Dunaway Law May 2019

May 2019


One Perimeter Park South, Suite 100 North, Birmingham, AL 35243 • 205.705.3590 • MatthewDunaway.com

Lifelong Learners How Do We Find Great Teachers?

“In order to truly appreciate great books, we must understand the context in which they were written.”

Not long ago, I was driving my daughter to school when we started talking about teachers. She was frustrated because a teacher she really liked at the beginning of the year had really checked out during the second semester. It’s never fun to be stuck with a bad teacher, but the reality is that we’re going to have good and bad teachers at each phase of our education. Even after you’ve graduated, it’s important to keep learning, which means we’re eventually responsible for finding our own teachers at a certain point. I believe that, outside the classroom, the best learning can come from reading books. This month, I want to continue my 100 Fundamental Books list that I started earlier this year. The first books I listed were all fiction or art. My idea of fundamental books also includes books on history, economics, and philosophy. In order to truly appreciate great books, we must understand the context in which they were written. The books I’m covering here aren’t necessarily 11–20 on my list, but they are essential titles I recommend everyone read. I’m already cheating a little here. Bauer has written a three-volume set covering around four thousand years of history: the “Ancient World”, the “Medieval World” and the “Renaissance World.” If you’re worried that you don’t know anything about history, Bauer’s works are a great way to start. “History of the ___ World” by SusanWise Bauer

“AHistory of theAmerican People” by Paul Johnson

This is the single best volume history of the United States, in my opinion. I already talked about this book in my recommendation article last August, so I’ll just say that if you ever wanted to understand our history better, this is the book to read. “Basic Economics” byThomas Sowell Economics is a difficult topic that can get extraordinarily complicated, but economics play a big role in our lives. Sowell is able to talk about economics in a way anyone can understand. This is one of the better single-volume histories on philosophy. Russell is able to give readers a sense of what people have thought about over the years and how those thoughts developed, for better or worse. “AShort History of Modern Philosophy” by Roger Scruton Philosophy isn’t just something the Greeks were thinking about. It still applies and is changing to this day. “AHistory ofWestern Philosophy” by Bertrand Russell

20th century, from 1920–1980. Dramatic changes took place around the world during those times. This is an important book to understand howwe got to where we are today. “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” by Edward Gibbon There are more modern histories of the Roman Empire, but I say this one is as good, and, in some ways, more accurate. Gibbon’s work also offers a great deal of literary value. I’m cheating again here. This is an eight-volume work, which isn’t surprising, considering how long and expansive the history of the Christian church is. If you’re interested in learning more about Christianity or history, this is an important read. “Howto Read andWhy” byHarold Bloom This is a relatively short book, but if you’re embarking on a lifelong reading program, it’s essential. The way you approach reading is almost as important as what you’re reading. Bloom is a professor of English at Yale, and he is great at exploring whywe read and what reading can teach us as human beings. “History of the Christian Church” by Philip Schaff

“History of Political Philosophy” by Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey This one is actually a textbook edited by

American political philosophers Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey, so it really fits in with the idea of finding good teachers. “Modern Times” by Paul Johnson Back to historywith Paul Johnson, who’s so good he makes this list twice. This is the history of the

We should never stop learning and finding teachers who can help broaden our minds. Books are one of the best ways to do this.

–Matt Dunaway

1 Phone: 205.705.3590

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