The Andrew Klavan Symposium

Section I – Opening Remarks

Click here for the series introduction and Part 1: “Finding God in the Blood and Guts of Birth and the Big Bang” by Fred Tribuzzo

Part 2: “A Search For An Authentic Life” by Alec Ott

Part 3: “Life-Changing Literature” by Chris Queen

Part 4: “To Know The Truth About The World” by Jon Bishop

Part 5: “The Long Road To Becoming An Essential Author” by David M. Swindle

Section II – Dialogue

Part 6: “If You Love Western Civilization, You Will Love God” by Fred Tribuzzo

Part 7: “Why God Does Not Want You To Worry About Anything…” by Alec Ott

Part 8: “The Bible As Artist & Author’s Muse” by Jon Bishop

Part 9:

(cross-posted from Mad Tab Blog and at Smash Cut Culture)

Dear Jon, Alec, Fred, and Chris,

Throughout this dialogue you have each referenced other authors who have influenced you and who have reminded you in some way of Andrew Klavan’s work. Alec brought up C.S. Lewis, Fred invoked Thomas Sowell, Jon brought Augustine and monk-poet Thomas Merton into the dialogue, and Chris quoted the prophet Isaiah.

For many years I’ve been in the habit of list-making regarding books, authors, films and all sorts of subjects. And I don’t intend on breaking that habit anytime soon, in fact I’m doing the opposite: encouraging you and other writers to assemble lists too. In particular: who are the authors and books who most inspire you today? Which writers and titles are akin to weapons in your armory? Whose ideas and storytelling techniques do you adapt into your own?

After we conclude this dialogue about Klavan’s memoir with one final post each, I challenge each of you — and all readers are invited too — to submit your lists of key authors and books. ([email protected] please.) I restarted this project last year with my “Essential Authors” series at my “Travel, Art, and Book” blog and now I’m expanding the dialogue at Liberty Island. Anyone is welcome to join in the discussions of influential authors and their most valuable books. Who are the essential authors for you and which of their books cannot be missed?

As a place to begin the debate, I present this photo:

When we moved into our new home in summer 2015 it didn’t take me long to figure out what items to feature in a display case built into the wall: my collection of autographed novels and non-fiction books. There’s only room for 9 titles to be visibly displayed across the three shelves, but others sit behind them, for a total of 23 books in the case (not all of the titles in my autographed collection, but the cream of the crop…) Here are the authors included in the above photo, with links to highest priority texts, and a few comments about why they are so valuable and inspiring to me.

1. James Wasserman

Recommended Reading To Begin:

It’s now been about 15 years since I’ve been an open mystic, occultist, and quiet practitioner of magickal rituals. During this time I’ve read plenty of books on these subjects and in my humble opinion the very best author alive today writing on them is Wasserman. Nobody is better at presenting the historical development of the mystical traditions with more solid sourcing and better arguments than him. Wasserman is also a key influence in what I’ve described as “Biblical Occultism.”

2. Andrew Klavan

Recommended Reading To Begin:

I initially kicked off this series of highlighting authors with this post here, explaining why Klavan had become such an important creative influence. I recommend his books to all the novelists I work with and am studying his body of work. I also credit Klavan with inspiring my recent passion for Raymond Chandler’s novels.

3. Douglas Rushkoff

Recommended Reading To Begin:

The book included is Disinformation: The Interviews by Richard Metzger, the printed companion to the DVD set of the 4-episode counterculture news show. Rushkoff is one of the featured interviewees (and the speech below of him at the DisinfoCon in 2000 is included on the DVD) and he signed my copy when visiting my alma mater in 2005, when I was a junior.

Since then Rushkoff’s many nonfiction books on media, technology, religion, counterculture, and corporatism have been seminal texts that I turn to for explaining this weird new media world that I’ve stumbled into as a career. His approach of doing both non-fiction and fiction books that have intertwining themes is also a big influence too. Rushkoff was also my introduction to Maimonides, who has since become perhaps my favorite philosopher.

4. Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Recommended Reading To Begin:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the most important feminist activist and intellectual working today. Further, in her most recent book Heretic she delivered what I regard as the most compelling case for how modern interpretations of Islam can overcome Medieval interpretations. (I’m partial to it because it’s the one that changed my mind.)

5. Andrew Breitbart

Recommended Reading To Begin: Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!

At some point soon, in the next year or so, probably sooner, I’m going to have to reexamine how important Andrew Breitbart was as a professional and activist influence for me for many years. But not quite ready yet…

6. Ben Shapiro

Recommended Reading To Begin:

Softening the blow of Breitbart’s premature death in March 2012, was the knowledge that he had touched and influenced so many who would continue his work. Others would strive to fill the void he had left. In my view, Ben Shapiro is Breitbart’s most authentic activist heir. He is the one waging the cultural and moral fights today that matter, rather than becoming yet another disposable toady for the President.

But I go a step further: Ben is also the William F. Buckley, Jr. of the Xer/Millennial generations. As Buckley used multiple mediums from a magazine to an interview show to fiction novels, so too has Ben innovate across mediums. He publishes widely — a novel one year, a father-son sports memoir another, a wildly popular podcast, even a clever musical. Trying to change the culture and the mass media by participating in them was at the heart of Breitbart’s ethos. What is the alternative, what awaits when the cultural fight is neglected? Ben described it in his second book in 2005:

“In a world where all values are equal, where everything is simply a matter of choice, narcissism rules the day.” – page 2 of Porn Generation

7. Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa

Previous generations relied on books like Witness and memoirs of ex-New Leftists who later turned Right to try to understand the nature of the Communist threat. I say that today’s generation of pro-freedom, anti-totalitarian activists should revise their understanding of both history and today with the amazing writings of Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest ranking defector from the Soviet bloc, the former spymaster for Romanian dictator Ceausescu.

What is the new key that Pacepa provides? He reveals the role played and methods utilized by Soviet intelligence agencies to subvert America. His third book is focused on the methods and purposes of the Soviet disinformation divisions used against pro-Western targets throughout the Cold War. Understanding the culture of Russia’s secret police (which predates the USSR) and its methods of media manipulation and the manufacturing of history are critical for grasping what Vladimir Putin has been doing to America today. And Pacepa’s writings on the JFK assassination will knock your socks off…

8. Howard Bloom

The complete collection of six:

Howard Bloom is a deeply innovative author synthesizing hard science with adept historical and cultural analysis, and an exhilarating prose style that makes huge concepts accessible. The above video adapts one of the concluding chapters in The God Problem, and explains Bloom’s theory of how the universe was born and how it will end.

BTW, I previously wrote on Wasserman, Breitbart, Rushkoff, and Bloom in this giant-size list article from 2012: “23 Books for Counterculture Conservatives, Tea Party Occultists, and Capitalist Wizards.

9. Glenn Reynolds

Recommended Reading To Begin: 

I wrote about Glenn’s big influence last week at Liberty Island, explaining how his philosophy of libertarianism, futurism, and hawkish had shaped me to acquire and edit J.P. Medved’s Justice Inc. series.

Related: back in 2013 I attended and wrote about a lecture Howard Bloom gave in LA presenting his ideas and proposals for colonizing the solar system.

So, I hope that now you both understand my oddball perspectives better and also have found some books that you might enjoy. Which authors and books are on your most treasured shelves?

Sincerely, your friend and colleague,



Previous Writers Featured in the Essential Authors Series:

  1. Andrew Klavan
  2. Camille Paglia