100 books like The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas

By Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz,

Here are 100 books that The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas fans have personally recommended if you like The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas. 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 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 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 Partner and I: Molly Dewson, Feminism, and New Deal Politics

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?

Susan Ware, who describes herself as a serial biographer, is a champion of feminist biography. I like this one so much because she so forthrightly acknowledges the importance of Mary W. Dewson’s partnership with Polly Porter in her wide-ranging activism, which included “Minimum Wage Dewson’s” battle for a living wage and “More Women Dewson’s” campaign to appoint women to prominent positions in the New Deal administration. Not to be missed are the wonderful images from the “Porter-Dewson” scrapbook, including the women’s photographs with their beloved canine companions. In addition to highlighting the couple’s personal relationship and political activism, Partner and I is one of a small (but growing) handful of studies that highlight women’s continuing activism after the successful achievement of women’s suffrage.

By Susan Ware,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fascinating exploration of the private and public worlds of Molly Dewson, America's original female political boss. In the first biography ever written of Dewson, Susan Ware not only examines her political career as a trusted member of the Roosevelt team throughout the New Deal but also considers how Dewson's fifty-two year partnership with Polly Porter and her woman-centered existence strengthened her success as a politician.
"Susan Ware's excellent biography of Molly Dewson restores one of Franklin Roosevelt's chums and an irrepressible battler for women in politics to her proper place in the history of the New Deal."-Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.…


Book cover of Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image

David Prior Author Of Between Freedom and Progress: The Lost World of Reconstruction Politics

From my list on how the Civil War changed history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian of the Civil War, I love thinking about how the war shaped what came after it. The Civil War, and the abolition of slavery that was wrapped up with it, is perhaps the most important turning point in the history of the United States. It had so many afterlives and made such a deep impact on everything from the daily lives of the formerly enslaved in the southern states to popular culture to the shape of the country’s economy. As a historian of the period, I’ve written and edited multiple books and scholarly articles on the period. Still, I remain fascinated by how much more there is to learn and study!  

David's book list on how the Civil War changed history

David Prior Why did David love this book?

I loved how this book offered an intellectual history of the Lincoln administration in action and memory, and with a personal touch.

Focusing on the lives and works of Lincoln’s two personal secretaries, who—as Zeitz points outwere perhaps more akin to a modern president’s Chief of Staff, Zeitz takes you from the prewar years, through the war itself, and then deep into the changing landscape of post-war America.

I enjoyed how it provided a front-row seat to see the rough-and-tumble world of American politics, the process of getting things done during Lincoln’s presidency, and the refashioning of Lincoln’s image in the public mind.

Nicolay and Hay together assembled a monumental history of Lincoln and his presidency, one that still shapes scholarly understandings of him to this day. 

By Joshua Zeitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A timely and intimate look into Abraham Lincoln’s White House through the lives of his two closest aides and confidants Lincoln’s official secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay enjoyed more access, witnessed more history, and knew Lincoln better than anyone outside of the president’s immediate family. Hay and Nicolay were the gatekeepers of the Lincoln legacy. They read poetry and attendeded the theater with the president, commiserated with him over Union army setbacks, and plotted electoral strategy. They were present at every seminal event, from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address—and they wrote…


Book cover of A. Lincoln: A Biography

Talmage Boston Author Of Cross-Examining History: A Lawyer Gets Answers from the Experts about Our Presidents

From my list on presidential biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over the last eight years, I’ve conducted as many onstage interviews with leading presidential historians as anyone else in the country. To prepare for them, I read presidential biographies thoroughly and constantly. The fact that my work has been strongly endorsed by people in presidential history circles with the stature of Ken Burns, David McCullough, James Baker, Jon Meacham, and Douglas Brinkley should be a strong indication that my opinion about this subject matters.

Talmage's book list on presidential biographies

Talmage Boston Why did Talmage love this book?

It’s the best cradle-to-grave biography of Lincoln, quite an accomplishment, given that over 16,000 books have been written on him. The book goes deep on a special interest I have in our 16th president: his long and winding faith journey. White’s passion for his subject serves to energize the reader.

By Ronald C. White Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“If you read one book about Lincoln, make it A. Lincoln.”—USA Today

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The Philadelphia Inquirer • The Christian Science Monitor • St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
 
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

WINNER OF THE CHRISTOPHER AWARD

Everyone wants to define the man who signed his name “A. Lincoln.” In his lifetime and ever since, friend and foe have taken it upon themselves to characterize Lincoln according to their own label or libel. In this magnificent book, Ronald C. White, Jr., offers a fresh and compelling definition of Lincoln as…


Book cover of Porfirio Diaz

Alejandro Quintana Ph.D. Author Of Pancho Villa: A Biography

From my list on biographies of the Mexican Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Mexico listening to my father´s stories about the Mexican revolution. His storytelling abilities drew me in as he described his childhood memories and those of his father, who lived through the revolution. That's why I became a historian writing about the Mexican Revolution with a preference for biographies. As the Latin Americanist historian at St. John's University in New York City, I've written two books: Maximino Avila Camacho and the One Party State, Pancho Villa: A Biography, and edited A Brief History of Mexico by Lynn V. Foster. I hope you enjoy the list of books on significant personalities that shaped the first major social revolution of the twentieth century.

Alejandro's book list on biographies of the Mexican Revolution

Alejandro Quintana Ph.D. Why did Alejandro love this book?

I love this book because it shows the real complexities of the socioeconomic realities that Mexicans experienced leading to the revolution. By focusing on the life of Porfirio Diaz, Paul Garner offers a nuanced narrative challenging six decades of the revolutionary government and most historians consistently condemning Diaz as an unredeemable tyrant. Instead, Garner offers a more realistic explanation of the achievements and failures of the dictator responsible for simultaneously resurrecting the Mexican economy and producing the biggest social upheaval in Mexican history.

By Paul Garner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The fall of Porfirio Diaz has traditionally been presented as a watershed between old and new: an old style repressive and conservative government, and the more democratic and representative system that flowered in the wake of the Mexican Revolution. Now this view is being challenged by a new generation of historians, who point out that Diaz originally rose to power in alliance with anti-conservative forces and was a modernising force as well as a dictator. Drawing together the threads of this revisionist reading of the Porfiriato, Garner reassesses a political career that spanned more than forty years, and examines the…


Book cover of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln

John G. Matsusaka Author Of Let the People Rule: How Direct Democracy Can Meet the Populist Challenge

From my list on understanding why American democracy is struggling.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an economist by training, who has researched and taught classes related to business, governance, and democracy for more than 30 years at the University of Southern California. My work is multidisciplinary, spanning economics, finance, law, and political science, with a grounding in empirical analysis. In addition to two books and numerous scholarly articles, I am a frequent op-ed contributor and media commentator on topics related to democracy. I also direct the Initiative and Referendum Institute, a nonpartisan education organization focused on direct democracy.

John's book list on understanding why American democracy is struggling

John G. Matsusaka Why did John love this book?

Although established in the late 1700s, the United States didn’t really become a recognizably modern democracy until the middle of the 1800s. This classic history book describes in detail how this happened in response to public pressures that were populist in nature. The story of this transformation over the 19th century reveals that populism is a recurring feature of American politics, and it has often led the country to improve its democratic practices. This is not an easy read, but offers significant rewards to the persistent reader.

By Sean Wilentz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Acclaimed as the definitive study of the period by one of the greatest American historians, The Rise of American Democracy traces a historical arc from the earliest days of the republic to the opening shots of the Civil War. Ferocious clashes among the Founders over the role of ordinary citizens in a government of "we, the people" were eventually resolved in the triumph of Andrew Jackson. Thereafter, Sean Wilentz shows, a fateful division arose between two starkly opposed democracies-a division contained until the election of Abraham Lincoln sparked its bloody resolution. Winner of the Bancroft Award, shortlisted for the Pulitzer…


Book cover of True North: A Memoir

Sally Helgesen Author Of How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job

From my list on actually being a leader.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent the last 32 years of my life working with women leaders and aspiring women leaders all over the world and helping organizations to create more inclusive cultures. As a result, I’ve been exposed to extraordinary leaders and to terrible leaders and have seen up close the impact they have on people’s lives. This has inspired me to write 7 books and thousands of articles exploring different aspects of the leader’s journey and to deliver leadership workshops in 32 countries. What do I love? Sharing the stories that inspire me.

Sally's book list on actually being a leader

Sally Helgesen Why did Sally love this book?

Conway’s journey from a childhood spent on a remote Australian sheep ranch to the first female president of Smith College is remarkable and searingly honest written memoir is more than a chronicle of success. With humor and insight, Conway renders the loneliness of being the only woman in the room, the costs (in her case, early struggles with depression and substance abuse), and the sources of support and resilience that kept her going. So many leadership books identify desirable leadership traits without describing the actual experiences that go into developing as a leader. This beautifully written book vividly shows what leading looks and feels like.

By Jill Ker Conway,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Conway's The Road from Coorain presents a vivid memoir of coming of age in Australia. In 1960, however, she had reached the limits of that provincial--and irredeemably sexist--society and set off for America. True North--the testament of an extraordinary woman living in an extraordinary time--te lls the profound story of the challenges that confronted Conway, as she sought to establish her public self.


Book cover of George Washington

Bill Thompson Author Of Callie

From my list on kick off a great series.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my decades in the corporate world, I traveled extensively and spent months in England, where I became a devoted Anglophile. I am privileged to have met Queen Elizabeth II and Philip, and to have attended a knighting at Westminster. English history fascinates me, but so do gripping spy thrillers occurring in European and Middle Eastern settings. There’s nothing better than finishing a satisfying first book in a series—fiction or not--and deciding to ration the remaining ones so you can savor the experience a little longer! 

Bill's book list on kick off a great series

Bill Thompson Why did Bill love this book?

Although the books in this series are not released in chronological order, I found it helpful to begin at the beginning, with George Washington. Each of these books is well-written and provides a concise way to learn about the significant events that occurred. Several times I’ve finished a book in this series and then selected an in-depth biography to further my knowledge about the ones I found most interesting. Though occasionally laborious reading, the insight gained from a brief look at each president’s life is worth every word.

By James MacGregor Burns, Susan Dunn, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A premier leadership scholar and an eighteenth-century expert define the special contributions and qualifications of our first president

Revolutionary hero, founding president, and first citizen of the young republic, George Washington was the most illustrious public man of his time, a man whose image today is the result of the careful grooming of his public persona to include the themes of character, self-sacrifice, and destiny.

As Washington sought to interpret the Constitution's assignment of powers to the executive branch and to establish precedent for future leaders, he relied on his key advisers and looked to form consensus as the guiding…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Women's suffrage, feminism, and presidential biography?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Women's suffrage, feminism, and presidential biography.

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