More Books to Read Before You Vote

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How does politics play a role in the environment, economics, health, and business? And what does our political history have to tell us about our future? Before I vote, I hope to answer these questions and more by reading the books below. Surely, they’ll spur new questions, and thus, new reads.

The Future of Life, by Edward O. Wilson
It’s a heavy title, but then again, E.O. Wilson, the famed Harvard naturalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, tends to tackle heavy subjects. In this book, he tries to rectify the divide between conservation and economics, between the long-term sell-offs for a short-term gain. This book looks to be easier and more digestible than his last big book, Consilience, but no less important. It shows how our success as a species depends on ethical decisions as well as the cooperation of government, science, and the private sector.

Politics: Observations and Arguments: 1966–2004, by Hendrik Hertzberg
Hertzberg is a senior editor at the New Yorker, and one of my favorite columnists. His political musings are usually spot-on, entertaining, insightful, and always well written. Since political themes tend to repeat, I’m interested in what Hertzberg has had to say throughout the years, and what this might mean for the future.

Free Lunch, by David Cay Johnston
Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter, exposes how the superrich habitually benefit from public handouts all while touting free markets and denouncing the “welfare state.” Since the idea that the rich benefit from public funding seems counterintuitive, I’m interested to read how they’ve come to benefit from the system they so often denounce.

Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor, by Paul Farmer
While I was in graduate school in public health, I saw Paul Farmer speak about his work in Haiti, and since then I’ve wanted to read one of his books. Farmer is a physician and anthropologist, and has worked and written extensively on human rights, inequity, social justice, health, and poverty. Pathologies of Power follows on his usual themes, but gives us a glimpse of global poverty, both in the United States and abroad, and the similarities that exist in rich and developing nations. He also argues that we should stop treating health as a commodity, and start considering it a basic social right.

The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy, by William Greider
William Greider, a correspondent for the Nation, has previously written about American politics and the Federal Reserve, showing how they often work against the interests of the majority (the Bush Administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy is a prime example). His most current book examines how unchecked capitalism can do more harm than good, and how it is being transformed.

Related Story: Five Things to Read Before You Vote


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