The Epics

In the words of Quintus Curtius, a valuable man will contain a universe inside himself. Knowledge of a wide variety of topics allows him to strive toward personal self-fulfillment by boosting his self-esteem and making him better able to understand and adapt to the world around him. A man extensively cultivated in both the arts and sciences can claim to have a better character, and is more able to give back to the world.

To that end I've established a long list of things to read, watch, and play that I believe will bring value to the man that seeks to become a presence to be reckoned with in the world, totally at ease with himself and society. It is a long list, and I will be the first to say I haven't even gotten to them all yet. Nevertheless the list is not complete, just as the journey to perfection never ends. There is always something new to be learned, some new value to be had over the next hill.

What is in the public domain or has permissive copyrights, I've linked here. This page also contains affiliate links.

  •  The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World by Sir Edward Creasy (It is a bit dated, but nevertheless remains a classic in the field of military history. The book goes into great detail to explain how events on the battlefield have shaped the world we live in. I also recommend its addendum, The Twenty Decisive Battles of the World, by Joseph B. Mitchell.)
  • The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (The quintessential text in the area and though may be dated, significantly influenced all that came after it.)
  • The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides (The classic account of the ruthless politics of warring powers. The Melian Dialogue is of particular interest.)
  • Memoirs of Louis XIV (The thoughts of one of the most individually powerful men to ever live on life and leadership.)
  • The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (A very raw story of how a slave desired to be free and would let nothing stop him.)
  • Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson (A harrowing account of bravery and the hardness of the training the SEALS must endure. It is motivational as well as proof positive that masculinity is not dead. And while you're at it, watch the movie too.)
  • The Splendors of Versailles (This is a collection of 17th and 18th century primary sources, including Louis XIV's personal notes on leadership.)
  • The True Story of Hannibal (This two-hour documentary on the History Channel is a good biography of the great Carthaginian general, showcasing his talent, resolve, and ability as not only a leader, but a survivor.)

Money & Economics:
  • The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson (A wonderfully simple history on how finance became so important to the modern world. A must-have for the layman in economics.)
  • Debunking Economics by Steve Keen (A work that offers a powerful critique of persisting economic doctrines, and undermines much of the foundations of the 'science' of economics.)
  • Guerilla Social Media Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson and Shane Gibson (In a world where we often experience the worst of social media, this book at least provides the reader with ways to make good use of the often-annoying phenomenon.)
  • Manias, Panics, and Crashes by Charles P. Kindleberger (A very extensive history and anatomy of financial crises stretching back many centuries. Albeit, this one may be somewhat technical.)
  • Start Your Own Business by the staff of Entrepreneur Media (Put simply, the best starter guide to entrepreneurship I've yet to encounter.)
  • The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (The work that got the field of modern economics started.)

Myth & Fiction:
  • Virgil's Aeneid (The Roman origin story that was a powerful moral message for its time, specifically commissioned by the Emperor Augustus for this purpose.)
  • Braveheart by Mel Gibson (Not a truly accurate history of the Scottish Wars of Independence by any means, but it is a stirring movie that forces the viewer to think long and hard about what freedom means, and how worth fighting for it is.) 
  • Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama (The godfather of modern Shonen, it portrays a wonderful adventure of a boy becoming a man, and who, through constant battles, eventually finds self-acceptance and inner peace.)
  • Fragments of the Epic Cycle (Fragments and descriptions of the other poems in the Trojan War series, which have been sadly lost.)
  • The First Churchills (A largely historical dramatization of the life of the 1st Duke of Marlborough and his wife Sarah. It portrays the rise of Marlborough from essential poverty to the most celebrated and powerful man in the land. It is also an excellent look at the politics and international relations of the latter 17th and early 18th centuries.)
  • Full Metal Jacket by Stanley Kubrick (A dramatic film of power and the social dynamics present in the high-stress situation of military action.)
  • Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow (A wonderful series with a very realistic portrayal of the future. I highly recommend all of its various continuities. It is indispensable to the exploration of sociological and technological themes in a world currently dominated by computing. This series was a big influence on The Matrix.)
  • Homer's Iliad (I personally prefer the Penguin Classics version for the English reader, as it translates the poem into easily understandable action while keeping the vigor of the original, as well as having a valuable and extensive introductory portion.)
  • Le Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory (Perhaps the quintessential coalescence of the Arthurian mythos of the Medieval period.)
  • The Matrix by the Wachowski Brothers (The series greatly declines in quality after the first movie, but nevertheless is a valuable artistic take on the nature of reality, man's relationship to technology, and the structures of power.)
  • Homer's Odyssey (I read the Stanley Lombardo translation, which is a bit more poetic than the Penguin Classics Iliad and also has a valuable introductory portion.)
  • Rocky series by Sylvester Stallone (Perhaps one of the best film series on modern masculinity- of a man overcoming obstacles on life's roller coaster I can think of.)
  • Rome (The BBC/HBO series provides a wonderfully dramatic take on the plays of power in Ancient Rome.)

Politics & Philosophy:
  • The Anti-Federalist Papers (A series of essays warning against the adoption of the nascent Constitution.)
  • The Federalist Papers (Essays trying to persuade New York to adopt the nascent Constitution in 1788. They have become an important source for the interpretation of Constitutional law.)
  • George Washington's Farewell Address (A must-read prescient address by the Father of the Nation on American politics.)
  • Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle (One of the foundational texts of Western philosophy which details the virtues and vices, and how to live a good life.)
  • Politics by Aristotle (One of the foundational texts of Western political philosophy.)

  • Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan (A wonderfully presented series that is still very relevant despite its age. It is truly the forerunner of modern science popularization.)

Social/Personal Development:
  • The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (A must-read about the history of power and how you can wield it.)
  • Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (This book will change the way you think and reveal that thought drives success)
  • Magic Bullets by Nick Savoy (One of the classic Game guides, it presents an easy to understand system which, though I think is far too focused on itself rather than the actual interaction, gives the reader a good lesson on how the laws of attraction tend to work.)
  • The various works of George Carlin (Often the best way to find the truth of something is through humor. In this aspect Carlin was a valuable gem.)
  • The works of Noccolo Machiavelli (Too much value is in these texts to be ignored.)

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