Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Whatcha Reading, Barack?

On November 1, the Chicago Tribune invited its two heavy-hitter writers, Aleksander Hemon and Garry Wills, to come up with a list of required reading for the new president: five fiction, five non-fiction. You can see their list here: It includes Thucydides, Al Gore, and Jose Saramago, among others. I have to confess, I was underimpressed with their recommendations.
My own list:
Non-fiction: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.  Barack will have policy wonks aplenty on specific issues but my physics friends say this should be required reading for anyone having to think seriously about nuclear weapons, proliferation, dirty bombs, and related policy issues.  
Ahmed Rashid's The Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia.  Rashid, a Pakistani journalist who covered the Taliban for years, wrote this important book right before 9/11.  We could have avoided a lot of mistakes in Central Asia if we had listened to him and experts like him.
National Security, FBI and CIA Intelligence Briefings.  Given that the nation's security apparatus had warned Bush and Condoleezza Rice of an imminent attack on U.S. soil in the summer of 2001, a great deal of the mess we're in now could have been avoided had the president and his aides only read the briefings and acted appropriately.
Women's lives and bodies have been compromised by eight years of the Bush administration, in which access to contraception and abortion have been curtailed both at home and abroad.  Barack has announced support for Griswold and Roe, allowing people to return to the privacy of their  homes and doctors' offices to make important choices, but the Catholic bishops are demanding that he abandon these views.  There are many books available on reproductive matters; one that is eminently readable is Daniel Maguire's edited volume Sacred Rights. Maguire is Professor of Moral Theology and Ethics at Marquette University (a Catholic Institution) and has a deep and nuanced understanding of religion and reproductive rights.
Finally, Helen Thomas's Watchdogs of Democracy? is a timely critique of the way in which the Washington  Press Corps failed to ask the key questions needed for our citizens to understand what the Bush administration intended to do about war, peace, the environment, the economy, and our nation's health.
Fiction, Poetry
Irina Ratushinkskaya's Grey is the Color of Hope.  This memoir from the Soviet-era gulags tells readers about the human cost of power, and the human capacity for survival and hope.  
The Brothers Karamazov.  A ripping good yarn about faith, families and murder.
Richard II.  What happens when you let power go to your head.
Melissa Benn, One of Us.  This novel about ambition and politics, by the daughter of one of England's important labor leaders, is a gripping novel of the cost to the people who support the big kahuna on his/her quest for power.
Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest. Shows what could happen when we let greed rule in the place of justice.

What do you think Barack should be reading?

P.S.  Heman couldn't come up with any books by women; Wills had one.  Extra points for those who imagine women writers.

30 comments:

JD Rhoades said...

Since Red Harvest is one of my favorite books of all time, I'll second that one. The Brothers Karamazov, not so much.

guyot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jnantz said...

I'm sure he's read it before, but if the man doesn't have Orwell's 1984 replenished in his TBR pile, I'll be disappointed.

woodstock said...

THE MARCH OF FOLLY by Barbara Tuchman

A book by Michael Pollan - either THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA or IN DEFENSE OF FOOD. Better yet - both!

ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE by Barbara Kingsolver

Anonymous said...

For Obama how bout the biography of Ronald Reagan so he knows how to fix the problems

Lara said...

I just picked up Literature from the Axis of Evil, compiled/edited by Words Without Borders. It is a vast array of literature from all of the parts of the world Bush termed "evil". Obama's exposure to it could only be positive.
This is one of the best ideas for post-election posts I've seen thus far! :)

Libby Hellmann said...

Aliens and Dissenters, by William Preston for a look at what our country has done in the past on a federal level to those groups... (although he's probably already read it)

The Habits of Highly Effective Managers, Covey et al.. for obvious reasons

Fiction: any of Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon thrillers for the elegance of the prose and scope of the stories...

Kevin Guilfoile said...

Woodstock, you'll be happy to know Obama's already ahead of you. He quotes Pollan at length in this interview with Joe Klein.

Sara Paretsky said...

Libby, I meant to include the Doris Kearns Goodwin life of Roosevelt that you read from--it's so important for the mindset that we want a new president to bring to our economic crisis!

steve z. said...

Anything by the late, great Ross Thomas.

Picks By Pat said...

Barack should read the following:

Non Fiction:

THE CANDY BOMBERS, the story of the 1948 Berlin Airlift, when America rose to the challenge of a Soviet blockade without resorting to armed force. A brilliant victory, an inspiring action and a lesson for all politicians.

Fiction:
My debut mystery novel.

What? Did you think I was going to actually recommend something important?

Bwah Hah Hah!

Bryon said...

He needs to read the newspapers from the last 8 years

Maryann Mercer said...

I suggest having the latest edition of The Dictionary of Cliches nearby at all times, just so he doesn't fall into the habit of using them.:o) Seriously, I recommend America's Hidden History by Kenneth Davis and A Voyage Long and Strange by Horowitz...new ways to look at the New World. For fiction aside from the classics perhaps the newest from Eric Stone, or Marcus or Sean or Libby or...you get my drift.

ab said...

He should read the books by Ayan Hirsi Ali, one of the strongest and yet most composed critics of Islam. She worked with Theo van Gogh on the film on Islamic oppression on women, the one that got him murdered by a young Islamic fanatic. I've seen her in the flesh on the Gothenburg Book Fair (surrounded by life guards) and she is a terrific debater.

Barbara Tuchman made a great impression on John F Kennedy, as did Rachel Carson's Silent spring. Furthermore, Obama should read Susan Faludi and Naomi Klein.

edired said...

The Language of Baclava by Diane Abu-Jabber and Shadowman by Melissa C. Scott . We'll have advisors out the ??? for the economic stuff and nessecity to drive the foriegn affairs . The human side will come from within .

Namaku Keren said...

Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus
Obat Kanker Usus

Namaku Keren said...

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

teguh priyanto said...

T
B
B
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H

teguh priyanto said...

H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X

teguh priyanto said...

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D

teguh priyanto said...

D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D

D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D

Namaku Keren said...

`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

Namaku Keren said...

`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

teguh priyanto said...

A
B
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C

C
C
C
C
C
C

teguh priyanto said...

C
C
C
C
C
C
C
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
BE
BE
BE
BE
BE
BE
BE
BE
BE
BE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE

Obat kanker serviks manjur said...

TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE

Obat kanker serviks manjur said...

TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE

Namaku Keren said...

`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

Obat kanker serviks manjur said...

TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE

Obat kanker serviks manjur said...

TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE
TE