Book Club

Power Reading: Nominate a Book for President Obama

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Books Viewers Recommended President Obama Read Before His First Term in 2008
Four years ago on Bill Moyers Journal, Bill asked viewers to send in book recommendations for President-Elect Barack Obama. Thousands of you sent in suggestions and Bill enjoyed reading the many thoughtful e-mails about novels, poetry, biographies and books about history, politics, and other subjects. He dedicated air time on a subsequent Journal episode to excerpt the best emails, which included recommendations for Naomi Klein‘s The Shock Doctrine, Howard Zinn‘s The People’s History of the United States, Barbara Ehrenreich‘s Nickel and Dimed, Al Gore’s Assault on Reason (The Inconvenient Truth) and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals. (You can view the entire list at the Journal archive website.)

We know President Obama took you up on at least one of them. Some of you may recall that he was inspired by Goodwin’s book that described Lincoln’s selection of a presidential cabinet as he was putting together his own, choosing former presidential rivals Joe Biden as vice president and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

So we’re asking again: what book would you like to see President Obama read before he takes the oath of office for the second time? Share your nominations below or on Facebook, and Bill will share his with you by the end of the year.

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  • grandma

    The Big Con which is the only book that explains why Republicans are still getting almost 50% of the vote…

  • Strawman411

    “Naomi Klein‘s The Shock Doctrine, Howard Zinn‘s The People’s History of the United States, Barbara Ehrenreich‘s Nickel and Dimed”

    Interesting. Those three would have made my top-five list for Mr. Obama. As it is a trilogy I’m kinda cheating, but I’d add Chalmers Johnson’s “Blowback” books:

  • William S.

    Debt: The First 5000 Years, by David Graeber.

    I suppose I should moderate my recommendation to accord with Obama’s conservative propensities, and aim to move him slightly to the “left” by suggesting something flattering in its moderate progressivism. However, I think a long shot is better, and “Debt,” in (1) calling for an old school debit jubilee, and (2) undermining the entire ideological structure which underpins arguments in support of “free market” capitalism, is certainly a solid hail mary.

    Additionally, the author’s academic expertise and activist credentials in the global justice movement and Occupy Wall Street might make him an ideal candidate for an interview (insofar as I know anything about interviews, which I … don’t).

  • Ivan

    The Power of Myth with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.

    This written version of the PBS special delves deeply into the nature of the United States ideal in the section, “Myth and the Modern World.” Campbell explains how the United States is a model for other countries in that it’s greatest gift to people is it is the “first nation in the world that was ever established on the basis of reason instead of simply warfare.”

    The founding fathers of this country knew something perhaps we have all forgotten as explained by Campbell, “These were learned men… we haven’t had men of that quality in politics very much. It’s an enormous good fortune for our nation that that cluster of gentlemen (i.e. Washington, Jefferson, Adams) had the power and were in a position to influence events at that time.”

    Campbell ultimately says that our country was found on the ideals of reason (and freedom of course too) , not warfare. The text in this section goes even deeper than this. In the rest of the book, Campbell retells great mythic stories, and how myths across the world communicate to people mystical, social, and individual concerns.

  • Scott C Schuck

    The ‘one’ book for Pres. Obama – and all of us. “The Gardens of Democracy-A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy and the Role of Government” – Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer (Hanauer is one of the ‘1%’!)

    Praise from Jonathan Haidt, author of “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion”

    “If you’re looking for a way forward out of America’s dangerous gridlock, read this wonderful book.”

  • Chester P.

    I’d def recommend “Escaping Revolution” By David Rapaport.This book doesn’t only talk about our current society but actually brings up a new thoughtful way of alternative social system, all in an action packed novel. This is a fairly short book with a big inspiring idea.

  • Anonymous

    I recommend Our Stolen Future. I gave this book to Governor Patrick, when I met him this summer, and asked that he pass it on to the President, but I do not know whether he was able to do so. I also sent this important book to Elizabeth Warren, and, soon after, she declared her support of the Safe Chemicals Act. The author is Dr. Theo Colborn, endocrine disruption expert.

  • adw

    I have wishful thinking that this president would take a GIANT progressive step and tackle issues like poverty and injustice.

    I would recommend ” the New Jim Crow-Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander

    ” The Silenced Majority” by Amy Goodman and Dennis Moynihan

    I would suggest he not to think of these as only “Black” issues but of the greater impact on the society as a whole.

  • anon too

    Sheila Bair’s “Bull by the Horns”. Trying to keep it simple because the financial issues are blocking so much progress across the board.

  • Tom Kane

    Lots of good suggestions so far. Howard Zinn, Naomi Klein..I am looking forward to her new book on climate change. I think I would have to recommend David Cay Johnston’s, The Fine Print. I believe the President, as smart as he is, is rather naive. Capitalism has always been about getting money out of our pocket, but at least there was a product. Too often modern capitalism is bent on figuring out how to get money from people without giving much in return at all.

    The President also needs to read some of the more recent books on climate change. McKibben’s Eaarth, Parenti’s Tropic of Chaos or David Orr’s Down to the Wire might inspire him to more significant action as we are looking at the greatest threat humanity has faced.

    Finally I am reading Juan Gonzalez’s book Harvest of Empire in adds to Howard Zinn’s picture of United States History by taking an extensive and comprehensive look at US policy towards our neighbors and the results of this policy

  • Marion

    David Hawkins book: Power vs. Force at first glance seems an unlikely choice. Yet upon further reflection this particular book is rather a brilliant suggestion. Dr. Hawkins gives us a simple technique along with critical analysis for discovering what is in service to life, (true power,) and what exploits life in service to an individual or an organization, (force.) The difference between statesmen, (power,) and politicians, (force,) is clearly laid-out. This book helps the reader understand underlying and invisible attractor fields and move in the direction of creating positive, unifying, life enhancing changes. An entire chapter is devoted to the political arena. It is worth reading and rereading.

  • Scott Phillip Hedlin

    The Curse of Lono by Hunter S. Thompson would make him realize his choices are really much simpler than those of Gonzo journalists. If he’d stop any attempt to create a sense of mythic fiction around his policies it would require us to respond to them in a much more active and direct fashion.

  • fadein

    “Coyote Warrior: One man, three tribes, and the trial that forged a nation” – This is a compelling story about the birth of the nation, evolution of western law out of the Middle Ages, the natural history of the Missouri River, merging into the socio-history of seven generations of the Mandan family that took care of Lewis and Clark in the winter of 1804-05…a sweeping saga like few others. Finalist for the Pulitzer, National Book Award, and the ABA’s Silver Gavel Award.

  • Texsbill Gran

    anything written by noreena hertz; ” so rich, so poor” by peter edelman; ” the reckoning” by michael moran. happy holidays bill, staff, & followers :)

  • jcaimbridge

    Lawrence Lessig’s “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It”

    The author is/was a friend of Obama’s, and the book actually has a chapter almost solely dedicated to criticizing Obama–almost calling out to him and asking why his former devotion to removing corruption from congress disappeared after the 2008 election. If he reads it, perhaps he might understand why almost every bit of legislation that him and most Americans back is eviscerated, reduced to piecemeal, or riddled with special interest favors/loopholes (e.g. the ACA/Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, any meaningful regulation to mitigate global warming, it goes on and on) by those same special interests via their favorable position of being politicians’ only effective means of campaign funding (i.e. what leads to winning over 90% of the time). He might come to understand that just “playing the game” and getting by through “compromise” is actually harmful in itself; ultimately there is no net favorable outcome for the American public in this sort of system.

    But this is all assuming he does indeed want to eliminate crony capitalism and prevent the moneyed special interests from dictating/bending policy (certain behavior of his makes this questionable).

  • BrianK, Honolulu HI

    “Blue Collar Intellectuals” by Daniel J. Flynn, 2011.
    Like chili with waffles. Skinny book. On people.
    “Ratification” by Pauline Maier, 2010.
    Fat book on ratifying the Constitution. They wrote funny then. What they accomplished, is amazing.

  • Doug Selander

    He should read “Truman” by David McCullough

  • Doug Selander

    Truman was honest with himself and his beliefs as President. He did not play politics.
    Fired McArthur, dropped the A-bomb to save lives…
    A President that lived and stood by his principals – read this book!

  • Susie Madrak

    Deer Hunting with Jesus, by Joe Bageant.

  • nineinchbride

    Book One of the Nine Inch Bride series: Conundrum. He may learn why being a capitalist pig oinking in chorus with the Republicans on budget cuts and austerity will mark him in history as the worst Democratic party sellout.

  • Anonymous

    “How Would A Patriot Act” by Glenn Greenwald. It is obvious Mr. Obama has no idea.

  • Lee

    I recommend that the President and his entire cabinet read “The Short American Century” by Andrew Bacevich, as well as this excellent paper from Woodrow Wilson Intl. Center — “A National Strategic Narrative” by Mr. Y

  • Anonymous

    American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

  • Stephanie

    I recommend “The End of Growth” by Richard Heinberg.

  • Alexander of Texas

    I strongly recommend that President Obama read Hedrick Smith’s “Who Stole the American Dream?”, about the systematic dismantling of the American middle-class.

  • Anonymous

    *Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt* by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco. I would also recommend that he set aside a few hours to re-watch some episodes of *The Wire* to remind himself that the current sorry state of America is no accident. Not only is that HBO classic again timely in terms of gun violence, abject poverty, and institutional dysfunction, it will also remind Obama of the places in the US he avoided like the plague during the election.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent choice.

  • David Scott

    AMERICAN THEOCRACY by Kevin Phillips

  • Derwyn Holder

    Hos own book

  • Roger Rydberg

    He knows what he is talking about!

    The book – “The Global Brain Awakens” by Peter Russell

  • starflyte

    The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy by S. Mettler, U of Chicago press. Most Americans have no clue how much government helps them ( such help a good thing mostly) and how congress has allowed business and interest groups to get the money instead to help indirectly ( bad thing mostly): think student bank loans today vs. G.I. Bill in the past or Pell Grants today. One is government guaranteed financing and profit for banks that is not recognized a government help; the other a treasury payment to individuals or educational institutions.

  • Mark Pollock

    The death and life of the great American school system by Diane Ravitch: A former proponent of the charter school, assessment-heavy approach to school reform favored by Arne Duncan makes the case for why she (along with many, many others) was dead wrong. She goes through the research and looks at the famous ‘success’ stories and discovers that economics have far more to do with school performance than anything else, that charter schools are no panacea, and that the testing craze has led to gutted curricula across the country. Instead of Race to the Top’s focus on wrong-headed metrics, we need a focus on designing strong curricula, supporting teachers, and redirecting money wasted on excessive high-stakes testing to antipoverty programs.

  • Jeff J

    Bad Money also by Phillips.

  • David Hartsough

    I very highly recommend: Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan. After studying 323 violent and nonviolent major movements and struggles over the past 110 years, they found that the nonviolent movements were twice as likely to be successful and much more likely to end up in democratic societies and not revert to civil war or dictatorship. If the US understood and acted on this understanding, we could save trillions of dollars in wasted money on wars and the pentagon and be much more secure and have trillions of $ for meeting pressing needs here in the US and also cut the deficit.

  • Greatgrandma

    I wish he would read “Winner-Take-All Politics. It’s explains why we are in the fix, that we are.

  • Chesley Elam

    I would urge the President, and all leaders, to read Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind.” I do not believe it to be the panacea that many do, however, I think it is an excellent starting point for thinking about how to negotiate rampant partisanship.

  • Ardi Hominid

    “Supercapitalism” by Robert Reich and “Plutocrats” by Chrystia Freeland. Robert Reich’s book shows that higher taxes on the rich makes for a strong middle-class and upper-class. We’re all connected. Income tax is really an investment that creates profits, dividends, and higher investment values for the rich while increasing the middle-class. It’s a win win for all. What comes around, goes around. Chrystia Freeland is a very experienced and talented writer.

  • Jack Harmell

    I would like President Obama to read Not-Two Is Peace by Adi Da. As Ervin Laszlo says in the Introduction: A unique and radical message oriented to meet the global state of emergency through a new modus operandi, “the working-presumption of prior unity”.

  • 5cottBrown

    Lawrence Lessig’s Republic Lost.

  • youhaveatoughjob Sir

    existential psychotherapy by irvin yalom or staring at the sun also by dr yalom

  • Pamela Chaddock

    Thank you, Bill, for offering this opportunity. And thank you for most ably representing sanity in American discourse.

    I would highly recommend for political wisdom the insights from Jacob Needleman’s brilliant The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders

    For cosmic perspective and guidance I highly recommend The Urantia Book, published 1955.

    Pamela Chaddock

  • Neil

    Robert Baer’s “The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower”

  • Anonymous

    “1984” and watch the movie “The Matrix”

  • Anonymous

    “Justice for Some” by Glenn Greenwald

  • Jan Hilton

    “Healing the Heart of Democracy” by Parker Palmer.

  • Don

    Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis by Richard Heinberg – all of the economics, amendments, taxes, military, education, conservatism, liberalism, modernity or moderation makes no difference in the world if my grandchildren don’t have a habitable planet to live on.

  • patientman

    He only read one? Maybe re-suggesting Naomi Klein‘s The Shock Doctrine, should be put back on his list. Things haven’t changed on the Republican front line and its affront to the middle class in carrying out Milton Friedman’s continuous assault. Maybe it should be pushed back under his nose for further consideration.

  • Jim Simons

    Obama should read: Daysof Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges. Everyone should read it!

    Jim Simons
    Austin, Tx

  • Anonymous

    How about George Kaplan’s book ” The Revenge of Geography.”

  • Jamie Edmonds

    Anyone who claims to care for the economy should read Federico Pistono’s “Robots will steal your job, but that’s OK”. It’s even going to be available for free on his website in a few months (after he’s recouped expenses from early sales). I just heard a fascinating interview/podcast with the author on the latest Zeitgeist Blog Talk Radio from December 19th and he admits his book is already outdated (Foxconn has already received the first installments of robots to automate the production of that shiny thing that sits on your desk, your lap or in your pocket to replace the increasingly expensive factory slaves, whose increasing suicides over horrific working conditions are causing so much bad press) . . . which then proves his point beautifully. If you don’t understand the concept of logarithmic growth/progression he lays it out simply and it is profound (you can catch him at Tedx in Vienna as well). Any leader making economic decisions needs to wake up and understand the increasingly rapidly changing world we now inhabit or the relevance President’s second term will be destroyed by an ever more rapidly changing world. Evolve, or go the way of the GOP.

  • Dana

    Richard Maybury’s book is required reading for ALL politicians: “Justice, What Justice?”

  • molly

    Power concedes nothing by Connie Rice

  • Rollo

    I invite the President to read “Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Humanism”, by Paul Kurtz.
    It has been around since 1988 and is a good basis for a full life.

  • Rita Tanos

    Napoleon Hill’s magnum opus “Think and Grow Rich” is my first suggestion. During the great depression this book was first published in 1937 and helped countless people find not only financial riches, but also riches of life, passion and joy. Money and material things are essential for freedom of body and mind, but the greatest of all riches can be evaluated only in terms of lasting friendships, harmonious family relationships, sympathy and understanding between business associates and all people, respect for all life which includes animals and our living planet earth, and introspective harmony which brings peace of mind measurable only in spiritual values. The second book I suggest is “Little Buddha Dog” – A short Love story about a woman’s best friend and their last day together. If you have ever loved or cared for an animal then Little Buddha Dog will touch your heart. Written through the voice of Countess, a small dog whose heart is full of joy, she recounts the blessings of unconditional love shared with her Mum, and their last day together. Sometimes we need a breather in our reading that allows us a few minutes of spaciousness to lighten up from the more serious books we are engrossed in and just let our hearts be touched. I think President Obama and our First Lady, Michelle will be inspired and touched by both of these books.

  • Elizabeth Wiley

    I would tell him to read “Could this be Magic” because every book sold helps veteran housing pilots come one day closer to being built for blind, brain injured and PTSD vets, first responders and their families.

    I would tell him to read “Carousel Horse” because it is about equine therapy and how successful it is for many disabled people.

  • Rita Tanos

    Napoleon Hill’s magnum opus “Think and Grow Rich” is my first suggestion. During the great depression this book was first published in 1937 and helped countless people find not only financial riches, but also riches of life, passion and joy. Money and material things are essential for freedom of body and mind, but the greatest of all riches can be evaluated only in terms of lasting friendships, harmonious family relationships, sympathy and understanding between business associates and all people, respect for all life which includes animals and our living planet earth, and introspective harmony which brings peace of mind measurable only in spiritual values. I also suggest “Little Buddha Dog” – A short love story about a woman’s best friend and their last day together. If you have ever loved or cared for an animal then Little Buddha Dog will touch your heart. Written through the voice of Countess, a small dog whose heart is full of joy, she recounts the blessings of unconditional love shared with her Mum, and their last day together. Sometimes we need a breather in our reading that allows us a few minutes of spaciousness to lighten up from the more serious books we are engrossed in and just let our hearts be touched. I think President Obama and our First Lady, Michelle will be inspired and touched by both of these books.

  • Sylvia Haskvitz

    Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. If this consciousness and these skills were embraced and practiced the US would be a country that the world would look to our quality of connections, empathic presence and people meeting their needs in cooperation with others not at their expense.

  • Rosemary Graham-Gardner

    The Population Bomb a best-selling book written by Stanford University Professor Paul R. Ehrlich and his wife, Anne Ehrlich (who was uncredited), in 1968.

    Too Many People,
    Too Much Consumption
    Four decades after his controversial book, The Population Bomb, scientist Paul Ehrlich still believes that overpopulation — now along with overconsumption — is the central environmental crisis facing the world. And, he insists, technological fixes will not save the day.

  • bernard katz

    Lincoln certainly deserves attention, and his life and presidency offer many “lessons” if you will. And Ms Godwin’s book is/was an absolute “must” on/about Lincoln and the specific subject she addresses. And “worthy” of Pres. Obama’s attention
    But, Mr. President, also direct your attention for a moment to “The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness.” (by Harlow Unger) A superb account of Monroe, with faults and virtues, that so few of us really know about. (OK–my “ignorance” on this Founding Father.) Read it, Mr. President, and I’m sure you will derive lessons that history can relate, that can bear on today’s events and dilemmas. Perhaps offer a springboard for your own actions. And help place Pres. Monroe on equal or near equal footing with Lincoln, and especially our early political figures!
    I recommend the Unger book to one and all: “Plain” citizen as well as President.
    (Fully disclosure: No way connected with publisher, author–and certainly not descended from the Monroe family. (weak joke, there)

  • M. Lotz

    I suggest President Obama read Alvin Toffler’s book the “The Third Wave” As a futurist, Toffler told us back in 1980 there would come a time when we would have an election to decide/choose between the money and power of the second wave industiralists vs. the third wave information age. President Obama just won that election and is now poised to lead us into the Third wave information age. His choices are crucial for the future of the whole planet.

    “The Third Wave” makes startling sense of the violent changes now battering our world. Toffler explains how everything would get so big it would HAVE TO FAIL.. Where the rate of change would be so fast we can’t keep up. I believe we have arrived at that moment and Toffler gives us some ideas about how we got here, what could happen if we make the wrong choices and what could happen if we make the right choices. Two very different pictures offering sage advice for all of us for either scenario.

    PS. Al Gore was one of his students which is why he spent his vice-presidency making sure the internet stayed free and open! One of Toffler’s main tenets was if the information super-highway (the word “internet” was not yet coined) became bought off as part of the money game, the planet as well as the masses of people would be doomed. So every time you get on the free and open internet, you have Al Gore to thank for being a great student who paid attention and then doing a wonderful job when he was in the right position for such an important mission!

    The Third Wave is a great read, explains a lot of todays issues and is very timely for this very moment and for whatever is to come.


    M. Lotz

  • MLK and FDR are needed now!

    “How The Rich Are Destroying The Earth” by Herve Kempf.

    I recommend this book (among so many vitally important books) for President Obama to read because 1) unless we save our beloved, life-giving planet very, very soon, all of our other goals in life will be crushed by increasingly worse climate catastrophes. 2) President Obama and his administrators have almost entirely wasted four crucially needed years, have actively sabotaged global negotiations to slow global warming, and desperately need to make saving our planet the #1 priority — with a “race to the moon” and “World War Two” types of national and global “all-out efforts!” 3) this book criticizes and challenges President Obama’s horribly unjust and destructive neoliberal ideology, alliances, and policies, and “hopefully” can make his consciousness a little more concerned with social, economic, and environmental justice, equality, and humaneness. 4) similarly, this book criticizes and challenges the national and transnational financial, corporate, imperialistic, and militaristic-spy oligarchies, plutocracies, and stealthy cabals that have wrongfully taken over control of most of the “former” democracies and representative governments in the world. and 5) this book (unlike many other important books) is a mere 132 pages (including the end notes), and so it can be read in one sitting (or just a few) by anyone who is busy with many concerns, as President Obama is.

  • bill lavery

    For the clearest answer and voice in decades, Unaccountable by Marty Makary, M.D. states a critical and honorable path to healthcare responsibility and sanity.

  • Don Matheson

    Eaarth, by Bill McKibben is still waiting to be implemented, which in addition to being a long term investment in preventing disaster that cannot be fixed, provides direction on WHICH jobs are worth public support…. roads are counter-productive.

  • Janet Brown-Zaso

    I am always interested in your choices, Bill. “Command of Office” will be on my list. I hope it will also be on President Obama’s.

  • Steve Fredman

    Steve Fredman • a few seconds ago

    Flag as inappropriate
    Obama should read “THE TROUBLED HEALTH DOLLAR” a realistic look at 60 years of medicine focusing on one area, then another. the chapters on big pharma and health insurance were guided by shows hosted by Bill Moyers. Health Care was one of Obama’s achievements. and he understands it… sort of. but he should read the book

  • Steve Fredman

    Steve Fredman •
    Obama should read “THE TROUBLED HEALTH DOLLAR” a realistic look at 60 years of medicine focusing on one area, then another. the chapters on big pharma and health insurance were guided by shows hosted by Bill Moyers. Health Care was one of Obama’s achievements. and he understands it… sort of. but he should read the book

  • GwenEllyn Nordquist

    “Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angel Davis. These 116 pages bore to the heart of current cultural dynamics. Every thinking person should loose one night’s sleep courtesy of Angela.

  • lsm

    The Story of Us Humans, from Atoms to Today’s Civilization

  • Linda Rugg

    Tom Diaz’ The Last Gun. A reasoned and detailed argument against the NRA’s hand-in-glove work with gun manufacturers and the combat-arming of American civilians.

  • CBReynolds

    Colin Woodard’s “American Nations: A History of The Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America” will give the President insight into the fractious congress. And why placating and compromise isn’t an especially good strategy.

  • Ken Jay

    “Liberty in the Age of Terror” A. C. Grayling

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the great reading list derived from the comment section. Thanks, too, for the interview of Tony Kushner.. I would like to suggest Amory Lovins’ Reinventing Fire: Bold business solutions for the new energy era, or anything else he has written. Have you done an interview with him that I missed? If not, please try to schedule him.

  • Janet Thompson

    I would urge President Obama to read both books by Charles Mann, 1491 and 1493, to have some real historical perspective on our lives in the Americas and why we live the way we do. We often make the same mistakes again and again, and it helps to know where it all got started. American history and anthropology are updated and greatly elucidated in Mann’s volumes, and our usual glorification of our English roots takes a good knocking in 1493.

  • buddd

    i’d love for Pres. Obama to read Medea Benjamin’s “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control”.

    Obama is killing innocent people in many places around the world (Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan…) often lying about who the drone’s missiles actually killed; naming an alleged Al Queda member who was not actually there. Hundreds of children have been slaughtered while playing, or eating or attending school. Even if someone was killed who actually was suspected of anti- American activity (as Obama sees it) they are denied indictment & trial; they are denied jury, judge – all those human rights – they are even denied the opportunity to surrender. Obama plays all those roles – and executioner.

    Those being targeted and killed could not possibly be “an imminent threat” to Americans, the only legal reason for preemptive strikes. In Pakistan, for instance (where i recently was) there is little electricity, almost no transportation, low literacy and, needless to say – no transcontinental weaponry. Where’s the imminent threat? Perhaps if Obama read Medea’s brilliant book, maybe he’d reconsider his humanity and STOP this illegal, immoral and unconscionable program of murder-by-drome.

  • buddd

    CLARIFICATION PLEASE: i mean to describe the areas of Pakistan targeted by drones – i.e. Waziristan and other tribal areas. There are PLENTY of weapons, literacy, transportation, and electricity in the urban areas of Pakistan.

    thanks. buddd

  • Nicholas Galaday

    Here’s my suggested reading for President Obama for this go ’round: “The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science-
    and Reality”. I was surprised to learn there are some good uses for that type of mind; consider Sir Winston Churchill.

  • Bob Bickers

    “The End of Growth” by Richard Heinberg. So get used to it!

  • budddmd

    Medea Benjamin’s “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control”

    Obama is responsible for ongoing drone murders in several countries (that we know
    of). He’s called almost ten times the number of strikes that Bush did
    in Pakistan. Children are killed – hundreds have been documented – in
    the tribal areas of Pakistan (where i recently visited). Obama denies
    these people any chance of an indictment, trial, jury or judge – he
    claims all of those positions for himself – all of those, and
    executioner. These Pakistanis, 98% of whom have been shown in multiple
    studies to be innocent of any anti-American activities, often live with
    as many as 6 drones circling overhead, never knowing when death from the
    sky will strike; never knowing what criterion are used for selecting
    targets. Many never heard of America before this war of terror began.

    They can NOT possibly be an “imminent threat” to the USA – many people in
    the tribal areas (such as Waziristan) of Pakistan, live without access
    to electricity, transport, literacy, and certainly transcontinental
    weaponry. Thus, the ONLY legal reason for a “preemptive strike” does
    not exist.

    Maybe if Obama took the time to read Medea’s book,
    he’d change his mind about killing by remote control, change his mind
    about drones. After all, the New York Times recently called drone
    killing the most effective recruitment tool Al Queda has – surpassing
    their previous best tool, Guantanamo.

    Mr. President, please read this book, and reconsider. Just like the children in Connecticut, the hundreds of babies and young children DOCUMENTED to have been killed by our drones in Pakistan had “their whole lives in front of them”, too.

  • Nicholas Galaday

    Thank you for that reminder. “Grow Rich with Peace of Mind” was a companion piece by Napoleon Hill which also helped shape my thinking. I might add a not totally unrelated piece about how to reason, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.

  • Anonymous

    Medea Benjamin’s “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control”

    Obama is responsible for drone murders in several countries (that we know
    of). He’s called almost ten times the number of strikes that Bush did
    in Pakistan. Children are killed – hundreds have been documented – in
    the tribal areas of Pakistan (where i recently visited). Obama denies
    these people any chance of an indictment, trial, jury or judge – he
    claims all of those positions for himself – all of those, and
    executioner. These Pakistanis, 98% of whom have been shown in multiple
    studies to be innocent of any anti-American activities, often live with
    as many as 6 drones circling overhead, never knowing when death from the
    sky will strike; never knowing what criterion are used for selecting
    targets. Many never heard of America before this war of terror began.

    They can NOT possibly be an “imminent threat” to the USA – many people in
    the tribal areas (such as Waziristan) of Pakistan, live without access
    to electricity, transport, literacy, and certainly transcontinental
    weaponry. Thus, the ONLY legal reason for a “preemptive strike” does
    not exist.

    Maybe if Obama took the time to read Medea’s book,
    he’d change his mind about killing by remote control, change his mind
    about drones. After all, the New York Times recently called drone
    killing the most effective recruitment tool Al Queda has – surpassing
    their previous best tool, Guantanamo.

    Mr. President, please read this book, and reconsider. Just like the children in Connecticut, the hundreds of babies and
    young children DOCUMENTED to have been killed by our drones in Pakistan
    had “their whole lives in front of them”, too.

  • Tavernacle

    David Bohm’s “On Dialogue.” It is a quick and easy read that should also be required for every member of Congress. Dialogue is a nearly lost art, subjected to win-lose discussion and debate, but it is the key to shared understanding and identifying mutual interests that allow people to loosen the hold on their precious positions. I have seen it result in significant progress in collective bargaining and in whole communities.

  • Ed Mokurai Cherlin

    Mass Murder in the United States: A History by Grant Duwe

  • Rebecca Smith

    “The Anatomy of Peace” or “Leadership and Self Deception”
    Arbinger Institute

    An amazing but simple way to reframe how we view each other….enemies, friends, colleagues, constituents, partners.

  • Blast Dorrough

    Abraham Lincoln once proclaimed: “I never tire reading Paine.” The great Lincoln was of course making reference to Thomas Paine, the most influential Founder on all others from all walks of life. Paine’s influence is seen in the Declaration of Independence. By definition and in letter and spirit the U.S. Founding Document affirms Deism as the true theology and all man-contrived religioncraft as false theology. In “The Age of Reason—The Complete Edition”, a brilliant composition on the true theology, Paine wrote: “THE WORD OF GOD IS THE CREATION WE BEHOLD and it is in THIS WORD, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter that God speaketh universally to man….It is only in the CREATION that all our ideas and conceptions of a WORD OF GOD can unite. The Creation speaks a universal language, independently of human speech or human language, multiplied and various as they may be. It is an ever-existing original, which every man can read. It cannot be forged; it cannot be counterfeited; it cannot be lost; it cannot be altered; it cannot be suppressed. It does not depend upon the will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all nations and to all worlds; and this WORD OF GOD reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God….That which is now called natural philosophy, embracing the whole circle of science, of which astronomy occupies the chief place, is the study of the works of God, and of the power and wisdom of God in His works, and is the true theology.” In the “Rights of Man” Paine explains the purpose of our constitutionally mandated “Republican Form of government.” Paine inspired the American Revolution via “Common Sense” and closed his argument for armed conflict via “Four Letters On Interesting Subjects” written between May 22 and July 2, 1776, just two days prior to the Declaration of Independence on July 4. In Letter III, Paine branded the evil alliance of King, Corporations and demonic Christiancrafters as “species of useless pomp.” I recommend the entire literary works of Paine, the noted for starters.

  • Max August

    “The Momentum of Folly” by Robert P. Johnson
    A novel that’s filled with facts about the state of the
    world’s population. The protagonist in this story
    is a virologist at the CDC.

  • Carol S.

    Colin Woodard argues in “American Nations – A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America” that there never was one America but several. Woodard provides us with a revelatory take on America’s identities and how they’ve shaped our past and are molding our future. If he’s not done so already, I would hope that our POTUS will give this book a read.

  • William

    Tell Obama to read the bible, and quit supporting the murder of babies in the womb, because you have to kill a baby to keep it from being born regardless of what period of growth it’s in. Tell him that God gave the penalty of death for homosexuality, which is an abomination to Him. Tell him to concern himself with righteous decision making, not the stripping of what little money old people have and what they need to survive; These same old people have spent their entire lives paying into social security, and medicare to support those who have hardly paid anything into it at all (or they have paid nothing at all.) Everyone acts like old people are freeloaders who are asking for a handout; are they kidding in this treatment, because if they are, they deserve no consideration at all: not now or in the world to come. Tell him to get off the kick of redistributing the wealth, and establishing socialized medicine, and ell him to humble himself before Chirst, and our Father in heaven, and do the job he should be doing, because one day he will answer for the dispictable things he stands for. This liberal, usually smirking President is a precursor to the antichrist or he is someone who will go down into history for having destroyed the United states of America. Some will not agree, but the records he has set “in the reverse” of what they should be will be his legacy: record unemployment, and just about everything else you can think of. Oh well, what can be done in the face of ignorance. Doesn’t everyone understand that it is the reason of murder, not the method that is the problem? Years ago when Christ was a part of the family, or at least discipline was a foundation of learning, that not one case of mass murder was ever heard of. We will continue, as a nation, to watch pornography daily, engage in every kind of depraved sex, partake in any and all kinds of drugs, and do our best to follow unrighteouness until we are a lot worst than we are today. When we are on our knees, will we look to Christ then; I know one thing, and that is that everyone will bow a knee to Christ before it is all over, or at least that is what the word of God says, and I count on what He says.

  • Dan ziemianski

    I think the president must read [Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think And What We Can Do About It] by: Jane Healy

    The title says it all. It was an eye opener for me as a parent.

  • Steve King

    Tom Paine’s “Common Sense.” In far worse times than these, it gave a clear moral compass and recognized that doing the right thing is often not only difficult but may actually seem impossible. Reportedly Washington had it read to his troops and it helped keep them from leaving before the battle of Trenton.To paraphrase Paine “The NRA like hell is not easily conquered.”

    Also, although it’s not a book, I’d wish the President would pull out a film of Hubert Humphrey’s speech calling for a civil rights plank at the Democratic National Convention in 1948. There was a time when there were leaders in this country who felt that there are issues that transcend politics and that it the role of leaders to lead not follow what the polls show.

  • Robert Gasper

    Before we go over the fiscal cliff with 28 years and over 100 billion spent on Aids, it is worth reading Peter Duesberg’s “Inventing The AIDS Virus”. Peter Duesberg is professor of molecular and cell biology at Berkeley, a pioneer in retrovirus research, the first scientist to isolate a cancer gene, and recipient of the Outstanding Investigator Grant from the NIH. To follow up I would recommend “The AIDS War” by John Lauritsen. We are still stuck in 1984 with no solution in sight. How much more money is going to be poured down the drain. Read these and educate yourself. You don’t have to take on any college debt to do this!

  • Mr. Hope and Change — NOT

    We all “hope” that Obama is capable of “change.” If only he would read this or that book. If only he would read our emails and letters. If only he would “represent” what the American people need, want, and demand. But where is there any evidence of Obama changing and becoming more devoted to the poor, to the working class, to reducing the terrible inequality of wealth and power in the U.S., to overturning the corporate tyranny, to breaking up the too-big to-fail/too-big-to-jail Wall Street banks, to cutting our gargantuan, unnecessary, unaffordable military spending, to reducing the fascistic military-industrial complex and the imperialistic global empire, to ending the drone murders of innocent children, women, and men, to ending his personal kill lists without due process, to ending the unconstitutional NDAA law, to protecting civil liberties, to adopting single-payer national healthcare, to ending run-away healthcare costs, to making college affordable, to creating good-paying jobs, to rebuilding upward mobility and the middle class, to ending fracking, oil drilling, and nuclear power, to creating a non-carbon energy system, to saving our planet from climate destruction, and so on?

    Mr. Hope and Change has actually disillusioned me of my hope that he is capable of change. I think Obama is set in his beliefs, his goals, and his means. He is a corporatist, and a militarist. He is not going to save the planet. He is not going to save our democracy. He is not going to help the poor and the working class. But he will talk and pose and pretend that he wants to. He’s just a charming con-man.

    So I think it is futile to suggest anything to Obama.

  • Gary G

    The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry that Defined a Generation by Steven Gillon. The book is a great example of bipartisan statesmanship, putting the nation above the special interests of the far right and far left.

  • egreynolds

    The Betrayal of the American Dream by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele

  • Lois

    The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. We don’t need the Chicago economics anymore!

  • David Rain

    EARTH: THE OPERATOR’S MANUAL by Richard Alley, particularly the section on pp. 202-3 in which he discusses carbon taxes:

    “Economic optimizations typically do not outlaw CO2 emissions. Instead, they place a cost on emitting CO2 through a cap-and-trade system, or a fee-and-dividend one, or some such plan; I’ll consider carbon taxes here.

    “In order to “provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare” and do other things, governments must raise money. In the United States, various levels of government levy taxes on tobacco to raise money and to discourage smoking, so the money-raising also promotes the general welfare. Similarly, we tax alcoholic beverages to discourage drinking. And then we tax working and investing and owning things (income and property taxes), discouraging activities we like. Would we be better off taxing other “bad” things and reducing taxes on “good” things?”

    It’s time for the President to get serious about climate change, before it ends up costing everyone far more than we can afford.

  • Majesta

    “The Ascent of Humanity” and “Sacred Economics” both by Charles Eisenstein.

  • James Hufferd

    I think he should read and ponder James Hufferd’s TROUBLESOME COUNTRY.

  • Sanford Schram

    Joe Soss, Richard C. Fording, and Sanford F. Schram, Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011).

  • Jack Bellis

    “The Answer: Why Only Inherently Safe, Mini Nuclear Power Plants Can Save Our World,” by Reese Palley. Terrorism, global unrest, destruction of the environment, and global warming are all one problem: energy. Its solution, despite our best hopes for solar, wind, and similar, is the sustainable solar-created source (all energy comes from the sun) called nuclear power. There is no clean energy, only degrees of risk and consequence. We must act, and action comes first from the correct understanding.

  • Bookpedlar

    By two Israeli writers:
    1. Amira Hass, Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days & Nights in a Land Under Siege, NY, Henry Holt, 2000 (1996), PB, 379 pp. – Hass is a columnist for and also on the editorial board of Ha’aretz – the English language newspaper in Jerusalem. She lived and reported from Gaza for several years prior and during transfer of administration to the PA.. This book is beautifully written and a serious but depressing book. Drinking the Sea describes ordinary Palestinian life under occupation giving voice to doctors, housewives, taxi drivers, farmers, Fatah and Hamas members, and other Islamic leaders. She charts the early euphoria over the Oslo Accords and subsequent despair as hope gives way to unrelenting personal and economic hardship. Hass documents family and social life, as well as IDF security sweeps, the impossible blockade imposed by Israel, and Yassir Arafat’s authoritarian PA regime. She describes the flagging spirits of Gaza’s residents – a mixture of fatalism, cynicism and idealism, despair and vitality, all driven by a gift for very dark comedy.
    2. Gideon Levy, The Punishment of Gaza, NY, Verso, New Left Books, 2010, PB, 148 pp. – a collection of columns (published from 2006 to 2009) by the noted columnist of Ha’aretz, the English language newspaper in Jerusalem, during Israel’s hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip and the resulting destruction and appalling lost of more than 1,000 civilians during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2008. From 2005 – the year of Gaza’s so-called “liberation” – through to 2009, Levy tracks the development of Israel policy which abandoned the pretense of diplomacy in favor of raw military power with the ultimate aim was to deny Palestinians any chance of forming their own independent state. Punished by Israel and the Quartet of international powers for the democratic election of Hamas, Gaza has been transformed into the world’s largest open-air prison. From Gazan families struggling to cope with the random violence of Israel’s blockade and its “targeted” assassinations, to the machinations of legal experts and the continued connivance of the international community, every aspect of this ongoing tragedy is eloquently recorded and forensically analyzed. Levy’s powerful journalism shows how the brutality at the heart of Israel’s occupation of Palestine has found its most complete expression to date in the collective punishment of Gaza’s residents.

  • Joe D’Ignazio

    The Making of Americans by E.D Hirsch

  • Sarah

    “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman
    “Carry the Wind” by Terry C. Johnston
    “The Wonderful Electric Elephant” by Francis Montgomery
    “The Future of Nursing” (report) by the Institute of Medicine
    Any book written by John Muir

  • tier5for99ers

    The Anatomy of Power – John Kenneth Galbraith

  • Stanley Wesolowsky

    RECOMMENDED BOOK: Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics. A Classic.

  • Stephen Love

    With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, by Glenn Greenwald.

  • heath

    Weapons of Mass Instruction. John Taylor Gatto

  • Lyn Adamson

    Eaarth by Bill McKibben, Active Hope by Joanna Macy.

  • Karen

    “Seeing” by Jose Saragamo.

  • Karen Bernauer

    “Seeing” by Jose Saragamo

  • Pete G

    “Bull by the Horns” by Sheila Bair. We need more public servants like her.

  • Claire

    Respectfully I submit that Obama is most likely familiar with all the books listed here and I suspect he has a vast knowledge of ‘facts’ and ‘histories.’ I would offer more material for the heart–a strong heart gives one the courage to act. Any work by Thich Nhat Hahn.

  • Richard Weick

    How about “Democracy Inc.” by Sheldon S. Wolin A great examination of the current state of democracy in America.

  • Mark

    Thomas Wolff’s latest books discussing our economy and politics, and, Thom Hartmann’s, “Screwed”. These separate the humans from the republic dogs.

  • Mark

    Looking at the book list of the others, all are important. I feel better that there ARE people out there that understand just what the heck is going on, and how the average citizen is suffering for it.

  • Nelle Fastman Pingree

    Exodus: the Book of Redemption, from the Covenant & Conversation: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible series, by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

    Explains how to build a nation!!!

  • Connie Canney

    “Drone Warfare – Killing By Remote Control” by Medea Benjamin

  • GoProgressive

    “The Seventeen Solutions” by Ralph Nader, for sure…
    I so admire his thoughtful approach and outlook in our corporate dominated world!
    You are so much more “corporate minded” than you realize, and Ralph
    lets you see that there’s more to life and thinking.

  • Jana

    The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

  • Anyanwu Butler

    I recommend Louise Erdrich’s novel “The Round House” about how a rape effects an Ojibwe extended family living on a reservation in 1988. It won the National Books Award this year and deserved that award.

  • Nila Haug

    Two books for President Obama to read:
    James Autry – Choosing Gratitude: Learning to Love the Life You Have
    Oswald Chambers – My Utmost for His Highest

  • Ken Haynam

    “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough. A well-researched look at at parameters that really lead to success both in and AFTER school.

  • William

    New York Times’ Ross Douthat’s “Bad Religion: How we became a nation of heretics.”

  • Richard Fluhman

    In these troubled times, to give President Obama wisdom and perspective, I recommend he read and have on hand the Book of Mormon-Another Testament of Jesus Christ. President Obama needs His help – we all do.

  • Peggy Margoshes

    Just Around the Corner: A highly selective history of the Thirties by Robert Bendiner. This sociopolitical history of the Great Depression has many parallels to current times with the Great Recession. Bendiner’s viewpoint may be familiar, but he brings perspective, objectivity and a smart and warm sense of humor to a near-universally dark period. It can shed some much-needed light on both episodes.

  • Frank M. Hudson

    Wm. A. Henry: In Defense of Elitism

  • Lezli

    Mr. President, please read (or re-read) Walden. Help our nation “Simplify…” for the environment’s sake. Thank you!

  • Sweet Lifer

    The Price of Inequality by Joseph E. Stiglitz

  • Barbara LaValle

    Three Magic Words by US Anderson

  • C. C. Szarke

    I suggest Delicate Armor by Connie Claire Szarke, a coming-of-age family saga set in the 1950s. At the heart of the novel is a wonderful father-daughter relationship.

  • Bill Bonwitt

    Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind”. And a novel “Flight Behavior” by Barbara Kingsolver.

  • Steve Green

    I recently read “JFK and the Unspeakable” by James Douglass. Several times, I came close to tears. The archives have opened. The Kennedy relatives have spoken. There are so many lessons: how it can be vitally important to communicate with so-called “enemies”; how a decision made, without regard to political expedience, can save the world; and how dangerous it can be to defy false belief systems. Heartily recommended!

  • Cat

    I wish he would read Common Sense and Other Writings (including Agrarian Justice) by Thomas Paine.

  • Beth Ann Huntington

    Tom Huntington’s new book, “Searching for George Gordon Meade – The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg” – published Feb 2013. Why is it the victorious general in the Civil War’s pivotal battle remains largely unknown by most Americans? An entertaining read through ‘historic travel.’

  • WF Wayne

    Thomas Jefferson : The Art of Power – Jon
    Meacham –

  • Ron Talarico

    “Fire in the Dark – Making a Difference in the World” by Ron Talarico, just released.
    If you have ever asked yourself what positive impact the efforts of just one person could possibly have on the world’s innumerable and seemingly overwhelming problems, then this book is for you. Kate St. Martin worked alone as a nurse/nun, in large part without pay, making her daily rounds for more than twenty years deep inside Portland Oregon’s then-Skid-Road district, and this book recounts the lives and times of 115 of its male residents as seen through Kate’s eyes. Interspersed among the stories are 25 interview sessions between Kate and the author, 44 historical segments from the times, 6 photo galleries, an extensive glossary, and much more, including more than 50 available sound track excerpts from the original recording sessions between the author and Kate. This work puts a face on those who live on Skid Road, exploring their personalities, their thoughts and attitudes, their living conditions, their relationships, and the disease of alcoholism. Through Kate’s recollections, the reader is given rare and privileged access to the everyday lives of individuals who all too frequently have been shunned by society’s mainstream. Cutting through the objectification that is commonly applied to Skid Road and other marginalized populations, Kate’s efforts offer a model for change that is both inspirational and practical, energized by love of people, and based on the simplest of formulas: “I go from moment to moment, from request to request, following through.”

  • Katherine Walholm

    Michael Pollen’s books,
    Cosmology by R Buckminster Fuller,
    The Inner Reaches of Space by Joseph Campbell

  • alicia Otis

    The Bhagavad Gita

  • Sloppy Tomson

    Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence. This book is Lawrence of Arabia telling about conflict in the Middle East. Specific instructions for winning a conflict there, and wisdom regarding the Arabs and Islam. May I also suggest Democracy in America by Alexis d’Tocqueville? You have heard about it, Mr. President, but have you actually read it in the past 30 years. Wisdom about our roots and the roots of our American divisions.

  • John V. Lesko

    Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts congress–and a Plan to Stop It, by Lawrence Lessig.
    What single issue has any chance of uniting most of the ideological spectrum of American voters? ⎯ Our corrupt Congress. Our votes do not matter. But note the comma in the title of this book. We are not gone, just lost. We do not get the government we deserve, contrary to what Rep. Barney Frank (D- Mass.; 1981- ) implied when he blamed the voters for putting people in office who are obstructionists
    or somehow are the cause of the strident polarized condition of Congress today.
    Instead, Lessig argues convincingly that no one is to blame – it’s the system. Finally! Someone understands the sociology.

    But is this structural cause of a corrupt Congress serious enough to warrant a
    constitutional convention? What are the chances of it succeeding? Lessig says yes because “corruption is the gateway problem” (p. 175) and he estimates that there is about a 10 percent chance of success for a constitutional solution. He carefully walks us through the complex and elusive cause of our corrupt Congress (and its effects: why we don’t have free and efficient markets, successful schools, more entrepreneurs, a safe financial system,etc.). He does so with clear,
    interdisciplinary, well organized, and thoroughly researched logic. The book tells the story of our government losing its way. However, it also offers hope, albeit small, that we can restore our democracy the old fashioned way ⎯ with grass-roots action of “peaceful” political terrorizing and subversion leading to a constitutional convention. Yes indeed, he debunks the common reasoning against constitutional amendments to solve the problem. Accordingly, his stated purpose is to launch Rootstrikers
    , which is an online organization devoted to gradually getting ordinary
    citizens to strike at the root of the problem that, no one caused.

    The first step is to get legislation to get money out of politics in order to have some hope of getting to the next step of constitutionally do so. That is why Lessig is supporting the Sarbanes Grassroots Democracy Act and the Anti-corruption Act currently being proposed in the house.

  • Kathryn Richey Abernathy

    Binding Their Wounds – America’s Assault on Its Veterans by Robert J. Topmiller and T. Kerby Neill; both veterans: Mr. Topmiller began the book while teaching at EKU; Mr. T. Kerby Neill finished the book after Mr. Topmiller’s passing. Covers invisible wounds of military service people; – all the more compelling as Prof. Topmiller died of suicide prior to book’s completion – leaving his wife, children & grandchildren. A must read for all interested in veterans’ – and America’s response to their needs.

  • Dede Dunn

    “The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule” by Thomas Frank and “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives” are two very fine books. He has probably already read them, but they were certainly eye-openers to me.

  • Andrew Hlavka

    Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

  • Richard Fluhman

    I recommend the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ to help give President Obama wisdom and perspective in these troubled times.

  • Susan Vaickauski

    I would like to see the president read – Barbara Jordan: An American Hero

  • Anonymous

    Brad Hirschfield | You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right

  • Emily DeHuff

    Matt Miller’s “The Tyranny of Dead Ideas” (Henry Holt / Times Books, 2009) is the snap of the fingers that wakes us from fifty years of hypnotic acceptance of conventional but false assumptions such as that health insurance ought to be tied to employment, that education should be a local matter, and that higher taxes hurt the economy.

  • Marian

    I wish President Obama would read Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, one of the most important books I have read.

  • featherjuggler

    I would love for him to read “The One Idea That Saves The World: A Call to Conscience and A Call to Action” by poet and author Laurence Overmire. This book provides a roadmap for literally saving the world. It is a call for wisdom and compassion and can bring together all people of conscience and goodwill to address the serious issues that face us.

  • harriet mitteldorf

    a book for President Obama: LIFE ON THE BRINK, edited by Philip Cafaro & Eileen Christ

  • Sue B

    “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander

  • Marconias

    “Plutocrats” -Chrystia Freeland (a must read)

  • Ron Clasky

    From a review on by Carol Bender: I strongly recommend reading AN ALTERNATE VISION for a peaceful world by Ron Clasky. He encourages all mankind to re-direct our thinking from the constant threat and fear of war and terrorism to an alternate commitment that all mankind respect, cherish, but not worship, one God, the same God–Earth, which would ultimately bring us peace between all nations. He summarizes most of the wars in these last 100 years, almost all of them unjustified, dictated by religion, politics, territory or tribal differences. He reminds us all of the young soldiers all over the world who have sacrificed their lives or their limbs, and he asks the question: are we any safer? Shouldn’t we be focusing and encouraging mankind to exist on Earth, “non-violently, with the powerful weapons of words and ideas…diplomacy and mediation between nations, instead of war and terrorism”. Mr. Clasky describes his alternate vision as Earthism, and why it is a possible solution for a peaceful world.

  • Andrea Drury

    Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein.

  • R C

    The Great Work, by Thomas Berry

  • Anonymous

    I’d like President Obama to read the 30 year Update to Donella H. Meadows’ The Limits to Growth.

  • Emily

    I hope he reads an old book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by Perkins. It informs readers what US policies really are and how we really “help” other countries…can you say corporations rule

  • Steve

    I would like him to actually mean it when he takes the oath to uphold our Constitution. If he had the first time, we wouldn’t have the NDAA in its current form.

  • Susan Watkins

    I would recommend “Trading with the Enemy” by Charles Higham. This is
    an economic history of WWII. I didn’t really understand what was
    happening in this country until I started studying our past. Then I
    understood that today’s world is a continuum of yesterday’s world with
    the same goals present. I like to read books published before 1945.
    They present a much different view of our past. So, now I’ve begun to
    rethink both WWI and WWII and think they are not as we thought them to

  • hehjude

    in the spirit of crazy horse by peter matthiessen.

  • Julia G

    I’d love to have him read “The One Idea That Saves The World” by Laurence Overmire. No finger pointing, just a clear outlining of the problems we all share and ideas of how we can work together to change course.

  • Tracey Middleton

    I would suggest One Hundred Thirteen Million Markets of One: How the New Economic Order Can Remake the American Economy by Chris Norton and Ross Honeywill. The book was written following a ten year study of consumer spending resulting in two billion data points that showed that 77 percent of discretionary spending – the engine that drives the American economy – comes from just 46 percent of the population. This group is the true source of economic power in America today, a fact obscured by the recent focus on the one percent. Norton and Honeywill called the group revealed by the research NEOs, short for the New Economic Order, as their spending adds up to an economy within an economy wherever they are. Not only that, but NEO spending is responsible for those parts of the American economy that are thriving despite the toughest conditions in living memory.

    The book talks about how NEOs were discovered and their true contribution to the American economy, providing a persuasive alternative view on the nature of economic power and who holds it. It also outlines how the discovery of NEOs points to blueprint for building a sustainable economic engine, capable of powering America out of its current crisis and through the next century. Just as importantly, for President Obama, it goes into detail about what really matters to this influential and aware group who care deeply and have very strong views about the kind of world they want to live, and vote, in.

  • Deborah Silverman

    Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges.

  • William Vaughn

    Since President Obama needs to be THE President that gets this country started on a new energy path, he should read, among others, Tom Bless’ “Prescription for the Planet”, Robert Hargraves’ “Thorium, Energy Cheaper than Coal”, and James Hansen’s “Storms of my Grandchildren”. Those will get him in the right mind-set to see the path that we need to be on. And it’s NOT “All of the above”; It’s wind, solar, geothermal, hydro and Gen IV nuclear, with natural gas serving as our “bridge” fuel.

  • JW Beene
  • Jean Sheldon

    It is time to move forward. “The One Idea That Saves The World” by Laurence Overmire

  • carol brown

    Days of Destruction Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco published by Nation books. I loved this book, beautiful produced, great artwork by J. Sacco. Hedges let’s his subjects tell their own stories, and adds social, political and historical context. Really well done.

  • Veronica Rose

    And/or *The Global Warming Reader*, ed. by McKibben, which also includes chapters from several of the other books listed here.

  • Janet Gilles

    DIET FOR A HOT PLANET. Agriculture, a vast change in our land use, has been too much overlooked in the talk about climate change, and can make all the difference. by Anna Lappe. Single crop agriculture destroys the land, the water, our jobs, our health, while altering the very climate of our planet. Organic agriculture and pasture store more carbon than any other known method.

  • Robert J. Crawford

    Ill Fares the Land, by Tony Judt.

    This is a defense of social democracy that demolishes free-market fundamentalism.

  • John Burroughs

    I would suggest my new poetry book, The Eater of the Absurd,

  • Angela Cavalieri

    I think President Obama should read my book, 365 Stupid Poems by a depressed housewife. He might like #’s 3, 357, 319, 85, 198, 233, 252, or at least 356, 291, or 165, or whatever. They may be helpful, or just a diversion. Can’t hurt, either way, just like the wine I’m drinking.
    Thank you, Bill Moyers, and Happy Holidays.
    Angela Cavalieri.

  • Richard D. Persen

    Winner-Take-All Politics — a must-read for President Obama

  • Christian Favre

    The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen. In my opinion this is the ultimate book about the tragic loss of biodiversity and extinction of species we’re experiencing, primarily because the large animals no longer have enough contiguous space to sustain their populations.
    Griftopia, by Matt Taibbi

    Reflections on Sustainability, Population Growth and the Environment, by Albert Bartlett.

  • Paul Lyons

    “The One Idea That Saves The World” by Laurence Overmire captures the essence of being of one planet, one people. Highly recommend this very thoughtful, brilliant book.

  • Scott Campbell

    I really loved this book, The One Idea That Saves The World: A Call to Conscience and A Call to Action by Laurence Overmire. It is what we need for these times.

  • Illinois Father

    I heartily recommend that President Obama (and every other American) read Save the Males by Kathleen Parker. She puts her finger on the various maladies that we face as a nation because of the decline of the importance of fatherhood, and the systematic exclusion of so many males from family life. Policymakers, take heed!

  • Kimberly Sloss

    The End of Looser Liberalism by Dean Baker.

  • Patricia

    Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Naht Hahn (not sure of the spelling of last name)
    By the way, the show last night was WONDERFUL. Tony Kushner was fascinating. Thank you for reading the names again also.

  • Kimberly Sloss

    The end of Looser Liberalism by Dean Baker and Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth 2nd edition by David C. Korten.

  • Dan

    Richard Feynman’s The Character of Physical Law. Though there is a lot of discussion about science-based education in the country, I would like to know there is a science-based Congress and government. What this means to me is that deicision-making is based in reality and honest observation — the kind of observations that must be accurate in order to allow engineered objects to work, including government. The ideas Feynman shares in this published set of lectures not only give a reminder of what it takes to have such observations, but they also transcend bickering and give a good dose of awe — not shock-and-awe.

  • Brad Parker

    Left Turn Only: Dispatches From The Progressive Underground by Brad Parker

  • Jon Rohde, MD

    Andrew Bacevich – Washington Rules, or the Short American Century (or both) would be a good place to start. No one can deny the patriotism of Bacevich, nor even his military credentials, and the President would do well to consider more carefully how to keep us out of war and try to regain a measure of respect abroad.

    Joe Stiglitz – the Price of Inequality is not only a dramatic analysis of the damage to our society AND economy of the growing inequities (our rising Gini Coefficient makes us the most unequal society in the developed world!) – and Stiglitz has some answers, if only the President would listen.

    For a clear and cogent set of actions to set our country back on track Paul Krugman’s End this Depression Now has practical and doable ideas. It is time for the President to listen to the very highest regarded economists rather than the fat-cat bankers that have caused and guided us in this financial mess. The suggestions are clear and compelling.

  • Jon Rohde, MD

    One more suggestion to that below, which I mean seriously: Revisit Audacity of Hope – we are still believing in what he dreamed – this is the chance to revive that hope.

  • Alain van Hille

    Howard Zinn‘s The People’s History of the United States, Simon Schama’s TheAmerican Future, Doulas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher,Bach: An eternal golden braid.

  • Ed Ryan

    I have two nominations:

    Debunking Economics – Revised and Expanded Edition: The Naked Emperor Dethroned? by Steve Keen

    The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry by William K. Black

  • Deb Prothero

    The General’s Son: An Israeli in Palestine by Miko Peled is a very excellent and new view of the situation in the Middle East. The solution lies in this book. Finally. President Obama could solve the problem.

  • Sandy2118

    I already put a book on your list for President Obama, but today this choice became even more urgent as a study was released showing boys are reaching puberty earlier than ever before, just like girls, due to the presence of toxic chemicals in the environment: Our Stolen Future, by endocrine disruption expert Dr. Theo Colborn with forward by Al Gore. Has Bill Moyers read it? (I sent this book to Elizabeth Warren over the fall. A staff member read and summarized it for her. She came out in favor of the Safe Chemicals Act.)

  • Sandy2118

    PS. Give him a copy of Slow Death by Rubber Duck, too, which also explains how toxic chemicals are increasing our body burden, a subject I became interested in after watching one of Bill Moyers’ shows. Thanks.

  • Lynn Johnson Hasselberger

    The One Idea that Saved the World by Laurence Overmire!

  • Linwood Peters

    I think a good read for today’s greedy “me” society is the classic short story “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck. It won’t take long to read and has a powerful message that rings truer today than when it was published. Money is the root of all evil.

  • Roy

    Jeffrey M. Smith”Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Effects of Genetically Engineered Foods” Obama is surrounded by genetic engineering proponents – a technology which has been shown by INDEPENDENT scientific study to actually alter our genome, contaminating our descendants. This infernal technology has failed to live up to a single promise of Monsanto et al and is destroying our health. This damage to the human race is bigger than any gun or any war.

  • John Lundin

    The One Idea That Saves The World: A Call to Conscience and A Call to Action by Laurence Overmire

    The One Idea That Saves The World is, not surprisingly, both incredibly simple and incredibly profound. And it takes a poet to present profound simplicity in language that touches the rhythms of the heart. That poet is Laurence Overmire, and his poetic message is to us a Call to Conscience and a Call to Action, one that will resonate with all the peoples and the rhythms of the planet. ~ John Lundin, author of THE NEW MANDALA – Eastern Wisdom for Western Living, written with the Dalai Lama, and JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE WORLD, written with the indigenous peoples of Colombia.

  • John Lundin

    The One Idea That Saves The World: A Call to Conscience and A Call to Action by Laurence Overmire

  • Chris

    “Conversations With God” by Neale Donald Walsch. All problems are spiritual problems.

  • Ginnyf

    After viewing your program a few weeks back, I would recommend “Winner Take All Politics” by Paul Pierson and Jacob Hacker. I felt like I was given a powerful insight into the current politics of Washington. If the President doesn’t already know about these shenigans, this will open his eyes!

  • Paula, Lincoln, NE

    Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickeled and Dimed. Poverty in the US is even higher now than when she wrote the book, but it is a good illustration of the issue. I would also ask the President to listen to Smiley & West on NPR. They were talking about poverty in the US before this president was elected and are well-versed on the subject.

  • Sister Patrice

    The Conscience Of A Liberal, by Paul Krugman, The Fallen Angel, by Daniel Silva. Paul Krugman’s NYT columns have proven spot on, so far, and if America falls over the “fiscal cliff”, it appears that nothing will happen except that President Obama will humiliate Speaker Boehner, more than Boehner’s colleagues in the House already have. The Fallen Angel, a novel by Daniel Silva, in which the author has done copious research on “terrorist” organizations in the Middle East, and with the Israeli intelligence agency. It’s caused me to re-think my assumptions about events in the Middle East.

  • Suzi

    Power Abused, Power Healed, by Judith Barr is a must read.

  • Anonymous

    Our Harsh Logic, by Breaking the Silence (Israeli soldiers testimonies
    from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010). It would give Obama the most
    truthful understanding of the Palestine Occupation from the ones most intimately involved in its continuation.
    He should also read the short essay by Mark Twain, The War Prayer (or
    Poem), published after his death because it’s too true for many
    Christians to accept.

  • glast

    John Bellamy Foster’s “The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth,” (and we might add “capitalism’s war on humanity”). The book makes clear how under capitalism destroying the environment is not a measure of failure but one of success, a consequence of the systemic imperative to constantly expand and accumulate, driven by the structural determination to always maximize profitability, market share, and power. This book provides the critical systemic analysis missing from another crucial and highly recommended book “Down to the Wire” by David Orr, a terrifying analysis of climate crises (even more terrifying because the data is now dated and all reports since make matters only worse!).

    If Obama reads all the recommended books on all of these posts, or even a few of them, takes them seriously, and attempts to act on his new knowledge, he will NOT be president for long. Dominant systems do not tolerate dissidents, especially among the elite servants.

    In the end, the point is not to get sycophants like Obama to read these books, but to share these readings with the public, discuss them, dialogue around them, construct dissident projects and radically democratic alternative programs around them, and use them as part of a larger process of mobilizing the collective intelligence and imagination of the people.

    Final recommendation: anything from Noam Chomsky.

    Keep up the great work Bill!


  • Marti Carver

    Please read THE ONE IDEA THAT SAVES THE WORLD by Laurence Overmire. A must have book for all of us!

  • Barry Keenan

    Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue, by Paul woodruff (N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2001. The humane content of this book distinguishes reverence from beliefs, faith, and creeds — and yet shows how reverence provides a common ground for both monotheistic religions, and moral and spiritual practices. Woodruff includes a chapter on “The Reverent Leader.”

  • Dan_vV

    “Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril” by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson

  • dennis

    Dennis James
    I would recomment “The Servant Economy” Jeff Faux

  • Michael Cain

    The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.R. Reid. The problem with the ACA is it doesn’t go far enough. Until all health insurance companies in this country are non-profits, for one thing, there is still work to do. No reason any American should be denied essential healthcare or go bankrupt to get it… Bill – time to have T.R. as a guest!

  • SEH

    I watched your program where Kushner talked about the writing of Lincoln. In this conversation, your guest commented on the critique of the small role of Blacks in this film. As I recall, Kushner discussed the powerlessness of contraband and freed Blacks in this battle for an amendment outlawing slavery. The next day while watching Marcus Rediker on Book TV , I heard about a form of scholarship that reads “from below,” from the position of those whom we take for granted are powerless and voiceless. I have included the website for his talk; so let me suggest that the playwright of Lincoln is no scholar–I do not expect him to be–so he is incapable of telling a story that does not repeat the dominant ideology of America. He is destined to lionize our system because he cannot image another way to tell the story or maybe to sell the story.

  • cakeith

    MORAL GROUND: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril; Edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson, Foreword by Desmond Tutu “Could there be a more pressing book topic than the fate of humanity?” – Utne Reader

  • PJ

    Paul Krugman’s “End This Depression Now” would be my first recommendation

  • Veronica Esagui

    I would like toy suggest that president Obama read “The One
    Idea That Saves The World, A call to Conscience
    and a Call to Action, by Laurence Overmire. It’s not that our president needs to be
    reminded that if we are going to survive we need to resonate as human beings, he
    already knows that. It’s my hope that upon reading this book he will be eager
    to share it with his family, his staff, and all politicians known and unknown to
    him including leaders from other countries. I can only imagine the world having
    A Call to Conscience and a Call to Action. Imagine coming together for the benefit
    of all humankind! Veronica Esagui DC

  • Lunzie

    The Collapse of Complex Societies, by Joseph Tainter
    The Ascent of Humanity, by Charles Eisenstein
    The Transition Handbook, by Rob Hopkins

  • Sheila Smith

    Enough doom and gloom! Read The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley who says our collective human brain has created prosperity for our species and will most likely continue to do so.

  • Anonymous

    So, so sadly true.

  • cathie

    Help me out here…just read an article called “Obama Will Ride to the Rescue–for Republicans” by Cenk Uygur…scary…our President has one last chance not to cave on the Middle Class and to try to set us back on track toward a healthy existence again…if someone can recommend a book that sends this message…please submit it! Thanks!

  • Boscoe’s Mom

    I recommend David Cay Johnston’s The Fine Print, How Big Companies Use “Plain English” To Rob You Blind. The Middle Class needs to stand up, open the window and shout ” I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

  • Lydia Rudolph

    For President Obama’s nightstand: Now We Are Six, A.A. Milne.

  • Patricia

    Rachel Maddow’s Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power. A well-researched and clearly focused analysis of presidential missteps in coordinating the U.S. military. While the book focuses on international military strategies, it has a message for all aspects of the president’s actions.

  • Chad Coenson

    The One Idea That Saves The World: A Call to Conscience and A Call to Action by Laurence Overmire

  • Jen Rush

    Power Abused, Power Healed by Judith Barr. A wonderful book on getting to the root of so many issues in our society. Revealing and important.

  • gallopout

    “Visionaries and Outcasts: The NEA, Congress, and the Place of the Visual Arts in America” by Michael Brenson – to remember the importance of the artist in the health and growth of our civilization and the importance of funding non-consumer oriented work. And, “1984” by George Orwell.

  • dorkgirlsrock

    parable of the sower by octavia butler
    a short and utterly terrifying look ahead at a fictional future that is becoming more probably by the moment

  • Carol Grier

    The book I would like President Obama to read is “The One Idea That Saves The World” by Laurence Overmire, Indelible Mark Publishing

  • Linore

    I would also like to nominate “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander. It’s a horrific look at institutional racism in targeting, prosecuting, and sentencing of black men, processes often upheld and affirmed by the US Supreme Court.

  • Walter W Brown

    The Post-American World: Release 2.0
    Fareed Zakaria

  • Alan Ladwig

    S. C. Gwynne’s “Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History.” Yet another series of stories of how the government treated the Indians and violated treaties. A good reminder to the President to keep promises and treat people fairly.

  • J. I. Locke

    The Fragile Species by Lewis Thomas; His hypothesis is that
    it is the most cooperative rather than the strongest who survive.

  • Sheila Parks

    If our elections continue to be rigged by the hard-right Republicans and Monsanto et al.(to give two major examples),we stand to lose everything. We must get rid of all voting machines, both touchscreens and optical scans. This book gives examples of hacking of our elections and gives the “We the People” solution. We must have publicly observed, secure hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) elections. It is being done and it is doable. The Netherlands and Ireland do so. Ireland sold all its electronic voting machines for scrap. I did write this book, but am nominating it nonetheless. Voting rights are the rights all our other rights depend on. Voting rights are the bedrock of democracy. One vote per person AND our votes must be counted as cast. WHILE WE STILL HAVE TIME: The Perils of Electronic Voting Machines and Democracy’s Solution: Publicly Observed, Secure Hand-Counted Paper Ballots (HCPB) Elections by Sheila Parks, Ed.D.

  • Peter Graham

    Lighting the Seventh Fire; The Spiritual Ways, Healing, and Science of the Native American by F. David Peat

  • Laura Newtown

    As A Man Thinketh, by James Allen. Profound, true, and (one big advantage is) he could read the whole thing in a single sitting, leaving time for more fine books.

  • Elizabeth Mooney

    “American Nations” by Colin Woodard and “A Contract with the Earth” by Newt Gingrich and Terry Maple because both explain ways to move the country forward by tapping into the dynamics that shape people’s views and perceptions.

  • Joseph Lewis

    Jacob Needleman’s “The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders,” a uniquely moving and illuminating look at the philosophical and spiritual components of this nation’s political and social history.

  • Leland Beaumont

    The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality, by Richard Heinberg effectively uses representative and systematic data to argue we are in ecological overshoot and economic overshoot. Either one is alarming; together they sound a critical alarm; if only it can be heard!

    We live in a world with ever-increasing levels of financial debt—public and private. We are also depleting the earth’s natural resources, including fresh water, fertile soil, forests, marine ecosystems, biodiversity, fossil fuels, minerals, and pollution sinks. Since debt represents a promise of future repayment of labor and resources the book argues it is inevitable that the aggregate promises to repay will eventually exceed the available resources for repayment. In fact, that may have already have happened.

  • MSD

    Ferdinand The Bull

  • Robert Nagel

    American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin, 2005, is a sobering account of a man with a conscience and how he was destroyed by the military when he threatened their aims. It is as true today as it was then.

  • Barry Keenan

    A book for Barack is: Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue by Paul Woodruff. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001). This humane study distinguishes reverence from faith, belief, and creeds, yet demonstrates how reverence provides common ground for monotheistic religions as well as moral and spiritual practices. The author alos has a chapter on “The Reverent Leader.”

  • Jeanette Vosburg

    “Eaarth” by Bill McGibben, leader of, makes a compelling case for stopping the use of killer fossil fuels now. Climate change is real, watch the documentary “Chasing Ice”; we need all hands on deck. Time is short.

  • Marcia Strate

    I think he should read “Who Stole the American Dream” by Hedrick Smith

  • Janice

    Two books by Karen Armstrong are at the top of my list for any politician. First, The Case for God which details the history of the development of the concept of God then links this to the ever deepening chasm between progressives and conservatives. Understanding the cause of the chasm could make it possible to develop ways to bridge the chasm. The second book is Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. Acting with compassion is deeply rooted in almost every religious tradition. What is the value of this book for politicians? Democrats tend to communicate on a rational, mind-centered level rather than a heart-centered level. If President Obama and other Democrats included the language of compassion it might be helpful to connect with hearts at least as much as minds and reach more people with their political stance that is rooted in compassion. Republicans are moving further and further from the “compassionate conservatism” that was once their guiding concept. Being reminded that Jesus’ main message was one of compassion might help the extreme right move a few steps toward the center.

  • mthimai

    With the power over our military, I suggest reading “What it’s like to go to war” by Karl Marlantes. Mr. Marlantes discussed both of his books in an inteview earlier this year.

  • John Fallon

    “The Price of Inequality” by Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz. In Stiglitz’ own words, as published in an August 3, 2012 NY Times review:

    “Inequality leads to lower growth and less efficiency. Lack of opportunity means that its most valuable asset — its people — is not being fully used. Many at the bottom, or even in the middle, are not living up to their potential, because the rich, needing few public services and worried that a strong government might redistribute income, use their political influence to cut taxes and curtail government spending. This leads to underinvestment in infrastructure, education and technology, impeding the engines of growth. . . . Most importantly, America’s inequality is undermining its values and identity. With inequality reaching such extremes, it is not surprising that its effects are manifest in every public decision, from the conduct of monetary policy to budgetary allocations. America has become a country not ‘with justice for all,’ but rather with favoritism for the rich and justice for those who can afford it — so evident in the foreclosure crisis, in which the big banks believed that they were too big not only to fail, but also to be held accountable.”

    The reviewer described the book as “the single most comprehensive counter­argument to both Democratic neoliberalism and Republican laissez-faire theories.”

  • Karen Peterson

    As an educator, I am very concerned with the direction of education reform. They are looking for simple answers to complex problems. I would suggest President Obama, as well as your viewers, view Daniel Pink’s work on motivation and Sir Ken Robinson’s work on creativity on RTA Animate as previews to their books on those topics.

  • Karen Peterson

    As an educator, I am very concerned with the direction of education reform. They are looking for simple answers to complex problems. I would suggest that President Obama, as well as your viewers, view Daniel Pink’s work on motivation and Sir Ken Robinson’s work on creativity on RSA Animate on YouTube as previews to their books on those topics.

  • David Gregory

    The Sorrows of Empire by the late Chalmers Johnson if I could only have one.

  • Fredcritter

    Schneier on Security by Bruce Schneier. It would be nice if we would stop wasting money on the TSA’s “security theater” and put our efforts into meaningful and balanced security measures that focus more on probable threats than in frightening and harassing the public.

  • Verna MacCornack

    My suggestion is a book published last year by Columbia University Business School Press, The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets by Keith Roberts. It’s a good story, but it also lays out, with great clarity, just what business does and what its role in society should be. The book describes some triumphs, like the large role business played in Rome during the late Republic and early Empire, and it also describes the nearly total elimination of business during the later Empire, and the catastrophic impact that resulted.

  • Jay Lefer

    A book that will be published in June,2013, Penguin Press by David Lefer,”The Founding Conservatives- How the Revolution was Saved”.An insightful study that proves that the “conservatives” in the present have nothing to do the conservative founding fathers.

  • Mary Littler

    The president should read “The Nature of Prejudice” by Gordon Allport

  • van waggoner juneau, ak

    Give him a break. He just went through a horrible campaign. Sit back, and relax Mr. President, and laugh your way through ANOTHER ROADSIDE ATTRACTION by Tom Robbins. At the same time he will gain some more understanding of the Anglo psyche.

  • Sean Kane

    Alas Babylon…because it seems the ineptitude and lack of leadership in our wonderful country will lead us to the time when all of this will be a distant memory.

  • Sharon Patterson

    The Third Industrial Revolution: how lateral power is transforming energy, the economy, and the world, by Jeremy Rifkin

  • Paul Eklof

    “The Price of Civilization”, by Jeffrey Sachs. Sachs makes a moral as well as economist’s case for government action on behalf of the common good. He discusses the federal budget in terms of percent of GDP, the only way to sensibly think about it. I would especially like President Obama to study Sachs’ contention that the budget needs to be about 24% of GDP — higher than most proposals out there, including Obama’s.

  • MrBadger

    I would nominate “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided By Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt. It is an excellent insight into the way different people think and what language and imagery one has to use to address different segments. Obama is already a master of this but it would take him even further I think.

  • MrBadger

    Absolutely! That is my recommendation as well!

  • Dennis Kosanke

    “The Price of Inequality”…..Joseph E. Stiglitz


    “The Republican Brain”, by Chris Mooney. It is important to understand why the far right invents it’s own reality. You have to deal with people the way they are. Dave M.

  • Robert Scott

    Jared Diamond’s book, “Collapse — How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” Too thick to read casually, but well summarized in Chapter 16. Just use the rest of the book as background.

  • ruthandco

    The Secret Destiny of America by Manley Palmer Hall, dealing with the metaphysical underpinnings of the American democracy.

  • Richard Ellerbrake

    Who Stole the American Dream by Hedrick SMITHnf

  • Steve Woodward

    Ralph Nader’s “Seventeen Solutions.” Mr. Nader’s analysis of the problems facing us is sobering; his prescriptions are inspiring, and doable. Happy New year, all!

  • phravalli

    The Price of Inequality by Joseph Stiglitz

  • MLB

    What the President needs most in the White House Is Bill Moyers as his surrogate Jimminy Cricket to stand over his shoulder and remind him to do “the right thing”. And a mighty task it will be given the history of this country. Bill Moyers is a lone beacon trying mightily to right this ship of state. I salute you and implore you to stay the course in “telling it like it is”. The best to you in 2013.

  • Hutch

    I think President Obama should read, Days of Destruction Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco………..

  • Zoe Mavroudi

    President Obama must read Sophocles’ “Antigone.” It might make
    him aware of the folly of abusing power and the value of dissent.

  • Awaiting Our Fanfare

    I would like to recommend that the President read the short novel by Rainer Maria Rilke, “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge” because, like the author, I, too, cannot “understand how people could bring themselves to miss so much world.” An open-source translation can be read online in its entirety here:

    I would also second the recommendations that Obama read informational texts previously suggested which focus on addressing poverty and the corporate sponsored education “reform” movement that aims to privatize public education, such as Ravitch’s, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System”.

    Lastly, I would like to suggest that the President take inspiration from Aaron Copeland’s, “Fanfare for the Common Man” and show Americans that he truly respects, honors and represents the nation’s throngs, not just the 1%. He can demonstrate this by walking shoulder to shoulder with us, upholding our democratic rights, maintaining our social programs and standing firm against the purchase of government policies and legislation by billionaires and ALEC:

  • AshMom

    The One Idea That Saves The World: A Call to Conscience and A Call to Action by Laurence Overmire

  • Louise Weir

    What its like to go to War by Karl Marlantes. The president and everyone in congress, senate, etc who sends our young men to war should read this touching and heartfelt book.

  • Victim of Psychiatry

    The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth

  • Stephen Graydon

    To those who don’t believe our President is in charge, or capable, of righting all the wrongs of the nation that have accumulated through centuries of dynamic understanding, greed, war, pestilence, depression, suffering, elation, victory, peace, corruption, and confounding special interests:

    (also To those who didn’t elect just a “Protagonist-in-Chief”(good episode)):

    I will agree with Mr. ‘Change/Hope – Not’ commentator in that there are a great many problems; however, I do not agree that we must pin the tale (intentional) on just the one donkey. Or, furthermore that millions upon millions of emails will trickle into the oval office with immediate and individual attention. It seems that we live in more of a republic than a democracy for the majority of our politics, so lets stop trying to change the guy who is supposed to change our nation, and instead change the messages we send to him. Let’s assume all of those emails won’t get read; what then can be done to make our President into the statesman we all dreamt him to be?

    Offer support. No, the goal is not money, (though limited personal contributions or state funded elections are the only ethical way..) but rather the moral bolstering that a person needs when faced with hard decisions. My email will not change the policy on drone attacks, or furthermore the basis of which those drones are said to be necessary – then again should it? If we did get our way and the president responded to each of our letters what makes you think that the metaphorical pulling of the reins would yield anything but a squiggly line down the center?

    I say admit it like Mr. ‘Hope/Change – Not’ did, don’t bother pestering him. Lets support him in the ways we can, and limit the negative-talk as the staple for change.

    All the Best Mr. Moyers and Co.,
    I appreciate the hope you pair with happenings that appear to lack it.

  • D Piper

    I suggest the following:
    The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity
    Jeffery Sachs

  • Anonymous

    I would like to see him read the Bible.

  • Peter Mollica

    Roots of Empathy by Mary Gordon
    This is a book that America needs to read and President Obama will love.

  • Lisa Goodman

    ‘Madness in the Magnolias,’ not yet published. These historic documents reveal are a real game-changer to the Watergate story and why Nixon actually stepped down as President. Here is a brief description –

  • Bill

    Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States by Michael Lind
    Authentic Patriotism by Stephen Kiernan
    Big Citizenship by Alan Khazei
    Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    The Fair Society: The Science of Human Nature and the Pursuit of Social Justice
    by Peter Corning

  • Billy D.

    “Physics for Future Presidents”. In a technological age, good decisions of governance can be made only a good understanding of science.

  • e.Casey

    I would recommend to Pres. Obama to read, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The story of a great Olympic Runner, W.W. II pilot, and P.O.W. in a Japaneses camp. The courage, perseverence, the will to live is unbelievable. It is what the President talks about so often – The “American Spirit”. It is personified in the life story of Louis Zamperini So whenever the President feels discouraged he can think of “Louie” – as I do, and he can get through anything. Like a fiscal cliff.,

  • Bobby Sox

    Read Griftopia by Matt Taibbi and think about how you fit into the story of the great financial heist of our time, Mr. President.

  • Dale Hiway Settle

    Peter McWilliams wrote a great book back in the early 1990’2 titled, “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do” or “The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society”
    He gave every member in congress at that time a copy… and I am thinking that not one of them read a single word.

  • J. C. Walker, Jr.

    “2052” by Jorgen Randers. Youtube has a good interview of him and his work as well.

  • Orndorff

    The Warmth of Other Suns – The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. Insightful account of African American migration from the south.

    One Size Does Not Fit All – A student’s assessment of school by Nikhil Goyal.

    Please consider these suggestions, both deserve a leader’s time.


    Henderson Orndorff

  • Nancy Cuddeback

    Of course he’s not going to bite the hand that will feed him and make him wealthy once he’s out of office. How do you think the Clintons became so wealthy? When the Clintons left office they were 14million in the hole. And now they’re worth over 100million. He didn’t make that kind of money making speeches.

  • Judy Jensvold

    “Differences That Matter: Social Policy and the Working Poor in the U.S. and Canada” by Dan Zuberi.

    Little differences in policy and legislation can have a real impact on what happens in ordinary peoples’ lives. This book’s cross-border comparison reveals how huge that can be.

  • Sandra

    “Everything Matters” by Dr. Hollis Palmer. This book is a must read for anyone in a supervisory position. In particular, the chapter entitled, Idealists vs. Pluralists, will be especially insightful for President Obama. It speaks to the definitions of idealists and pluralists; their goals, strengths, weaknesses and overall willingess to compromise.

  • Citizen J

    Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln and Lady Gaga by Joseph J. Romm is an outstanding primer on communicating science (cover blurb by Van Jones!); The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change by Philip Conkling, Richard Alley, Wallance Broecker and George Denton is also outstanding, great text explaining basic climate change science and some of the important periods of rapid climate change (Younger Dryas, etc.) and how they help explain current climate, and outstanding photography. Alley, Broecker and Denton are legendary earth scientists who’ve done very important work; and the Stiglitz book recommended below.

  • mark

    tao te ching – Stephen Mitchell’s version. 2500 year old wisdom about how to govern.

  • Susan MacDonnell

    The New Jim Crow… Obama and his administration need to see the reality of having a system of mass incarceration as our only real “social policy” for the crisis that it is – and formulate a real, proactive and multi-pronged strategy to dismantle it during his second term.

  • E.

    Thirty-Year Plan: Thirty Writers on What We Need to Build a Better Future

    Book nomination for President Obama from Orion Magazine.

    Orion asked thirty writers and thinkers to name one thing we will
    increasingly need over the next thirty years if humans are going to
    find a way to live happily, sustainably, redeemably on earth. Here is
    the result. From “optimism” to “improvisation,” from “young farmers” to
    “empty pockets,” the responses collected here are as wide-ranging as
    they are compelling. Imbued with thoughtfulness and buoyed by a profound
    sense of justice, this thin volume makes an eloquent statement about
    the future of humanity.

  • Concerned about the Basics

    “Worship Your Food” by Quinn Montana.
    A little known book that tackles big Ag and the importance of rescuing our food, our water, our air. We are not only poisoning our plate, we are defeating any hope of growing anything untainted. This book offers meaningful strategies to changing our future for the next generation– the Obama girls.

  • Bob Lippman

    End This Depression, by Paul Krugman. Indeed, Obama should send a copy to every member of Congress!

  • Ryan Doyle

    Thank you so much for stating it bluntly :) It was so very frustrating this year to see so many people praise him as their Messiah when it was plain for me to see he was little more than a charlatan… and so once again, we are left with no change, and no hope for our broken system to ever put up honest, decent candidates… maybe that’s the problem, we let oligarchies do it for us…

  • Randal W. Samstag

    President Obama,

    If you have time to read only one book this year, I suggest that you read The Global Minotaur, by Yanis Varoufakis. This is the story behind the story of the Great Recession. It is a history of the last 60 years of global capitalism. Your view of the world will be changed by this book. If you only have time to read a review, I suggest the review of Varoufakis’s earlier book Modern Political Economics, which I have reviewed on my blog: This contains the same material in The Global Minotaur plus a history of the last 300 years of economic theory. If that is too much, listen to Yanis as he talked in Seattle at Town Hall as filmed by CSPAN: I know that you are busy and that economics is not your specialty. But you need to be getting better advice than you have gotten from Tim and Larry.

    Best wishes,

    Randal Samstag

  • lyrita59

    From north of the 49th, may I suggest to Mr. Obama that he go to his local library and take out the following:

    “The Way Of The Human Being” by Calvin Luther Martin (1999 Yale University Press)

    A careful reading will go a long way towards understanding and comprehending what has recently emerged on Turtle Island: the Idle No More movement.

    To all First Nations: Sâkôcihiwêwin!

  • Maria Mayer

    “The Rich and the Rest of Us”, by Cornell West.

  • Donna Robin Lippman

    Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State and the Birth of Liberty by John M. Barry (2012). Barry shines a bright light on the origins of basic tenets of our freedoms; due process, double jeopardy and the conceptualization of and the struggle for freedom of religion and thought. Without a clear understanding of where these precious and remarkable ideas originated, we are seriously in danger of losing them.

  • Eivets Rednow

    Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society In the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein

  • Amy Cash

    Emerson and the Dream of America by Richard Geldard

  • Amy Cash

    The Poet’s Daughter: Malek o’Shoara Bahar of Iran and the Immortal Song of Freedom by Parvaneh Bahar

  • RBCruz

    Jerry Mander’s: The Capitalism Papers,Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System

  • Don Baker

    A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan

  • Michael

    Two recommendations — Gar Alperovitz’ America Beyond Capitalism which weds practical recommendations for major institutional change to a politics beyond the cartoon left-right divisions. James C. Scott’s Two Cheers for Anarchism, the work of a wide-ranging and profound anthropologist, which may wake-up some of the soporific left to the dangers of authoritarianism from supposed friends and help the left reclaim its own very valuable libertarian tradition.

  • M. Reyna

    The Distance Between Us, by Reyna Grande. What happens to children in poor countries when parents come to the US as undocumented immigrants in search of jobs. Moving and timely in light of all the discussions about immigration reform.

  • Maria Vitale Gallagher

    “Unplanned” by Abby Johnson is an eye-opening book regarding women’s health that I think the President could benefit from. Thanks so much for the opportunity to recommend fine books!

  • Sarah

    AMERICAN NATIONS: a history of the eleven rival regional cultures of North America by Colin Woodard (2011) – awesome book, and puts everything into perspective.

  • Kay Clayton

    GroupThink by sociologist Irving Janis. Concept used by JFK to create a work group for himself w/varied opinions.

  • trimfeld

    A Framework for Understanding Poverty By Dr. Ruby Payne, ISBN 978-1929229482

  • carolyntoo

    “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand. Everything she predicted is coming true.


    if it’s rove’s patriot act I would suggest- “Boy-Genius” by authors from Texas-2000- To find out how a high I.Q. can manipulate words with psychological manipulations as Hitler did for “control of the “World” (and it’s mind) but the internet has an edge on that– Cherish YOUR BOOKS!–+Nature+ Family Values– JCRCH


    Mr. Koch sr. fracked w/water ONLY-1947 -But now deadly Fracking CHEMICALS are exempted from the clean water and air act-2005-Dick Chaney-
    in Ohio- 4 earthquakes last year- mahoning valley watershed now being poisoned with NO ARRESTS! Butler Pa. homes Condemned ($200,000.00+) no drinking water EVER AGAIN- but if you’re looking for a “heavenly sign” there IS an Asteroid on the way to screw up all those satelites and their broadcast systems- drones are evil-

  • Herbert Pairitz

    President Obama is an excellent politician and has achieved a lot for himself and the Democratic Party but I fear that his primary allegiance is not to the working-class citizens but to the big business investors that give him large campaign contributions and other favors.

    The severe problems with our economy and our government cannot be resolved by the Congress, the White House or either political party. What is needed is a complete
    change in our system of government to a true democracy by taking the money out
    of politics and completely eliminating the use of political parties so that
    office holders can represent the working-class citizens of this country rather
    than the big business investors who give them large campaign contributions and
    other favors. Our current political system is a combination of free enterprise capitalism and plutocracy which permits the big corporations to exploit the working class by outsourcing their jobs to foreign countries, allow excessive price increases, trade with $2/hr.foreign countries, give huge subsidies and tax breaks to big businesses,
    negotiate unfair trade agreements, and the list goes on. Our government is deadlocked by the competition between the two political parties and the big business investors’ control over the White House, the Congress and the two political parties. The White House, most members of Congress and both political parties primarily do not represent the voters on the major economic issues but favor big corporations, which borders on the old problem of taxation without representation. Possibly half of the occupations in the U.S. are based upon money manipulation such as futures traders, politicians and investment brokers, which is a huge financial burden on the working- class citizens. For more details and verification on this subject he should read the book entitled Fixing Our Government.

    I am a veteran who served in both the European and Pacific theaters of operation in WWII that has studied the problems of our economy and our government for the past thirty years.