100 books like American Icon

By Bryce G. Hoffman,

Here are 100 books that American Icon fans have personally recommended if you like American Icon. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of My Years with General Motors

Eric G. Flamholtz Author Of Growing Pains: Building Sustainably Successful Organizations

From my list on the stages and challenges of organizational growth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm Professor Emeritus at UCLA and have also been on the faculty of Columbia University and The University of Michigan, where I received my PhD degree. I founded Management Systems Consulting, which works with entrepreneurial firms in the US and globally to scale up, in 1978. I've served on the board of a firm (99 Cents Only Stores) that scaled up and was a NYSE listed firm. I've advised CEOs who have created global champion firms and been recognized as leaders in their space. I've authored or co-authored several books including Creating Family Business Champions; Corporate Culture: The Ultimate Strategic Advantage; Changing the Game; and Leading Strategic Change.

Eric's book list on the stages and challenges of organizational growth

Eric G. Flamholtz Why did Eric love this book?

This book presents the historical story of another great company that rose to dominate its industry from the perspective of the man who led the company and was the architect of the strategic battle to create it. Alfred P. Sloan was an MIT-trained engineer when he was selected to lead General Motors, which was at the time “an also ran” to the once mighty Ford Motor Company led by the legendary visionary of the industry, Henry Ford. Yet Sloan, who even today is less well known than Henry Ford, crafted a strategy and organization that ultimately surpassed Ford not only in market share, but also in all aspects of operations so that General Motors and not Ford became the dominant colossus of the Automotive industry for more than a half-century. 

The book gives readers an opportunity to see the nature and evolution of Sloan’s plans and actions that slowly and…

By Alfred P Sloan Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Years with General Motors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This edition has no photos nor charts. A free GM_Charts_Supplement.pdf can be download from enetpress.com

“Deliberately to stop growing is to suffocate. . . . I put no ceiling on progress.”
~Alfred P Sloan, Jr.

Alfred P Sloan, Jr. began his career with General Motors little realizing that the automobile presented one of the greatest industrial opportunities of modern times. It was because of his genius and leadership that General Motors Corporation grew to be one of the largest corporations on Earth. My Years with General Motors tells Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.’s remarkable story.

When Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. joined…

Book cover of Autoworkers Under the Gun: A Shop-Floor View of the End of the American Dream

Danny Katch Author Of Socialism....Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation

From my list on winning socialism in our lifetime.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a socialist for my entire adult life and a wise-ass for even longer. As a writer I’ve found a way to combine these two passions, using humor to introduce complex economic and political ideas to a new audience, as well as poke fun at politicians, CEOs, and even myself and my fellow activists. Not all of the books on this list use humor the way I do, but they have all helped me keep my sunny disposition by giving me inspiration that the socialist cause is more dynamic and multifaceted than ever. 

Danny's book list on winning socialism in our lifetime

Danny Katch Why did Danny love this book?

Greg Shotwell was a longtime worker at General Motors and activist in the United Auto Workers who was notorious among executives in both the company and union for his rank-and-file newsletter, Live Bait and Ammo. This book is a collection of articles from that newsletter, and it’s a bitingly funny and ultimately heartbreaking account of autoworkers’ losing fight to maintain the rights and living standards that had made the union famous. 

Unlike the other books on my list, this book is the story of a defeat, but it is also a portrait of the generation of working-class fighters who kept alive the radical shop-floor traditions that are an essential component of any socialist vision. This is the book that made me want to become a writer. 

By Gregg Shotwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Autoworkers Under the Gun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In an industry under attack, a veteran autoworker offers his take on the collapse of the American dream.

Book cover of The Socialist Car: Automobility in the Eastern Bloc

Sean Eedy Author Of Four-Color Communism: Comic Books and Contested Power in the German Democratic Republic

From my list on everyday life and politics in the Soviet Bloc.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of modern European history. But before that, my first loves were Star Wars, heavy metal, and comic books. When I started my degree, it only made sense to combine my love of popular culture with my academic interest in the Soviet Bloc states. Cultural history and the history of everyday life, examining the world through cars, comics, film, food, music, or whatever, provide us with a lens through which to see how people understood themselves and came to terms with the society around them, and for my work, to understand how those living under dictatorship resisted and carved out their own niche within a police state.

Sean's book list on everyday life and politics in the Soviet Bloc

Sean Eedy Why did Sean love this book?

I love books that explore the Soviet Bloc through its development of consumer culture. Much as they were in the West, in the East, cars were symbolic of progress and modernity. Unlike the West, production and distribution problems created a car culture focused on access. 

Still, the regimes struggled to control the excesses of consumer impulse more than they did the abuses of authority. This volume is fascinating as it asserts that the Soviet Bloc states were consumer-driven societies, given the same desires and demands as the West, despite their communist ideology.

Cars were political, and acquiring one may demand demonstrations of loyalty to the system. On the other hand, owning a car allowed for a perceived freedom from the regime, socialism, and social norms.

By Lewis H. Siegelbaum (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Across the Soviet Bloc, from the 1960s until the collapse of communism, the automobile exemplified the tension between the ideological imperatives of political authorities and the aspirations of ordinary citizens. For the latter, the automobile was the ticket to personal freedom and a piece of the imagined consumer paradise of the West. For the authorities, the personal car was a private, mobile space that challenged the most basic assumptions of the collectivity. The "socialist car"-and the car culture that built up around it-was the result of an always unstable compromise between official ideology, available resources, and the desires of an…

Book cover of Borrowing Brilliance: The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others

John Beeson Author Of The Unwritten Rules: The Six Skills You Need to Get Promoted to the Executive Level

From my list on advancing and succeeding at the executive level.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent many years as a management consultant to a range of big, global corporations, smaller companies, and not-for-profits. I also headed up succession planning and management development at two major companies. I decided to go into this field based on a strong conviction, a conviction that continues today: that leadership counts. Strong leaders benefit people in their organizations and, ultimately, society itself. Having worked with many senior leaders and led organizations myself, I know the range of pressures executives face and how easy it is to fail. Companies need a supply of capable, well-equipped senior leaders, and those who aspire to top-level positions need guideposts about achieving their career aspirations. 

John's book list on advancing and succeeding at the executive level

John Beeson Why did John love this book?

One of the success factors I highlight in my book is leading innovation and change.

Simply maintaining or marginally improving the status quo isn’t enough in most organizations. Many aspiring executives find the requirement to lead innovation intimidating, since by definition it means finding solutions that are different from what they are most familiar with.

Murray illustrates that the vast majority of innovations are not “bolts out of the blue.” Rather, they are often the result of taking a new idea out of one context (for example, a different field or industry) and then building on it.

The implication for me is that the successful executive needs to adopt an external perspective, i.e., looking outside his or her own organization, and find ways to identify new ideas—even if the practical application is not immediately apparent. 

By David Kord Murray,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Most of us think that outstanding success derives only from groundbreaking innovation. But we're wrong. In fact, many of the most successful business ideas of our time have come about when someone has borrowed and adapted an idea from somewhere else.

In Borrowing Brilliance, David Kord Murray explains exactly how you can do the same. He demonstrates conclusively that new business ideas are simply combinations of existing ideas, and then sets out to show how you can solve current problems and create new opportunities by learning where to look for ideas and answers. In the process, he takes you through…

Book cover of My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way

Sarah McArthur Author Of The AMA Handbook of Leadership

From my list on working together towards a bright future.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong student of philosophy, leadership, and principled living. Having worked with great leaders of today and being an editor-in-chief of a leadership journal (Leader to Leader), I experience how their leadership continues the principles set forth in days long past, and I publish works by authors who are keeping these principles alive in their writing. I am grateful for the opportunity to recommend books that might help others as we grapple with how to be in the world today to create value for all.

Sarah's book list on working together towards a bright future

Sarah McArthur Why did Sarah love this book?

There are many of us who believe Frances Hesselbein was one of the greatest leaders of our time, including myself, Peter F. Drucker, Alan Mulally, Marshall Goldsmith, and millions more.

A leader whose focus was on humility, love, and service, Frances spent her entire 107 years serving humanity in the area of leadership. She showed us by example that who we are will have everything to do with our performance and results. For instance, if we have respect for all people, our goals will include everyone in the results.

This book is essential for anyone learning about this great leader because it is in her words, what she believed to be important to who we are and how we lead.

By Frances Hesselbein,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Life in Leadership as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a clear and compelling voice, Frances Hesselbein delivers key leadership lessons. Tracing her own development as a leader, she narrates the critical moments that shaped her personally and professionally: from her childhood in Pennsylvania, to moving up from Girl Scout troop leader to Girl Scout CEO, to founding and leading the Leader to Leader Institute, to her friendships and experiences with some of the greatest leaders and thinkers of our time. Each chapter includes an inspirational story, a key lesson and how to apply it to daily life.

Book cover of Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston

Katherine Giuffre Author Of Outrage: The Arts and the Creation of Modernity

From my list on maverick creativity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent my career as a sociologist studying how creative people work, what social settings are most conducive to creativity, and how to foster creativity for everyone in our daily lives. I know that creativity is often not easy and can even be met with hostility much more frequently than we might think. Creativity is, after all, a type of deviance and creative people can face real obstacles in finding and following their vision. But a richer understanding of how and why creativity happens – and of its obstacles – can be a tool for making a more vibrant, creative, inclusive, and just world.

Katherine's book list on maverick creativity

Katherine Giuffre Why did Katherine love this book?

On top of having written one of the most profound novels of the 20th century, Zora Neale Hurston was a fierce and fearless proponent of authenticity in literature and art – and she paid the price for that.

Boyd’s biography of her is the best, delving into this complex woman who was both deeply of her time and way ahead of it. Boyd quotes Hurston in one of my all-time favorite lines by a writer responding to a demeaning critic: “I will send my toe-nails to debate him…” An inspiration for all creative people facing rejection for being true to themselves!

By Valerie Boyd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wrapped in Rainbows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From critically acclaimed journalist Valerie Boyd comes an eloquent profile of one of the most intriguing cultural figures of the twentieth century—Zora Neale Hurston.

A woman of enormous talent and remarkable drive, Zora Neale Hurston published seven books, many short stories, and several articles and plays over a career that spanned more than thirty years. Today, nearly every black woman writer of significance—including Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker—acknowledges Hurston as a literary foremother, and her 1937 masterpiece Their Eyes Were Watching God has become a crucial part of the modern literary canon.

Wrapped in Rainbows, the first biography…

Book cover of The Orchard: A Memoir

Deirdre Heekin Author Of An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir

From my list on wine, love, and landscape.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a winegrower, farmer, writer, photographer, and pop-upeuse. I fell in love with food and wine while living and working in Italy, then returned stateside to create an homage to the people and place that embraced us and taught us so much. That endeavor--the restaurant osteria pane e salute opened with my chef husband Caleb Barber—was where I curated the wine program and became passionate about wines farmed artfully. I began working as a winegrower in 2007, a personal landscape experiment that led me down the rabbit hole of growing and making wine from hybrid varieties focused on regenerative viticulture and low intervention winemaking.

Deirdre's book list on wine, love, and landscape

Deirdre Heekin Why did Deirdre love this book?

The Orchard is a mesmerizing story of one woman’s efforts to save her family farm in Depression-era Massachusetts. It is a glimmering and moving memoir of “Kitty” Robertson’s determination to save the small orchard she inherited from her father, the last thing that linked her family to their history. It is a story of struggle and determination, and she is a heroine who didn’t receive medals or accolades or fortune for accepting the bone-cold physical labor in winters, inherited debt, broken dreams. Somehow she is able to still see the beauty in the grit of farm life in a grim period, spring blossoms in the orchard, the green of summer, the kindness of neighbors as they help each other through challenge after challenge.

In the end, it is a narrative of redemption and victory and reminds me that the life of farming and writing is hard scrapple, but it is…

By Adele Crockett Robertson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Orchard is an exquisitely beautiful and poignant memoir of a young woman's single-handed struggle to save her New England farm in the depths of the Great Depression. Recently discovered by the author's daughter, it tells the story of Adele "Kitty" Robertson, young and energetic, but unprepared by her Radcliffe education for the rigors of apple farming in those bitter times. Alone at the end of a country road, with only a Great Dane for company, plagued by debts, broken machinery, and killing frosts, Kitty revives the old orchard after years of neglect. Every day is a struggle, but every…

Book cover of Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

Alan Bollard Author Of Economists at War: How a Handful of Economists Helped Win and Lose the World Wars

From my list on how economists agree and disagree amongst each other.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an economics professor at Victoria University of Wellington. As a previous Secretary of the New Zealand Treasury and Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, I have had quite a bit of experience watching economists’ ideas succeed and fail in the real world. I have written a number of books about policy economists and their lives in peace and wartime. (And a couple of novels too!)

Alan's book list on how economists agree and disagree amongst each other

Alan Bollard Why did Alan love this book?

This is the story of four (European and American) central bankers fighting the dramas and crises during the lead-up to the Great Depression. When crisis looms, Bank of England Governor Montagu Norman puts on a disguise and boards a cruise ship to consult with his friend Benjamin Strong in New York. If only financial crises could still be fought that way today! I liked it because I used to be a central bank governor myself!

By Liaquat Ahamed,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Lords of Finance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

"Erudite, entertaining macroeconomic history of the lead-up to the Great Depression as seen through the careers of the West's principal bankers . . . Spellbinding, insightful and, perhaps most important, timely." -Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"There is terrific prescience to be found in [Lords of Finance's] portrait of times past . . . [A] writer of great verve and erudition, [Ahamed] easily connects the dots between the economic crises that rocked the world during the years his book covers and the fiscal emergencies that beset us today." -The New York Times

It is commonly believed that…

Book cover of Heaven's My Destination

Sam Torode Author Of The Dirty Parts of the Bible

From my list on seriously funny novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of The Dirty Parts of the Bible, which has been a #1 Kindle bestseller in Humorous Literary Fiction on several occasions. In school, I hated the sorts of novels we were assigned. Unable to connect with them, I read Cliff’s Notes instead. Then we were given The Catcher in the Rye. It was a revelation—literature can be relatable, engaging, and funny?! The next novel to grab me this way was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Like Catcher, it was gritty and often dark, addressing serious concerns—but it did so with humor. These books were my gateway into enjoying fiction—and, ultimately, to writing my own story in the same category of serious-yet-funny.

Sam's book list on seriously funny novels

Sam Torode Why did Sam love this book?

This is a little-known gem by three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thornton Wilder (best known for his play Our Town). Published in the 1935, it’s a contemporaneous account of Depression-era America, following the misadventures of traveling salesman and religious zealot, George Brush. 

Coming off as preachy and self-righteous, George sparks ire and outrage wherever he goes. Yet, he’s a sincere and decent person. At the end of his misadventures, George is humbled and begins to broaden his views, making him a complex, sympathetic character.

Though renowned during his lifetime, Wilder has been largely forgotten in favor of flashier contemporaries. All of his works are worth rediscovering, but Heaven’s My Destination is closest to my heart as it was a major inspiration for my own book.  

By Thornton Wilder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heaven's My Destination as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The law of contract is ripe for feminist analysis. Despite increasing calls for the re-conceptualisation of neo-classical ways of thinking, feminist perspectives on contract tend to be marginalised in mainstream textbooks. This edited collection questions the assumptions made in such works and the ideologies that underpin them, drawing attention to the ways in which the law of contract has facilitated the virtual exclusion of women, the feminine and the private sphere from legal discourse.

Contributors to this volume offer a range of ways of thinking about the subject and cover topics such as the feminine offeree, feminist perspectives on contracts…

Book cover of Between Father and Son: Family Letters

Amitava Kumar Author Of My Beloved Life

From my list on fathers.

Why am I passionate about this?

When the pandemic arrived, I feared that my father, who was then in his late eighties, would certainly die from the coronavirus. What made my anxiety more terrible, I think, was that I was at work on a novel where the father was dying. Then, the vaccine became available, and I was relieved when, living thousands of miles away from my father, I heard the news that my father had been vaccinated. The father in my novel wasn’t so lucky. While my father lived, I began reading what other writers had written about their fathers, particularly their deaths. I’m listing below a few of my favorites.

Amitava's book list on fathers

Amitava Kumar Why did Amitava love this book?

Every Father’s Day, someone or the other on my social media feed will post Robert Hayden’s wonderful poem “Those Winter Sundays.” The poem takes me back not only to the many acts of kindness and unheralded small sacrifices that my father made but also to the ambition and the anxiety of Seepersad Naipaul on behalf of his son away at Oxford and starting in life as a writer, a writer who later in life will win the Nobel Prize.

The poignant part of this drama is the father’s own ambition and anxiety about making it as a writer. It doesn’t happen. Instead, the son receives a telegram with some terrible news. He sends his family a telegram in return: “= HE WAS THE BEST MAN I KNEW STOP EVERYTHING I OWE TO HIM BE BRAVE MY LOVES TRUST ME = VIDO”

By V. S. Naipaul,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Between Father and Son as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An “extraordinary rich correspondence” (The New York Times Book Review) between a seventeen-year-old aspiring writer at Oxford who would go on to become a Nobel Prize winning author and his sacrificing, beloved father. 

At seventeen, V.S. Naipaul wanted to "follow no other profession" but writing. Awarded a scholarship by the Trinidadian government, he set out to attend Oxford, where he encountered a vastly different world from the one he yearned to leave behind. Separated from his family by continents, and grappling with depression, financial strain, loneliness, and dislocation, "Vido" bridged the distance with a faithful correspondence that began shortly before…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Great Depression, CEOs, and presidential biography?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Great Depression, CEOs, and presidential biography.

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