Here at The Daily Signal, we have the tremendous fortune of working alongside the world-renowned experts of The Heritage Foundation, our parent organization. I always find it interesting to hear what my brilliant colleagues read and are influenced by.

This year, I polled Heritage staff as to what books, old and new, they would recommend to our readers (and why) as we look forward to the new year. They responded with everything from the historical to the political to dystopian fiction. Sorry, but you won’t find any recommendations for the memoirs of a 20-year-old pop star here.

Enjoy these 26 fascinating recommendations and click on any title for more information. We hope you find a new favorite book that will help you learn something you didn’t know before, inspire you, move you to action, or just entertain you!

‘Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath’

By Herbert Hoover

If you could read one book to understand the origins of the Deep State, foreign influence in American politics, and our government’s long-standing policy of lying to citizens, then this is it. In “Freedom Betrayed,” Hoover’s magnum opus, he details how the Roosevelt Administration hoodwinked the United States into World War II and continued to sell the country down the river.

—Mike Howell, director, Oversight Project

‘Elon Musk’

By Walter Isaacson

What comes shining through in this book is that Elon Musk—this generation’s premier inventor, entrepreneur, sage, and futurist—is America’s 20th century Ben Franklin. That’s ironic and appropriate, in that Walter Isaacson, the top biographer of this era, has written tomes on both of these geniuses. Here we have yet another iconic spectacularly successful immigrant—from South Africa—who sees the world 50 years ahead of anyone else. He has spawned at least a dozen companies, including Space X and Tesla. The most stunning part of his story is that he had abusive parents, is bipolar, and is on the autism spectrum, but that seems to have inspired his brilliance and risk-taking. Every aspiring entrepreneur should read his story—beautifully and often humorously written—in this authorized biography.

—Steve Moore, distinguished fellow in economics

‘Heirs of the Founders: Henry Clay, John Calhoun and Daniel Webster, the Second Generation of American Giants’ and ‘Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West’

By H.W. Brands

This year, I enjoyed reading two books from one of my favorite historians, H.W. Brands. His “Heirs of the Founders” is an engaging portrayal of the political leaders who inherited the promises of the American Revolution and whose legislative battles provide good perspective for today’s dysfunction in Washington. Brands’ strength as a storyteller is also evident in “Dreams of El Dorado,” which captures the allure—and the challenges—of settling the West.

—Kevin Roberts, president

‘Churchill: Walking With Destiny’

By Andrew Roberts

This 1,100-plus-page masterpiece on Winston Churchill is a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand and learn from this great leader. Candid and written in brilliant prose, Andrew Roberts powerfully recounts Churchill’s struggles, triumphs, and unswerving belief that he would one day save Britain. The story of how Churchill rose above failure to greatness will leave you inspired to courageously stand as well, no matter how dark the hour, to defend Western Civilization from its modern foes.

—Seth Lucas, senior research associate, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

‘All-of-a-Kind Family’

By Sydney Taylor

In this era of rising antisemitism, it may be time for your children (or you) to read the delightful “All-of-a-Kind Family.” First published in 1951, it’s a charming look at the life of a Jewish immigrant family in turn of the century New York City. The adventures of the five daughters in the family are lovingly chronicled, as is the celebration of the Sabbath and the Jewish holiday of Succos. Bonus: If your children love “All-of-a-Kind Family,” author Sydney Taylor went on to write four more books in the series.

—Katrina Trinko, editor-in-chief of The Daily Signal

‘Napoleon: A Life’

By Andrew Roberts

“Napoleon,” famed director Ridley Scott’s widely anticipated film, hit the nation’s movie theaters over the Thanksgiving holiday. Unfortunately, his cinematically magnificent battle sequences could not rescue the film, as Tyler O’Neil recounted in his excellent Daily Signal review.

So, read the best book on the man; it is far better than this year’s movie. With “Napoleon: A Life,” British historian Andrew Roberts offers us a masterpiece of meticulous scholarship combined with great writing. Roberts succeeds in prose where Scott fails on film: He explains not only how this impoverished Corsican migrant ended up as master of Europe but also how he accomplished what he did and why he did it.

Whether the emperor of France is a hero or villain is a recurrent topic of debate, but Roberts provides a richer body of evidence—including 33,000 previously unpublished letters—than any previous historian (including the great Hilaire Belloc) to help us make a fair assessment.

Robert’s volume is big, clocking in at 925 pages. But the subject is enormous; that any human being could accomplish so much in one lifetime is astonishing. So, don’t be dissuaded. Roberts vividly captures Napoleon’s wild adventures in a turbulent time. That’s why his book is a page-turner.

—Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., senior research fellow, Center for Health and Welfare Policy

‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’

By Patrick Süskind

An international sensation when it was published, “Perfume” is a novel about Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a creepy orphan who grows up to be an even creepier adult in 18th-century Paris. Grenouille is obsessed with scent. Blessed with extraordinary olfactory capabilities, he has no human odor of his own. So, he seeks to create one. Working for a perfumer, he learns to distill the most exquisite smell that ever reached his nose. 

If you imagine that what happens is horrifying and grisly, you are right. But—hear me out—one need not be a psychopath to enjoy this book. The writing, with dry wit and dark humor, is engrossing, and the book is a fast read. Süskind leads the reader by the nose on a tour through Paris unlike any other. The story is also a rather scathing commentary on human nature, without reeking of self-satisfaction. Yes, a strong stomach is required—but within these pages lives a fascinating tale that is easy to savor.

—Karina Rollins, senior editor, research editors

‘Demystifying PANS/PANDAS’

By Dr. Nancy O’Hara

Imagine one day that your happy, healthy child suddenly develops myriad disturbing symptoms virtually overnight. She can’t remember how to get dressed—or, even worse, can’t get dressed because her clothes “hurt” her skin. She begins having intrusive thoughts: Will scorpions attack me while I sleep? What if I touch that electrical socket? She stops eating, fearing her food is contaminated. Dropping her off at school is heartbreaking, as severe separation anxiety takes over. You start noticing vocal and motor tics. She regresses emotionally and wants to be held like a baby, but the next moment, rages. Most shockingly, she contemplates ways of taking her own life.

This isn’t a work of fiction but a real-life horror story that too many families live every day.

PANS and PANDAS are relatively unknown conditions, yet some estimates say 1 out of every 200 children is affected. One of the biggest issues is the lack of awareness, so children are frequently misdiagnosed with anxiety, ADHD, OCD, or oppositional defiant disorder, among other things. On average, two years go by before they are properly diagnosed—increasing the potential for permanent cognitive damage.

“Demystifying PANS/PANDAS,” written by world-renowned expert and pediatrician Dr. Nancy O’Hara, is for any parent, caregiver, or clinician who knows of a child who’s had similar symptoms. It’s a guide to recognizing, understanding, and treating these devastating disorders. This book helped to change the life of someone I love, and it could do the same for someone you love, too.

—Brian Gottstein, senior editor and writing advisor, The Daily Signal

‘And in the End: The Last Days of The Beatles’

By Ken McNab

For Beatles fans, this is a must-read. A fascinating day-by-day account of the final year of the Beatles and how the band broke up despite their being at the very peak of their popularity and musical genius with the release of the iconic “Abbey Road” album. Paul McCartney did all he could to keep the band together for that final year in 1969—and he fell into tears when John Lennon announced he was done being a Beatle.

Given the acrimonious infighting that was going on between Lennon and McCartney, the money issues, the fact that George Harrison had emerged as the underappreciated third songwriting superstar, and John Lennon’s heroin addiction, it’s amazing and a godsend that the fab four got it together to make “Abbey Road” happen. Yoko Ono emerges as a clear narcissistic villain who hastened the band’s demise. One very sad part of the story is the prolonged legal battles that Lennon and McCartney made to try to take ownership rights of their own music. Tragically, no deal was ever reached.

—Steve Moore, distinguished fellow in economics

‘The Second World War’ (Six-Volume Series)

By Winston Spencer Churchill

“The Second World War” series, which totals 4,736 pages, is the single greatest history ever written on the Second World War and won Winston Churchill the 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature. Beautifully written, epic in scope, cinematic in its vibrancy, this series (essentially one long book) takes the reader to the Fall of France; the bomb shelters of London; the North African deserts; and the final conference between Joseph Stalin, Churchill, and Franklin Roosevelt. Every American should read it once in their lifetime.

—Robert Peters, research fellow, nuclear deterrence and missile defense

‘The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour’

By James D. Hornfischer

This book tells the spellbinding true story of one of the most dramatic sea battles ever fought by the U.S. Navy, the Battle of Samar in the Philippine Sea. It was the naval version of David vs. Goliath, with the Americans representing David. On Oct. 25, 1944, Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague went up against a Japanese armada of battleships and cruisers—the largest warships of the day. Yet his task force consisted of only small jeep carriers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts (the smallest American warship)—none of which had guns that could penetrate the armor of the massive Japanese warships. Despite heavy losses, the American resistance caused the Japanese to retreat in what Adm. Chester Nimitz called “nothing short of special dispensation from the Lord Almighty”—and the unparalleled bravery of American sailors.

—Hans von Spakovsky, manager, Election Law Reform Initiative, and senior legal fellow, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

‘Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster’

By Jon Krakauer 

A tragic, gripping, and true story of one man’s attempt to summit Mount Everest amid one of the deadliest climbing seasons in the peak’s history. The story is told in narrative fashion, as Jon Krakauer documents his personal experience while also exploring what compels so many to risk death in their attempt to conquer the tallest mountain in the world. 

—Mary Catherine Machalec, internship program manager, Young Leaders Program

‘Survival in the Killing Fields’

By Haing Ngor

This is a personal narrative of the Marxist revolution in Cambodia in the mid-1970s. While the USSR and Communist China get a lot of attention, the Marxist genocide in Cambodia—something that really didn’t happen very long ago—is often overlooked. “Survival in the Killing Fields” is a compelling story that covers the dangers of Marxism but also the triumph of the human spirit. It’s an excellent warning for why we must remain vigilant against the forces of the Left here in America. It’s a tough but truly page-turning read.

—Max Morrison, manager of donor relations and senior assistant to the president for donor relations

‘Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise’

By Project 2025

“Mandate for Leadership” outlines the conservative vision that is needed at each federal agency and provides the next U.S. president a blueprint for success. Have you ever wondered why the federal government is so big? Are you interested in agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services or the Department of Defense? This book is for you.

—Spencer Chretien, associate director, 2025 Presidential Transition Project

‘The Strategic Presidency: Optimizing Presidential Personnel in the Next America First, Conservative Administration’

By Troup Hemenway

What’s it like to work for the president of the United States? Every presidential appointee, no matter the position, is a leader. Since the president’s time in office is limited, it is critical the right appointees be selected and put in place as soon as possible. “The Strategic Presidency” will guide the next president in this all-important task.

—Spencer Chretien, associate director, 2025 Presidential Transition Project

‘Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy’

By Eric Metaxas

This biography tells the gripping and inspiring story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian whose faith led him to fight back against the Nazi regime and conspire to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Through Bonhoeffer’s story, we learn about Hitler’s rise to power, the Nazi coercion of the Christian church in Germany, and the atrocities committed by the Nazis prior to and during World War II. Bonhoeffer’s life was one of courage, self-sacrifice, and faith, providing an example of how we can ultimately overcome the evils and trials of this world even when darkness prevails for a time.

—Rachel Sheffield, research fellow in welfare and family policy

Modernizing Medicare: Harnessing the Power of Consumer Choice and Market Competition

By Multiple Authors/Edited by Robert E. Moffit and Marie Fishpaw

Why are politicians so afraid to talk about changes to Medicare? Because they haven’t read “Modernizing Medicare: Harnessing the Power of Consumer Choice and Market Competition.”

Bob Moffit and Marie Fishpaw assemble an all-star team of Medicare experts to walk through the undeniable challenges facing the Medicare program and offer practical policy solutions that will keep today’s Medicare beneficiaries secure while making sure the program is available for future generations. This collection of essays gives policymakers a better understanding of the problems and gives them the tools to do something about them. Policy expert or not, with over 80 million people estimated to be enrolled in Medicare by 2035 and spending projected to reach $2 trillion, this is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of health care in America.

—Nina Owcharenko Schaefer, director, Center for Health and Welfare Policy

‘The Saint’ Book Series

By Leslie Charteris

Simon Templar, known as the Saint, is the fictional character best known through his portrayal by Roger Moore in the 1960s TV show of the same name. It was Moore’s portrayal of the suave, cool, always well-dressed Templar that got him his role as James Bond. But the original books, published from 1928 to 1963, are very entertaining as they follow the adventures of the Robin Hood-like Templar, who specializes in fooling Scotland Yard as he personally goes after crooks, swindlers, thieves, and con men to ensure that justice prevails.

Charteris has a life story even more fascinating than his fictional character. He was born in 1907 in Singapore of a British mother and a Chinese doctor, went to public schools in England, and did everything from prospecting for gold, diving for pearls, working in a tin mine and on a rubber plantation, driving a bus, and touring in a carnival before settling down to a very successful writing career.

—Hans von Spakovsky, manager, Election Law Reform Initiative, and senior legal fellow, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

‘The Myth of American Inequality: How Government Biases Policy Debate’

By Phil Gramm, Robert Ekelund, John Early

Former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, Robert Ekelund, and John Early have definitively set the record straight on the fight to eliminate poverty in America. This is a book crammed with statistics and concrete data showing that the middle class is not declining but getting richer, the poor are being pulled out of poverty as America gets richer, and that when taking account of government programs and the tax system, incomes are much more equal in the U.S. than in most other countries. One controversial conclusion of the book is that some have concluded that the left’s “war on poverty” worked. In reality, it shows that America is still the world’s greatest opportunity society where anyone can start poor and move up the economic ladder of success through hard work and education. The American dream is alive and well.

—Steve Moore, distinguished fellow in economics

‘One Poor Scruple’

By Josephine Ward

Are we made for happiness … in this life? In “One Poor Scruple,” an 1899 book republished in 2023 as part of Catholic University of America Press’ Catholic Women Writer series, a woman faces the decision of whether to pursue and marry the man she loves or forgo a life with him because he is divorced (and thus ineligible to marry by the Catholic Church’s standards). Author Josephine Ward thoughtfully and sensitively chronicles the moral challenges of imperfect British Catholic aristocrats and contrasts them with the secularizing British society doyens who struggle to fathom the bizarre morality of their friends. In our modern era, where the pursuit of happiness—or perhaps more properly, pleasure—seems to trump everything, Ward’s novel offers a look at a different (and welcome) moral mindset.

—Katrina Trinko, editor-in-chief of The Daily Signal

‘Game Changer: Our 50-Year Mission to Secure America’s Energy Independence’

By Harold Hamm

You too can be a billionaire, even if you grew up in Oklahoma with 12 siblings and no electricity or indoor plumbing. “Game Changer” by Harold Hamm is a rags-to-riches autobiography that tells the story of how Hamm came to found one of the major oil exploration companies in America, Continental Resources. Energy is in the headlines, with the recent Conference of the Parties 28, electric vehicles piling up on dealers’ lots, and Danish companies pulling out of New Jersey offshore wind. With international bureaucrats and liberal politicians calling for mythical solutions to so-called environmental problems and more government regulations and renewable energy, there’s no better time to read this book. I also provide a full review here.

—Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director, Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment, and the Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow in Energy and Environmental Policy

‘Mr. Midshipman Easy’

By Capt. Frederick Marryat

Want to read one of the original books that inspired the Napoleonic-era British Navy stories of authors like C.S. Forrester, who created Captain Horatio Hornblower, and Patrick O’Brian, who created Captain Jack Aubrey? Capt. Frederick Marryat served in the British Navy during the war with France, and in 1836, published the story of a spoiled, foolish young son of an English family who joins the Navy as a midshipman. The book follows his travails as he becomes a competent naval officer while getting into constant, often very funny—with the dry, sardonic humor of the time—scrapes on his tour through the Mediterranean.

—Hans von Spakovsky, manager, Election Law Reform Initiative, and senior legal fellow, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

‘The Trial’

By Franz Kafka

Probably the best-known book of Franz Kafka is “The Trial,” a labyrinthine horror masterpiece about Josef K., who is accused of a nebulous but putatively serious crime by an obscure, far-reaching, inflexible government entity. The powerless K. bravely attempts to jump through all the hoops he needs to fight the powerful accusing entity (even though he is never accused of a specific crime).

He intellectually attempts to fight his accusers. When told, “It is not necessary to accept everything as true; one must only accept it as necessary,” K. retorts, “It turns lying into a universal principle.” The laws he is required to follow seem to be both contradictory and constantly change without reason. The crux of the book illustrates the futility of using logic to fight insanity from an unaccountable entity. Without spoiling the book completely, “The Trial” is a fictional example that is (alas) relatable to today’s America. It is an example of how even though sometimes one can follow the rules and do everything right, he can still lose, implying that true justice is an impossible dream.

Although written in 1914, its allegorical relationship to life under the Biden administration and today’s administrative state bureaucracy is prescient and undeniable. The personal, repeated roadblocks and stalemates K. experiences while attempting to use logic and evidence in defending himself are tangibly devastating due to the quality of Kafka’s authorship and/or the modern translation. “The Trial” parallels a more extreme fight against an impossible bureaucracy that many Americans are experiencing in 2023. Americans are witnessing how laws, historical standards, and even words change right before our eyes, including vaccines, “a woman,” plagiarism, racism, “safe and effective,” insurrection, secure border—and the list (unfortunately) goes on.

You can even find the book praesto gratis at The Gutenberg Project.

—David Gortler, senior research fellow, public health policy and regulation

‘Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History’

By S.C. Gwynne

S.C. Gwynne offers a telling of the story of the powerful indigenous nation of the Comanches that resisted expansion. “Empire of the Summer Moon” is as brutal as it is thorough. This anthropological deep dive features a human-centric plot of Shakespearean proportion—a deeply personal account of a mighty nation’s last warlord who solidifies his people’s legacy as their way of life slips into twilight.

Ultimately, this book examines the complexity of westward expansion, the clash of culture between pioneers and Native Americans, and true spirit of the wild American West. 

—Philip Reynolds, digital content producer, Digital Productions

‘Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia’

By Rebecca West

Dame Rebecca West’s “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon,” written as a travelogue through the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in the 1930s, is the one book you should read if you want to understand the Balkans. As she travels through modern-day Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia, West presents the history and cultures of the peoples of Yugoslavia, along with her musings on philosophy and world politics. It’s likely readers will disagree with the author at various points, but her erudition and engaging writing style make the book well worth it.

—Wilson Beaver, senior policy analyst for defense budgeting

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