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One Book High Schoolers Must Read

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righttosecede posted on Sat, May 14 2011 5:33 PM


I teach HS US History at a private school in Tampa, FL. I do not use a textbook, rather, I pull from primary sources and secondary sources. Question: if there was only one or two books you would have HS students read what would they be? Thank you for any posts!



US History

Carrollwood Day School

Tampa, FL

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Conceived in Liberty by Murray Rothbard is pretty good from what I've read so far.

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If you mean any book: The Politics of Obedience by Etienne de la Boetie and The Law by Frederic Bastiat

If you mean a history book: Rise and Decline of the State by Martin van Creveld

If you mean a US history book, I don't have a recommendation, though you could look at Thomas Woods' or Tom DiLorenzo's books for some revisionist history of the US Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and Captalism in general.

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Answered (Not Verified) Othyem replied on Sat, May 14 2011 8:06 PM
Suggested by CapitalistDog

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. Not sure if you'd rather it be a history book, if not then this is probably one of the better books for a high schooler. It's short, easy to understand, and always relevant. Not to mention the lesson is something everyone needs to internalize and take with them wherever they go, whether thinking about economics or something completely different.  

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I thought that this book on this site

Was a very good read although it dragged. It offers a different view on a lot of historical matters, I have suspicions about the validity of some of the ideas proffered in the history of liberal thought just because they are so radical. However, I would not suggest all of this book to your kids but it might be very useful if you could do excerpts. Skip over the historical fiction stuff, but the section "objectivity and history" and then the very last section of this book starting on page 204 also has some good conclusions. Value in this book can be found in certain excerpts, particularly surrounding the passages I cited which do something which is never really done in the history classroom which is to talk about history as a science, what it really is, what it really means, and how it can be manipulated and has changed so dramatically over the years. It also offers very succinct little passages concern issues such as the civil war and the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

I've also always been dying to get my hands on this book which offers a pro-industrial revolution perspective

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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For any two books (beginners/young):

 or  or


 or  or


For history in general



For American History:

 or or


(You can click most of those images and be taken to a place to either download the text and/or purchase it.) 

A fourth that belongs in that top row is Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell.  Conceived in Liberty is 4 needless to say it's long.  But you can click the image for full PDFs and an audiobook for the whole text.  Also be sure to check this artcle that speak on its contents.

I would also mention 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask as a perfect book for high schoolers, and Crisis and Leviathan.  Really everyone should read them, but 33 Questions is definitely better suited to the young student, and Crisis may be a bit much for some high schoolers...but it shouldn't be.

Also check out:

History Reading List


I would also include I also agree that primary sources are great.  They are often a tough read, but if you combine them with secondary and tertiary sources and assessments that comment on them and the period in which they were written, they can be invaluable.


there are also various lectures:

Thomas E. Woods: The Truth About American History (10)

The New Deal: History, Economics, and Law

The Economics of the New Deal and World War II


But at the very least have them watch the below lecture.  It is the best, most concise yet comprehensive introduction to this world that I have ever seen.  Sure there are plenty of books you will read and full lectures you will hear, and interviews you will see.  But I know of no book that you could read in this amount of time that would offer a better intro to economics and history.  Everyone should listen to it.

Applying Economics to American History

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Hey, since it's HS history I'm assuming the students will be learning about Europe in the 20th century and the World Wars. In this case here is some thought-provoking libertarian revisionism:

Great Wars and Great Leaders by Ralph Raico.

"I don't believe in ghosts, sermons, or stories about money" - Rooster Cogburn, True Grit.
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Inventing the People by Edmund Morgan

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Six Months That Changed the World (by John Denson)

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Here's a teaching suggestion for getting students to think about liberty.  I am an English teacher, and I require my students to argue for the abolition of a law or government agency of their choice.  (Even the most statist person opposes some laws.)  A certain number of their sources must come from the Mises Institute,, or other libertarian websites.

So far as readings, I would recommend various articles from and  I would also recommend the following:

For beginner students, assign The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, by Tom Woods, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression by Bob Murphy, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution by Kevin Gutzman. 

For more advanced students, assign

  • How Capitalism Saved America by Thomas DiLorenzo
  • Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy by Murray Rothbard
  • Conceived in Liberty by Murray Rothbard
  • America's Great Depression by Murray Rothbard
  • History of Money and Banking in the United States by Murray Rothbard
  • The Black Book of Communism by Various Authors
  • Great Wars and Great Leaders, a Libertarian Rebuttal by Ralph Raico
  • Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War by Pat Bucanhan
  • The Real Lincoln by Thomas DiLorenzo
  • Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Freemen by Jeff Hummell

The most persistent myths to overcome are that the Civil War and WW II were just and necessary and that capitalism caused the Great Depression and increased statism ended it.  Dismantle these myths, and you will have gone far in defeating brainwashing. 

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Awesome! Thank you! You are absolutely right about the Civil War and WWII. We studied The Real Lincoln, Lincoln Unmasked as well as other sources this year in dealing with the Civil War and the students, although challenged with overcoming the mythology, appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed researching historical fact rather than being told the same regurgitated drivel.

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David. replied on Sun, May 15 2011 10:41 PM

+1 for economics in one lesson


It is simple enough that anyone can understand it, light and entertaining enough that few students will give up due to boredom - yet the content is comprehensive and powerful enough to cure the average man of his economic ignorance.

I enjoy reading vast tomes of economics, but I believe that just this one little book of economics should suffice for most people.

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The Law, by Frederic Bastiat

For a New Liberty, by Murray Rothbard

Economics in One Lesson, of course.

The Rise and Fall of Society, by Frank Chodorov

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War and Peace!

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