Summer Reading List Lyon Chapter
Below is a list of 40+ books from all across the political spectrum organized in groups: Left, Right and Center. The majority of these books promote the Democratic and Progressive agendas. Some however, are written by well-known figures on the right and targeted to the conservative base. They are included in this list for those brave souls who would like to escape the liberal echo chamber and know how the other side thinks. The books in the centrist list cover American topics of general political and social interest. Have a good Resistance Summer!!
Al Franken: Giant of the Senate by Al Franken - story of an award-winning comedian who decided to run for office and then discovered why award-winning comedians tend not to do that.
Don't Think of An Elephant by George Lakoff - explains how conservatives think, and how to counter their arguments. He outlines in detail the traditional American values that progressives hold, but are often unable to articulate.
Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics by Jerome Armstrong, Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga, Simon Rosenberg - political bloggers offer their views on the current political landscape in America and provide an insightful look into the new progressive movement, aided by advances in technology, that is changing the face of politics.
The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation by Drew Westen - groundbreaking investigation into the role of emotion in determining the political life of the nation....The idea of the mind as a cool calculator that makes decisions by weighing the evidence bears no relation to how the brain actually works. When political candidates assume voters dispassionately make decisions based on "the issues," they lose. That's why only one Democrat has been re-elected to the presidency since Franklin Roosevelt—and only one Republican has failed in that quest.
Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky
Hegemony or Survival: is a study of the "American Empire" written by the American linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The New Deal by Paul K. Conkin
The New Deal is still the best succinct and coherent description of a chaotic period. It is an account of the major domestic policies adopted during the Roosevelt administration. It is also a rich portrait of Roosevelt the man and consummate politician, and the satellite figures around him. This highly interpretive text, with its spirited and often subtle assessments of New Deal personalities and programs, will continue to bring the period to life for new generations of students. Includes extensive photo essay.
The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman
Paul Krugman studies the past eighty years of American history, from the reforms that tamed the harsh inequality of the Gilded Age to the unraveling of that achievement and the reemergence of immense economic and political inequality since the 1970s. Seeking to understand both what happened to middle-class America and what it will take to achieve a "new New Deal," Krugman has created his finest book to date, a work that weaves together a nuanced account of three generations of history with sharp political, social, and economic analysis.
Witches Midwives & Nurses by Barbara Ehrenreich & Deirdre English
Women have always been healers, and medicine has always been an arena of struggle between female practitioners and male professionals. This pamphlet explores two important phases in the male takeover of health care: the suppression of witches in medieval Europe and the rise of the male medical profession in the United States. The authors conclude that despite efforts to exclude them, the resurgence of women as healers should be a long-range goal of the women’s movement.
A Prayer for America by Dennis Kucinich
When Congressman Dennis Kucinich delivered his speech, “A Prayer for America,” to the Southern California chapter of Americans for Democratic Action, it electrified the whole country. In his speech, Kucinich—a 2004 presidential candidate—warned against an America that had discarded the constitutional liberties integral to its identity: “Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving for civil rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice?” A Prayer for America collects Kucinich’s essays and speeches. It represents his holistic worldview and carries with it a passionate commitment to public service, peace, human rights, workers’ rights, and the environment. His advocacy of a Department of Peace seeks not only to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our society, but to make war a thing of the past. A Prayer for America includes an introductory essay from Kucinich that reflects on his political journey from his election as the youngest mayor of a major American city to his role as a dynamic, visionary leader of the Progressive Caucus of the Congressional Democrats.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
This is an 1845 memoir and treatise on abolition written by famous orator and former slave Frederick Douglass. It is generally held to be the most famous of a number of narratives written by former slaves during the same period. In factual detail, the text describes the events of his life and is considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the abolitionist movement of the early 19th century in the United States.
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
"My history... describes the inspiring struggle of those who have fought slavery and racism (Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses), of the labor organizers who have led strikes for the rights of working people (Big Bill Haywood, Mother Jones, César Chávez), of the socialists and others who have protested war and militarism (Eugene V. Debs, Helen Keller, the Rev. Daniel Berrigan, Cindy Sheehan). I want young people to understand that ours is a beautiful country, but it has been taken over by men who have no respect for human rights or constitutional liberties. Our people are basically decent and caring, and our highest ideals are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, which says that all of us have an equal right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The history of our country, I point out in my book, is a striving, against corporate robber barons and war makers, to make those ideals a reality — and all of us, of whatever age, can find immense satisfaction in becoming part of that." –HZ
The Culture of Fear, Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things by Barry Glassner
In the age of 9/11, the Iraq War, financial collapse, and Amber Alerts, our society is defined by fear. So it's not surprising that three out of four Americans say they feel more fearful today then they did twenty years ago. But are we living in exceptionally dangerous times? Sociologist Barry Glassner demonstrates that it is our perception of danger that has increased, not the actual level of risk. Glassner exposes the people and organizations that manipulate our perceptions and profit from our fears, including advocacy groups that raise money by exaggerating the prevalence of particular diseases and politicians who win elections by heightening concerns about crime, drug use, and terrorism.
Collected Essays by James Baldwin
James Baldwin was a uniquely prophetic voice in American letters. His brilliant and provocative essays made him the literary voice of the Civil Rights Era, and they continue to speak with powerful urgency to us today, whether in the swirling debate over the Black Lives Matter movement or in the words of Raoul Peck's documentary "I Am Not Your Negro." Edited by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, the Library of America's Collected Essays is the most comprehensive gathering of Baldwin's nonfiction ever published.
Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job -- any job -- can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you want to live indoors.
The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi
In search of a solution, journalist Matt Taibbi discovered the Divide, the seam in American life where our two most troubling trends—growing wealth inequality and mass incarceration—come together, driven by a dramatic shift in American citizenship: Our basic rights are now determined by our wealth or poverty. The Divide is what allows massively destructive fraud by the hyper-wealthy to go unpunished, while turning poverty itself into a crime—but it’s impossible to see until you look at these two alarming trends side by side. In The Divide, Matt Taibbi takes readers on a galvanizing journey through both sides of our new system of justice—the fun-house-mirror worlds of the untouchably wealthy and the criminalized poor. He uncovers the startling looting that preceded the financial collapse; a wild conspiracy of billionaire hedge fund managers to destroy a company through dirty tricks; and the story of a whistleblower who gets in the way of the largest banks in America, only to find herself in the crosshairs. On the other side of the Divide, Taibbi takes us to the front lines of the immigrant dragnet; into the newly punitive welfare system which treats its beneficiaries as thieves; and deep inside the stop-and-frisk world, where standing in front of your own home has become an arrestable offense. As he narrates these incredible stories, he draws out and analyzes their common source: a perverse new standard of justice, based on a radical, disturbing new vision of civil rights.
The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy by Murray Bookchin
From Athens to New York, recent mass movements around the world have challenged austerity and authoritarianism with expressions of real democracy. For more than forty years, Murray Bookchin developed these democratic aspirations into a new left politics based on popular assemblies, influencing a wide range of political thinkers and social movements. With a foreword by the best-selling author of The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin, The Next Revolution brings together Bookchin’s essays on freedom and direct democracy for the first time, offering a bold political vision that can move us from protest to social transformation.
$2.00 a Day : Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Schaefer
After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen since the mid-1990s — households surviving on virtually no income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children. Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? Edin has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones) with her procurement of rich — and truthful — interviews. Through the book’s any compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge. The authors illuminate a troubling trend: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor. More than a powerful exposé, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Though the conventional point of view holds that racial discrimination has mostly ended with the civil rights movement reforms of the 1960s, Alexander posits that the U.S. criminal justice system uses the War on Drugs as a primary tool for enforcing traditional, as well as new, modes of discrimination and repression. These new modes of racism have led to not only the highest rate of incarceration in the world, but also an even greater imprisonment of African American men. Were present trends to continue, Alexander writes, the United States will imprison one-third of its African American population. When combined with the fact that whites are more likely to commit drug crimes than people of color, the issue becomes clear for Alexander: "The primary targets of [the penal system's] control can be defined largely by race." This, ultimately, leads Alexander to believe that mass incarceration is "a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow". The culmination of this social control is what Alexander calls a "racial caste system", a type of stratification wherein people of color are kept in an inferior position. Its emergence, she believes, is a direct response to the Civil Rights Movement.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever. Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein
"Trump is extreme but he's not a Martian. He is the logical conclusion of many of the most dangerous trends of the past half-century. He is the personification of the merger of humans and corporations--a one-man megabrand, with wife and children as spin-off brands. This book is to help understand how we arrived at this surreal political moment, how to keep it from getting a lot worse, and how, if we keep our heads, we can flip the script and seize the opportunity to make things a whole lot better in a time of urgent need. A tool-kit for shock-resistance." -from the introduction.
Recovering Americanism by Mark Levin - From New York Times best seller list. Author is radio host. Plea for a return to America’s most sacred values.
Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos - The liberal media machine did everything they could to keep this book out of your hands. Now, finally, DANGEROUS, the most controversial book of the decade, is tearing down safe spaces everywhere.
UNDERSTANDING TRUMP by Newt Gingrich - The former House speaker explains the president’s philosophy and political agenda.
THE SWAMP by Eric Bolling - The Fox News host suggests how Donald Trump can fight corruption and cronyism in Washington.
Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey by David Horowitz - the story of his startling political odyssey from Sixties radical to Nineties conservative.
The Reagan Revolution by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak
An Inside Look at the Transformation of the U. S. Government from a conservative perspective.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance - From a former Marine and Yale Law School Graduate, a poignant account of growing up in a poor Appalachian town, that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class. Part memoir, part historical and social analysis, J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy is a fascinating consideration of class, culture, and the American dream.
The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis - account of a childhood in rural French poverty which has been compared to Hillbilly Elegy above (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/books/review-end-of-eddy-edouard-louis.html?mcubz=2)
Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty - Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy...the French author Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns.
It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a politician who defeats Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and "traditional" values.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Themes are breakage and separation, effects of white beauty standards, media and culture, religion, shame.
US(a.) by Saul Williams
After four years abroad (France), Williams returned to the United States and found his head twirling with thoughts on race, class, gender, finance, freedom, guns, cooking shows, dog shows, superheroes, not-so-super politicians—everything that makes up our country. US(a.) is a collection of poems that embodies the spirit of a culture that questions sentiments and realities, embracing a cross-section of pop culture, hip-hop, and the greater world politic of the moment.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
The essays in Bad Feminist address a wide variety of topics, both cultural and personal. The collection of essays is broken into five sections: Me; Gender & Sexuality; Race & Entertainment; Politics, Gender & Race; and Back to Me. In a 2014 interview with Time, Gay explained her role as a feminist and how it has influenced her writing: "In each of these essays, I’m very much trying to show how feminism influences my life for better or worse. It just shows what it’s like to move through the world as a woman. It’s not even about feminism per se, it’s about humanity and empathy."
Malcom X: The Autobiography as told to Alex Haley
The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley. Haley co-authored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X's 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X's philosophies. After the leader was killed, Haley wrote the book's epilogue. He described their collaborative process and the events at the end of Malcolm X's life.
Two or Three Things I Know For Sure by Dorothy Allison
Dorothy Allison takes a probing look at her family's history to give us a lyrical, complex memoir that explores how the gossip of one generation can become legends for the next. Illustrated with photographs from the author's personal collection, she tells the story of the Gibson women -- sisters, cousins, daughters, and aunts -- and the men who loved them, often abused them, and, nonetheless, shared their destinies. With luminous clarity, Allison explores how desire surprises and what power feels like to a young girl as she confronts abuse. As always, Dorothy Allison is provocative, confrontational, and brutally honest. Two or Three Things I Know for Sure, steeped in the hard-won wisdom of experience, expresses the strength of her unique vision with beauty and eloquence.
American Nations by Colin Woodard
According to award-winning journalist and historian Colin Woodard, North America is made up of eleven distinct nations, each with its own unique historical roots. In American Nations he takes readers on a journey through the history of our fractured continent, offering a revolutionary and revelatory take on American identity, and how the conflicts between them have shaped our past and continue to mold our future. From the Deep South to the Far West, to Yankeedom to El Norte, Woodard (author of American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good) reveals how each region continues to uphold its distinguishing ideals and identities today, with results that can be seen in the composition of the U.S. Congress or on the county-by-county election maps of this year's Trump versus Clinton presidential election.
The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver
Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.
All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks
All About Love offers radical new ways to think about love by showing its interconnectedness in our private and public lives. Hooks explains how our everyday notions of what it means to give and receive love often fail us, and how these ideals are established in early childhood. She offers a rethinking of self-love that will bring peace and compassion to our personal and professional lives, and asserts the place of love to end struggles between individuals, in communities, and among societies. Moving from the cultural to the intimate, hooks notes the ties between love and loss and challenges the prevailing notion that romantic love is the most important love of all. Visionary and original, hooks shows how love heals the wounds we bear as individuals and as a nation, for it is the cornerstone of compassion and forgiveness and holds the power to overcome shame.
Democracy In America by Alexis de Tocqueville
In 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville, a young French aristocrat and ambitious civil servant, set out from post-revolutionary France on a journey across America that would take him 9 months and cover 7,000 miles. This is the result: a subtle and prescient analysis of the life and institutions of 19th-century America. Tocqueville looked to the flourishing democratic system in America as a possible model for post-revolutionary France, believing that the egalitarian ideals it enshrined reflected the spirit of the age and even divine will. His study of the strengths and weaknesses of an evolving democratic society has been quoted by every American president since Eisenhower, and remains a key point of reference for any discussion of the American nation or the democratic system. English translation.
Bayou Farewell by Mike Tidwell
The Cajun coast of Louisiana is home to a way of life as unique, complex, and beautiful as the terrain itself. As award-winning travel writer Mike Tidwell journeys through the bayou, he introduces us to the food and the language, the shrimp fisherman, the Houma Indians, and the rich cultural history that makes it unlike any other place in the world. But seeing the skeletons of oak trees killed by the salinity of the groundwater, and whole cemeteries sinking into swampland and out of sight, Tidwell also explains why each introduction may be a farewell—as the storied Louisiana coast steadily erodes into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Lincoln Brigade, A Picture History by William Loren Katz and Marc Crawford
The day after Christmas, 1936, a group of 96 Americans sailed from New York to help Spain defend its democratic government against fascism. Ultimately, 2800 United States volunteers reached Spain to become the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling by Arlie Russell Hochschild
In private life, we try to induce or suppress love, envy, and anger through deep acting or "emotion work," just as we manage our outer expressions of feeling through surface acting. In trying to bridge a gap between what we feel and what we "ought" to feel, we take guidance from "feeling rules" about what is owing to others in a given situation. Based on our private mutual understandings of feeling rules, we make a "gift exchange" of acts of emotion management. We bow to each other not simply from the waist, but from the heart. But what occurs when emotion work, feeling rules, and the gift of exchange are introduced into the public world of work? In search of the answer, Arlie Hochschild closely examines two groups of public-contact workers: flight attendants and bill collectors. The flight attendant's job is to deliver a service and create further demand for it, to enhance the status of the customer and be "nicer than natural." The bill collector's job is to collect on the service, and if necessary, to deflate the status of the customer by being "nastier than natural." Between these extremes, roughly one-third of American men and one-half of American women hold jobs that call for substantial emotional labor. In many of these jobs, they are trained to accept feeling rules and techniques of emotion management that serve the company's commercial purpose. Just as we have seldom recognized or understood emotional labor, we have not appreciated it cost to those who do it for a living. Like a physical laborer who becomes estranged from what he or she makes, an emotional laborer, such as a flight attendant, can become estranged not only from her own expressions of feeling (her smile is not "her" smile), but also from what she actually feels (her managed friendliness). This estrangement, though a valuable defense against stress, is also an important occupational hazard, because it is through our feelings that we are connected with those around us.
Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State by Ralph Nader
Nader shows how Left-Right coalitions can prevail over the corporate state and crony capitalism. He draws on his extensive experience working with grassroots organizations in Washington and reveals the many surprising victories by united progressive and conservative forces. As a participator in, and keen observer of, these budding alliances, he breaks new ground in showing how such coalitions can overcome specific obstacles that divide them, and how they can expand their power on Capitol Hill, in the in the courts, and in the decisive arena of public opinion. Americans can reclaim their right to consume safe foods and drugs, live in healthy environments, receive fair rewards for their work, resist empire, regain control of taxpayer assets, strengthen investor rights, and make bureaucrats more efficient and accountable. Nader argues it is in the interest of citizens of different political labels to join in the struggle against the corporate state that will, if left unchecked, ruin the Republic, override our constitution, and shred the basic rights of the American people.