was an integral part of national politics. Coleman unsurprisingly contends that political music in the early U.S. was collective and participatory, but he goes on to argue that elites used it to enforce conformity, an interesting twist on how we traditionally think of political music as challenging the status quo. 

By Billy Coleman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Harnessing Harmony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Following the creation of the United States, profound disagreements remained over how to secure the survival of the republic and unite its diverse population. In this pathbreaking account, Billy Coleman uses the history of American music to illuminate the relationship between elite power and the people from the early national period to the Civil War. Based on deep archival research in sources such as music periodicals, songbooks, and manuals for musical instruction, Coleman argues that a particular ideal of musical power provided conservative elites with an attractive road map for producing the harmonious union they desired. He reassesses the logic…

Book cover of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump

Jeremy Appel Author Of Kenneyism: Jason Kenney's Pursuit of Power

From my list on understanding the political moment we’re in.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist in Edmonton, Canada, who covered former premier Jason Kenney’s rise through Alberta politics, in which he tapped into the populist zeitgeist of Donald Trump and Brexit, and his eventual implosion. I have a newsletter on Substack, "The Orchard," where I cover the intersection of politics, the media, and corporate power. Through my journalism, I’ve developed a keen interest in this age of mass discontent we find ourselves in, with right-wing political and economic elites promising to blow up the entire system they embody while feckless liberal politicians seek to tinker around the edges to make the established order more palatable. 

Jeremy's book list on understanding the political moment we’re in

Jeremy Appel Why did Jeremy love this book?

Corey Robin takes the long view on the history of modern conservatism in this book. Outlining conservatism has constantly adapted in reaction to social progress since its inception in the wake of the French Revolution in the late-18th century, Robin identifies the goal of conservative politics as salvaging whatever it can of the old social order.

I found this book particularly useful in identifying how seemingly contradictory trends—such as a focus on reducing government spending while ramping up militarism abroad—can co-exist in conservative thought. This inherent flexibility reveals Donald Trump to be less an aberration than the next evolutionary phase for conservative politics.  

By Corey Robin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Reactionary Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Late in life, William F. Buckley made a confession to Corey Robin. Capitalism is "boring," said the founding father of the American right. "Devoting your life to it," as conservatives do, "is horrifying if only because it's so repetitious. It's like sex." With this unlikely conversation began Robin's decade-long foray into the conservative mind. What is conservatism, and what's truly at stake for its proponents? If capitalism bores them, what excites them?

Tracing conservatism back to its roots in the reaction against the French Revolution, Robin argues that the right is fundamentally inspired by a hostility to emancipating the lower…