What’s a good leftist book for a liberal who is looking to learn more about the left?
I asked this question on Twitter the other day, got a lot of interesting suggestions, and several people asked me to post it. If you suggested any of these to me, and would like credit, let me know (since I didn’t say I was doing that ahead of time, I didn’t want to do it without asking). I’d love to hear more from people about their thoughts, and I’m glad to add more books if you have further suggestions. I’ve left off a couple that were either jokes or that I think missed what I was getting at–it’s possible I missed some.
I’m less interested in a book that a liberal would like than one that would be a good starting point if they are looking to explore beyond where they are today. Of course, asking this question leaves two crucial ones unanswered–what do we mean by liberal and what do we mean by left? I left these terms vague because I was curious to see what people’s answers were without me imposing my definitions. My sense is that this list leans U.S.-centric and white male. And it’s also true that different books would make sense for different people.
Let me know what you think in the comments.
And here’s the list, in no particular order:
Howard Zinn, The People’s History of the United States
Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine
David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?
Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything
Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais, Labor’s Untold Story: The Adventure Story of the Battles, Betrayals and Victories of American Working Men and Women
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Richard D. Wolff, Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism
Barbara Ehrenreich and John Ehrenreich, Death of a Yuppie Dream
Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
Michael Kazin, American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation
Michael Harrington, Socialism: Past and Future
Benjamin Kunkel, Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis
Sam Pizzigatti, The Rich Don’t Always Win
Manning Marable, How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America
Andre Lourde, Sister Outsider
G. A. Cohen, Why Not Socialism?
Jacques Ranciere, Dissensus
Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Chris Hedges, Death of the Liberal Class
Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism
Mariana Mazzucatto, The Entrepreneurial State
Postscript: One other thing you can do is join a Jacobin magazine reading group. Don’t study collective action alone.
Postscript Two: If you are in the DC area and interested in a Jacobin reading group, check us out here (we do books too).