100 books like Ethnic America

By Thomas Sowell,

Here are 100 books that Ethnic America fans have personally recommended if you like Ethnic 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 American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass

Jonathan Rothwell Author Of A Republic of Equals: A Manifesto for a Just Society

From my list on why some people tend to be richer or poorer.

Why am I passionate about this?

Inequality and fairness are basic issues in human conflict and cooperation that have long fascinated me. Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, I was confronted with the extreme racial segregation of schools and neighborhoods. My Catholic upbringing taught me to cherish the cardinal virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, and temperance, and my education in political economy taught me that markets can fairly and efficiently allocate resources, when legal power is evenly shared. My formal education culminated in a Ph.D. in Public Affairs from Princeton University, which led me to my current roles: Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Principal Economist at Gallup. I care deeply about the social conditions that create cooperation and conflict.

Jonathan's book list on why some people tend to be richer or poorer

Jonathan Rothwell Why did Jonathan love this book?

This is an absolute classic in social science.

Written by Douglas Massey, my PhD advisor at Princeton and a towering scholar, it lays out with force and clarity how Black people were purposefully and forcefully segregated in the United States, when it peaked, and how that segregation led to devasting social consequences.

You cannot understand the Black experience—nor racial inequality in the United States—without knowing the facts in this book.

By Douglas S. Massey, Nancy A. Denton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This powerful and disturbing book clearly links persistent poverty among blacks in the United States to the unparalleled degree of deliberate segregation they experience in American cities.

American Apartheid shows how the black ghetto was created by whites during the first half of the twentieth century in order to isolate growing urban black populations. It goes on to show that, despite the Fair Housing Act of 1968, segregation is perpetuated today through an interlocking set of individual actions, institutional practices, and governmental policies. In some urban areas the degree of black segregation is so intense and occurs in so many…


Book cover of Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World

Jonathan Rothwell Author Of A Republic of Equals: A Manifesto for a Just Society

From my list on why some people tend to be richer or poorer.

Why am I passionate about this?

Inequality and fairness are basic issues in human conflict and cooperation that have long fascinated me. Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, I was confronted with the extreme racial segregation of schools and neighborhoods. My Catholic upbringing taught me to cherish the cardinal virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, and temperance, and my education in political economy taught me that markets can fairly and efficiently allocate resources, when legal power is evenly shared. My formal education culminated in a Ph.D. in Public Affairs from Princeton University, which led me to my current roles: Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Principal Economist at Gallup. I care deeply about the social conditions that create cooperation and conflict.

Jonathan's book list on why some people tend to be richer or poorer

Jonathan Rothwell Why did Jonathan love this book?

Can ideas change the world? How does belief in political equality—the idea that everyone deserves basic unbridgeable liberties—affect innovation and economic development?

Dierdre McCloskey—one of the most creative and interesting economists alive—takes on these topics and much more in her characteristically witty, fast-paced style. She loves describing and refuting bad ideas—or even ideas widely regarded as brilliant—in an effort to go deeper into the forces that lifted humans out of poverty and sustain innovation to this day.

By Deirdre Nansen McCloskey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There's little doubt that most humans today are better off than their forebears. Stunningly so, the economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey argues in the concluding volume of her trilogy celebrating the oft-derided virtues of the bourgeoisie. The poorest of humanity, McCloskey shows, will soon be joining the comparative riches of Japan and Sweden and Botswana. Why? Most economists from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to Thomas Piketty say the Great Enrichment since 1800 came from accumulated capital. McCloskey disagrees, fiercely. "Our riches," she argues, "were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling…


Book cover of The Race between Education and Technology

Jonathan Rothwell Author Of A Republic of Equals: A Manifesto for a Just Society

From my list on why some people tend to be richer or poorer.

Why am I passionate about this?

Inequality and fairness are basic issues in human conflict and cooperation that have long fascinated me. Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, I was confronted with the extreme racial segregation of schools and neighborhoods. My Catholic upbringing taught me to cherish the cardinal virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, and temperance, and my education in political economy taught me that markets can fairly and efficiently allocate resources, when legal power is evenly shared. My formal education culminated in a Ph.D. in Public Affairs from Princeton University, which led me to my current roles: Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Principal Economist at Gallup. I care deeply about the social conditions that create cooperation and conflict.

Jonathan's book list on why some people tend to be richer or poorer

Jonathan Rothwell Why did Jonathan love this book?

To understand why some workers are paid more than others, you have to understand how skills are valued and rewarded in the labor market, and how that has changed, as the economy has evolved.

Focused on the United States, Katz and Goldin provide a sweeping overview of how education leads to skills and income, drawing on the most well-established theories in economics. It misses some important causes of inequality, but is essential for understanding the one of the deepest economic forces governing wages: the supply and demand of human capital.

By Claudia Goldin, Lawrence F. Katz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Race between Education and Technology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides a careful historical analysis of the co-evolution of educational attainment and the wage structure in the United States through the twentieth century. The authors propose that the twentieth century was not only the American Century but also the Human Capital Century. That is, the American educational system is what made America the richest nation in the world. Its educational system had always been less elite than that of most European nations. By 1900 the U.S. had begun to educate its masses at the secondary level, not just in the primary schools that had remarkable success in the…


Book cover of Political Order and Inequality: Their Foundations and Their Consequences for Human Welfare

Jonathan Rothwell Author Of A Republic of Equals: A Manifesto for a Just Society

From my list on why some people tend to be richer or poorer.

Why am I passionate about this?

Inequality and fairness are basic issues in human conflict and cooperation that have long fascinated me. Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, I was confronted with the extreme racial segregation of schools and neighborhoods. My Catholic upbringing taught me to cherish the cardinal virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, and temperance, and my education in political economy taught me that markets can fairly and efficiently allocate resources, when legal power is evenly shared. My formal education culminated in a Ph.D. in Public Affairs from Princeton University, which led me to my current roles: Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Principal Economist at Gallup. I care deeply about the social conditions that create cooperation and conflict.

Jonathan's book list on why some people tend to be richer or poorer

Jonathan Rothwell Why did Jonathan love this book?

Why did Northern and Western Europe lead the industrial revolution after thousands of years of stagnation in human living standards?

More fundamentally, where does inequality come from, and what are its evolutionary and institutional origins? Carles Boix is a professor at Princeton and one of the deepest thinkers in the world. This book answers these fundamental questions with more thought and rigor than anyone ever has.

For those less interested in theory, you can skip the first chapter and go straight to the analyses of ancient societies, hunter-gatherer tribes, and how Boix has used bone fragments to estimate wealth inequality. His reach and ambition are astounding.

Most importantly, he provides compelling answers to where political institutions come from, and how free cities created the background conditions for innovation.

By Carles Boix,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Political Order and Inequality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fundamental question of political theory, one that precedes all other questions about the nature of political life, is why there is a state at all. Is human cooperation feasible without a political authority enforcing it? Or do we need a state to live together? This problem then opens up two further questions. If a state is necessary to establish order, how does it come into place? And, when it does, what are the consequences for the political status and economic welfare of its citizens? Combining ethnographical material, historical cases, and statistical analysis, this book describes the foundations of stateless…


Book cover of The Missing Diplomats

Andrew Lownie Author Of Stalin's Englishman: Guy Burgess, the Cold War, and the Cambridge Spy Ring

From my list on Guy Burgess (Cambridge Spy Ring).

Why am I passionate about this?

Andrew Lownie is a former journalist for The London Times, the British representative for the Washington-based National Intelligence Centre, and he helped set up the Spy Museum in Washington. His books include biographies of the writer John Buchan, the spy Guy Burgess (which won the St Ermin’s Hotel Intelligence Book Prize), Dickie & Edwina Mountbatten (a top ten Sunday Times bestseller) and a forthcoming book on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Andrew's book list on Guy Burgess (Cambridge Spy Ring)

Andrew Lownie Why did Andrew love this book?

The first account of the Burgess and Maclean story – it was published a year after their flight – this fifty page essay, based on a collection of articles in the Sunday Times, by someone who knew both men contains shrewd pen portraits of the two spies and the roots of their spying. “Politics begin in the nursery; no one is born patriotic or unpatriotic, right-wing or left-wing, and it is the child whose craving for love is unsatisfied, whose desire for power is thwarted or whose innate sense of justice is warped that eventually may try to become a revolutionary or dictator.

By Cyril Connolly,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Moneychangers

Radhika R Author Of A Canopy of Carnations: A Collection Of Heart Touching Short Stories

From my list on tug at your heart and haunt you for days.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have read books of various genres but the dominating theme has always been stories that haunted me and remained in my memory like a movie song lyric. These books are ones that made me feel the story as if the characters lived next door and were well known to me. The nostalgic feel and unexpressed emotions of women, when brought out in the form of stories keep my mind occupied and impacted my life changes too. As a teacher, meeting students of various ages, I am able to subtly identify the feelings that cross children and understand the emotions that dominate their parents and their lives in a family. 

Radhika's book list on tug at your heart and haunt you for days

Radhika R Why did Radhika love this book?

The adrenaline rush I got from this novel, I cannot express by words. I detested banking and related stories until I read this novel. The book gave me a totally different view of banking and the politics involved. I was impressed by the character of the single mom Juanita Nunez and her unique ability to calculate like a machine as she had a photographic memory.

By Arthur Hailey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The #1 bestselling author of the blockbuster thrillers Airport and Hotel takes on the world of high finance: “Cliched, lurid and utterly absorbing” (Philip Hensher, The Guardian).

Ben Roselli, president of First Mercantile American Bank and grandson of the founder, makes the shocking announcement that he’s dying. With no offspring to inherit the company, Roselli knows that executive VPs Roscoe Heyward and Alex Vandervoort are the obvious candidates to succeed him. Heyward, who has been with First Mercantile for two decades, will do whatever it takes to bring in new clients and win the coveted presidency. Vandervoort, a newcomer from…


Book cover of Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals

Raina Lipsitz Author Of The Rise of a New Left: How Young Radicals Are Shaping the Future of American Politics

From my list on American politics for open-minded readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been obsessed with politics and social justice since I was a kid, have been writing professionally for over a decade, and have twice interviewed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I wrote The Rise of a New Left because I was covering a new generation of political candidates who were challenging old orthodoxies, and I was curious about the leftward shift in U.S. politics: where it came from, who was driving it, how deep it went, and how durable it might be. I try to convey a broader and more nuanced view of the American left and give young women and people of color the credit they deserve for reinvigorating it.

Raina's book list on American politics for open-minded readers

Raina Lipsitz Why did Raina love this book?

Essentially a field manual for progressive organizers, this personal and engaging book offers hard-won insights into what works, what doesn’t, and how left-wing organizations can break the too-common cycle of isolation and marginalization and broaden their reach. Smucker imparts valuable lessons without being hectoring or pedantic; he is admirably generous and self-critical, and he writes like a real person rather than a jargon-spewing robot. This book reminded me why I got interested in politics in the first place and renewed my faith in our power to change our communities.

By Jonathan Matthew Smucker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hegemony How-To as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A guide to political struggle for a generation that is deeply ambivalent about power. While many activists gravitate toward mere self-expression and identity-affirming rituals at the expense of serious political intervention, Smucker provides an apologia for leadership, organization, and collective power, a moral argument for its cultivation, and a discussion of dilemmas that movements must navigate in order to succeed.


Book cover of Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman

Jon Lewis Author Of Road Trip to Nowhere: Hollywood Encounters the Counterculture

From my list on 1960s Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been teaching and writing about post-WWII American film for over thirty years now, with a particular passion for (behind the scenes) Hollywood history. Road Trip to Nowhere follows up on a new sort of movie industry history I introduced in my 2017 book on 1950s Los Angeles, Hard-Boiled Hollywood. Both books focus on actors, writers, producers, and directors who don’t quite make it—aspirants and would-be players kicked to the side of the road, so to speak, and others who for reasons we may or may not understand just walked away from the modern American dream life of stardom and celebrity. 

Jon's book list on 1960s Hollywood

Jon Lewis Why did Jon love this book?

Unique among those in Hollywood who dove head first into the American counterculture, Jane Fonda proved too committed to dismiss as a dilettante, too persistent to just fade away, too formidable for the FBI to destroy. Bosworth, a veteran Hollywood biographer (she has written books on Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando as well) uniquely understands political celebrity; she’s never dismissive, but she’s not so easy on her subject either. Because she knows better: Bosworth’s father was the Hollywood 10 attorney Bart Crum. Bosworth surely understands the risks involved in Left-wing celebrity.

By Patricia Bosworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As actress, activist, businesswoman, wife, and mother, Jane Fonda has pushed herself to the limit, attempting to please all, excel in every arena, be everything. We've read her version of her controversial life, yet nothing can prepare us for this genuinely revelatory account of Jane's engrossing, sometimes shocking journey. Supplemented by the psychiatric records of her suicidal, bipolar mother, Fonda's FBI file, and interviews with her intimates, this perceptive portrait strips away hype and the subject's own mythmaking. Patricia Bosworth shows us what a toll Jane's quest to excel (and please her demanding father, Henry) exacted and sheds light on…


Book cover of How Woke Won: The Elitist Movement that Threatens Democracy, Tolerance and Reason

Dennis Hayes Author Of The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education

From my list on recognising the therapeutic turn in education.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing articles for the education press I became aware of how children and young people were presented as vulnerable, as potential victims. Sometimes they also saw themselves in this way as weak, unable to cope, and lacking in the ability to take control of their lives. This seemed to me to be damaging and needed challenging. But writing about the therapeutic turn was not enough. What had to be challenged was the fear of freedom and speech and debate that were essential to beginning to take control of your life. In response I set up Academics For Academic Freedom, the leading campaign group for free speech, no ifs, no buts. 

Dennis' book list on recognising the therapeutic turn in education

Dennis Hayes Why did Dennis love this book?

For Williams, ‘woke’ is a contested concept but a useful one. It captures an elite ideology that dares not name itself but that is intolerant of any criticism. It attempts to dominate our attitudes toward children, education, sex, and politics. At the heart of woke is what she calls the ‘weaponisation of victimhood’. Woke attitudes are only possible in a culture that valorises individual fragility. Being ‘woke’ means that you see the world through the idea of human vulnerability. Children, women, and minority groups are all seen as vulnerable and in need of protection. Williams believes that despite its current victory, woke is weak and fearful of debating its ideas and of collective democratic action. The first step forward, she argues in her conclusion, is for people to step forward and speak up.

By Joanna Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Woke Won as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wokeness has conquered our institutions. The worlds of politics, academia and even corporate capitalism now bend the knee to the new orthodoxies around gender, racism and identity. How Woke Won explores the intellectual roots of wokeness and how this movement, which poses as radical and left-wing, came to be embraced by some of the most privileged people imaginable. In this powerful critique, Joanna Williams argues that anyone interested in building a truly free, egalitarian and democratic society needs to tackle wokeness head-on.



Book cover of Untouched

Rory Michaelson Author Of Lesser Known Monsters

From my list on LGBTQ+ stories to take your heart on a journey.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being LGBTQIA+ can bring with it a sense of otherness that many of us struggle with from early on in life, particularly when it intersects with other aspects of our identities. Even now, there remains a sense that queer characters and stories are sometimes tolerated rather than celebrated. We all deserve the chance to write, see, and be main characters in our own adventures, and for this to be embraced by others. I love stories about inner-strength, resilience, and joy, with self-actualisation and found-family (you may already know this if you’ve read mine!). I hope that my books, and those on this list take your heart on an incredible journey.

Rory's book list on LGBTQ+ stories to take your heart on a journey

Rory Michaelson Why did Rory love this book?

Ever felt like the plants and trees around you are more alive than you’d originally thought? This story follows a couple of grad students trapped in the Amazon rainforest, who are starting to realise just that. This book features an unconventional modern hero in the form of anxiety-riddled disaster bi, David, and headstrong pragmatic voice in the chaos Marisol. Creepy, smart, fascinating, and brilliantly crafted adventure thriller about overcoming the odds. Imagine if Michael Crichton wrote Jumanji, then make it queer. 

By Jayme Bean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dr. Julia Morrow and her graduate students, David and Marisol, embark on a research trip to explore a remote section of the Amazon rainforest. When their trails seem to change direction at will and they find themselves lost and without communication, the trio worry they may be in for more than just the latest scientific discovery.

After strange circumstances divide the group, they're left deciding which is more important - finding out why the rainforest seems like it’s alive or getting back home in one piece. The deeper they travel into the jungle in search of answers, the more they…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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