Book Club

Your Book Recommendations for President Obama

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Before the holidays, Bill asked you what book you’d recommend President Obama read as he embarks on his second term. Your suggestions ran the gambit, with authors ranging from John Steinbeck to civil rights advocate Michelle Alexander to A. A. Milne, the creator of Winnie the Pooh. In the slideshow below, we included 25 of your recommendations that came out during Obama’s first term that he may not have had the chance to read yet. We also included five classics you recommended that the president may want to revisit.

Many of you also asked for Bill’s suggestion, and he gave it on this weekend’s episode of Moyers & Company: Paul Krugman’s End This Depression Now!.
Adobe PDF iconYou can also download a list of 50 books recommended by our Facebook fans and BillMoyers.com visitors.

The list doesn’t have to stop here — please, keep making suggestions!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.v.brown.3 Daniel Victor Brown

    “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein. A deep expose on disaster capitalism and how it has become the norm, even here in the USA.

  • Amy Cash

    I suggest Emerson and the Dream of America by Richard Geldard

  • Anonymous

    Great list! I myself would also have recommended Krugman, Robert Reich, Glen Greenwald, Joe Stiglitz, Matt Taibbi and A.A. Milne. Perhaps I would also add “Age of Greed” by Jeff Madrick.

  • http://www.facebook.com/burl.hall Burl Benson Hall

    Do you think corporations would allow him to read these?

  • genny lim

    Stuffed n’ Starved by Raj Patel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.gilmore Don Gilmore

    Seems like most of these are “look at this problem” with the argument that “we should fix it”, but specifically, how? Another important book is “Antifragile” because it has strong arguments for why many kinds of interventions are misguided and counterproductive, so be very careful when you try to fix something, especially since the entire system is dysfunctional, and any “fix” is probably a power play by a fested group. Maybe a book like “Abundance” could help focus some government resources at optimistic goals that could, as a side effect, make many of these old problems become obsolete and help build a new system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.gilmore Don Gilmore

    Seems like most of these books are “look at this problem” with the argument that “we should fix it”, but specifically, how? Another important book is “Antifragile” because it has strong arguments for why many kinds of interventions are misguided and counterproductive, so be very careful when you try to fix something, especially since the entire system is dysfunctional, and any “fix” is probably a power play by a vested group. Maybe a book like “Abundance” could help focus some government resources at optimistic goals that could, as a side effect, make many of these old problems become obsolete and help build a new system.

  • SophieBlue

    I wish you’d have this in regular list format, in addition to the slide show. (Or if you do, make it easy to find.)

  • Amelia Silver

    “What is the What” by Dave Eggars and “Sideshow: Nixon, Kissinger and the Destruction of Cambodia” by William Shawcross, and Chalmers’ “Blowback”

  • http://www.facebook.com/MKarnakz Gina de Miranda

    Here’s a couple of suggestions: Griftopia to learn why bankster “donations” aren’t free at all and the Wisdom of the Red Man to learn how sophisticated and wise the original inhabitants of this country were.

  • Terry Benish

    Catcher: How the Man Behind the Plate Became an American
    Folk Hero, Peter Morris. Learn how to make some tough decisions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johanna.cotter.7 Johanna Cotter

    I adore Bill Moyers; he is Liberal minded as am I ; and always his humanity shines through.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johanna.cotter.7 Johanna Cotter

    I also want to recommend Anita Moorjani’s latest autibiography while she healed herself from cancer .

  • flyaway98

    I missed the chance to recommend a book but I think he should read The Pathology of Power by Norman Cousins. It’s an older book but still relevant because we keep making the same mistakes decade after decade.

  • Save the Earth

    An old book… The Arrogance of Humanism by David W. Ehrenfeld

  • Marlon Stevenson

    Bad Samaritians by Ha Joon Chang-
    “The first few chapters of Bad Samaritans assess the ‘official’ history of globalisation, as narrated by free trade economists and most international institutions. According to this mainstream view, the United Kingdom was the first country to adopt free trade policies in the early 19th century – largely inspired by Adam Smith’s influential theories. The benefits of trade liberalisation were so apparent that most Western countries followed suit and started to liberalise their trade and domestic economies as early as 1850. The so-called ‘Golden Age’ of globalisation lasted until 1914 and the start of the First World War. In a context of increased tensions and economic downturn, states turned their back on free trade and adopted more protectionist measures – the ultimate sin which, according to liberal scholars, contributed to the outbreak of the Second World War. Thankfully, trade was liberalised again after 1945 with the help of the Bretton Woods system and the creation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), now called the WTO. This trend was confirmed in the 1980s with the rise of neoliberalism; and in today’s world, in the words of a free trade economist quoted by Dr Chang, you’re either neoliberal or “neo-idiotic”.”

  • MaxI

    My suggestion is ”Shadow Elite” by Janine Wedel: http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Elite-Undermine-Democracy-Government/dp/B003STCNSW

  • Robert

    I agree. I can scan a list faster than I can watch a slideshow.

  • David

    I know that this list is offered with the best of intentions, but the inclusion of
    these titles on a reading list for President Obama supposes (erroneously) that
    he is inclined to fight for anyone or anything other than the class interests that all
    American presidents represent — the wealthy and privileged.

  • LeeTexInAustin

    The Yellow Birds was stunning in its candor and beauty. It will be able to stand by WWI poetry of Sassoon and Owen.

  • Mike

    Isaac Asimov’ s Foundation series is thought provoking. I read that Paul Krugman read it in high school and was heavily influenced by it.

  • FDR and MLK are needed NOW!

    I also agree. Please give us a list of the top 20 (or 50) books that were recommended most often, so we can copy, paste, and print the list (or email it to others). Thank you for this community contribution-of-ideas (and this upcoming book list)!

  • http://www.billmoyers.com Theresa Riley

    We’ll get that up by tomorrow. Thanks for the suggestion! /Theresa @ Moyers

  • http://www.billmoyers.com Theresa Riley

    We will do this by Friday. Thanks for your interest! /Theresa @ Moyers

  • FDR and MLK are needed NOW!

    Thank you very much for your rapid response!

  • Ravenwald

    Not to be provocative, but I find it remarkable, and a bit reassuring, that “Common Sense” garnered enough votes to make it on the list, given what seems to be a generally liberal leaning group of respondents.

  • trimfeld

    “…ran the gambit..” Sorry, the word you want is gamut, not gambit.

  • Sarahagnes

    which Friday? like many others I’m looking for the book recommendations in list form

  • Eric Forrer

    All of Andrew Bacevich

  • Chris Scherer

    “The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” “Hoodwinked” and “The Secret History of the American Empire,” all by John Perkins; “Agricola” and “Germany” by Tacitus; and, “The Sorrows of Empire” by Chalmers Johnson.

  • Ann

    1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. by Charles Mann

  • Steve Godwin

    My first thought as well. Maybe the Moyers people should worry less about the president’s education and more about their own.

  • Buddha_Smiles

    My recommendation would be “The Sacred Path of the Warrior” by Chogham Trungpa Rinpoche. True words of wisdom that might help guide him in making major decisions over the next 4 years, and provide a solid path for building a better, more compassionate society…

  • http://www.facebook.com/SarahORichards Sarah Richards

    Did you post a plain list? I can’t load the slide show on my mobile.

  • IBCG

    I am very glad that Diane Ravitch’s The Death and Life of The Great American School System is one of the recommendations. It is imperative that President Obama face the fact that his policies are destroying public education. He must use this second term to turn those policies around 180 degrees, and start to improve and strengthen our public school system, which is the essential bedrock of our democracy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.poole.richmond Michael Poole

    Failure of Nerve: Leadership in an age of Quick Fix by Rabbi Edwin Friedman. Published after his death, the book focuses on the requirement of self differientiation in leaders. Perhaps this already is our President’s greatest quality.

  • Rick Henderson

    Lawrence Lessig’s Republic Lost. Quite enlightening

  • Patty M

    This is a fantastic collection. Please do post as a list we can copy/paste. This site is such a treasure – like drinking pure intellectual nectar.

  • Jan

    I am saddened and terrified by the way institutions that are for the American people are slowly being stripped from us in the name of “privatization”. I would like to add the book written by Christopher W. Shaw “Preserving the People’s Post Office”. It gives a history and then the slow but effective dismantling by big business to take the profits out and then throw the rest back to the people.

  • FDR and MLK are needed NOW!

    Hi Theresa,
    It is now Friday, 1-25-13, a week later. Please tell us if that booklist you mentioned working on is posted yet. If so, where is it posted? And if not, when do you think it will be posted? Thank you very much.

  • FDR and MLK are needed NOW!

    Hi Theresa,

    It is now a third Friday later, on Feb.1, 2013. Did you post that booklist you promised us? If so, where can we see it? If not, when do you think you will be able to post it? Please don’t drop this idea. Many of us would really appreciate having the list. Thank you very much.

  • http://www.billmoyers.com Theresa Riley

    So so sorry that it took us longer to post than I anticipated. The list is now available as a PDF above. Thanks again for your interest in the reading list.

  • Ward Tongen

    I recommend that @BarackObama read: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker @sapinker.

  • ccaffrey

    Maybe it made it in the comments somewhere and I missed it….but top of my list would be “Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” by Naomi Klein. The way I see national and world events will never be the same after reading this. Brilliant. Also allows us a better chance of stopping the plunder of our nation if we know this is coming, or being planned.