The best books to find out what we can do to fix the USA

Anthony Biglan Author Of Rebooting Capitalism: How We Can Forge a Society That Works for Everyone
By Anthony Biglan

Who am I?

I have spent my career studying how we can make our world more nurturing for every person. We can build a society that ensures that every child has the skills, interests, values, and health habits they need to lead a productive life in caring relationships with others. I created Values to Action to make this a reality in communities around the world. We have more than 200 members across the country who are working together to reform our society so that it has less poverty, economic inequality, discrimination, and many more happy and thriving families. 

I wrote...

Rebooting Capitalism: How We Can Forge a Society That Works for Everyone

By Anthony Biglan,

Book cover of Rebooting Capitalism: How We Can Forge a Society That Works for Everyone

What is my book about?

This book explains how and why the US became the country with the highest level of child poverty and inequality and what we can do about it. It offers a vision and a road map for how we can create a society in which every person is respected.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do about It

Why did I love this book?

Its central thesis is that the deficiencies and environmental harm of major efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are being ignored, so that the privileged and elite can continue to live in comfort and affluence. The authors present evidence that advocates for alternative energy such as wind and solar greatly overestimate the potential of these sources to replace fossil fuel energy. At the same time, the development of wind and solar power has harmful environmental impacts, including the mining necessary to obtain rare earth minerals, the decimation of wilderness both in the process of obtaining minerals, and widely implementing wind and solar installations. The undue optimism associated with these activities makes it unnecessary for those who are already privileged to consider adopting a much less consumptive lifestyle.

By Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, Max Wilbert

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bright Green Lies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“This disturbing but very important book makes clear we must dig deeper than the normal solutions we are offered.”―Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia Works

"Bright Green Lies exposes the hypocrisy and bankruptcy of leading environmental groups and their most prominent cheerleaders. The best-known environmentalists are not in the business of speaking truth, or even holding up rational solutions to blunt the impending ecocide, but instead indulge in a mendacious and self-serving delusion that provides comfort at the expense of reality. They fail to state the obvious: We cannot continue to wallow in hedonistic consumption and industrial expansion and survive as…

Book cover of Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation

Why did I love this book?

Hawken would agree with the authors of the book Bright Green Lies that we need people to adopt a sustainable lifestyle that does not contribute to the destruction of the environment. But the book describes dozens of ways in which we could significantly stop and indeed reverse the accumulation of greenhouse gasses. I had not realized the extent to which we could promote diverse ways of regeneration, nor have I appreciated how moving away from industrial agriculture and adopting forms of agriculture can increase the sequestration of carbon in the soil at the same time that it replenishes the water table and helps to cool the planet.

By Paul Hawken,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Regeneration as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A radically new understanding of and practical approach to climate change by noted environmentalist Paul Hawken, creator of the New York Times bestseller Drawdown

Regeneration offers a visionary new approach to climate change, one that weaves justice, climate, biodiversity, equity, and human dignity into a seamless tapestry of action, policy, and transformation that can end the climate crisis in one generation. It is the first book to describe and define the burgeoning regeneration movement spreading rapidly throughout the world.

Regeneration describes how an inclusive movement can engage the majority of humanity to save the world from the threat of global…

Book cover of The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It

Why did I love this book?

Robert Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett provide an analysis of the past 125 years of American history that makes a significant contribution to the growing movement to reform American Society. They carefully analyze trends in American life in a way that delineates the tangle of problems we are currently experiencing while at the same time offering hope that we can overcome them. The essence of their analysis is that across a wide variety of societal indicators, the past century and a quarter has involved an upswing in prosocial or communitarian norms and practices, beginning in the progressive era of the early twentieth century. That was followed by a reversal toward less communitarian and more individualistic and self-centered norms and practices.

By Robert D. Putnam,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Upswing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The most important book in social science for many years' Paul Collier, TLS Books of the Year

The Upswing is Robert D. Putnam's brilliant analysis of economic, social, cultural and political trends from the Gilded Age to the present, showing how America went from an individualistic 'I' society to a more communitarian 'We' society and then back again, and how we can all learn from that experience.

In the late nineteenth century, America was highly individualistic, starkly unequal, fiercely polarised and deeply fragmented, just as it is today. However, as the twentieth century dawned, America became - slowly, unevenly, but…

Book cover of Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality

Why did I love this book?

Hacker and Pierson make an important contribution to understanding the mess that the promotion of unbridled capitalism has made America. They argue the elites (society’s wealthiest and most influential) have a dilemma. Being outnumbered, there is always a risk that a democratic society will vote to diminish/confiscate their wealth. They describe two ways in which this dilemma has been addressed; ensuring the needs of less affluent members of society are met, so they’re not motivated to confiscate the wealth of the elites; the other strategy for guarding their wealth is by getting poor people to blame minority groups for difficulties they may be experiencing. Sadly, they make a convincing case for the foreseeable future. Conservative elites will have control of the federal government and a significant number of states.

By Jacob S. Hacker, Paul Pierson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Let Them Eat Tweets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Republican Party appears to be divided between a tax-cutting old guard and a white-nationalist vanguard-and with Donald Trump's ascendance, the upstarts seem to be winning. Yet how are we to explain that, under Trump, the plutocrats have gotten almost everything they want, including a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, regulation-killing executive actions, and a legion of business-friendly federal judges? Does the GOP represent "forgotten" Americans? Or does it represent the superrich?

In Let Them Eat Tweets, best-selling political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson offer a definitive answer: the Republican Party serves its plutocratic masters…

The 1619 Project

By Nikole Hannah-Jones,

Book cover of The 1619 Project

Why did I love this book?

This is the definitive book on racism in America. It provides the 400-year history of the ways in which we have exploited and undermined the well-being of black people. The book makes clear how slavery was central to the very development of the United States. Slavery was a critical component of the economic development of the nation. Throughout our history, disadvantaged white people have supported slavery and later forms of racist control of Black people and thereby maintained the power of the white elites. The book convinces me that we must get a significant portion of the white population to address the continuing inequities of racism and that it will be very challenging to do so. 

By Nikole Hannah-Jones,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The 1619 Project as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAACP IMAGE AWARD WINNER • A dramatic expansion of a groundbreaking work of journalism, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story offers a profoundly revealing vision of the American past and present.

FINALIST FOR THE KIRKUS PRIZE • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Washington Post, NPR, Esquire, Marie Claire, Electric Lit, Ms. magazine, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist

In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of…

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