Dr. Robert C. Jeffrey
Associate Professor of Government

Dr. Robert JeffreyBooks and Sundries for my Students

Updated Spring 2003




I have had the occasion over the years to recommend certain books, music and movies to students. Here is an updated list as my farewell gift to you.
--Robert C. Jeffrey

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words." Goethe

The hilarious tales of P.G. Wodehouse, one of the greatest English prose stylists of the 20th Century. Begin with the “Jeeves” series of novels. For example, Jeeves and the Tie that Binds.

The mystery novels of Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey, Rex Stout, S.S. Van Dine, Ross MacDonald, and Ralph McInerny.

C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, beginning with Out of the Silent Planet, and continuing with Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. Anything else by C. S. Lewis. If you haven’t read The Chronicles of Narnia, do so. They’re not just for children. Tremendous feel for the deepest truths of Christianity expressed through an equally tremendous imagination.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings. Ditto.

Paul Johnson, Modern Times. A lively and instructive history of the 20th Century.

Robertson Davies, A Mixture of Frailties. A wonderful novel about a gifted music student and her teacher.

Abraham Lincoln, by Lord Charnwood. Or the life by Benjamin P. Thomas.

Walker Percy, The Moviegoer, The Thanatos Syndrome, Lost in the Cosmos, or anything else. You will love Walker Percy. One of the unknown great thinkers of the 20th Century.

The biography in progress of Lyndon B. Johnson by Robert Caro. The latest volume, just published, is Master of the Senate. The first two volumes, Path to Power, and Means of Ascent, are masterpieces of the genre, wonderful evocations of place and time, and incisive studies of political power.

The Woman In White. One of my favorite Victorian novels, by Wilkie Collins, a contemporary of Dickens.

The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. An account of the Battle of Gettysburg from the standpoint of the participants. The best work of historical fiction you will ever read—and the most moving.

Lanterns on the Levee, by William Alexander Percy. Percy’s autobiography. A beautiful and noble evocation of the best in the southern tradition, as well as a portrait of an aristocratic soul maddened by modernity.

Five Days in London: May 1940, by John Lukacs

The Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas. Videos are available. The Mikado and Pirates of Penzance are the ones commonly performed, but try Iolanthe, my favorite. All are wonderful.

The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. Start with Swing Time and Shall We Dance, the best two. Invigorating, lovely, even inspiring. (“Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Start all over again.”)

The Professor and the Madman, by Simon Winchester. A quirky out of the ordinary tale of the composition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh. Waugh, like Wodehouse listed above, is a master of English prose.

Faith and Treason, by Lady Antonia Fraser. A book about religious persecution, and a useful tale as well.

The Student Prince. A Sigmund Romberg Operetta. Try the video of the movie, with Mario Lanza, or a CD.

Augustine of Hippo, by Peter Brown. A fascinating and readable account of St. Augustine and his times. Much like our own. One of the best biographies I have ever read.

The books on Churchill by Martin Gilbert (there are many).

And read Churchill himself. Begin with My Early Life, an autobiography written in middle age of what he did when he was your age. And go from there. Probably the World War II histories would interest you the most as a start.

Our Country From Roosevelt to Reagan, by Michael Barone. The best political history of America from the 30’s through the 80’s.

Allen Drury, Advise and Consent. A novel that led many in my generation to a fascination with politics in their youth.

“Bright Day Star” by the Baltimore Consort. A Great Christmas CD.

Peter Ackroyd, Life of Thomas More

Soundtrack to “Little Women”

Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide. This is the new book by a French scholar on the history and methods of Islamic persecution of Christians and Jews under the rule of the Shari’a, the Islamic law. A previous book is The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam.

Steven Hayward, The Age of Reagan. Volume One of a projected two part work, and just published, this will give you a real sense of the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960’s and 70’s.

David Brooks, Bobo’s In Paradise. Bobo’s stands for “Bourgeois Bohemians.” Brooks is a liberally educated journalist who has written THE book on the new American ruling elite. Very funny and extraordinarily enlightening at the same time. Recommended by my contemporary political thought students.

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy and/or The Everlasting Man. The great English Christian apologist, social critic, and critic of modernity.

Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State. A new and authoritative book by a University of Chicago Law School Professor on how the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment came to mean “separation” of church and state. The rare book that is scholarly and highly readable at the same time.

Leon Kass, Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics. The latest collection of essays by the most profound ethicist living, about biotechnology (“making life”), our new age—but really about what’s better about the human nature we’ve always had.

Peter Augustine Lawler, Aliens in America: The Strange Truth About Our Souls

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Happy aristoi in love (mostly).

Whit Stillman, The Last Days of Disco. Doomed bourgeois in love.

Max Boot, Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power

Recommended Websites:


Read at least one journal of opinion regularly. Examples would be The Weekly Standard or The New Republic. Also read one major newspaper regularly. On the internet you can read the Washington Times and The Washington Post and get two different views direct from our nation’s capital.

Homepage for Dr. Robert C. Jeffrey

 Last Update: October 26, 2003