100 books like Enchanted America

By J. Eric Oliver, Thomas J. Wood,

Here are 100 books that Enchanted America fans have personally recommended if you like Enchanted America. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Author Of Let's Talk Race: A Guide for White People

From my list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should.

Why we are passionate about this?

We grew up in predominantly white communities and came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. As academics, we focused on issues of race in our research and teaching. Yet, despite our reading and writing about race, we still hadn’t made a connection to our own lives and how our white privilege shielded us and made us complicit in perpetuating racial inequities. We didn’t fully see our role in white supremacy until we adopted our sons. Becoming an interracial family and parenting Black sons taught us about white privilege and the myriad ways that Blacks confront racism in education, criminal justice, health care, and simply living day-to-day. 

Marlene and Fern's book list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Why did Marlene and Fern love this book?

Growing up, Marlene learned about the Holocaust through stories about members of her mother’s family who died in the Holocaust. As a Lutheran growing up in Minnesota, Fern learned little about the Holocaust. As whites, neither of us learned much about the Jim Crow era in the US or the northern migration of southern African Americans during that era.

Isabelle Wilkerson grew up knowing the stories of her parents’ migration north to Washington, DC. Those stories shaped her desire to chronicle the Great Migration (1915-1970), in which millions of African Americans left the Jim Crow South for better lives in northern cities. Although many achieved success that would not have been possible, they experienced the same interpersonal and institutional racism in the North that they thought they were escaping from.

Wilkerson, a journalist, gives us the sweep of history grounded by the stories of four African Americans. 

By Isabel Wilkerson,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The Warmth of Other Suns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this beautifully written masterwork, the Pulitzer Prize–winnner and bestselling author of Caste chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official…


Book cover of Why We're Polarized

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Author Of Wrong: How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive Our Appetite for Misinformation

From my list on understanding identity-driven wrongness in the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of communication and political science who’s been researching and publishing on the effects of political media on democratic health for 25 years. More recently, I’ve been trying to understand the roots of inter-party hostility, the drop in trust in institutions, and the rise in Americans’ belief in breathtakingly false information. My hope is that through this selection of books, you’ll start to understand the synergistic dynamics between America’s complicated history with race, changes in America’s parties, media, and culture, and various social psychological processes, and maybe even start to see a way out of this mess.

Dannagal's book list on understanding identity-driven wrongness in the United States

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Why did Dannagal love this book?

I am a huge fan of people who can translate vast amounts of research findings in a way that’s engaging, accessible, and accurate. I’m also a fan of people who don’t waste our time by shying away from hard truths, like the fact that America’s polarization problem is largely about race or that our polarized politics get baked back into our institutions and make everything worse. Klein is a master at all of this.

When I read his book, I was deep in the academic literature about the psychology of misinformation beliefs. But his book made me zoom out to consider factors way upstream of misinformation beliefs (namely social identity), to start unpacking how these upstream factors are themselves shaped by our political and media institutions.

By Ezra Klein,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Why We're Polarized as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A BARACK OBAMA AND A BILL GATES SUMMER READING PICK 2022
A NEW YORK TIMES AND WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER

'This book helped me understand modern politics better' - Bill Gates, Summer Reading Pick 2022

'Superbly researched and written' - Francis Fukuyama, The Washington Post

'It's been a long time since I learned so much from one book.' - Rutger Bregman author of Utopia for Realists

'Powerful [and] intelligent.' - Fareed Zakaria, CNN

America's political system isn't broken. The truth is scarier: it's working exactly as designed.

In Why We're Polarized, Ezra Klein reveals the structural and psychological forces behind…


Book cover of The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism

William Watson Author Of Twelve Steps for White America: For a United States of America

From my list on explaining a divided United States of America.

Why am I passionate about this?

My own collusion with white supremacy and anti-Blackness is a lifelong journey I mitigate for my soul’s redemption. I am a Mississippi-born redneck, alcoholic, psychotherapist, San Francisco Bay Area queer, higher education administrator with a Critical Race Theory doctorate. I first learned democracy by watching my Mississippi parents risk their lives and mine in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Three-Fifths Magazine recently published “My First English: The Vernacular of the KKK.” My book, “Twelve Steps for White America” won the BookFest 1st Place Gold Medal for “Society and Social Sciences: Race Culture Class and Religion.” I work to live in a USA where race no longer predicts outcomes. 

William's book list on explaining a divided United States of America

William Watson Why did William love this book?

If you think it is crazy how evangelicals can support a politician who seemingly counters the very teachings of Jesus, you’ve got to read this book. I love the writing in this book! That should not be surprising since the author is an outstanding political reporter who also has an insider advantage as the son of a preacher.

LBJ lost the South for a generation, and Tim Alberta explains what happened next! 

By Tim Alberta,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of the Year

An Air Mail Best Book of the Year

The award-winning journalist and staff writer for The Atlantic follows up his New York Times bestseller American Carnage with this timely, rigorously reported, and deeply personal examination of the divisions that threaten to destroy the American evangelical movement.

Evangelical Christians are perhaps the most polarizing—and least understood—people living in America today. In his seminal new book, The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, journalist Tim Alberta, himself a practicing Christian and the son of an evangelical pastor, paints an…


Book cover of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Author Of Wrong: How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive Our Appetite for Misinformation

From my list on understanding identity-driven wrongness in the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of communication and political science who’s been researching and publishing on the effects of political media on democratic health for 25 years. More recently, I’ve been trying to understand the roots of inter-party hostility, the drop in trust in institutions, and the rise in Americans’ belief in breathtakingly false information. My hope is that through this selection of books, you’ll start to understand the synergistic dynamics between America’s complicated history with race, changes in America’s parties, media, and culture, and various social psychological processes, and maybe even start to see a way out of this mess.

Dannagal's book list on understanding identity-driven wrongness in the United States

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Why did Dannagal love this book?

I literally could not have written my book without Mason’s incredible empirical work documented in this book. 

Yes, this is an academic book, but Mason is engaging, clear, and masterful in her use of charts and graphs to illustrate what “social sorting” is and what it does. Whenever I explain to people how America’s political parties have come to represent not just different sets of policy positions but two very different types of people, I picture Mason’s charts and graphs in my head!

There are a few books that I cannot put back on my bookshelf because I cite them too often and have decided they just need to stay right on my desk, Lily Mason’s is at the top of this pile.

By Lilliana Mason,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Political polarization in America is at an all-time high, and the conflict has moved beyond disagreements about matters of policy. For the first time in more than twenty years, research has shown that members of both parties hold strongly unfavorable views of their opponents. This is polarization rooted in social identity, and it is growing. The campaign and election of Donald Trump laid bare this fact of the American electorate, its successful rhetoric of "us versus them" tapping into a powerful current of anger and resentment. With Uncivil Agreement, Lilliana Mason looks at the growing social gulf across racial, religious,…


Book cover of The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History, and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Lebanon

Khalil F. Osman Author Of Sectarianism in Iraq: The Making of State and Nation Since 1920

From my list on sectarianism in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a diverse work experience, having taught political science, and worked as a journalist and UN official. My interest in sectarianism in the Arab world grew from my work as a journalist covering Middle Eastern and Iraqi affairs and as a UN official in Iraq. Working in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion, I witnessed firsthand how the sectarian violence that gripped Iraq highlighted the failure of social integration in nurturing a national identity. Scholarly work on sectarianism in the region was focused on Lebanon. In addressing this scholarly gap, I combined my academic training in political science, extensive knowledge of Islamic history, and decades-long fieldwork and life experiences in the region.

Khalil's book list on sectarianism in the Middle East

Khalil F. Osman Why did Khalil love this book?

Drawing on a vast array of primary archival sources and secondary writings, Ussama Makdisi provides an original analytical historical account of the origins of sectarianism in Lebanon. He traces the roots of the atavistic sectarian violence that gripped Ottoman Mount Lebanon in 1860. His narrative refutes widespread arguments making a case for the primordial nature of sectarian identities in Lebanon. Instead, he argues that sectarianism in Lebanon is a byproduct of modernity and modernization. Makdisi shows that sectarianism in Lebanon is a modern nineteenth-century phenomenon linked to the confluence of various historical developments, including the introduction of Ottoman reforms known as Tanzimat, diffusion of European ideas of nationalism, the Ottoman Empire’s integration into the world capitalist market, and colonial meddling in the internal affairs of the Sick Man of Europe.

By Ussama Makdisi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Focusing on Ottoman Lebanon, Ussama Makdisi shows how sectarianism was a manifestation of modernity that transcended the physical boundaries of a particular country. His study challenges those who have viewed sectarian violence as an Islamic response to westernization or simply as a product of social and economic inequities among religious groups. The religious violence of the nineteenth century, which culminated in sectarian mobilizations and massacres in 1860, was a complex, multilayered, subaltern expression of modernization, he says, not a primordial reaction to it. Makdisi argues that sectarianism represented a deliberate mobilization of religious identities for political and social purposes. The…


Book cover of The Battle for the Catholic Past in Germany, 1945-1980

Kevin P. Spicer and Rebecca Carter-Chand Author Of Religion, Ethnonationalism, and Antisemitism in the Era of the Two World Wars

From my list on Catholic churches in Hitler’s Germany.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are historians of twentieth-century Germany who investigate the relationship between church and state from 1918-1945. We are fascinated by the choices of Christian leaders during this time as they negotiated the challenges of living and leading under National Socialism. In our writing, we seek to understand the connections between Christian antisemitism and National Socialists’ racial-based exclusionary ethnonationalism and antisemitism and seek to understand how religious communities navigate ethical and practical challenges of living through political upheaval and fascism.

Kevin's book list on Catholic churches in Hitler’s Germany

Kevin P. Spicer and Rebecca Carter-Chand Why did Kevin love this book?

Ruff has produced a tour de force examination of the behind-the-scenes historiography of the Catholic Church in Nazi Germany. A deeply and richly researched study, it enables both specialists and non-specialists alike to comprehend the complex and tempestuous writing of the history of the Catholic Church’s choices during Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s years in power. In particular, Ruff delves into the storm over Rolf Hochhuth’s controversial play, The Deputy, to help us understand the current controversies over the choices of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust.  

By Mark Edward Ruff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Battle for the Catholic Past in Germany, 1945-1980 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Were Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church in Germany unduly singled out after 1945 for their conduct during the National Socialist era? Mark Edward Ruff explores the bitter controversies that broke out in the Federal Republic of Germany from 1945 to 1980 over the Catholic Church's relationship to the Nazis. He explores why these cultural wars consumed such energy, dominated headlines, triggered lawsuits and required the intervention of foreign ministries. He argues that the controversies over the church's relationship to National Socialism were frequently surrogates for conflicts over how the church was to position itself in modern society -…


Book cover of Accidental Gods: On Men Unwittingly Turned Divine

Christina Ward Author Of Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

From my list on the hidden history of America.

Why am I passionate about this?

For me, history is always about individuals; what they think and believe and how those ideas motivate their actions. By relegating our past to official histories or staid academic tellings we deprive ourselves of the humanity of our shared experiences. As a “popular historian” I use food to tell all the many ways we attempt to “be” American. History is for everyone, and my self-appointed mission is to bring more stories to readers! These recommendations are a few stand-out titles from the hundreds of books that inform my current work on how food and religion converge in America. You’ll have to wait for Holy Food to find out what I’ve discovered.

Christina's book list on the hidden history of America

Christina Ward Why did Christina love this book?

Anna Della Subin’s quiet triumph of a history expands our focus beyond the United States, but we feel the impact and meaning to and in America. In Accidental Gods, she masterfully explores—opposite of self-appointed messiahs—what happens when deification is thrust upon someone. In doing so, she uncovers the bizarre characters and absurd events that lead to banal and sometimes cruel outcomes. The book transcends the facts of history and becomes a meditation on the many ways to be human.

By Anna Della Subin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A provocative history of race, empire and myth, told through the stories of men who have been worshipped as gods - from Columbus to Prince Philip

Spanning the globe and five centuries, Accidental Gods introduces us to a new pantheon: of man-gods, deified politicians and imperialists, militants, mystics and explorers. From the conquistadors setting foot in the New World to Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, elevated by a National Geographic article from emperor to messiah for the Rastafari faith, to the unlikely officers hailed as gods during the British Raj, this endlessly curious and revelatory account chronicles an impulse towards deification…


Book cover of A Flag for Sunrise

Roland Merullo Author Of Dessert with Buddha

From my list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My twenty novels tend to focus on characters who face great challenges, and I have a particular appreciation for beautiful prose. I don’t read for distraction or entertainment, but to be enlightened, moved, and made more compassionate about different kinds of people in different environments.

Roland's book list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction

Roland Merullo Why did Roland love this book?

I think Robert Stone was one of the greatest American novelists of the recent era, a man with a profound concern for how political situations affect the individual. I love Stone’s ability to delve into complex situations.

This is fiction, unlike the last two recommendations mentioned above, and takes place in Central America during the Seventies. I love books about political situations, and I love novels set in other countries. Stone is a master of both.

He was also a humble, good man, though maybe I’m not completely objective because he provided a generous blurb for my first novel. I had the pleasure of spending a little time with him after my novel was published, and I found him to be brilliant, funny, modest, and just a fun person to be around.

Like Dostoevsky, he was able to delve into deep matters by telling a great story with amazing characters.…

By Robert Stone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Flag for Sunrise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An emotional, dramatic and philosophical novel about Americans drawn into a small Central American country on the brink of revolution.


Book cover of Religion and Public Life in Canada: Historical and Comparative Perspectives

Mark A. Noll Author Of A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada

From my list on the history of Christianity in Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

Instead of experiencing a mid-life academic crisis, I discovered Canada. Through George Rawlyk, a senior historian at Queen’s University in Ontario, and then through many fruitful contacts with older and younger Canadians as well as frequent visits north of the border, I became increasingly intrigued by comparisons with U.S. history. Most of my specialized scholarship has treated American developments, but I have been able to explain those matters more perceptively by keeping Canada’s alternative history in mind. The chance to introduce undergraduates at the University of Notre Dame to Canadian history provided a regular stimulus to think about a common subject (Christianity) taking somewhat different shapes in the two nations.

Mark's book list on the history of Christianity in Canada

Mark A. Noll Why did Mark love this book?

This wide-ranging collection of authoritative chapters provides an outstanding general account of Canadian religion at the start of the twenty-first century. Coverage extends across the nation (New Brunswick, Quebec, Toronto, Alberta); the book includes perceptive articles on Catholics, mainline Protestants, and newer evangelical Protestant movements; there is revealing treatment of Jews and Sikhs, residential schools for Natives, and church-guided social reform, efforts of missionary outreach and more. The diverse ways that Canada’s religious organizations have engaged with national public life provide a strongly unifying theme.

By Marguerite Van Die (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Religion and Public Life in Canada as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Academic and popular opinions agree that Canadian public life has become wholly secularized during the last hundred years. As this book acknowledges, religion has indeed lost most of its influence in education, politics and various interest groups. But this rigorously researched volume argues that religion was one of the early institutional bases of the public sphere, and although it has since become differentiated from the state, it should not be overlooked or underestimated by historians and sociologists of modern Canada. A compilation of scholarly case studies, it addresses the continuing influence of religion on modern, 'secular' institutions and thus on…


Book cover of Pentecostal Republic: Religion and the Struggle for State Power in Nigeria

Alexander Thurston Author Of Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement

From my list on post-independence Nigeria.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the moment I first began reading about Nigerian history, I was drawn to the country’s complexity – the mix of religious traditions, ethnic groups, languages, cultures, and intersecting histories. As a graduate student, I delved deeper into the history of Islam in northern Nigeria, first by reading the secondary literature, then by exploring primary documents, and eventually by conducting my own fieldwork. Sadly, as my interest in Nigeria grew, so too did the country’s ongoing tragedies, including the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. Nevertheless, there is much more to Nigeria than conflict, as is amply demonstrated by the tremendous contributions of Nigerian novelists, musicians, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, and scholars.

Alexander's book list on post-independence Nigeria

Alexander Thurston Why did Alexander love this book?

Scholars of Africa have devoted tremendous attention to Pentecostal Christianity in recent years – and Obadare’s Pentecostal Republic is the best treatment of Pentecostalism in Nigeria. Obadare teases out the interplay between Pentecostalism and politics, a relationship that now reaches the highest levels of Nigeria’s political life. The book is a crucial for understanding the elections of 1999 and ever since, and will remain important for understanding Nigerian politics as elections approach in 2023.

By Ebenezer Obadare,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Throughout its history, Nigeria has been plagued by religious divisions. Tensions have only intensified since the restoration of democracy in 1999, with the divide between Christian south and Muslim north playing a central role in the country's electoral politics, as well as manifesting itself in the religious warfare waged by Boko Haram. Through the lens of Christian-Muslim struggles for supremacy, Ebenezer Obadare charts the turbulent course of democracy in the Nigerian Fourth Republic, exploring the key role religion has played in ordering society. He argues the rise of Pentecostalism is a force focused on appropriating state power, transforming the dynamics…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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