It's Thanksgiving Day in America.
I now know what it is I saw all those years ago in the first 13 chapters of Gibbon's epic history: I saw man's fallen nature. Not in a moralizing sense, but in a real, worldly, biblical sense. That's why it had such an awakening effect in me. People go through life never seeing it; thinking man is inherently good and perfectible. In politics this naivety leads to inevitable Satanic ends. Ultimately genocide, as we saw all throughout the last century. Mass human sacrifice to the Kingdom of Satan. Political wisdom is found in the Founding Fathers and founding documents of the United States of America. Found there summed up astonishingly well.
Thomas Sowell writes well in his book The Vision of the Anointed on this theme of political leftists (the followers of the political left anyway) seeing man as inherently good and perfectible, and conservatives (or classical liberals, what conservative used to be called before the Left co-opted the term liberal and defiled it) seeing man as needing real checks and balances on his fallen nature. This makes leftists (or followers of the political left) more amenable to giving up their liberty to dictators and authoritarian political ideologies, all the while chanting peace, love, and freedom...
Understanding the reality and mechanics of liberty vs. tyranny is basic for a Christian. It's a subject of spiritual warfare, ultimately. The discernment we get from the Holy Spirit Himself upon regeneration by the word and the Spirit should lead one into such understanding. Which includes valuing liberty, by the way. Not to mention being able to see through all Orwellian language distortion.
For starters I would recommend a book that gives overviews of classic books on the subject: Ten Books Every Conservative Must Read by Benjamin Wiker.
Here's where I'm different: I'm not trying to sound like some scholar. I'll readily recommend a book with a title or written level that is easily mocked by the usual types who mock such things. If the book is worthwhile, which this one is. His chapter on the Bible is a mess, but overall the value of the book is in his concise summing up of foundational ideas, as he courses through the ten books, that describe liberty and tyranny and how each are instituted and defended or overthrown and so on.