100 books like Partner and I

By Susan Ware,

Here are 100 books that Partner and I fans have personally recommended if you like Partner and I. 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 Freedom's Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark

Anya Jabour Author Of Sophonisba Breckinridge: Championing Women's Activism in Modern America

From my list on American women activists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been drawn to biographies. Individual stories make the past personal. Biographies also transcend the usual boundaries of time and topic, illuminating multiple issues across an individual’s entire life course. I’m especially interested in feminist biography—not just biographies of feminists, but biographies that combine the personal and the political, showing how individuals’ personal experiences and intimate relationships shaped their professional choices and political careers. I also enjoy group biographies, especially when they weave multiple stories together to illuminate many facets of shared themes. Ideally, a great biography will introduce a reader to an interesting individual (or group of people) whose story illuminates important themes in their lifetime.

Anya's book list on American women activists

Anya Jabour Why did Anya love this book?

Freedom’s Teacher traces the lifelong activism of South Carolina-born Septima Poinsette Clark (1898-1987), a public school teacher who developed a citizenship training program that empowered African Americans to register for the vote and cast their ballots. I love this book because it highlights African American women’s essential, if often overlooked, role in the “long Civil Rights Movement.” For instance, Rosa Parks participated in one of Clark’s workshops shortly before launching the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In addition, Charron’s study calls attention to the importance of education as a tool for activism.

By Katherine Mellen Charron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the mid-1950s, Septima Poinsette Clark (1898-1987), a former public school teacher, developed a citizenship training program that enabled thousands of African Americans to register to vote and then to link the power of the ballot to concrete strategies for individual and communal empowerment. In this vibrantly written biography, Katherine Charron demonstrates Clark's crucial role--and the role of many black women teachers--in making education a cornerstone of the twentieth-century freedom struggle. Using Clark's life as a lens, Charron sheds valuable new light on southern black women's activism in national, state, and judicial politics, from the Progressive Era to the civil…


Book cover of Recasting the Vote: How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement

Nancy A. Hewitt Author Of Radical Friend: Amy Kirby Post and Her Activist Worlds

From my list on racial politics and women’s activism in the US.

Why am I passionate about this?

In Rochester, New York, where I was raised, Susan Anthony and Frederick Douglass are local heroes. But in the late 1960s, I was drawn more to grassroots movements than charismatic leaders. Despite dropping out of college—twice—I completed a B.A. in 1974 and then pursued a PhD in History. My 1981 dissertation and first book focused on three networks of mainly white female activists in nineteenth-century Rochester. Of the dozens of women I studied, Amy Post most clearly epitomized the power of interracial, mixed-sex, and cross-class movements for social justice. After years of inserting Post in articles, textbooks, and websites, I finally published Radical Friend in hopes of inspiring scholars and activists to follow her lead. 

Nancy's book list on racial politics and women’s activism in the US

Nancy A. Hewitt Why did Nancy love this book?

Cathleen Cahill explodes the conventional history of women’s suffrage by tracing the stories of suffragists of color from 1890 to 1928. Analyzing the efforts of African American, Native American, Mexican, and Chinese American activists, Cahill shifts the focus away from each group’s interactions with white suffragists and explores, instead, the commonalities and differences among women of color. She interweaves compelling vignettes of individual suffragists, including Carrie Williams Clifford, Nina Otero-Warren, and Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, with the larger issues addressed in their communities. In wielding dynamic analyses of these communities of color, Cahill creates a powerful new narrative of the long fight for women’s suffrage.    

By Cathleen D. Cahill,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Recasting the Vote as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We think we know the story of women's suffrage in the United States: women met at Seneca Falls, marched in Washington, D.C., and demanded the vote until they won it with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. But the fight for women's voting rights extended far beyond these familiar scenes. From social clubs in New York's Chinatown to conferences for Native American rights, and in African American newspapers and pamphlets demanding equality for Spanish-speaking New Mexicans, a diverse cadre of extraordinary women struggled to build a movement that would truly include all women, regardless of race or national origin. In…


Book cover of The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas

Anya Jabour Author Of Sophonisba Breckinridge: Championing Women's Activism in Modern America

From my list on American women activists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been drawn to biographies. Individual stories make the past personal. Biographies also transcend the usual boundaries of time and topic, illuminating multiple issues across an individual’s entire life course. I’m especially interested in feminist biography—not just biographies of feminists, but biographies that combine the personal and the political, showing how individuals’ personal experiences and intimate relationships shaped their professional choices and political careers. I also enjoy group biographies, especially when they weave multiple stories together to illuminate many facets of shared themes. Ideally, a great biography will introduce a reader to an interesting individual (or group of people) whose story illuminates important themes in their lifetime.

Anya's book list on American women activists

Anya Jabour Why did Anya love this book?

M. Carey Thomas is an excellent example of the generation of “new women”: a cohort of mostly well-to-do white women who pursued higher education and professional careers at the turn of the century. Thomas, thwarted in her ambitions by gender discrimination in the United States, traveled to Europe to pursue higher education and became one of the first American women to earn a Ph.D., in 1882. She subsequently became the president of a women’s college, Bryn Mawr College. Thomas also was a dedicated feminist, advocating for both women’s suffrage and an equal rights amendment. The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas exemplifies feminist biography by placing her career in the context of her personal life. Helen Horowitz highlights her long-term romantic relationship with philanthropist Mary Elizabeth Garrett, who used her fortune to promote Thomas’s career and to advance educational opportunities for women.

By Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Best known as the second president and primary architect of Bryn Mawr College, M. Carey Thomas was also a founder of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, a leader in the women's suffrage movement, and the preeminent spokeswoman for education around the turn of the century. Brilliantly capturing all sides of the life and personality of this strong and influential woman, Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz details Thomas's accomplishments as an educator and feminist and her intimate relationships with women, as well as her manipulative and duplicitous side, her racism, and her anti-Semitism.


Book cover of Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965

Anya Jabour Author Of Sophonisba Breckinridge: Championing Women's Activism in Modern America

From my list on American women activists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been drawn to biographies. Individual stories make the past personal. Biographies also transcend the usual boundaries of time and topic, illuminating multiple issues across an individual’s entire life course. I’m especially interested in feminist biography—not just biographies of feminists, but biographies that combine the personal and the political, showing how individuals’ personal experiences and intimate relationships shaped their professional choices and political careers. I also enjoy group biographies, especially when they weave multiple stories together to illuminate many facets of shared themes. Ideally, a great biography will introduce a reader to an interesting individual (or group of people) whose story illuminates important themes in their lifetime.

Anya's book list on American women activists

Anya Jabour Why did Anya love this book?

Common Sense and a Little Fire is a group biography of four Jewish immigrant women who became important leaders in the labor movement and the New Deal: Rose Schneiderman, Fannia Cohn, Clara Lemlich Shavelson, and Pauline Newman.  Building on their shared experiences growing up in New York City’s Lower East Side, these women challenged sexism in the labor movement and classism in the suffrage movement and became leaders in “industrial feminism,” which fused labor organizing and feminist activism. Annelise Orleck skillfully weaves together a variety of sources, including interviews with the women, as well as the women’s life stories to produce a compelling new history of working women’s activism.

By Annelise Orleck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Common Sense and a Little Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twenty years after its initial publication, Annelise Orleck's Common Sense and a Little Fire continues to resonate with its harrowing story of activism, labor, and women's history. Orleck traces the personal and public lives of four immigrant women activists who left a lasting imprint on American politics. Though they have rarely made more than cameo appearances in previous histories, Rose Schneiderman, Fannia Cohn, Clara Lemlich Shavelson, and Pauline Newman played important roles in the emergence of organized labor, the New Deal welfare state, adult education, and the modern women's movement. Orleck takes her four subjects from turbulent, turn-of-the-century Eastern Europe…


Book cover of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

Iwan W. Morgan Author Of FDR: Transforming the Presidency and Renewing America

From my list on why FDR was the greatest American president.

Why am I passionate about this?

I consider FDR the greatest of all presidents for leading America with distinction in the domestic crisis of the Great Depression and the foreign crisis of World War 2 and creating the modern presidency that survives today in the essential form he established. I have written books on Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan during fifty years as a US history professor in UK universities. I always intended to write a book about how FDR reinvented the presidency that these Republicans inherited, something I finally did in ‘retirement’. My five chosen books explain the challenging times he faced and the leadership skills he displayed in meeting them.     

Iwan's book list on why FDR was the greatest American president

Iwan W. Morgan Why did Iwan love this book?

This Pulitzer Prize-winning study is the best single-volume history of America in the Age of FDR.  Meticulously researched, ambitiously conceived, and vividly written, it crafts superb portraits of the presidencies of Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Kennedy offers a balanced assessment of FDR’s New Deal, concluding that his reforms enhanced the socio-economic security of millions of Americans despite their overall failure in the 1930s to achieve economic recovery, which would only come about through the crucible of war in the early 1940s. However, the real heroes of the book are the American people for their resilience and resolve in the face of the Great Depression and World War 2, the two greatest challenges the United States faced in the twentieth century.  

By David M. Kennedy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Between 1929 and 1945, two great travails were visited upon the American people: the Great Depression and World War II. Freedom from Fear tells the story of how Americans endured, and eventually prevailed, in the face of those unprecedented calamities.

The Depression was both a disaster and an opportunity. As David Kennedy vividly demonstrates, the economic crisis of the 1930s was far more than a simple reaction to the alleged excesses of the 1920s. For more than a century before 1929, America's unbridled industrial revolution had gyrated through repeated boom and bust cycles, wastefullly consuming capital and inflicting untold misery…


Book cover of Beyond the New Deal Order: U.S. Politics from the Great Depression to the Great Recession

Richard R. Weiner Author Of Sustainable Community Movement Organizations: Solidarity Economies and Rhizomatic Practices

From my list on understanding regimes of law and political economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Rich Weiner co-edited this featured volume with Francesca Forno. He is a political sociologist with a strong foundation in the history of political and social thought. He has served for twenty-two years as dean of the faculty of arts and sciences. His focus has been on non-statist political organizations and social movements with a perspective of middle-range theorizing enriched by three generations of Frankfurt School critical theory of society.

Richard's book list on understanding regimes of law and political economy

Richard R. Weiner Why did Richard love this book?

A collection of exceptional scholars explore what replaced the New Deal Order’s focus on economic justice at the end of the 1970s with a regime that came to be known as neoliberalism.

This very accessible book approaches the possibility of new forms of life known as solidarity economies and with it a turn toward social-economics.

I appreciate the attempt this history book makes to both take a long view and to create a conceptual framework regarding empirical cases.

By Gary Gerstle (editor), Nelson Lichtenstein (editor), Alice O'Connor (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beyond the New Deal Order as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ever since introducing the concept in the late 1980s, historians have been debating the origins, nature, scope, and limitations of the New Deal order-the combination of ideas, electoral and governing strategies, redistributive social policies, and full employment economics that became the standard-bearer for political liberalism in the wake of the Great Depression and commanded Democratic majorities for decades. In the decline and break-up of the New Deal coalition historians found keys to understanding the transformations that, by the late twentieth century, were shifting American politics to the right.
In Beyond the New Deal Order, contributors bring fresh perspective to the…


Book cover of Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era

Jill Watts Author Of The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt

From my list on Black Americans and the Roosevelt era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of History at California State University San Marcos where I teach United States Social and Cultural History, African American History, Film History, and Digital History. In addition to The Black Cabinet, I am also the author of three other books. Two of my books have been optioned for film and I have consulted on PBS documentaries. I believe that knowing history is necessary and practical, especially in these times. At this critical point, we can draw much wisdom from the lessons of Black history and the history of the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Jill's book list on Black Americans and the Roosevelt era

Jill Watts Why did Jill love this book?

In a pathbreaking examination of the New Deal and race, Patricia Sullivan does a deep dive into how the Roosevelt administration’s policies played out and, in most cases, failed Black people. While that story is a disappointing one, she also shows how the era created opportunities for a biracial coalition of Black and white progressives to come together to push for a vision of a revitalized American Democracy based in racial equality. Sullivan offers compelling accounts of the dynamic leadership provided by the NAACP, Black New Dealers, and Black activists in challenging American racism as they worked with white allies. It was these interracial crusades that began to flourish during the Roosevelt era that would provide a model for later collaboration during the Freedom Movement campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s.

By Patricia Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the 1930s and 1940s, a loose alliance of blacks and whites, individuals and organizations, came together to offer a radical alternative to southern conservative politics. In Days of Hope , Patricia Sullivan traces the rise and fall of this movement. Using oral interviews with participants in this movement as well as documentary sources, she demonstrates that the New Deal era inspired a coalition of liberals, black activists, labor organizers, and Communist Party workers who sought to secure the New Deal's social and economic reforms by broadening the base of political participation in the South. From its origins in a…


Book cover of Black Culture and the New Deal: The Quest for Civil Rights in the Roosevelt Era

Jill Watts Author Of The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt

From my list on Black Americans and the Roosevelt era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of History at California State University San Marcos where I teach United States Social and Cultural History, African American History, Film History, and Digital History. In addition to The Black Cabinet, I am also the author of three other books. Two of my books have been optioned for film and I have consulted on PBS documentaries. I believe that knowing history is necessary and practical, especially in these times. At this critical point, we can draw much wisdom from the lessons of Black history and the history of the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Jill's book list on Black Americans and the Roosevelt era

Jill Watts Why did Jill love this book?

Sandwiched between the creative outpourings of the Harlem Renaissance and the Cold War, Black cultural expression during the Roosevelt years is often overlooked. Lauren Skalroff corrects this by exploring the various venues where Black artists contributed during the New Deal era. Black cultural workers encountered overwhelming discrimination as they navigated the world of art, theater, music, writing, radio, film, and other cultural outlets that were controlled by white Americans. But the New Deal’s arts programs did offer some opportunities for Black artistic autonomy and genuine expression. In some cases, Black artists were able, to a degree, to challenge negative stereotypes. Sklaroff builds the story chronologically and takes the reader through WWII showing how culture and political activism were intricately linked during two of the nation’s most historically challenging times.

By Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Culture and the New Deal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the 1930s, the Roosevelt administration - unwilling to antagonize a powerful southern congressional bloc - refused to endorse legislation that openly sought to improve political, economic, and social conditions for African Americans. Instead, as historian Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff shows, the administration recognized and celebrated African Americans by offering federal support to notable black intellectuals, celebrities, and artists.

Sklaroff illustrates how programs within the Federal Arts Projects and several war agencies gave voice to such notable African Americans as Lena Horne, Joe Louis, Duke Ellington, and Richard Wright, as well as lesser-known figures. She argues that these New Deal programs…


Book cover of My America 1928-1938

Dale Maharidge Author Of Fucked at Birth: Recalibrating the American Dream for the 2020s

From my list on to understand America in the 2020s.

Why am I passionate about this?

How I grew up in Ohio informs my work: my raging war-ravaged father dreams of being his own boss; in our basement he grinds steel tools on massive iron machines, a side business after his day job in a factory; as a teen, I begin grinding with him; Dad is hit by a drunk driver and he cannot work for months; I am not old or skilled enough as a machinist to save the business; our mother who drives a school bus feeds our family with charity food. I fear I will grow up to be a blue-collar worker facing all the precarity that comes with this existence.

Dale's book list on to understand America in the 2020s

Dale Maharidge Why did Dale love this book?

I grew up listening to my elders about the 1930s. I’ve read dozens of books about that decade,  and this is the best in terms of the documentation of average Americans. We absolutely must understand the 1930s to deal with what faces us in the nation and world in the 2020s. Adamic was an immigrant who believed in the potential of America, and about half of this book is his reporting around America, with a focus on the working class. The other half is memoir. The reporting is deep, the writing beautiful. 

Book cover of Invisible Hands: The Businessmen's Crusade Against the New Deal

Donald Cohen Author Of The Privatization of Everything: How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back

From my list on the battle between democracy and oligarchy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been reading, researching, and writing on the limitations of market capitalism and the unique and important role of government in meeting public needs for almost 30 years. I have come to firmly believe that we can’t – as a nation and planet – solve our most pressing problems without rebuilding trust in government and the capacity and authority of governing institutions. We can’t eliminate poverty, eradicate structural racism, protect our environment and the planet without democratic institutions that have the power to do so. We need markets, but transferring too much power to the market has created many of the problems we face today. 

Donald's book list on the battle between democracy and oligarchy

Donald Cohen Why did Donald love this book?

This book had an enormous impact on my understanding about the long road economic conservatives and corporations took to establish the dominance of neoclassical and neoliberal economic approaches in the U.S.

It tells a detailed story about a small group of American businessmen who ultimately succeeded in building a political movement that transformed the country. It describes what they were heading for and the ways they went about it. 

By Kim Phillips-Fein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the wake of the profound economic crisis known as the Great Depression, a group of high-powered individuals joined forces to campaign against the New Deal-not just its practical policies but the foundations of its economic philosophy. The titans of the National Association of Manufacturers and the chemicals giant DuPont, together with little-known men like W. C. Mullendore, Leonard Read, and Jasper Crane, championed European thinkers Friedrich von Hayek and Ludwig von Mises and their fears of the "nanny state." Through fervent activism, fundraising, and institution-building, these men sought to educate and organize their peers as a political force to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the New Deal, feminism, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the New Deal, feminism, and presidential biography.

The New Deal Explore 31 books about the New Deal
Feminism Explore 339 books about feminism
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography