November 10, 2006

Reading for the New Majority

Reading for the New Majority

As promised on last night’s show, The Democrats’ New Reading List, we’ve compiled our list of all the books, blogs and authors (marked by an asterisk) mentioned by our guests. The resulting list is long, but there’s always more — what are you reading? What syllabus would you prescribe to the new Democratic majority?

A Reading List for a New Majority

The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk

Reflections on the Revolutions in France by Edmund Burke

Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater

What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank

Pragmatism by William James*

Human Nature and Conduct by John Dewey*

The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam

A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin

Progress and Poverty by Henry George

Democracy: An American Novel by Henry Adams

The Floating Island by Garrett Epps

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

The Problem of the Media: US Communication Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Robert McChesney

Democracy in America by Alexis de Toqueville

Culture Warrior by Bill O’Reilly*

America: The Last Best Hope by William Bennett*

The Truth: With Jokes by Al Franken*

Will They Ever Trust Us Again?: Letters from the War Zone by Michael Moore*

The Vital Center by Arthur Schlesinger

Why Americans Hate Politics by E. J. Dionne

Putting People First by Bill Clinton

Why I am a Democrat by Theodore Sorensten

American Capitalism by John Kenneth Galbraith

The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi

John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics by Richard Parker

Captialism and Freedom by Milton Friedman*

One Market Under God by Thomas Frank

The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy” by Howard Friel

Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War by John Prados

The National Security Archive via George Washington University, including the infamous photo of Donald Rumsfeld haking hands with Saddam Hussein

A History of Modern Palestine by Ilan Pappe

Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict by Norman Finkelstein

Middle East Illusions by Noam Chomsky

Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by Sarah Roy

The Clash of Barbarisms by Gilbert Achcar

Perilous Power by Gilbert Achcar with Noam Chomsky

Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon by Robert Fisk

The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides

The Aeneid by Virgil, translated by

Measure of Our Days by Jerome Groopman

Ralph Bunche: An American Life by Brian Urquhart



The Selling of the President by Joe Mcginniss

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerit Yourcenar

My Uncle Napoleon by Iraj Pezeshkzad

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

Complete Sonnets, by William Shakespeare

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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  • jdyer

    Any reading list that includes by Norman Finkelstein is a list for anti-Israel extremists.

    This, btw, is the most idiosyncratic list I have ever seen.

    It’s time to call up the Dershowitz truth squad!

  • jdyer

    Who is John La Rue and what is his relation to OSR?

  • Scott Myers-Lipton

    “Social Solutions to Poverty” should be included in the Democrats’ new reading list (

    The book focuses on every major American solution to poverty that has been put forward by both policy experts and grassroots activists. The book contains the original text of these solutions, as well as commentary on the social context from which the solutions emerged and analysis of what happened to the proposed solutions.


    Scott Myers-Lipton, Ph.D.

    Associate Professor, Sociology Department

    Community Change Concentration

    San José State University

  • I’m glad to see Henry George’s Progress and Poverty on this list. It is one of the most important books ever written — yes, I know that sounds like hyperbole, but if you’ll explore it, I suspect you’ll reach the same conclusion.

    A new edition of this 125+ year old book was published this year. It is a thought-by-thought updating into contemporary language (about the level of Time Magazine), and has been abridged to remove multiple examples of phenomena. It is available in paperback from

    You can also explore Henry George’s ideas at You’ll gain an entirely different understanding of poverty’s cause — one that doesn’t blame the victim, by the way — and see just how simple it would be to reduce poverty — not by defining it away but by re-establishing economic justioce and creating a society where we are indeed created equal and treat each other as equals.

    I hope Professor Myers-Lipton’s book explores these ideas; the website he cited does not appear to mention them. But Progress and Poverty was the #2 bestseller in the later years of the 19th century, selling over 2 million copies before about 1905, and was translated into 30 or so languages.

    It should be required reading for all who seek a more just society. It is also a thrilling read!

    The Wealthandwant website’s front page has links to multiple online versions of the book, including a couple of synopses and a 35 page abridgement. (Don’t miss chapter 3 of that.)

  • Cristian Rojas

    Given the status of the world at this point I think that an important book to read for people in power is “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” by Jared Diamond. So that they can see that our civilization might not last for ever, or for another 100 years.

  • katemcshane

    I’ve been rereading the essays of June Jordan. I first read her in the 1970’s, when i was in my 20’s and actually imagined that this society would move forward from some of the changes begun in the 60’s. In order, her essay collections are CIVIL WARS, ON CALL, TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES, AFFIRMATIVE ACTS, and SOME OF US DID NOT DIE. She told the truth, she was a genius, and she led an exemplary political and human life. In the last 10+ years of her life, she taught at Berkeley.

    Also, I would include on this list the work of W.E.B. DuBois, Arundhati Roy, and Robin D. G. Kelley (particularly RACE REBELS, FREEDOM DREAMS, and YO’ MAMA’S DISFUNKTIONAL).

    And I would recommend WAR IS A FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING by Chris Hedges.

    It’s a shame that the original list contained only two women authors, and other than the bio of Ralph Bunche, I’m not sure if any of the books were written by people of color.

  • From the Contemporary Issues Shelf in Griffin Bay Bookstore:

    State of Denial

    Bob Woodward

    Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War

    Michael Isikoff and David Corn

    Destined For Destiny: The Unauthorized Autobiography of George W. Bush

    Our Endangered Values

    President Jimmy Carter

    Conservatives Without Conscience

    John W. Dean

    Enemy Combatant

    Moazzam Begg

    Talking Right: Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show

    Geoffery Nunberg

    Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq

    Thomas E Ricks

    The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina (Hardcover)

    Frank Rich

    Target Iran

    Scott Ritter

    Armed Madhouse

    Greg Palast

    The Looming Tower

    Lawrence Wright

    Letter to a Christian Nation

    Sam Harris

    From Vietnam to 9/11

    John P. Murtha

    Guests of the Ayatollah

    Mark Bowden

    Without Precedent: Inside the 9/11 Commission

    Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton

    America Back on Track

    Senator Edward Kennedy

    Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq

    T. Christian Miller

    The Untied States of America: Polarization, Fracturing, and Our Future

    Juan Enrique

    An Inconvenient Truth

    Al Gore

  • David Cowhig

    Anatol Lieuwen’s America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism Oxford 2003 is an exposition of the history and psychology of American nationalism. Lieuwen sees the US divided between a optimistic nationalism and a resentful national chauvinism. Lieuwen is more critical of the latter, which he identifies with the Republican Party (which he calls the american nationalist party) than the former. Lieuwen is a Research Fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C.

  • nother

    “I’m not sure if any of the books were written by people of color.”

    katemcshane I agree, we should at the very least add Cornell West’s book “Democracy Matters”

  • jdyer: “Who is John La Rue and what is his relation to OSR?”

    I’m one of Open Source’s fall interns — it’s taken a while to start posting on my own. I have written a few features, which were at the time posted under Greta or Brendan’s name (with an explanatory note). Most recently, I posted about the RNC ad in the Tennessee Senate race. Glad to be here, and looking forward to more discussion.

  • JDyer: “This, btw, is the most idiosyncratic list I have ever seen.”

    Is this really a surprise? The list was compiled from the recommendations of seven different people. How can it not be “idiosyncratic?” Anyway, we like idiosyncracy, don’t we?

  • Ben

    Striking that there is little or nothing on an environmental topic here?

  • Katherine

    Ben: You’re right. We did try hard in the afternoon scramble to find both a scientific and an environmental voice, but unfortunately it didn’t work out in time.

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  • OliverCranglesParrot

    My personal favorite commentary on modern politics:

    Being There By Jerzy Kosinski

  • EnglishIan in France

    I do agree with Ben that it’s pretty scary that not one guest, or OSR voice, could be found to recommend some reading on climate change. One moment I sense the USA is at a tipping point of understanding on this issue, then a show like this. Very frightening.

    And ‘an afternoon scramble’ really can’t stand unquestioned as an excuse not to find such a reading recommendation. It was able to find Virgil and Thucydides; for a moment I thought we were going to have Paul Kennedy.

    And China, Russia, India and Brazil? Surely American Democrat leaders might find it handy being a little up to speed on these powerhouses. Hopefully, with some Shakespeare, Tolstoy and Dostoevesky all will work out fine, and at least we got Russia covered.

  • hurley

    Ben & Englishman: Several environmental books were recommended on the original thread (i.e. the thread to the show). Mine was:

    Man and Nature; Or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action, by the great Vermont polymath George Perkins Marsh (1864), “the first book to attack the American myth of the superabundance and inexhaustibility of the earth.” What could be more timely? An extraordinary book by an extraordinary man.