100 books like The 1619 Project

By Nikole Hannah-Jones,

Here are 100 books that The 1619 Project fans have personally recommended if you like The 1619 Project. 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 The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution

Kermit Roosevelt III Author Of The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America's Story

From my list on understanding America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved America and our Constitution. I went to law school, I clerked at the Supreme Court, and I ended up teaching Constitutional law at Penn. But as I learned more about the Constitution and our history, I realized that the story I’d absorbed growing up about what our values were and where they came from didn’t ring true. Things were a little more complicated. And so I did my own research. I read dozens of books, including the ones listed here. And in the end, I found a story that was both more true and more inspiring than the one we learned in school. 

Kermit's book list on understanding America

Kermit Roosevelt III Why did Kermit love this book?

Eric Foner is our nation’s foremost historian of Reconstruction, the author of dozens of books and articles. This is my favorite—it takes the research and thought of a monumental career and packages it for maximum impact. In just over 200 pages, it takes you through the changes of the Civil War and Reconstruction and their relevance for America today. 

By Eric Foner,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Second Founding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal but it took the Civil War and the adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed due process and the equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. By grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, the amendments marked the second founding of the United States.

Eric Foner conveys the dramatic origins of these revolutionary amendments and explores the court decisions that then narrowed and nullified the rights guaranteed in these amendments. Today, issues…


Book cover of The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It

Anthony Biglan Author Of Rebooting Capitalism: How We Can Forge a Society That Works for Everyone

From my list on to find out what we can do to fix the USA.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my career studying how we can make our world more nurturing for every person. We can build a society that ensures that every child has the skills, interests, values, and health habits they need to lead a productive life in caring relationships with others. I created Values to Action to make this a reality in communities around the world. We have more than 200 members across the country who are working together to reform our society so that it has less poverty, economic inequality, discrimination, and many more happy and thriving families. 

Anthony's book list on to find out what we can do to fix the USA

Anthony Biglan Why did Anthony love this book?

Robert Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett provide an analysis of the past 125 years of American history that makes a significant contribution to the growing movement to reform American Society. They carefully analyze trends in American life in a way that delineates the tangle of problems we are currently experiencing while at the same time offering hope that we can overcome them. The essence of their analysis is that across a wide variety of societal indicators, the past century and a quarter has involved an upswing in prosocial or communitarian norms and practices, beginning in the progressive era of the early twentieth century. That was followed by a reversal toward less communitarian and more individualistic and self-centered norms and practices.

By Robert D. Putnam,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The most important book in social science for many years' Paul Collier, TLS Books of the Year

The Upswing is Robert D. Putnam's brilliant analysis of economic, social, cultural and political trends from the Gilded Age to the present, showing how America went from an individualistic 'I' society to a more communitarian 'We' society and then back again, and how we can all learn from that experience.

In the late nineteenth century, America was highly individualistic, starkly unequal, fiercely polarised and deeply fragmented, just as it is today. However, as the twentieth century dawned, America became - slowly, unevenly, but…


Book cover of Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do about It

Anthony Biglan Author Of Rebooting Capitalism: How We Can Forge a Society That Works for Everyone

From my list on to find out what we can do to fix the USA.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my career studying how we can make our world more nurturing for every person. We can build a society that ensures that every child has the skills, interests, values, and health habits they need to lead a productive life in caring relationships with others. I created Values to Action to make this a reality in communities around the world. We have more than 200 members across the country who are working together to reform our society so that it has less poverty, economic inequality, discrimination, and many more happy and thriving families. 

Anthony's book list on to find out what we can do to fix the USA

Anthony Biglan Why did Anthony love this book?

Its central thesis is that the deficiencies and environmental harm of major efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are being ignored, so that the privileged and elite can continue to live in comfort and affluence. The authors present evidence that advocates for alternative energy such as wind and solar greatly overestimate the potential of these sources to replace fossil fuel energy. At the same time, the development of wind and solar power has harmful environmental impacts, including the mining necessary to obtain rare earth minerals, the decimation of wilderness both in the process of obtaining minerals, and widely implementing wind and solar installations. The undue optimism associated with these activities makes it unnecessary for those who are already privileged to consider adopting a much less consumptive lifestyle.

By Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, Max Wilbert

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bright Green Lies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“This disturbing but very important book makes clear we must dig deeper than the normal solutions we are offered.”―Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia Works

"Bright Green Lies exposes the hypocrisy and bankruptcy of leading environmental groups and their most prominent cheerleaders. The best-known environmentalists are not in the business of speaking truth, or even holding up rational solutions to blunt the impending ecocide, but instead indulge in a mendacious and self-serving delusion that provides comfort at the expense of reality. They fail to state the obvious: We cannot continue to wallow in hedonistic consumption and industrial expansion and survive as…


Book cover of How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

Susan Crane Author Of Nothing Happened: A History

From my list on books about Nothing, in particular: because Nothing always means Something.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by how we remember the past and why some things get written into histories and other things don’t. I realized that Nothing happens all the time but no one has thought to ask how we remember it. Once I started looking for how Nothing was being remembered, I found it all around me. Books I read as a kid, movies I’d seen, songs I’d heard – these were my sources. So when I started working, Nothing got done (yes, I love puns!).

Susan's book list on books about Nothing, in particular: because Nothing always means Something

Susan Crane Why did Susan love this book?

Like a classic wine pairing, read Smith and Horwitz together and savor the full flavors. Black poet Smith visited Louisiana, New York and Texas, sites where the memory of slavery is a ghost haunting the present, whether in a prison or on Wall Street.

I was moved by his sensitive exploration of the same layered and scarred American terrain Horwitz traveled. Has Nothing changed?

By Clint Smith,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked How the Word Is Passed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVOURITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NON-FICTION

'A beautifully readable reminder of how much of our urgent, collective history resounds in places all around us that have been hidden in plain sight.' Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish)

Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks - those that are honest about the past and those that are not - which offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in…


Book cover of The Broken Constitution: Lincoln, Slavery, and the Refounding of America

Kermit Roosevelt III Author Of The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America's Story

From my list on understanding America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved America and our Constitution. I went to law school, I clerked at the Supreme Court, and I ended up teaching Constitutional law at Penn. But as I learned more about the Constitution and our history, I realized that the story I’d absorbed growing up about what our values were and where they came from didn’t ring true. Things were a little more complicated. And so I did my own research. I read dozens of books, including the ones listed here. And in the end, I found a story that was both more true and more inspiring than the one we learned in school. 

Kermit's book list on understanding America

Kermit Roosevelt III Why did Kermit love this book?

What happened to our Constitution during the Civil War? Noah Feldman argues that Lincoln, whose goal was to save the Union, had to break the Constitution to do so. But this rupture created the possibility of a new order. The original Constitution was filled with compromises, most notably between the supporters and opponents of slavery. But a broken document could be mended to eliminate those compromises and produce an anti-slavery Constitution.

I think this book is really insightful—it will change the way you think about what it means to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

By Noah Feldman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

An innovative account of Abraham Lincoln, constitutional thinker and doer.

When Abraham Lincoln assumed the presidency in 1861, the United States’ constitutional arrangements were not the ones we know today. It was widely believed that the federal government could not use armed force to prevent a state from seceding. It was also assumed that it had no authority over slavery in states where the institution existed and that basic civil liberties could not be suspended during a rebellion without the consent of Congress. As president, Lincoln broke decisively with all these precedents,…


Book cover of Liberty Is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution

Kermit Roosevelt III Author Of The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America's Story

From my list on understanding America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved America and our Constitution. I went to law school, I clerked at the Supreme Court, and I ended up teaching Constitutional law at Penn. But as I learned more about the Constitution and our history, I realized that the story I’d absorbed growing up about what our values were and where they came from didn’t ring true. Things were a little more complicated. And so I did my own research. I read dozens of books, including the ones listed here. And in the end, I found a story that was both more true and more inspiring than the one we learned in school. 

Kermit's book list on understanding America

Kermit Roosevelt III Why did Kermit love this book?

You know the standard stories of the Revolution, with heroes like George Washington and villains like Benedict Arnold. But Woody Holton shines a new light on America’s founding war. You’ll meet new heroes, and you’ll understand the old ones better. How does America start? And why? Here’s a whole new set of answers to complicate the ones you’ve learned.

By Woody Holton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A "deeply researched and bracing retelling" (Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian) of the American Revolution, showing how the Founders were influenced by overlooked Americans-women, Native Americans, African Americans, and religious dissenters.

Using more than a thousand eyewitness records, Liberty Is Sweet is a "spirited account" (Gordon S. Wood, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution) that explores countless connections between the Patriots of 1776 and other Americans whose passion for freedom often brought them into conflict with the Founding Fathers. "It is all one story," prizewinning historian Woody Holton writes.

Holton describes the origins and crucial battles…


Book cover of America's Constitution: A Biography

Kermit Roosevelt III Author Of The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America's Story

From my list on understanding America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved America and our Constitution. I went to law school, I clerked at the Supreme Court, and I ended up teaching Constitutional law at Penn. But as I learned more about the Constitution and our history, I realized that the story I’d absorbed growing up about what our values were and where they came from didn’t ring true. Things were a little more complicated. And so I did my own research. I read dozens of books, including the ones listed here. And in the end, I found a story that was both more true and more inspiring than the one we learned in school. 

Kermit's book list on understanding America

Kermit Roosevelt III Why did Kermit love this book?

There’s no one I like to read more about constitutional law than Akhil Amar. He has an incredible breadth of knowledge that’s matched by an amazing depth of insight. In this book, he goes through the constitution, clause by clause, and finds something new and unexpected to say about almost all of them. If you really want to understand the constitution, this is the definitive book. 

By Akhil Reed Amar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In America’s Constitution, one of this era’s most accomplished constitutional law scholars, Akhil Reed Amar, gives the first comprehensive account of one of the world’s great political texts. Incisive, entertaining, and occasionally controversial, this “biography” of America’s framing document explains not only what the Constitution says but also why the Constitution says it.

We all know this much: the Constitution is neither immutable nor perfect. Amar shows us how the story of this one relatively compact document reflects the story of America more generally. (For example, much of the Constitution, including the glorious-sounding “We the People,” was lifted from existing…


Book cover of Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation

Kristin Ohlson Author Of Sweet in Tooth and Claw: Stories of Generosity and Cooperation in the Natural World

From my list on interconnection in nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a small agricultural town in California’s Sacramento Valley, and my parents didn’t even consider worrying if I was bored or lonely when I wasn’t at school. Consequently, I spent hours in a nearby vacant lot riddled with anthills watching the ants hustle back and forth and, occasionally, inserting myself in their lives with handfuls of sugar or sticks to block their paths. Pretty sure this is where my interest in science and nature began—and maybe even my interest in cooperation.

Kristin's book list on interconnection in nature

Kristin Ohlson Why did Kristin love this book?

I worry that people don’t hear enough about solutions to the climate crisis, but, thankfully, Paul Hawken and his collaborators lay many of them out in this book.

They focus not on the flashy technologies that often grab headlines—and not just on the reduction of fossil fuels—but on the power of a healthy, living Earth to heal itself. Of course, we need to be partners in this healing, and Hawken illuminates the people, organizations, and approaches that are doing just that.

By Paul Hawken,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A radically new understanding of and practical approach to climate change by noted environmentalist Paul Hawken, creator of the New York Times bestseller Drawdown

Regeneration offers a visionary new approach to climate change, one that weaves justice, climate, biodiversity, equity, and human dignity into a seamless tapestry of action, policy, and transformation that can end the climate crisis in one generation. It is the first book to describe and define the burgeoning regeneration movement spreading rapidly throughout the world.

Regeneration describes how an inclusive movement can engage the majority of humanity to save the world from the threat of global…


Book cover of Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality

James Cronin Author Of Fragile Victory: The Making and Unmaking of Liberal Order

From my list on the crisis of liberal order and democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Well before I trained as a scholar, I was an activist motivated by opposition to the Vietnam War and support for civil rights and social justice. Those commitments continued throughout my academic career and have now morphed into a resolve to write about recent threats to liberal order, democracy, and justice. The election results of 2016 – the triumph of “leave” in the Brexit vote and of Donald Trump in the Presidential election, forced me to rethink the history of things I have come to cherish – liberal order, democracy, and social and racial justice – how support for them has ebbed, and why they now require vigorous and informed defense.

James' book list on the crisis of liberal order and democracy

James Cronin Why did James love this book?

Hacker and Pierson argue that “plutocratic populism,” their term for what currently ails the United States and other democracies, is the latest solution to a structural dilemma in modern democracy.

Conservatives are regularly determined to protect wealth and privilege but need to win over voters who typically lack wealth and privilege to elect them. That means a continual effort to craft appeals that, in effect, disguise their aims.

The recent turn to populism means relying on non-economic issues – race, nativism, and various culture war issues concerning sex and gender most potently – to attract voters to support parties whose first allegiance is to the economic interests of elites.

This strategy can also lead, at times, to attacks on democracy and voting as well. 

By Jacob S. Hacker, Paul Pierson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Let Them Eat Tweets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Republican Party appears to be divided between a tax-cutting old guard and a white-nationalist vanguard-and with Donald Trump's ascendance, the upstarts seem to be winning. Yet how are we to explain that, under Trump, the plutocrats have gotten almost everything they want, including a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, regulation-killing executive actions, and a legion of business-friendly federal judges? Does the GOP represent "forgotten" Americans? Or does it represent the superrich?

In Let Them Eat Tweets, best-selling political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson offer a definitive answer: the Republican Party serves its plutocratic masters…


Book cover of Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives

Seth Mallios Author Of Born a Slave, Died a Pioneer: Nathan Harrison and the Historical Archaeology of Legend

From my list on confronting slavery and how it impacts society today.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an archaeologist, anthropologist, and historian who has worked on both the East Coast (Flowerdew Hundred and Jamestown, Virginia) and West Coast (San Diego, California) of the U.S. and dug sites from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, I am passionate about how archaeology can serve to offer new insights for marginalized peoples in American history. I specialize in exposing how narrow thinking, revisionism, and myth-making warp local histories and turn them into fabrications of the present. 

Seth's book list on confronting slavery and how it impacts society today

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

Laura Murphy uses nearly forty survivor narratives from around the world to demonstrate that slavery is not a heinous phenomenon of the past, but of the present as well. Her work is essential to students of American history; it ensures that slavery is never presented as merely a crime of the past or only as a despicable practice isolated to one geographic region.

By Laura T. Murphy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Slavery is not a crime confined to the far reaches of history. It is an injustice that continues to entrap twenty-seven million people across the globe. Laura Murphy offers close to forty survivor narratives from Cambodia, Ghana, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and the United States, detailing the horrors of a system that forces people to work without pay and against their will, under the threat of violence, with little or no means of escape. Representing a variety of circumstances in diverse contexts, these survivors are the Frederick Douglasses, Sojourner Truths, and Olaudah Equianos of our time, testifying to…


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