Books to know


Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny.  Snyder, a Yale historian, says our slide toward tyranny has happened before.  It is up to us to stop it.

Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.   Your conscience is your guide.

Jane Mayer‘s Dark Money.  The bible for how the Right and a group of billionaires has stolen our country.

Malcolm Nance’s   The Plot to Hack America   How the Russians with the complicity of Donald Trump hacked the American democratic process.

George Orwell‘s 1984   In case, like me, you were staring at that blond across the room and didn’t pay attention when you read it in high school.  Orwell was talking about us, now.

Hannah Arendt’s  The Origins of Totalitarianism   The most articulate analysis of totalitarianism.

Neville Shute‘s On the Beach.   In case the possibility of nuclear winter doesn’t concern you.  Shute was a cutting edge scientist in the day as well as a great writer. 

Rachel Carson‘s The Silent Spring.   People destroying the environment is nothing new.  Carson gave the wake up call in the ’60s.  Problem is, people haven’t woken up.

Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America.  A Fascist alternative.

Adam Hochschild‘s King Leopold’s Ghost.  Included here in case you are unaware of people’s history of exploitation and greed.  A great read too, but a good place to start if you have been feeling complacent about our essential goodness.

Richard P. Feynman‘s  “Surely You’re Joking, Mr.  Feynman!”   A fun read – written with Ralph Leighton.  But important because we seem to have lost touch with the nature of critical thinking.  Thinking is what Feynman is about.  Treat yourself.

Jenny Uglow’s  The Lunar Men:  Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World.  What do we mean when we talk about enlightenment?  Read Uglow’s life-changing book about England in the 1760s – one of the all time great reads.

Robert Caro‘s  The Power Broker.   Caro’s series on Lyndon Johnson is also powerful and insightful but his expose of Robert Moses in New York is unparalleled as a lesson in how power is exercised.  Important because we are in a  power struggle.

William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.  Bill Shirer, along with Ed Murrow, was among the great journalists of the 20th Century.  They both knew that a journalist doesn’t need to spin.  All that is required is to shine light on evil and the evil will speak for itself.

Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  Know your enemy.  My suspicion is that Donald Trump sleeps with a copy under his pillow and peruses it for his next tweet.  It’s Hitler’s bible for how to undermine, take control of, and consume a society.

Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here   Lewis being prescient.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All be Feminists.   The meaning of feminism in the modern world.

Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler’s Fail Safe.    For that nuclear nightmare you’ve been misssing.