100 books like The Second Founding

By Eric Foner,

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

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Book cover of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Robert L. Tsai Author Of Demand the Impossible: One Lawyer's Pursuit of Equal Justice for All

From my list on the role of race and poverty in the criminal justice system.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a law professor at Boston University who has studied and written about constitutional law, democracy, and inequality for over 20 years. I’m troubled by America’s rise to become the world’s leader in imprisoning its own citizens and the continued use of inhumane policing and punishment practices. These trends must be better understood before we can come up with a form of politics that can overcome our slide into a darker version of ourselves. 

Robert's book list on the role of race and poverty in the criminal justice system

Robert L. Tsai Why did Robert love this book?

I found Michelle Alexander’s book a potent reminder that the past is never really past, and that older practices of racial subjugation and use of the criminal law against minorities can be repurposed in later eras to serve the same or related ends.

The book raises the question of whether Jim Crow has really ended in all institutions in American society.

By Michelle Alexander,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The New Jim Crow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists motivated by Michelle Alexander's unforgettable argument that 'we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.'

Book cover of The Cold War: A World History

Robert D. Kaplan Author Of In Europe's Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond

From my list on the Cold War from a journalist who lived it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career as a foreign correspondent in Cold War Eastern Europe, under communist domination. I lived in Greece, a Cold War battleground, in the 1980s, from where I made regular forays into the Balkans and Central Europe. Those journeys left a vivid, lifelong impression on me.

Robert's book list on the Cold War from a journalist who lived it

Robert D. Kaplan Why did Robert love this book?

This is a thick history of the Cold War that breaks new ground in that it shifts the emphasis from Europe, where the Cold War started and ended, to the Third World where it was actually fought in a bloody manner through a series of proxy wars, large and small.

By Odd Arne Westad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Odd Arne Westad's daring ambition, supra-nationalist intellect, polyglot sources, masterly scholarship and trenchant analysis make The Cold War a book ofresounding importance for appraising our global future as well as understanding our past' Richard Davenport-Hines, TLS, Books of the Year

As Germany and then Japan surrendered in 1945 there was a tremendous hope that a new and much better world could be created from the moral and physical ruins of the conflict. Instead, the combination of the huge power of the USA and USSR and the near-total collapse of most of their rivals created a unique, grim new environment: the…

Book cover of Until Justice Be Done: America's First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction

Gerard N. Magliocca Author Of American Founding Son: John Bingham and the Invention of the Fourteenth Amendment

From my list on constitutional history.

Why am I passionate about this?

My books are about American constitutional history, especially the parts or people that are typically overlooked. In these polarized times, there is both wisdom and comfort that can be found in looking at our past. One lesson from looking back is that there was no “golden age” in which Americans all got along. Democracy is sometimes messy, sometimes violent, and almost always involves fierce disagreements. Judged at a distance, there is great drama and great satisfaction in looking at how prior generations addressed their problems. I hope you enjoy the books on my list!

Gerard's book list on constitutional history

Gerard N. Magliocca Why did Gerard love this book?

This is a groundbreaking analysis of how free Blacks and women fought for racial equality before the Civil War and how that fight shaped the Fourteenth Amendment. Professor Masur focuses on states such as Ohio and Illinois where laws discriminating against blacks were commonplace. The political effort to repeal these laws brought together an unprecedented coalition that included many future leaders of Reconstruction, but the critical point is that the people who were the objects of the discrimination found ways to make their voices heard even though they could not vote.

By Kate Masur,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Until Justice Be Done as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The half-century before the Civil War was beset with conflict over equality as well as freedom. Beginning in 1803, many free states enacted laws that discouraged free African Americans from settling within their boundaries and restricted their rights to testify in court, move freely from place to place, work, vote, and attend public school. But over time, African American activists and their white allies, often facing mob violence, courageously built a movement to fight these racist laws. They countered the states' insistences that states were merely trying to maintain the domestic peace with the equal-rights promises they found in the…

Book cover of Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880

Charlotte Hinger Author Of Nicodemus

From my list on African Americans in the West after the Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a multi-award-winning novelist and Kansas historian. Through reading letters written by African Americans in Kansas, I realized that black people were a major political force. In fact, with the settlement of Nicodemus, for the first time in American history, enough black people had gathered in one place to dominate political decisions and prevail over the white community. No one had told the story of the three black powerhouses who shaped politics on a county, state, and national level. I was thrilled when University of Oklahoma Press published my academic book. It won second place in the Westerner’s International Best Book contest.

Charlotte's book list on African Americans in the West after the Civil War

Charlotte Hinger Why did Charlotte love this book?

W.E.B Du Bois’s magnificent contribution to Post-Reconstrucion history put a stop to the notion that blacks were lightweights when it came to academia. Du Bois is a careful historian but doesn’t hesitate to speak from a black agenda. I’m well aware that this book supports my own ideas that blacks were a force in settling the West, but still, the truth will come out. Black people exerted extraordinary political influence. Du Bois, was a serious scholar, with impeccable credentials, and the founder of the NAACP. This man can write! I’m envious of his matchless ability to present history. 

By W.E.B. Du Bois,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

W. E. B. Du Bois was a public intellectual, sociologist, and activist on behalf of the African American community. He profoundly shaped black political culture in the United States through his founding role in the NAACP, as well as internationally through the Pan-African movement. Du Bois's sociological and historical research on African-American communities and culture broke ground in many areas, including the history of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. Du
Bois was also a prolific author of novels, autobiographical accounts, innumerable editorials and journalistic pieces, and several works of history.

Black Reconstruction in America tells and interprets the story of…

Book cover of Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, & the Great Depression

Moshik Temkin Author Of Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial

From my list on leadership and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Moshik Temkin is a historian of the United States and the World and has taught about leadership and history at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Harvard University in Massachusetts, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and other institutions around the world. He is the author of The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial and is writing a book on leadership in history for PublicAffairs called Warriors, Rebels, and Saints: On Leaders and Leadership in History.

Moshik's book list on leadership and history

Moshik Temkin Why did Moshik love this book?

This groundbreaking and wonderfully written study of two “protest” leaders during the Great Depression of the 1930s in the United States shows us what happens when truly hard times hit ordinary people, and what sort of leaders they then turn to. Brinkley brilliantly chronicles the rise of Louisiana politician Huey Long, the “Kingfish”, from obscurity in the poor Jim Crow south to becoming, by the time he was assassinated in 1935, the most significant political threat to the popular President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Long’s calls for wealth redistribution, contempt for traditional elites, and disregard for democratic institutions, make him an important historical example of so-called populist leadership, and of the power and appeal of populism in times of crisis.

By Alan Brinkley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The study of two great demagogues in American history--Huey P. Long, a first-term United States Senator from the red-clay, piney-woods country of nothern Louisiana; and Charles E. Coughlin, a Catholic priest from an industrial suburb near Detroit. Award-winning historian Alan Brinkely describes their modest origins and their parallel rise together in the early years of the Great Depression to become the two most successful leaders of national political dissidence of their era. 

*Winner of the American Book Award for History*

Book cover of The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Charles Postel Author Of Equality: An American Dilemma, 1866-1896

From my list on the struggle for equality in the USA.

Why am I passionate about this?

These days I am a history professor and prize-winning author. But before I started my education at my local community college, I dropped out of high school to work odd jobs on farms and in factories, and spent two decades pondering the hows and whys of the gaping inequalities in our society. My books are part of that ongoing quest. They have won a number of awards, including the Bancroft Prize and the Frederick Jackson Turner Award.

Charles' book list on the struggle for equality in the USA

Charles Postel Why did Charles love this book?

Martin or Malcolm? Civil Rights or Black Power? Integration or Separation? In this book, equal parts wise and smart, Joseph shows the limits of such questions. With their different styles and ways, both Martin and Malcolm fought for the common cause of equality and full citizenship. This book gets to the heart of why this cause was the defining struggle for equality of the post-World War Two decades.

By Peniel E. Joseph, Peniel E. Joseph,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are the two most iconic figures of the Civil Rights movement. To most Americans, Malcolm and Martin represent contrasting political ideals -- self-defense vs. non-violence, anger vs. pacifism, separatism vs. integration, the sword vs. the shield. The Civil Rights movement itself has suffered the same fate: while non-violent direct action is remembered today as an unalloyed good and an unassailable part of our democracy, the movement's combative militancy has been either vilified or erased outright. In The Sword and the Shield, acclaimed historian Peniel Joseph offers a dual biography of Malcolm and Martin…

Book cover of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Richard D. Kahlenberg Author Of Excluded: How Snob Zoning, NIMBYism, and Class Bias Build the Walls We Don't See

From my list on government housing rules in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

After decades writing about how to improve the lives of low-income children through education, I concluded that I had to writing about housing policy too. Government housing laws essentially dictate where kids go to school in America. In addition, since writing in college about Robert Kennedy’s 1968 campaign for president, in which he brought together a multiracial coalition of working people, I’ve been obsessed with finding ways to bring those groups together again.  Reforms of housing policy in a number of states has done just that: united working people across racial lines who were sick of being excluded – by government fiat – from places that provide the best opportunities.

Richard's book list on government housing rules in America

Richard D. Kahlenberg Why did Richard love this book?

The Color of Law does a brilliant job of making clear that racial segregation in America is not merely the result of market forces or individual choices; it was manufactured by government through a series of twentieth-century policies: racial zoning, redlining, and enforcement of racially restrictive covenants.  The effects are still felt today.

I modeled my own book after Rothstein’s and updated his analysis to show that today, economically discriminatory zoning laws have replaced racially discriminatory practices, which helps explain why racial segregation has declined by 30 percent since 1970, but income segregation has doubled.

By Richard Rothstein,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Color of Law as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Widely heralded as a "masterful" (The Washington Post) and "essential" (Slate) history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein's The Color of Law offers "the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation" (William Julius Wilson). Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced…

Book cover of Deep Roots: How Slavery Still Shapes Southern Politics

Mary E. Stuckey Author Of Deplorable: The Worst Presidential Campaigns from Jefferson to Trump

From my list on why American politics are terrible and what to do.

Why am I passionate about this?

I believe in democracy. I think the US has the opportunity to be the world’s first multicultural and inclusive democracy. And I think that’s a very, very hard thing to do. I’ve been writing about democracy through the lens of presidential history my whole career, and I think the US has done some things so impressively well while at the same time it frustratingly keeps failing to live up to its own ideals. The tensions and contradictions in our history as we try to expand and enact those ideas are endlessly fascinating. And I’m nervous that we may be seeing the end of a national commitment to democracy. 

Mary's book list on why American politics are terrible and what to do

Mary E. Stuckey Why did Mary love this book?

I love this book because it’s political science at its best; it uses a lot of great data to study how history affects us in the present; it shows us how hard change is and also what makes it possible. It’s depressing and hopeful and super smart. It’s social science but it’s also very readable.

By Avidit Acharyo, Matthew Blackwell, Maya Sen

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The lasting effects of slavery on contemporary political attitudes in the American South

Despite dramatic social transformations in the United States during the last 150 years, the South has remained staunchly conservative. Southerners are more likely to support Republican candidates, gun rights, and the death penalty, and southern whites harbor higher levels of racial resentment than whites in other parts of the country. Why haven't these sentiments evolved? Deep Roots shows that the entrenched views of white southerners are a direct consequence of the region's slaveholding history. Today, southern whites who live in areas once reliant on slavery-compared to areas…

Book cover of When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America

Doug McAdam Author Of Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America

From my list on the impact of race on American politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in 1951 and came of age during the 60s heyday of the civil rights movement. The images of that struggle—“Bloody Sunday” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, fire hoses and police dogs in Birmingham, etc.—were seared into my brain and helped reinforce a powerful sense of outrage and empathy for black activists. The movement also inspired me to get deeply involved in the Anti-War movement while in college. And so it seemed perfectly natural, when I got to graduate school, that I choose to study the origins and impact of the civil rights struggle and more recently, the continued resistance to that struggle by a significant minority of Americans. 

Doug's book list on the impact of race on American politics

Doug McAdam Why did Doug love this book?

Katznelson explodes another myth in the troubled history of civil rights policy in the US. Most of us grew up believing that FDR’s New Deal policy innovations benefited the neediest of Americans at the height of the Great Depression. But as Katznelson documents in this groundbreaking book, African-Americans were largely excluded from New Deal programs as the price Southern Senators and Congressmen extracted from FDR in exchange for their support in stewarding the legislation through the Congressional committees they controlled.

By Ira Katznelson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Affirmative Action Was White as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this "penetrating new analysis" (New York Times Book Review) Ira Katznelson fundamentally recasts our understanding of twentieth-century American history and demonstrates that all the key programs passed during the New Deal and Fair Deal era of the 1930s and 1940s were created in a deeply discriminatory manner. Through mechanisms designed by Southern Democrats that specifically excluded maids and farm workers, the gap between blacks and whites actually widened despite postwar prosperity. In the words of noted historian Eric Foner, "Katznelson's incisive book should change the terms of debate about affirmative action, and about the last seventy years of American…

Book cover of Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World

Joseph Vogl Author Of The Ascendancy of Finance

From my list on the political power of contemporary finance.

Why am I passionate about this?

How did I – as a scholar of German literature – turn to economic topics? That had a certain inevitability. When I left for Paris in the early nineties, reading traces of anthropological knowledge in literature and aesthetics of the 18th century, I came across economic ideas on almost every page, in natural history, in medicine, in philosophy, in encyclopedias, in the theories of signs and in the teachings of beauty. There was circulation, communication, flows of exchange all over the place, and the Robinsons were the model. This reinforced the impression that the human being was engaged in aligning himself with homo oeconomicus. The question of  modern economics has therefore become unavoidable for me.

Joseph's book list on the political power of contemporary finance

Joseph Vogl Why did Joseph love this book?

Focusing on the financial crisis of 2008 Adam Tooze’s book shows the transition from a geopolitical to a geo-economic world order in which the political destiny of old nation states is determined by the needs of international financial industry – including the rearrangement of global governance and the erosion of democracies.

I admire the way in which Adam Tooze demonstrates the entanglement between financial capitalism, crises, and the rise of populist and right-wing movements in Europe and the US.

By Adam Tooze,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


"An intelligent explanation of the mechanisms that produced the crisis and the response to it...One of the great strengths of Tooze's book is to demonstrate the deeply intertwined nature of the European and American financial systems."--The New York Times Book Review

From the prizewinning economic historian and author of Shutdown and The Deluge, an eye-opening reinterpretation of the 2008 economic crisis (and its ten-year aftermath) as a global event that directly…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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