Was there a novel that helped shape your political views?

A lot of people, if asked, will say that Ayn Rand’s novels were tremendously important in shaping their political viewpoints.  Indeed, someone told me that Alan Greenspan cited Rand as one of his inspirations.

My question for you:  Have you read any novels that have played an important role in molding your p0litical beliefs?  I’m not asking about political tracts, or non-fiction books, or great speeches.  I’m curious only about the impact “novels of ideas” have had on people.

Off the top of my head, one of the novels that most shaped my views was George Orwell’s 1984.  His vision of a Leftist dystopia has always provided a “repression yardstick” for me.  I think that 1984 works so well because it’s not just a boring polemic with some plot thrown in for decoration.  Instead, it’s a dynamic story based upon a strong ideological foundation.

Interestingly, I find it impossible to think of any Leftist novel that affected me — I’ve always found them just as boring as Das Kapital itself is.

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  • Judy K. Warner

    Mike Devx, I’m just listening to The Pillars of the Earth on audio, after listening to its sequel, World Without End. Like you I’ve been struck by how clearly both books show the lessons of the free market and the obstacles entrepreneurs face from entrenched interests. I don’t remember who pointed out that many people are liberal in principle, but almost everyone is conservative when it comes to their own field, or one they know intimately, because reality is conservative.

  • Cholla

    It may not fit well with this thread, but I have to express my gratitude for a book that really caught my fancy as a young girl and in many ways set the tone for my reading interests (and political philosophy) ever since.  It was a book written for pre-teen girls called “A Touch of Magic”.  I probably was about 11 when I read it.  It took place during the Revolutionary War and the main character was a teenage girl named Hannah, who of course fell in love with a soldier in the Continental Army.  The book also featured the “frivolous” Shipman sisters and their relation to Benedict Arnold.  Hannah was a daring young woman who got involved in the fight for independence.  The story captured the bravery of the colonists and the true suffering they endured to earn our liberty.  All written for a pre-teen girls but that book lead to many others – as I wanted to learn more about that time period which lead me to other books (a domino effect up to the present day!).  I love history books, biographies of those who have contributed to our liberty, and any philosopher/writer who discusses the attributes and preservation of a free society.  My arguments with liberal teachers, professors . . . all started with that book I innocently picked up while in grade school. 

  • http://benningswritingpad.blogspot.com/ benning

    I think Starship Troopers was important to me. This was before Robert Heinlein slid into the ‘Free Love’ years and got weird. His early fiction was full of personal responsibility, standing up to tyranny, and a love of Liberty. It’s Science Fiction, but his main characters eschew conformity, seek personal freedom.

    If nothing else, he, like Louis L’Amour, writes enjoyable yarns.

    I recommend L’Amour’s Sackett series. Excellent tale spinning.

  • http://expreacherman.wordpress.com ExPreacherMan

    Uh Oh,
    Benning — you mention Heinlein’s slip into “Free Love.” An hour ago I sent an email to my daughter recommending his novel, ‘The Rolling Stones’ to my liberal-leaning 15 year old grandson.. “Free Love” is not something I wish to recommend to him..I think he gets enough of that in his United Nations sponsored High School.
    Can someone ease my mind about The Rolling Stones?
    In Christ, ExP(Jack)

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  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    PreacherMan…IIRC, “Rolling Stones” doesn’t have any sex in it, it features a couple of the least-horny male teenagers in the history of the universe.

  • http://expreacherman.wordpress.com ExPreacherMan

    Thanks David, that info helps…

  • Mike Devx

    “The Rolling Stones” is an early 50’s book, when Heinlein was writing “juvenovels” for teenage boys.  Every single one of those books, I think, can be recommended.   I recommended “The Rolling Stones” because I fell in love with the Stone family and their adventure.  I still reread that book these days for enjoyment.  I recommend EVERYTHING by Heinlein up into the mid-50’s as great for teenagers.  After the mid-50’s, caution is recommended.
    Heinlein began to get a little more serious in the mid 50’s with books such as ‘Citizen of the Galaxy’.  They’re still very, very good, but they are darker and more serious reads.
    With ‘Starship Troopers’, ‘Glory Road’, and ‘Podkayne’ Heinlein is moving into adult fare in 1959 and the early 1960’s.  Those three remain acceptable for teenagers, I think.   ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ is a great book, but it’s his first purely adult book, and while written relatively early (1961), it is the precursor to all of the adult free-love books that he began to focus on in the late 60’s.
    Starting with ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’, and everything thereafter, Heinlein is writing for adults.  Aside from  Farnham’s Freehold, Podkayne, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, he is giving his ‘Free Love’ philosophy, well, free rein.  So for the young-uns, stick with the Heinlein books from 1959 and back, and 1955-back is best.

  • http://expreacherman.wordpress.com ExPreacherMan

    Thanks Mike…
    I’ll take your and David’s advice.