Best Books on Politics and History

Best Books on Politics and History

Postby afterthedream » May 13th, 2014, 2:38 pm

Perhaps this type of reading isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I'm very interested in trying to figure out how the world works and what's really going on. My suggested reading list along those lines is as follows:

1. A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
2. Crossing the Rubicon by Michael Ruppert
3. The War on Truth by Nafeez Ahmed
4. A Terrible Mistake by H.P. Albarelli
5. The Franklin Scandal by Nick Bryant
6. JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass

Anyone else care to share their favorites?
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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby TheFunTrain » May 13th, 2014, 4:44 pm

Friends and readers may know that I also try to maintain an accurate understanding of the world and its peoples, particularly my home in the U.S. Some of the works that have contributed most to my understanding of history and events are:

-That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back
-Lies My Teacher Told Me (Focusing on U.S. history textbooks and classes)

I have also read a number of books focusing on trains and transportation, which are intimately linked to society, industry, and politics. Highlights include:

-The Box That Changed The World: 50 Years of container shipping (includes not only technical details, but globalization, outsourcing, international policy etc.)
-The Men Who Loved Trains (an industry inside view of unions, regulation, finance, and corporate politics)
-The Greatest Railroad Story Ever Told: Henry Flagler & the Florida East Railway (former partner of Rockefeller built lavish hotels and cities in the 1920s as a destination for his railroad, shaping the state of Florida to this day)
-Nothing Like it in the World: The men who built the Transcontinental Railroad
-Conquering Gotham: Building Penn Station and its tunnels

Only today, I was reading the Wikipedia page on Buckminster Fuller, and his philosophy on society and sustainability fascinates me. Perhaps some of his many works are worth reading, including the Dymaxion Chronofile.
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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby Lockman » May 13th, 2014, 6:16 pm

I have a few additions:

1. Common Sense by Thomas Paine
2. The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
3. Plain, Honest Men by Richard Beeman

All of these shed light on the founding of American government. Admittedly, I've only read a few of the Fed. Papers, but they were really good. I haven't read Plain, Honest Men either, but I'm told it's excellent.

If you want to get even more historical, you can find copies/transcripts of the Constitution, the Magna Carta, Hammurabi's Code, etc. XD
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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby afterthedream » May 13th, 2014, 9:00 pm

Lies My Teacher Told Me


I've heard good things about that one but haven't gotten around to it yet. I'll have to check it out one of these days.

@Lockman- if only we could get some of the present-day politicians to read those.
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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby gun21 » May 24th, 2014, 1:35 am

The two I'd recommend are

How Did American Slavery Begin? by Edward Countryman

This kind of outlines how the Slave trade started in coastal Africa with tribes selling out their own countrymen in exchange for goods given to them by Europeans, the establishment of Creole Communities, how the American Slave trade was decidedly worse than traditional European slavery (in that we would basically break men down to the point where they wouldn't even consider themselves to be human anymore after enduring such pain and humiliation) and eventually how the Southern states developed their entire structural economies around slave labor. This is one of the few books I've read that delves into exactly how bad it got, and outlines how the prevalent issue came to define American Politics from it's the passing of the Constitution.
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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby afterthedream » May 24th, 2014, 5:23 pm

@gun21 - That sounds depressing but interesting (like many books in this field). Was there a second one you wanted to recommend?
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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby Guest » June 1st, 2014, 2:53 pm

i have a few
on more current politics I would recommend Glenn Greenwald's new book 'No Place to Hide'
about his work with Edward Snowden to expose the surveillance state of the NSA

another author I find very useful in revealing the world as it is currently is Noam Chomsky.
His books aren't always the most organized or coherent but they get their point across
and were really informative to me about how the USA actually acts on the world stage.

I like to read broad overviews of history and one that I really like is by the science fiction
writer HG Wells. It was written in the 1920s but as it was intended for a popular audience
it is easier to read than something like Toynbee or Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'.
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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby afterthedream » June 2nd, 2014, 11:08 am

cannabiswizard wrote:i have a few
on more current politics I would recommend Glenn Greenwald's new book 'No Place to Hide'
about his work with Edward Snowden to expose the surveillance state of the NSA


tl;dr: Everything conspiracy theorists have been saying about the NSA for the past 20 years is true. Everything anyone has ever done online they know about.

another author I find very useful in revealing the world as it is currently is Noam Chomsky.
His books aren't always the most organized or coherent but they get their point across
and were really informative to me about how the USA actually acts on the world stage.


I like much of what Chomsky has to say, but for some reason he seems to maintain a deliberate silence or ignorance about certain topics (such as are covered in some of the books I listed in the first post).

I like to read broad overviews of history and one that I really like is by the science fiction
writer HG Wells. It was written in the 1920s but as it was intended for a popular audience
it is easier to read than something like Toynbee or Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'.


What's the name of the HG Wells book that you're talking about?
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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby gun21 » June 4th, 2014, 4:19 pm

afterthedream wrote:@gun21 - That sounds depressing but interesting (like many books in this field). Was there a second one you wanted to recommend?


Oh yes.

The second I would read is "Reading the American Past."

There are two small books of this attached with the American Promise, which is a two volume college text book series. The American Promise is pretty bland, but Reading the American Past is a pretty interesting collection of letters from 300+ years of history spanning the early days of colonization to the 1950's. What's interesting is that you see a lot of view points directly from where you usually would not expect them from. One of the more memorable ones is a young 15-18 year old man who was sent out by his territory to route out natives. You sort of understand why so many people who were not wealthy and not in positions of power were afraid of Native Americans.
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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby afterthedream » June 4th, 2014, 4:39 pm

Cool, thanks.
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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby afterthedream » June 23rd, 2014, 1:10 pm

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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby The_Hankerchief » June 23rd, 2014, 3:07 pm

My dad made me read "The World Is Flat" by Thomas Friedman as a kid. Didn't really understand it until I reread it recently. I highly recommend it.
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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby darkenergy » June 24th, 2014, 7:04 pm

Looks like all of your selections lean revisionist (I've only read Zinn so I can't confirm). I'd still read the older stuff because, frankly, revisionist history doesn't do a great job of covering big movements.

TBH, history is so broad I couldn't cut it down to just a few recommendations. But 'She-Wolves' by Helen Castor is the most recent, refreshing book I've read about lesser-known powers, and 'Guns, Germs and Steel' is the best approach to the flow of human history ever.
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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby gun21 » July 21st, 2014, 12:43 am

The_Hankerchief wrote:My dad made me read "The World Is Flat" by Thomas Friedman as a kid. Didn't really understand it until I reread it recently. I highly recommend it.


I've never read this particular book, but I've read alot of Thomas Friedman, and have come to the conclusion that he's a gigantic hack. He's a big cheerleader of globalization, which I get, but he argues in favor of it, not by citing data points, or historical trends, but rather by making overtly vague metaphors and generalization.

Here is his defense of the Iraq War back 10 years ago.



It sounds nice and smart, until you actually apply thought and logic to it. Pretty language. Moron ideas.

Here is his little trick, a "bubble" as he would probably put it, being deflated.

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Re: Best Books on Politics and History

Postby Nymine » May 26th, 2015, 11:43 pm

The Professor and the Madman- Did you know that the dictionary was partially compiled by a schizophrenic? This book was given to me by my Granddad as research material when my debate teacher gave me with the task of arguing that people with schizophrenia were socially valuable(I had sooo many problems with that entire debate and teacher in particular but I digress). It was fun starting off my rebuttal by thumping the podium with our massive copy of Webster's. But besides the personal memories, it's a really good book and a very interesting section of history, and both men involved are quite interesting to read about.
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