100 books like The System

By Jeff Benedict, Armen Keteyian,

Here are 100 books that The System fans have personally recommended if you like The System. 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 Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream

John Foot Author Of Calcio: A History of Italian Football

From my list on how sport and history cannot be separated.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and journalist. I lived in Italy for over twenty years, immersing myself in the culture of that country—in every form. I decided to write Calcio after becoming aware of the centrality of football to Italian culture and politics, and around the time of the rise of a football entrepreneur to political power—Silvio Berlusconi. The book took me three years, led me to visit numerous cities, stadiums, and regions, and interview dozens of journalists, experts, and players. It was a love letter and a warning—dedicated to ‘my father who loves football, and my son, who hates it.'

John's book list on how sport and history cannot be separated

John Foot Why did John love this book?

A superb and gripping account of the hold that American Football has over a small town in the USA. In telling the story of a season, Bissinger captures the glory, tragedy, and futility of sport, and its connection to racial politics, ambition, local rivalries, and a passionate fan base. Led to a brilliant TV series. Elegiac and path-breaking.

By H.G. Bissinger,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Friday Night Lights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 25th anniversary edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller and Sports Illustrated 's best football book of all time, with a new afterword by the authorReturn once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa,the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Socially and racially divided, Odessa isn't known to be a place big on dreams, but every Friday night from September to December, when the Panthers play football, dreams can come true.With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger unforgettably captures a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the…


Book cover of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Mark A. Salter Author Of Sins of the Tribe

From my list on institutional hypocrisy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like all of us, I was raised on promises, and now I’ve veered off to another perspective. I love football. I played in high school, college, and for a brief time, in the NFL (didn’t make the final roster!) Philosophy has been a life-long pursuit, but I didn’t find what I was looking for: the truth. Except for the existentialists, most of it is a mere history of how mankind thought. But philosophy has taught me how to examine the essence of important issues. That’s why I wrote a book about tribalism, because to me, tribalism is the strongest dynamic in humanity and morality is subordinate to tribalism.

Mark's book list on institutional hypocrisy

Mark A. Salter Why did Mark love this book?

I loved this book because it fearlessly profiles a certain type of hypocrisy in our culture through the experiences of Billy Lynn and his fellow soldiers of the Bravo Squad. They’re reluctant war heroes on an unwanted victory tour stop at a Dallas Cowboys game. I identified with Billy as an everyman with a challenging background. I felt it was a powerful juxtaposition of the price we ask some to pay to support our way of life that is cluttered with banality.

I could feel his pain and grief over the losses he’s experienced, and I wanted him to be cared for with empathy and understanding. Instead, I was repulsed by what our culture has to offer; using Billy and his fellow soldiers as props to celebrate ourselves.

By Ben Fountain,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

His whole nation is celebrating what is the worst day of his life

Nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn is home from Iraq. And he's a hero. Billy and the rest of Bravo Company were filmed defeating Iraqi insurgents in a ferocious firefight. Now Bravo's three minutes of extreme bravery is a YouTube sensation and the Bush Administration has sent them on a nationwide Victory Tour.

During the final hours of the tour Billy will mix with the rich and powerful, endure the politics and praise of his fellow Americans - and fall in love. He'll face hard truths about life and death,…


Book cover of Champions Way: Football, Florida, and the Lost Soul of College Sports

Mark A. Salter Author Of Sins of the Tribe

From my list on institutional hypocrisy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like all of us, I was raised on promises, and now I’ve veered off to another perspective. I love football. I played in high school, college, and for a brief time, in the NFL (didn’t make the final roster!) Philosophy has been a life-long pursuit, but I didn’t find what I was looking for: the truth. Except for the existentialists, most of it is a mere history of how mankind thought. But philosophy has taught me how to examine the essence of important issues. That’s why I wrote a book about tribalism, because to me, tribalism is the strongest dynamic in humanity and morality is subordinate to tribalism.

Mark's book list on institutional hypocrisy

Mark A. Salter Why did Mark love this book?

I’m conflicted, two of my three kids went to Florida State and this book holds nothing back about the crimes and sins that have taken place at FSU. I felt like I was witness to a crime scene; the crimes were academic, cultural, and truly criminal. I completely believe that our higher education system is critical to our country, yet what takes place at these schools is an outrage. This is a book written by a talented journalist who took me on an objective tour of the hypocrisy we are willing to allow for our tribe to dominate.

By Mike McIntire,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With little public debate or introspection, our institutions of higher learning have become hostages to the rapacious, smash-mouth entertainment conglomerate known, quaintly, as intercollegiate athletics. In Champions Way, New York Times investigative reporter Mike McIntire chronicles the rise of this growing scandal through the experience of the Florida State Seminoles, one of the most successful teams in NCAA history.

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his Times investigation of college sports, McIntire breaks new ground here, uncovering the workings of a system that enables athletes to violate academic standards and avoid criminal prosecution for actions ranging from shoplifting to…


Book cover of I Am Charlotte Simmons

Mark A. Salter Author Of Sins of the Tribe

From my list on institutional hypocrisy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like all of us, I was raised on promises, and now I’ve veered off to another perspective. I love football. I played in high school, college, and for a brief time, in the NFL (didn’t make the final roster!) Philosophy has been a life-long pursuit, but I didn’t find what I was looking for: the truth. Except for the existentialists, most of it is a mere history of how mankind thought. But philosophy has taught me how to examine the essence of important issues. That’s why I wrote a book about tribalism, because to me, tribalism is the strongest dynamic in humanity and morality is subordinate to tribalism.

Mark's book list on institutional hypocrisy

Mark A. Salter Why did Mark love this book?

Back to fiction. I loved how everyone, including the adorable young woman from a hardscrabble background, Charlotte, took their own big bite of hypocrisy pie. Everyone, except for one character, did it and I’m not going to spoil it for you (it was the star basketball player.) I think I’ve read everything Tom Wolfe had ever written and this is his finest work. This novel took me on a ride, I was there, the emotions I felt reading it were visceral and real. At the end, the feeling I had was—what the hell is college all about? And then I answered myself: it’s four years of summer camp and I can’t wait until my youngest graduates.

By Tom Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A scandalous exploration of elite undergraduate life from the author of The Bonfire of the Vanities

Dupont University: the Olympian halls of learning housing the cream of America's youth, the roseate Gothic spires and manicured lawns suffused with tradition... or so it appears to beautiful, brilliant Charlotte Simmons, a sheltered freshman from Sparta, North Carolina, who has come here on a full scholarship. But Charlotte soon learns that for the upper-crust coeds of Dupont, sex, status, and kegs trump academic achievement every time.

As Charlotte encounters Dupont's elite, she gains a new, revelatory sense of her own power, that of…


Book cover of The City Game: Triumph, Scandal, and a Legendary Basketball Team

Jeffrey S. Gurock Author Of Marty Glickman: The Life of an American Jewish Sports Legend

From my list on American Jews and sports.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of American Jewish history who has written extensively on how sports have impacted the lives of American Jews. I have been especially interested in how the acceptance or rejection of Jews in the sports arena has underscored that group’s place within this country’s society. I have been likewise intrigued by how the call of athleticism has challenged their ethnic and religious identity. The saga of Marty Glickman, a story of adversity and triumph, speaks boldly to critical issues that this minority group has faced.

Jeffrey's book list on American Jews and sports

Jeffrey S. Gurock Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Tragically, in 1951, players on the City College basketball team – Jews and African Americans – were caught up in a point-shaving scandal that rocked the city and the Jewish community.

Goodman tells this sad story comprehensively and unsparingly, and took me back into the neighborhoods where these athletes grew up and detailed how organized crime figures seduced them. He also notes importantly how this corruption of basketball which was then seen as a “Jewish sport” fed antisemitic attitudes against Jews.

By Matthew Goodman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The powerful story of a college basketball team who carried an era’s brightest hopes—racial harmony, social mobility, and the triumph of the underdog—but whose success was soon followed by a shocking downfall

“A masterpiece of American storytelling.”—Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Devil in the Grove

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST SPORTS BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

The unlikeliest of champions, the 1949–50 City College Beavers were extraordinary by every measure. New York’s City College was a tuition-free, merit-based college in Harlem known far more for its intellectual achievements and political radicalism than its…


Book cover of Fiasco: The Inside Story of a Wall Street Trader

Samuel Buell Author Of Capital Offenses: Business Crime and Punishment in America's Corporate Age

From my list on corporate crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach the law and enforcement of corporate crime as a law professor. At the outset of the course, I tell the students that corporate crime is a problem, not a body of law. You have to start by thinking about the problem. How do these things occur? What is the psychology, both individual and institutional? What are the economic incentives at each level and with each player? What role do lawyers play? When do regulatory arrangements cause rather than prevent this kind of thing?  If the locution were not too awkward, I might call the field “scandalology.” I love every one of these books because they do such a great job of telling the human stories through which we can ask the most interesting and important questions about how corporate crimes happen.

Samuel's book list on corporate crime

Samuel Buell Why did Samuel love this book?

Partnoy, a distinguished law professor at Berkeley, is a brilliant chronicler of the people and products in modern financial markets. One could read any of his books and say they were among the best ones on the market and corporate chicanery. But I love his first book, in which he tells the tale of his brief time trading derivatives—back in the very early days of those now world-famous products—among the unsavory characters of a Wall Street trading floor. The story has been told by others since (Wolf of Wall Street, Big Short, etc.) but Partnoy may have done it first. And seeing that world through his young, brilliant, and impressionistic eyes is wonderful. His firm tried to block him from publishing the book, but he did it and has gone on to a magnificent academic career in which he continues to tell it like it is, understanding the…

By Frank Partnoy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

FIASCO is the shocking story of one man's education in the jungles of Wall Street. As a young derivatives salesman at Morgan Stanley, Frank Partnoy learned to buy and sell billions of dollars worth of securities that were so complex many traders themselves didn't understand them. In his behind-the-scenes look at the trading floor and the offices of one of the world's top investment firms, Partnoy recounts the macho attitudes and fiercely competitive ploys of his office mates. And he takes us to the annual drunken skeet-shooting competition, FIASCO, where he and his colleagues sharpen the killer instincts they are…


Book cover of Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America

Mikkael A. Sekeres Author Of Drugs and the FDA: Safety, Efficacy, and the Public's Trust

From my list on the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly in medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a cancer doctor, I have spent two decades dedicated to understanding the causes and therapy of cancer, how my patients experience their diagnosis and treatment, and how meaningful improvements in their experience should be reflected in the criteria we use to approve cancer drugs approval in the U.S., to improve their lives. In over 100 essays published in outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post and in two books, I sing the stories of my patients as I learn from their undaunted spirits and their utter humanity, as I try to figure out how to be a better doctor, and a better person.

Mikkael's book list on the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly in medicine

Mikkael A. Sekeres Why did Mikkael love this book?

There’s a seedy side to the pharmaceutical industry that started well before the creation of the FDA, and continues through the modern era, fueling the epidemic of opioid drug dependency.

In Pharma, Posner’s comprehensive reporting introduces us to brilliant scientists, incorruptible government regulators, and brave whistleblowers facing off against company executives often blinded by greed.

We learn how the Sacklers built a culture of pain relief on the shoulders of oxycontin – one that ultimately led to the lowest survival rates for Americans in a century.

By Gerald Posner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Gerald Posner traces the heroes and villains of the trillion-dollar-a-year pharmaceutical industry and uncovers how those once entrusted with improving life have often betrayed that ideal to corruption and reckless profiteering-with deadly consequences.

Pharmaceutical breakthroughs such as anti biotics and vaccines rank among some of the greatest advancements in human history. Yet exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs, safety recalls affecting tens of millions of Americans, and soaring rates of addiction and overdose on pre scription opioids have caused many to lose faith in drug companies. Now, Americans are demanding a national reckoning…


Book cover of Guilty Admissions: The Bribes, Favors, and Phonies Behind the College Cheating Scandal

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Author Of Girls with Bright Futures

From my list on college admissions mania.

Why are we passionate about this?

When each of our older boys were in the midst of the college admissions process, our husbands suffered life-threatening health crises. It was such a bizarre coincidence that we both experienced intense brushes with mortality during this time of high anxiety. The juxtaposition between health and college admissions gave us a unique perspective and led us to explore the impacts of college admissions anxiety on families, friendships, students, and school communities. We had entirely plotted Girls With Bright Futures and were nearly through the first draft when the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal broke in March 2019. We felt like the headlines had been ripped from our manuscript!

Tracy's book list on college admissions mania

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Why did Tracy love this book?

This well-researched non-fiction book by powerhouse investigative reporter Nicole LaPorte of Fast Company provides a fascinating look at some of the behind-the-scenes, real-world parenting dynamics that set the stage for Operation Varsity Blues. In addition to all the juicy details LaPorte reveals about Los Angeles’ elite private school ecosystem, we particularly love the way she traces the origins of college admissions mania all the way back to kindergarten. If you’ve ever wondered how community group-think can lead to lawlessness and a total abandonment of ethics and values, Guilty Admissions takes readers on a tantalizing journey into the competitive-parenting abyss, LA-style.

By Nicole Laporte,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

GUILTY ADMISSIONS weaves together the story of an unscrupulous college counselor named Rick Singer, and how he preyed on the desperation of some of the country's wealthiest families living in a world defined by fierce competition, who function under constant pressure to get into the "right" schools, starting with pre-school; non-stop fundraising and donation demands in the form of multi-million-dollar galas and private parties; and a community of deeply insecure parents who will do anything to get their kids into name-brand colleges in order to maintain their own A-list status.

Investigative reporter Nicole LaPorte lays bare the source of this…


Book cover of Notes on a Silencing

Emily Franchini Author Of Lyra

From my list on a catharsis tea party for your book club.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have such a passion for people that share powerful stories. Growing up was particularly rough for me due to the depression, anxiety, and isolation that I endured. When I wasn’t throwing myself into books to escape my reality, I wrote poetry. My love for mental health and cathartic stories didn’t start until about 2017 when I was trying to figure out the next chapter of my life. I had exited survival mode and entered into a thriving part of my life where my old habits and way of thinking did not serve me. I hope this list of book recommendations touches your soul as they have mine. 

Emily's book list on a catharsis tea party for your book club

Emily Franchini Why did Emily love this book?

When I think of cathartic books, this book’s story always rolls around in my memories. The memoir is about a young woman’s struggle to regain her sense of self after trauma. And by trauma, I mean rape. This book angers me just as much as it saddens me with how Crawford had been treated by the school, her friends, and people she thought she could trust. The sheer amount of virtue signaling and victim blaming makes me sick with rage. But ultimately Crawford’s story gave me the power to voice about my own sexual trauma. I hope this book changes the world in the same way it changed mine. 

By Lacy Crawford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Notes on a Silencing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A "powerful and scary and important and true" memoir of a young woman's struggle to regain her sense of self after trauma, and the efforts by a powerful New England boarding school to silence her—at any cost (Sally Mann, author of Hold Still).

Shortlisted for the 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

When Notes on a Silencing hit bookstores in the summer of 2020, even amidst a global pandemic, it sent shockwaves through the country. Not only did this intimate investigative memoir usher in a media storm of coverage, but it also prompted the elite St. Paul's School to…


Book cover of Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It

Peter A. Swenson Author Of Disorder: A History of Reform, Reaction, and Money in American Medicine

From my list on the entanglement of medicine, politics, and pharmaceuticals.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my younger days, as the son of a medical professor and a public health nurse, I was more interested in healing society than patients. But my political interests and research agenda as a professor of political science ultimately led back to medicine. I found that profit-maximizing market competition in health care failed miserably to promote value in therapeutics and economize on society’s scarce resources. I became aware of the neglect of public health to prevent disease for vulnerable groups in society and save money as well as lives. Pervasive and enduring economic conflicts of interest in the medical-industrial complex bear primary responsibility for severe deficits in quality, equality, and economy in American health care.

Peter's book list on the entanglement of medicine, politics, and pharmaceuticals

Peter A. Swenson Why did Peter love this book?

If you think that medical journals published by respected medical societies are full of good science, think again.

For me, Abramson’s Sickening nailed the case for a conclusion that the net effect of the many hundreds of medical journals published here and around the world is to subtract from the sum of human medical knowledge.

Abramson, as an expert witness in criminal and civil cases against drug companies, draws in part on subpoenaed documents to expose how medical science, as part of the entire medical-industrial complex, is corrupted from start to finish by the drug industry’s funding of most clinical trials, their control over the data analysis, and even their ghost-writing of articles submitted to journals.

New and disturbing was the withholding of clinical trials’ raw data from journals’ peer reviewers. Instead, they get biased summaries bearing drug manufacturers’ fingerprints.

By John Abramson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The inside story of how Big Pharma’s relentless pursuit of ever-higher profits corrupts medical knowledge—misleading doctors, misdirecting American health care, and harming our health.

The United States spends an excess $1.5 trillion annually on health care compared to other wealthy countries—yet the amount of time that Americans live in good health ranks a lowly 68th in the world. At the heart of the problem is Big Pharma, which funds most clinical trials and therefore controls the research agenda, withholds the real data from those trials as corporate secrets, and shapes most of the information relied upon by health care professionals.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in corruption, football, 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 corruption, football, and presidential biography.

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