Book Club

Moyers & Company ‘Guest’ Books

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Many Moyers & Company guests are writers of nonfiction, fiction, poetry, graphic novels and everything in between. Put together, they represent an unparalleled collection of smart ideas and breathtaking artistry — so, for your pleasure, we put many of them together.

Selected writers include Rita Dove, Jonathan Haidt, Karl Marlantes, Bruce Bartlett, Eric Alterman, Matt Taibbi, Ross Douthat, Yves Smith, Sheila Bair, Chris Hedges, Chrystia Freeland and Naomi Klein.

Browse selections from the Moyers & Company Guest Book List below, and let us know which ones moved and inspired you.

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

Bill said… “An outstanding work of scholarship on how our war on drugs, our harsh mandatory minimum sentencing, and racism have converged to create a caste system in this country very much like the one under Jim Crow segregation laws. None of us at the time anticipated the powerful impact her book would have.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories
Sherman Alexie

Bill said… “How do you grapple with a long denied history? If you are Sherman Alexie, you face it down with candor and even irreverence, writing poems, novels, and short stories, and even movies.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
Sherman Alexie’s Top Ten Native American Poets


The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama
Eric Alterman

Bill said… “Superbly tells the story of how FDR’s New Deal liberalism lost its hold on the American imagination and is struggling now to regain it.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extras:
Eric Alterman on How Liberals Need To Toughen Up (Video)
Book Excerpt


Shores of Knowledge: New World Discoveries and the Scientific Imagination
Joyce Appleby

Bill said… “Shores of Knowledge explains how the curiosity of Old Europe broke free of church dogma, creating the world we inhabit today.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
Read an Excerpt


Perfidious Proverbs and other Poems: A Satirical Look at the Bible
Philip Appleman

Bill said… “[Philip Appleman's] creativity spans a long life filled with verse, fiction, philosophy, science, religion, and above all, moments of every day experience captured like the glint of the sun sparkling through a crystal glass.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Nights Under a Tin Roof
James Autry

Bill said… “Jim’s first collection of poetry is still a favorite of mine, filled with recollections of a life and people now long gone. Of family reunions, church revivals, and country funerals.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
Two Poems (Video)


The Short American Century: A Postmortem
Andrew Bacevich

Bill said… “[Bacevich's] grounded realism makes him my favorite go-to person for separating fact and reason from fear.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extras:
Sergeant Robert Bales and the Trauma of Repeat Deployments (Video)
Book Excerpt


The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive
Dean Baker

Bill said… “I rarely miss [Dean Baker's] blog, “Beat the Press,” and I’m a regular reader of his column in the Guardian newspaper.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers
James Balog

Bill said… “Risking life and limb, this photographer and filmmaker, mountaineer, author and prophet has gone to the top of the world to show us overwhelming evidence of what we’re doing to the environment. His discoveries are in this magnificent new book.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extras:
James Balog on Obama, the EPA, and Climate Change (Video)
James Balog Reads “Ice Diamonds” (Video)
Vanishing Glaciers: Now and Then


Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself
Sheila Bair

Bill said… “[Bair] is a hero to many of us for her long fight for an honest and accountable banking system.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street
Neil Barofsky

Bill said… “The man who held the thankless job of special inspector general in charge of policing TARP, the bailout’s Troubled Asset Relief Plan, [Neil Barofsky] was assigned to ferret out waste, fraud and abuse. The banks didn’t make it easy, and neither did the U.S. government. Barofsky tells this story in his book.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author

Digital Extras:
Neil Barofsky’s Disappointment with Vikram Pandit and President Obama (Video)
Book Excerpt


The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform — Why We Need It and What It Will Take
Bruce Bartlett

Bill said… “A layman’s guide through the jungle of a tax system that, thanks to rented politicians and anti-tax ideologues like Grover Norquist, enable the one-percent to make off like bandits while our national debt soars sky-high.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


The Unsettling of America
Wendell Berry

Bill said… Wendell Berry is a “master of the written word…”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
Poetry Readings by Wendell Berry


This Day
Wendell Berry

Bill said… Wendell Berry is a “master of the written word…”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
Poetry Readings by Wendell Berry


A Place in Time
Wendell Berry

Bill said… Wendell Berry is a “master of the written word…”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
Poetry Readings by Wendell Berry


The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Right Movement
Taylor Branch

Bill said… “Taylor Branch wrote the extraordinary, three-volume history of the civil rights era, America in the King Years. The first of them, Parting the Waters, received the Pulitzer Prize. He now has distilled all that work, adding fresh material and insights to create this new book.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance
Heidi Boghosian

Bill said… “How do we respond to this smog of surveillance? Start by reading this book.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Murder at the Supreme CourtMurder at the Supreme Court: Lethal Crimes and Landmark Cases
Martin Clancy and Tim O’Brien

Bill said… “This book is a lightning strike. It quickens the mind, illuminates the landscape, and guarantees you will see things differently — in this case, how the jagged edges of justice come to bear on decisions of life and death. Clancy and O’Brien are journalists at the top of their class, where facts matter and reporting can read like a novel.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About authors Clancy and O’Brien


The Cross and the Lynching Tree
James Cone

Bill said… “James Cone, a longtime professor of theology at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, wrote the ground-breaking books that defined black liberation theology, interpreting Christianity through the eyes and experience of the oppressed.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Susan CrawfordCaptive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age
Susan Crawford

Bill said… “Read it and you’ll understand why we Americans are paying much more for internet access than people in many other countries and getting much less in return.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
Bringing High-Speed Internet to Cajun Country


This is How You Lose Her
Junot Díaz

Bill said… “The life and work of Junot Díaz contains many worlds — and that makes him all the more worth listening to. His imagination travels between the old and the new, between the America that was and the America we’re becoming, straddling different cultures, yet American to the core.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
Book Excerpt


Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics
Ross Douthat

Bill said… “There’s the pious Ross Douthat, a believer in the dogma of the essential Christian experience, and the political Ross Douthat who seems, throughout this book, to be unsure about making peace with a Republican party whose base embraces an absolutist theology… The suspense of where [he's] going to come out is worth the price of the book.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extras:
Ross Douthat on Religion in Politics
(Video)
Book Excerpt


The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry
Rita Dove

Bill said… “A banquet of language, images, and ideas… I felt when I opened this book that I was diving into America’s melting pot. Everybody was in there. I mean, 176 poets swimming around with me. And I wanted to say to all the folks still on the edge of the pool, ‘Come on in, it’s a fascinating place.’”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
A Moyers & Dove Poetry Duet (Video)


So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America
Peter Edelman

Bill said… “For anyone who wants to understand why, in one of the richest nations in the world, millions of people, even those with jobs, are teetering just a medical bill or missed paycheck from disaster, here’s a book that’s must reading. For more than 40 years, no one has fought harder or longer to keep poor people on the political agenda.”
About the book | Watch the interview |About the author


The Trouble Ball by Martin EspadaThe Trouble Ball
Martin Espada

Bill said… “You can’t read any of his 16 books of poems, translations, and essays, including, most recently, The Trouble Ball, without discovering a man who understands life as struggle. A writer for whom the past is a living, breathing muse whispering over his shoulder, as he scribbles, the names of ancestors who once pulled the oars to get us through troubled waters.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
A Young Poet from the Bronx (video)


China Airborne
James Fallows

Bill said… “About why more than two-thirds of the new airports under construction today are being built in China — and how their ambition is going to impact America’s role in the world and our lives. It’s a book I hope official Washington is reading.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
James Fallows on Hopes for Obama’s Second Term (Video)


Pity the Billionaire
Thomas Frank

Bill said… “This is no time to mince words and thank goodness, Thomas Frank never does so.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else
Chrystia Freeland

Bill said… “Just in time — if not too late — comes this definitive examination of inequality in our time.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extras:
Book Club: Plutocrats
Audio Chat
Book Excerpt


Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality
Neal Gabler

Bill said… “Neal Gabler expertly interprets how movies reflect our society and politics.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
Neal Gabler’s Top Ten Political Films


Why David Sometimes WinsWhy David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organization, and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement
Marshall Ganz

Bill said… “Smiting Goliath might as well be Marshall Ganz’s job description. He’s an American maestro of organizing who himself, has never given in to despair or given over to fear.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
The Personal is Political
How to Tell Your ‘Story of Self’


Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism
Henry Giroux

Bill said… “Talk about connecting the dots — read this, and the headlines of the day will, I think, arrange themselves differently in your head — threading together ideas and experiences to reveal a pattern. The skillful weaver is Henry Giroux, a scholar, teacher and social critic with seemingly tireless energy and a broad range of interests.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful
Glenn Greenwald

Bill said… “Glenn Greenwald keeps his critical and contrarian eye on potential conflicts between national security and individual liberty.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Winner Take All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class
Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson

Bill said… “Gross [economic] inequality didn’t just happen. It was politically engineered by powerful players in Washington and on Wall Street. Read how they did it in this book by two of the country’s top political scientists, drawn to a mystery every bit as puzzling as a crime drama.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About Jacob Hacker | About Paul PiersonDigital Extra:
Book Excerpt


The Righteous Mind
Jonathan Haidt

Bill said… “[Haidt's] ideas are controversial but they make you think. Haidt says, for example, that liberals misunderstand conservatives more than the other way around, and that while conservatives see self-sufficiency as a profound moral value for individuals, liberals are more focused on a public code of care and equity.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
The Righteous Mind Book Excerpt


Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt
Chris Hedges, Joe Sacco

Bill said… “For all his power of expression, sometimes words fail even Chris Hedges, and a picture can say more in a single frame than paragraphs of explanation. That’s what makes his partnership with graphic artist Joe Sacco on their book so potent and so effective… An unusual account of poverty and desolation across contemporary America.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extras:
Joe Sacco on His Work (Video)
“The Poor Have to Help the Poor in Camden”


Behind the Kitchen Door
Saru Jayaraman

Bill said… “These restaurant workers still believe in democracy — still believe they can undo politically what predatory capitalism has done to them economically; still believe their cry for justice will be heard. And if it isn’t, what then are their choices?”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extras:
“Behind the Kitchen Door” Author Encourages Diners to Speak Out


The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Naomi Klein

Bill said… “The main thesis of Shock Doctrine, which came out five years ago before the great crash, was that disaster capitalism exploits crises in order to move greater wealth to the hands of the fewer and fewer people… that privatization of resources, monopolization of resources by the rich, in times of crisis, further divide us as a society.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
Naomi Klein on Becoming a Radical (Video)


End This Depression Now! by Paul KrugmanEnd This Depression Now!
Paul Krugman

Bill said… “It’s both prescription and warning: our current obsession with slashing the deficit and avoiding that well-known and worn fiscal cliff is killing us, Krugman writes, getting in the way of what really needs to be done – which is dedicating government to creating jobs and getting us back to full employment. He blames not only Congress but the White House.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
Book excerpt
Krugman on Keynes


The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted
Mike Lofgren

Bill said… “The growing power of the religious right is one reason my guest left the Republican Party and became an Independent. As you can tell from the title, he spares no one.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children
Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner

Bill said… “Lead wars revisits a chemical menace you might have thought was behind us, but isn’t”
About the book | Watch the interview | About authors Markowitz and Rosner


What It is Like to Go to War
Karl Marlantes

Bill said… “The story of a warrior, told in his own words. What he has to say is for all of us to hear, but especially those of us who have never been in combat. Read it and you will be closer than you can imagine to the mind and heart of the warrior in battle and after.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy
Gary May

Bill said… “A masterful new account …You will not find in one volume a more compelling story of the heroic men and women who struggled for the right to vote, or a more cinematic rendering of the political battle to enact the [Voting Rights Act], or a more succinct telling of the long campaign to subvert it.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


The Condemnation of Blackness
Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Bill said… “Brings the past to bear on race, crime and the making of urban America, and connects today’s headlines to their deep roots.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Dollarocracy: How the Money-and-media Election Complex is Destroying America
John Nichols & Robert W. McChesney

Bill said… “Here’s how you can prepare for the next avalanche of campaign cash: read this new book.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About authors Robert McChesney and John Nichols


It’s Even Worse than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism
Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann

Bill said… “Mann and Ornstein argued that democracy and the economy are in a crash dive, and that congressional gridlock was largely the fault of the Republican Party and its takeover by right wing radicals. What’s more, they said, the mainstream media was adding to the problem by resorting to “false equivalency,” pretending that both parties were equally at fault.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About authors Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann


The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century
Carne Ross

Bill said… “His new book couldn’t be more timely — talk about anticipating the spirit of the moment. This is a call for change everywhere, by everyone convinced that governments are in thrall to the one-percent.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extras:
Carne Ross on Being Agents of Change (Video)
Nine Principles for Action (Video)
Book Excerpt
Live Chat


The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class
Bernie Sanders

Bill said… “You may recall what happened two years ago when Senator Sanders, having finished his usual Vermont breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, walked on to the floor of the Senate and began speaking. He spoke on for eight and a half hours, castigating the agreement President Obama and the Republicans had made to extend the Bush tax cuts for the ultra-rich, lower their estate taxes, and jeopardize the future of the Social Security Trust Fund by diverting revenue away from it to other purposes. That speech is now this book.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extras:
Bernie Sanders on Calling Obama a ‘Socialist’ (Video)
“The American People Are Angry” (Video)
Live Chat


Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America
Richard Slotkin

Bill said… “Richard Slotkin tells how America came to embrace a mythology of gun-slinging settlers taming the wilderness to justify and romanticize a tragic record of subjugation and bloodshed.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Raising Elijah: Protecting Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis
Sandra Steingraber

Bill said… “As you can see, for Sandra Steingraber, there is no line between her life and her cause.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America
Matt Taibbi

Bill said… Investigates “the folly and corruption of banks and government with scathing, often profane wit and perception.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Nick TurseKill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam
Nick Turse

Bill said… “You can’t read any of his 16 books of poems, translations, and essays, including, most recently, The Trouble Ball, without discovering a man who understands life as struggle. A writer for whom the past is a living, breathing muse whispering over his shoulder, as he scribbles, the names of ancestors who once pulled the oars to get us through troubled waters.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extra:
Web Extra: Vietnam and America’s ‘Wandering Ghosts’ (video)


The Devil’s Highway
Luis Alberto Urrea

Bill said… “No one writes more tragically or intimately about border culture. One day in May eleven years ago, 26 Mexican men set out across the murderous stretch of desert known as the Devil’s Highway… their story became a stunning work by Urrea.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author
Digital Extras:
Luis Alberto Urrea Reads From Ghost Sickness (Video)
Luis Alberto Urrea’s Change of Heart (Video)
Book Excerpt
Live Chat


The Change I Believe In: Fighting for Progress in the Age of Obama
Katrina vanden Heuvel

Bill said… “Katrina vanden Heuvel has been one of those out in front, calling the president to task for orphaning his values and promises in her most recent book.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the author


Every Riven Thing
Christian Wiman

Bill said… “When religion is used as a bludgeon, when political campaigns duke it out over religious beliefs, descending to strident partisan shouts of holier than thou, it’s hard to remember that true faith and reason still can be part of what it means to be human. Today, a kindred spirit finds in poetry a way to face death with a graceful equanimity built on faith.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extras:
Chris Wiman on Living with Cancer and Finding Faith (Video)
Two Poems
(Video)


Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It
Richard Wolff

Bill said… “Just about everyone has an opinion about the trouble we’re in – the blame game is at fever pitch in Washington, where obstinate Republicans and hapless Democrats once again play kick-the-can with the problems we face. You wish they would just stop and listen to Richard Wolff.”
About the book | Watch the interview | About the authorDigital Extras:
Your Turn: Got a Question for Richard Wolff?


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  • Anonymous

    Really useful list — thanks, Bill. I’ve already read 5 of these, but it seems I have lots more to do.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VXFGRHHCUZTJEBJSWOGRDA4JNE the electrician

    I feel obama should read george orwells 1984, or THE COMMUNIST, BY PAUL KREGER. THE COMMUNIST is based on frank marshall davis who was a devote communist, and obama admired his teachings of communism!!!!!!!

  • Christina

    I am a Ph.D student (love the fact that I can say that, though terrified of the loan repayments); therefore, I have very little time to read anything other than required reading. However, being on Christmas break, I FINALLY picked up “The Righteous Mind.” I am far behind your other reads, but will pick them off, one by one. Thank you for the list and starting the book club. Happy New Year!

  • JoanneR

    Thanks to your show, I got introduced to the writings of Jonathan Haidt, “Righteous Mind”. I’ve told so many people about it, I should get royalties! If we could only accomplish one thing in the coming year, I would call for a return to civil discourse. We need to take time and hear each other out, and care enough about each other that we are willing to work together to solve problems. Entrenched viewpoints are getting us nowhere.

  • Andrew Smith

    Bill your Shows with Matt Taibbi – David Stockman – Bruce Bartlett – Bernie Sanders – Chris Hedges and many others have been a Amazing LESSON. In so many ways you are a true American Hero the Teacher of reason Thank You for Spending Your Retirement with us with your Valuable point of view from President Johnson to Joseph Campbell Happy New Year BILL MOYERS ! Please Hear “FOR LOVE” By me https://soundcloud.com/andrewsmith-3

  • Sandra

    I have not read all these picks but my favorite is Christia Freeland. Bruce Bartlett was such a surprise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/buffdad William H Haas

    I’ve read a few of these, and I was impressed with them all.. Shila bair, “Bull by the Horns”, and reading Plutocrats now. But like some others, I found “The righteous Mind” such a meaningful work, it has really altered my perspective in many ways. Thank you Bill, it is a great list

  • Judi

    I discovered several of these on my own and am delighted to discover an entire list of others I know I’ll also find meaningful – I have that much faith in anything you recommend. I would add Beautiful Souls by Eyal Press and The Price of Inequality by Joseph Stiglitz to the list of must reads. Crossing the Borders of Time and Savage Continents were also excellent. I am so grateful that you are back… you give me food for thought each time I walk up Mt. Battie listening to the prodcast of your program. No one else comes close to offering the thought-provoking analysis that you do. Thank you for being there.

  • http://twitter.com/305D85 William

    I think you should add Yves Smith book: Econned to the list, alongside her interview

  • http://twitter.com/305D85 William

    It looks like Yves Smith was mentioned in the intro, but her name and book was left off.

  • katheryn

    trying to find when you interviewed Richard Ben Cramer – Gold Standard for Political Journalism.

  • Teddy

    Thank you so much for this list. Could another list be put together around the end of the year?

  • David Carlos

    Bill, as always, you are a man of integrity, insight, wit and conscience; we have for decades admired your work and commitment to what is best in this American republic.
    Thank You for your body of work – but more importantly for who you are.
    David

  • steve

    Mr. Moyer’s you are a wonderful person for doing all that you do…’We the People” need many more folks to do what you do…but most importantly we (meaning me) must spread the word to keep this form of education fresh and alive in our memories..the best democracy is an educated one.

  • http://twitter.com/lawcontois Lucille Contois

    I missed your show last week and wanted to get the title of a book….something like ” I
    It’s the Republicans Fault”.

  • Erich

    Thanks for being outside the grip of power. I would like to second another commenter’s suggestion on Joseph Stiglitz’ The Price of Inequality as a “must read.” I hope you can also have him on your program sometime.