The best best books to understand the American political system

Who am I?

I write about politics. I grew up in a political household. My mother was a key fundraiser for the Democratic Party and my stepfather served as a White House counsel to President Clinton. Politics and the Washington experience were the air I breathed during my formative years. I followed in their footsteps and co-founded Fight for a Better America, an organization that invests in key battleground districts and states throughout the US, with the goal of either flipping them blue or maintaining a Democratic incumbent. Through my travels with the organization, I have made hundreds of contacts with folks in local civic clubs and organized hundreds of volunteers on the ground. 


I wrote...

Facts & Fury: An Unapologetic Primer on How the GOP Has Destroyed American Democracy

By Bill Kuhn,

Book cover of Facts & Fury: An Unapologetic Primer on How the GOP Has Destroyed American Democracy

What is my book about?

Written in smart and easily digestible chapters, you will discover how Trump became the logical consequence of decades worth of corruption, fear-mongering, and destructive policies. Kuhn uncovers the blatantly racist style of politics inherent in the GOP from Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Movement to Reagan’s aversion to public welfare. Each chapter is poignant and a well-researched entry contributing to the national conversation and debate on how we got to where we are today.

Facts & Fury is a revelatory work of scholarship and a laceration of the Republication Party that will energize the country and encourage discussion. Much more, it is a call to arms to halt the GOP’s efforts, engage our neighbors, and ultimately strengthen American democracy.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism--From Goldwater to Trump and Beyond

Bill Kuhn Why did I love this book?

Why The Right Went Wrong is a wicked, detailed, and easily digestible account of how the Right was overtaken by power-hungry ideologues bent on destroying government. This is not hyperbole. Dionne painstakingly documents the ascendancy of those radicals in the Republican Party, and how our present moment – of chaos and near-civil war – is in large part due to this movement outlined in his book. A must-read for anyone seeking to understand how we got “here.”

By E.J. Dionne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why the Right Went Wrong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of Why Americans Hate Politics, the New York Times bestselling and “notably fair-minded” (The New York Times Book Review), story of the GOP’s fracturing—from the 1964 Goldwater takeover to the Trump spectacle.

Why the Right Went Wrong offers an “up to the moment” (The Christian Science Monitor) historical view of the right since the 1960s. Its core contention is that American conservatism and the Republican Party took a wrong turn when they adopted Barry Goldwater’s worldview during and after the 1964 campaign. The radicalism of today’s conservatism is not the product of the Tea Party, Washington Post…


Book cover of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class

Bill Kuhn Why did I love this book?

Hacker explores the connection between America’s present yawning inequality and the deliberate decisions made by key political figures throughout the last 50 years. While off-shoring and technological innovation have contributed to the ever poorer job prospects and conditions for the poor and working-class, he argues that our government is just as much to blame. We could have taken action to protect these constituencies but rather defended the interests of corporate America and the radical rich (his term for wealth conservative donors such as the Koch Brothers). The book is very well-researched and easily digestible.

By Jacob S. Hacker, Paul Pierson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Winner-Take-All Politics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking work that identifies the real culprit behind one of the great economic crimes of our time- the growing inequality of incomes between the vast majority of Americans and the richest of the rich.

We all know that the very rich have gotten a lot richer these past few decades while most Americans haven't. In fact, the exorbitantly paid have continued to thrive during the current economic crisis, even as the rest of Americans have continued to fall behind. Why do the "haveit- alls" have so much more? And how have they managed to restructure the economy to reap…


Book cover of Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History

Bill Kuhn Why did I love this book?

In his characteristically funny and sardonic style, Andersen guides us through the historical connection between corporate America and the Republican Party. Needless to say, the relationship has been strong and fruitful (Democrats are guilty as well, but it’s hardly a comparison). He reports on the key conservative figures in both the private and public spheres who have funded and enabled the transformation of our laws and society. It is a remarkable story of power and greed written in concise witty prose. Highly recommend!

By Kurt Andersen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Evil Geniuses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • When did America give up on fairness? The author of Fantasyland tells the epic history of how America decided that big business gets whatever it wants, only the rich get richer, and nothing should ever change—and charts a way back to the future.
 
“Essential, absorbing . . . a graceful, authoritative guide . . . a radicalized moderate’s moderate case for radical change.”—The New York Times Book Review

During the twentieth century, America managed to make its economic and social systems both more and more fair and more and more prosperous. A huge, secure, and…


Book cover of The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy

Bill Kuhn Why did I love this book?

Wow, if you had any idea how the Trump administration conducted the presidential transition, you would be floored. You likely have some idea of the ignorance and incompetence based on observing President Trump, but Lewis guides us through the fine details not covered in the press. Through incisive interview quotes and masterful story-telling, Lewis manages a brilliant look inside the post-election debacles. He also educates us as to the critical functions of the Departments of Energy and Agriculture and how we all rely on their proper functioning. 

By Michael Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fifth Risk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael Lewis's brilliant narrative of the Trump administration's botched presidential transition takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its leaders through willful ignorance and greed. The government manages a vast array of critical services that keep us safe and underpin our lives from ensuring the safety of our food and drugs and predicting extreme weather events to tracking and locating black market uranium before the terrorists do. The Fifth Risk masterfully and vividly unspools the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works.


Book cover of Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches

Bill Kuhn Why did I love this book?

President Nixon’s former White House Counsel, John Dean, has had the inside seat to Republican malfeasance and corruption. He utilizes his deep experience in government to write about his former party (Republican) of the 1990s and 2000s. He painstakingly documents the brutal no holds barred tactics of Republican leaders in Congress and in the executive branch. The damage former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Vice President Dick Cheney wreaked on our democracy are incalculable. Dean proves this definitively. 

By John W. Dean,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Broken Government as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The concluding volume of The New York Times bestselling trilogy

One of today's most outspoken and respected political commentators asks: How can our democracy function when the key institutions of government no longer operate as intended by the Constitution? Stepping back to assess three decades of nearly continuous Republican rule, John W. Dean surveys the damage done to the three branches of government and traces their decline through the presidencies of Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II. Speaking to what the average moderate citizen can do to combat extremism, authoritarianism, incompetence, and the Republicans' deliberate focus on polarizing…


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Coma and Near-Death Experience: The Beautiful, Disturbing, and Dangerous World of the Unconscious

By Alan Pearce, Beverley Pearce,

Book cover of Coma and Near-Death Experience: The Beautiful, Disturbing, and Dangerous World of the Unconscious

Alan Pearce Author Of Coma and Near-Death Experience: The Beautiful, Disturbing, and Dangerous World of the Unconscious

New book alert!

Who am I?

As a journalist, I'm driven to find stories that have not been covered before and to make clear the incomprehensible. I like people, and I like asking questions. I've covered wars and disasters, and on any given day, I could expect to see people at their very worst and at their very best. With my book about comas, I've met some of the finest people of my career, doctors, nurses, and other clinicians who are fighting the system, and coma survivors who are simply fighting to get through each and every day. This is the story I am now driven to tell.

Alan's book list on consciousness that demonstrates there is more to life than we know

What is my book about?

What happens when a person is placed into a medically-induced coma?

The brain might be flatlining, but the mind is far from inactive: experiencing alternate lives rich in every detail that spans decades, visiting realms of stunning and majestic beauty, or plummeting to the very depths of Hell while defying all medical and scientific understanding.

Everything you think you know about coma is wrong. Doctors call it 'sleeping' when in reality, many are trapped on a hamster wheel of brain-damaging, nightmarish events that scar those that survive for life. Others are left to question whether they touched levels of existence previously confined to fantasy or whether they teetered on the brink of this life and the next. Coma is not what you think.

Coma and Near-Death Experience: The Beautiful, Disturbing, and Dangerous World of the Unconscious

By Alan Pearce, Beverley Pearce,

What is this book about?

Explores the extraordinary states of expanded consciousness that arise during comas, both positive and negative

Every day around the world, thousands of people are placed in medically-induced comas. For some coma survivors, the experience is an utter blank. Others lay paralyzed, aware of everything around them but unable to move, speak, or even blink. Many experience alternate lives spanning decades, lives they grieve once awakened. Some encounter ultra-vivid nightmares, while others undergo a deep, spiritual oneness with the Universe or say they have glimpsed the Afterlife.

Examining the beautiful and disturbing experiences of those who have survived comas, Alan and…


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