Suggested Reading from the League of Women Voters of Fort Wayne

Here is a link to a slideshow from Bill Moyers discussing Essential Reading for Americans.

Title Author Photo(s) Suggested by Comments
The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals about Our Power to Change Others Tali Sharot Front Cover Peg The author describes why it is so difficult to influence or persuade others.  It is based on neuroscience, but is simply written for a lay audience, and gives many illustrative examples which demonstrate what works/what doesn't and why. It is good food for thought as we try to convince people to support redistricting reform (or any other issue).  
Promise Me, Dad Joe Biden Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose Nancy Joe Biden is a living, breathing example of how you can be in politics and still be a class act....something that has too often been forgotten. (End of rant.) Good look at what Biden did as vice-president, the illness that led to his son's death, and some of his memories from his years in the political arena. Very readable and interesting. The only criticism I have is that when you're the past vice-president and writing about what you did while in office, it's hard not to seem egotistical.
I Dissent Ruth Bader Ginsburg Product Details Naomi Hi, I am Naomi, and I am 8.  David is my Daddy. He got me this book on Judge Ginsburg. It is a short biography of her for kids. I didn't think I would like it, but I did! I especially thought the parts where they talk about her being Jewish are cool!
My Own Words Ruth Bader Ginsburg Product Details Nancy
This is not a sit down, prop your feet up, feel good weekend read. It took me far longer to read than I thought it would because it's very dense in legal theory in spots and I'm the type of person who won't read a book where I skip parts of it that I don't like--it's all or nothing (except the footnotes). But if you want an analysis of laws that affect women--this is a good resource. And if you want to stretch your brain a little, again...a good resource.
The Man In
The Middle
Timothy Goeglein The Man in the Middle: An Inside Account of Faith and Politics in the George W. Bush Era Nancy See Nancy's full review on Goodreads.
The Once and
Future Liberal
Mark Lilla After Identity Politics Nancy While the book is a tad dense in spots, it's a pretty blunt look at where the Democratic (and to a certain extent Republican) parties should be targeting voters and re-gaining their respect and votes. The author's assessment of where the Democratic Party has failed in past years and what it needs to do seems to be pretty valid.
What Happened Hillary Clinton Nancy I hope Hillary Clinton continues to be this blunt....because she'll do far more good being blunt than she could have done as President. That being said, there are some really interesting observations in this book about a. women in the US b. politics in general c. how voters respond to the media d. how the media could do a better job and, obviously, e. Donald Trump. Well worth your time.
Gloria Steinem: My Life on the Road Gloria Steinem Dave Looking forward to reading this one.  Ms. Steinem is a legend in the feminist movement.
Here is a page with more info.
The Righteous Mind Jonathan Haidt Nancy A groundbreaking investigation into the origins of morality, which turns out to be the basis for religion and politics. The book is timely (explaining the American culture wars and refuting the "New Atheists"), scholarly (integrating insights from many fields) and great fun to read (like Haidt's last book, The Happiness Hypothesis).
Those Who Save Us Jenna Blum Those Who Save Us David A dual story with original perspectives of an ordinary young German woman and her difficult conditions, told simultaneously with the story of her daughter, who was 3 years old at the time of the her mother's tale. Now in her 50s, she is a German history professor living in Minneapolis. Fictional, yet plausible, historical, and engrossing.
To read my complete review, check it out on Goodreads.
Master of the Mountain:
Thomas Jefferson and his Slaves
Henry Wiencek Nancy This book on Jefferson is an interesting read about the complexity of our third President. The picture isn't always pretty but well worth your time.
The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power Jeff Sharlet
Nancy A little dated now, since it came out in 2008, but does highlight how the American right has functioned in our time from both a historian's and a journalist's perspective.
Coming Apart

The State of White America: 1960-2010
Charles Murray Barb Murray is a libertarian and has many ideas that run counter to prevailing thoughts. But he does have excellent narratives on the differences between lower class and upper class communities in America. His recounting of the changes wrought by the last 50 years are noteworthy.
Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress Olympia Snowe Nancy Snowe proves that women can make a huge difference in our government by the way in which they function differently than men. Straight forward, easily read and thought provoking. Well worth your time and attention
In the Garden
of Beasts

Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
Erik Larson Larson Nancy Larson's book covers the early 1930's in Germany and the ambassadorship of Wiliam E. Dodd.   
Congregation Acduth Vesholom will feature Larson on May 3, 2012 as the speaker for their annual People of the Book event.
Please see the Temple's event page for more information. website for the Congregation.
Healing the Heart of Democracy

The courage to create a politics worth of the human spirit
Parker J. Palmer Healing the Heart Nancy  If you think we can do better in this country, you're right. Palmer offers his years of experience and wisdom and devotes the pages of this book to explain how to make the
political climate in our country better. He is the author of nine books---this is his latest--and founder of the Center for Courage and Renewal.
Prague Winter:
A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948
Madeline Albright
Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 Nancy
Madeleine Albright's background on some little known parts of WWII international politics is not an easy read but one that is a good precursor to understanding today's world.
The Mighty and the Almighty Madeleine Albright Nancy Tagline:   Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs

Starts slowly, but keep reading, it's great!
The Price of Civilization - Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity Jeffrey D. Sachs Price of Civ Barb Jeffrey Sachs is a Harvard educated macro economist who has written extensively on world economics and has championed the millennium development goals. He turns his attention in this book to the United States economic situation and its interface with politics. Since our current political situation has everything to do with economics, he provides a blueprint for understanding the current political situation as it interfaces with monetary policy.
The bottom line is more taxes need to come from the rich who have been given a free ride at great cost to the rest of us. This is economics, not politics. We need to change our system of taxation to benefit everybody more fairly, especially the poor, to raise the level of affluence so it benefits more citizens. To stay at our current level endangers everyone.
Unfinished Business: The 10 Most Important Issues Women Face Today Dr. Julianne Malveaux and Deborah Perry UB Nancy A Republican and a Democrat present their sometimes differing, sometimes in agreement view of issues affecting women such as work and family, equal pay and benefits, race and social security and welfare.
The Great Dissent:
How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind--and Changed the History of Free Speech in America
Thomas Healy   Product Details Nancy
A little difficult to understand if you're not an attorney but….a wonderful explanation of how the First Amendment has evolved in this country.
More than a good bit about Eugene V. Debs, who was an Indiana native.

A Singular Woman


A biography of Stanley

Ann Dunham, PhD, 1942-1982

Janny Scott Barb

A fascinating story of Barack Obama’s mother.

She was a brilliant anthropologist from the

U of Hawaii who led an intense

life in Indonesia and other parts of the world advocating for the poor and women.

She died of cancer before her son became President.

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from
1960 to the Present
Gail Collins When Everything ChangedGail Collins Nancy An excellent overview of the Women's Movement in modern times including how it intersected and sometimes interfered with the Civil Rights Movement. If you're over 50, you've lived this. If you're under 50, you need to know this information.
Growing Up Global-Raising Children to Be at Home in the World Homa Sabet Tavanger Growing UP GlobalHoma Bev. F. The author, was the key speaker at this year's International Women's Day Celebration. Her website is, where you can find her story of searching for sources to help her raise her children to be comfortable in, curious about, and finally competitive in a global society.  Having worked all over the world, Homa already knew a lot but had not thought it out.  So, she started organizing and adding to her knowledge.  This book is really great. Also, she grew up in Fort Wayne as first generation American. 
Crossing Stones Helen Frost Crossing StonesHelen Frost Betsy K.

Helen Frost is a local author who I've met through my association with the Rally to Read.  This is about the suffragette movement from a youthful perspective.  Good way to get the next generation informed about LWV history on this important anniversary year (2010).

The Terror Dream Susan Faludi Terror DreamSusan Faludi  Nancy I did not agree with everything that was written, but it was an interesting book.
Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War Andrew Bacevich Washington RulesBacevich Nancy

If you've ever wondered why our government spends so much on defense,
read this book. Written by a former officer, Bacevich is critical of
our nation's policy of pumping billions of dollars into an outdated
version of who should run the world rather than into the needs of our
nation. Guaranteed to make you think and well worth the read."

The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan Eric Blehm Blehm bookEric Blehm Nancy This book gives an inside look at our early years in Afghanistan after 9-11.
Sin in the Second City

Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the battle for America's Soul
Karen Abbott David A history of the Levee neighborhood in Chicago from 1900-1912. Filled with politics, brothels, white slavery, reform, and more!
This book is especially meaningful to me because I am from Chicago (and am into history).
Founding Mothers Cokie Roberts Founding Mothers Nancy "A great look at the beginnings of our country from the female perspective. Cokie Roberts has an interesting sense of humor but shows how our attitudes about the role of women in our country have changed--mostly for the good."
Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times Helen Thomas Product Details Nancy While this book of Thomas' is a bit dated, it does provide a fascinating look at the presidencies she covered through Bill Clinton. An insider's look at Washington that's well worth the read.
Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women Rebecca Traister Nancy
While the subtitle for this book can be debated, this look at the "isms" of sexism, racism and ageism is an engaging look at how politics took turns for both the good and the bad in 2008 and can be the start of great discussions among friends about the role of feminism in our society particularly on the political front.
Then Everything Changed Jeff Greenfield Nancy Greenfield takes us back into modern history and proposes the question of "What if.....things had been different?" . An interesting look at American in the 1960s, 70s and 80s interweaving reality with just enough fiction to make it interesting. Greenfield is an excellent writer of fiction and, in this case, history too. Read it for fun and then read the Afterword for a list of books that explain why America is what it is today.
The Plot Against America Philip Roth Product Details David In the same vein as the above book, Roth imagines an America with an alternate history. What if Charles Lindbergh had won the presidency instead of FDR in 1939?
In My Time Dick Cheney Dick Cheney Nancy Having met Dick Cheney when he was our Congressman--and having voted for him--I wanted to see what had changed the man I'd known in the early 1980s in Wyoming. After reading this book, I'm not sure being Secretary of Defense is good for anyone. This book is also interesting for the language Cheney uses to describe the different administrations he worked for and his criticism of almost everyone but Donald Rumsfeld.
Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with JFK Interviews by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr;
Compiled by Michael Beschloss
Jackie Kennedy Nancy Kennedy shared a lot of government documents with his wife, who shares her opinion of many people in the administration in these candid conversations with Arthur Schlesinger about four months after her husband's assassination. If you're a student of history, you'll appreciate the process Caroline Kennedy went through to determine how best to release these historic documents. Jackie was NOT a feminist--at least at this time--remarking at one point that women should vote for the candidates for whom their husbands were voting. If you grew up in the 1960's, well worth listening and reading this part of history. The conversations are also interesting from the perspective of her thoughts on what it would have been like for JFK to leave office with many more potential years ahead of him. One thought that is rather chilling--if you're the former president and become aware of a national or world development in the news, you know far more about the ramifications of what can happen than most reading or hearing the report, yet you no longer have the power to do anything about the situation.

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