Given the increasing numbers (happily!) of nonfiction books examining various aspects of freedom and politics, I wanted to shine a modest light on an area still sadly lacking in our efforts to spread the ideas of liberty. Fiction, in general, and novels, in particular, are great ways to introduce people to the ideas we cherish. They can be especially effective because of the emotional connections possible when readers identify with characters and situations.
Larry Bond's Cauldron (1993) explores the possible consequences of a trade war that becomes a real war. Bond (who co-authored Clancy's Red Storm Rising) offers one of the few works that clearly demonstrates that restricting the free exchange of goods and services among people should not be viewed as some abstract, academic exercise in political one-upmanship. Trading bullets is a logical consequence when trading products becomes verboten.
Stephen Hunter's series of novels detailing the life and exploits of Bob Lee ("The Nailer") Swagger began with Point of Impact (1993). Perhaps still the best of the lot, this story follows Swagger as he is tricked into once again taking up his sniper rifle. Framed for an assassination, Swagger remains true to his convictions as he cleverly confronts the political forces seeking to destroy him.
A Town Like Alice (aka The Legacy) (1950) by Nevil Shute was made into a (somewhat slow) television miniseries. The book, however, shines in its depiction of Jean Paget, a widow who survives Japanese captors in Malaya. A strong, resilient woman, she moves to Australia. There, she overcomes the prejudices of the residents of Alice and puts into practice the principles of free enterprise and personal initiative.
The Adversary Cycle of F. Paul Wilson introduced us to his most popular character, Repairman Jack, in the novel, The Tomb (1984). Jack (soon to star in his own movie) lives in the shadowy realms of society. Refusing to "become part of the system," he exists sans social security number, bank account, and the other entrapping forces of our culture. In The Tomb, Jack battles nonhuman creatures bent on using humans as fodder. Jack's integrity and commitment to justice are all too rare in literature.
Finally, Clint Eastwood's film, "Bronco Billy," (1980) was hardly his most popular or influential. Nevertheless, the self-styled cowboy from New Jersey, Bronco Billy, embodies in his simple and direct manner the importance of honor. A nonconventional hero, Billy serves as a role model for the children who attend his "Wild West show" and for those of us who cheer at the (sadly now improbable) sight of an armed citizen foiling a bank robbery!