The 2019 PRI Holiday Book Guide – Pacific Research Institute

The 2019 PRI Holiday Book Guide


With Thanksgiving falling late this year, you have one less week to get all of your Christmas shopping done.  If you are like me, you’re a bit overwhelmed trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on your shopping list.

To give you some inspiration for your holiday shopping, we present our annual Holiday Book Guide.  I asked PRI’s team to share recommendations for their favorite books from the past year.  Some of the books are new releases, while others are recent favorites or even classics.  There are even handy links to purchase the books online so you can avoid the long lines at the stores.

The books range from politics and current events to history and fiction.  Surely, there is something here for all of the book lovers on your shopping list.

On behalf of everyone at PRI, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving, and a safe and healthy holiday season. 

Sally PipesChurchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts

This tome by Andrew Roberts is one you just cannot put down.  It is beautifully written and gives such terrific insight into the complete life of Winston Churchill.  While it is a long book, I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

Tim Anaya – American Carnage by Tim Alberta

I love a gossipy political book, and Tim Alberta’s book certainly rose to the occasion.  His book provides a very interesting inside look at what he calls the “Republican civil war” that took place following the rise of the Tea Party and leading up to the election of President Trump.  You are taken behind the scenes to the political backrooms.  Names and named and secrets are shared.  My kind of book! 

Dana Beigel – Educated by Tara Westover

If you haven’t read it yet, you should. Tara Westover is a great writer and has a great story to share. I was fascinated by her tale of growing up and what she was able to overcome and accomplish.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

Even if you don’t agree with the environmentalists, you’ll still walk away from this book looking at trees differently and feeling differently about them. It makes you measure time in centuries instead of years. Do you know that we share 25 percent of our genes with trees? Enough said.

Bartlett Cleland – Life After Google by George Gilder

Gilder is one of my economic heroes and certainly a technology policy thinking hero of mine. In this book he describes how the promise many of us saw in the internet, that more power would evolve to the people, has not been realized. That rather, money and power tend to still coalesce around a few. He posits that “centralization is not safe and it is time for a new information architecture for a globally distributed economy.” Gilder hopes for the “cryptocosm” to replace the technological order of today. He outlines ten rules of the coming cyrptocosm, which is now growing from the bottom-up as a cooperative, that is, being created as intentionally decentralized with no one entity driving its destiny.

The Stand by Stephen King

This time of year, I turn to a very old tradition – ghost stories at Christmas. I choose a “scary” or a “fantastical” book or two to read over the holidays. So, my other suggestion is The Stand. This dystopian story is a parable of the age-old battle between good and evil but in modern day. The story to paint that big picture imagines the fallout for our civilization if a super-virus were left to run amok, looking at how savage people can become, and then how civilization tries to reform despite the dark wizard lurking about in people’s dreams…

Laura Dannerbeck – Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

A really interesting book, especially at a time where we are always trying to determine what’s real and what’s fake news.  This book sheds light on what journalism used to be: truthful, unbiased, descriptive and accurate.

This is a true story of a journalist and her life, covering wars and writing novels. These journalists were tasked with writing accurate accounts of what was happening around the world at wartime, risking their lives daily with the sole duty of reporting back to their outlets and their readers.  This book covers the beginning years of a young Martha Gellhorn and her unbelievable adventures as a war correspondent beginning in 1937 in Madrid.  Love and Ruin not only brought me to the frontlines of wars and revolutions, I admired Martha and the many journalists who risked their lives to ensure these truthful stories of conflict, hope, life and death were accurately portrayed. Their heroism and journalism went hand in hand.

Evan Harris – The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury

With all the talk about China and the U.S., it seems fitting to share a bestseller from 2016 about how China’s working to replace the United States as the dominant superpower. In The Hundred-Year Marathon, author Michael Pillsbury theorizes about how China could replace the U.S. by 2049, the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. This book couldn’t be a more important read from a national security veteran about the threats challenges the U.S. face from our neighbors across the Pacific.

Rowena Itchon – White Out by Margo Judge

I’m a big fan of Young Adult books and White Out is one of the best I’ve read in years.  Wren is a modern-day Nancy Drew – she’s smart, she’s courageous, and she has a big heart.  But unlike the Nancy Drew of old, she’s not a paper cut-out.  Like any young person today, she has her own personal struggles.  But Wren rises to the challenge and takes on one of the biggest tragedies of our time – human trafficking.  This book takes you through a mystery plot with lots of twists and turns.  And the best part of Young Adult books, our heroine prevails. I’m giving this book to my niece for Christmas.

Lance Izumi – The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

In this age of cancel culture and snowflakes on campus, Lukianoff and Haidt argue that “the new culture of safetyism and vindictive protectiveness is bad for students.”  The authors warn against an array of dangers in our schools, including insidious identity politics in today’s curriculum.  They make sensible recommendations, such as the promotion of intellectual virtues, which include “curiosity, open-mindedness, and intellectual humility,” and point to real-world examples like The Intellectual Virtues Academy charter school that promotes “a strong sense of community marked by collaboration, empowerment, and intentional openness and respect for the thinking of others.”  An important book for our challenging times.

Kerry Jackson – State of Fear by Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear” about eco-terrorists planning a mass murder to call attention to global warming is fiction. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fantasy. Novelist Albert Camus said, “fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” Crichton uses his literary license to tell an important truth about environmental extremism.

Henry Miller – Call Sign Chaos by Gen. James Mattis

A readable, fascinating account of the career of a legendary Marine general who truly understands the essence of leadership.

Ben Smithwick – False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All by Sally C. Pipes

Now available to pre-order from Amazon and other book sellers, PRI president and CEO Sally Pipes’ latest book exposes the problems with recent proposals for single-payer health care system. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in taking a deeper look at the potential harmful effects of a government takeover of health care in America. I particularly appreciated that the book includes Pipes’ vision for a market-based reform plan to lower costs and empower doctors and patients.

Wayne Winegarden – The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care by David Gratzer

While written in 2008, Gratzer’s insights are just as relevant today as they were a decade ago. This is an excellent read for anyone interested in learning why free markets are the best way to improve the quality of our health care system, while decreasing its costs.


Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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