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What Books Should Biden Read- We asked 22 Writers

What Books Should Biden Read- We asked 22 Writers

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About the list

This book list was handpicked for you by Friendspire on 20 January 2021 based on a list by New York Times.

Ever wonder what makes reading so special? Maybe it's the smell of an old paperback or the weight of its pages. Whatever it is, reading has the ability to take us somewhere else entirely. Whether it's through historical novels or fantasy, there's nothing better than getting lost in a book. Of course, you can always view
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The Art of the Impossible

1997 | Václav Havel

There is no shortage of politicians who make a habit of shooting from the hip, but it is much rarer to find one who speaks from the heart. Vaclav Havel knows no other way to speak, or to write. Both as a dissident and as a playwright it was his sworn purpose for many years to combat evil with nothing but truth. As president of Czechoslovakia, and now of the Czech Republic, he has clung to that habit, refusing to turn over either his conscience or his voice to political handlers and professional speechwriters. Instead he assumes the additional burden--for him, it is a distinct pleasure--of composing all of his oratory. Audiences from New York to New Delhi, Oslo to Tokyo, have been the luckier for his decision. This volume consists of thirty-five of these essays, written between the years 1990 and 1996, that manage to be both profoundly personal and profoundly political. Havel writes of totalitarianism, its miseries and the nonetheless difficult emergence from it. He describes how his country and the other postcommunist countries are learning democracy from scratch and are encountering obstacles from inside and out. He marvels at the single technology-driven civilization that envelops the globe, and the challenges this presents to multicultural realities. He invokes the duty of every person alive to prevent hatred and fear from derailing history ever again. He acknowledges "the advantage it is for doing a good job as president to know that I do not belong in the position and that I can at any moment, and justifiably, be removed from it." And he reminds us that--contrary to all appearances--common sense, moderation, responsibility, good taste, feeling, instinct, and conscience arenot alien to politics, but are the very key to its long-term success.

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Stamped from the Beginning

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2016 | Ibram Kendi

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The National Book Award winning history of how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society. Some Americans insist that we're living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America--it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit. In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis. As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial inequities. In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope. Praise for Stamped from the Beginning: "We often describe a wonderful book as 'mind-blowing' or 'life-changing' but I've found this rarely to actually be the case. I found both descriptions accurate for Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning... I will never look at racial discrimination again after reading this marvellous, ambitious, and clear-sighted book." - George Saunders, Financial Times, Best Books of 2017 "Ambitious, well-researched and worth the time of anyone who wants to understand racism." --Seattle Times "A deep (and often disturbing) chronicling of how anti-black thinking has entrenched itself in the fabric of American society." --The Atlantic - Winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction - A New York Times Bestseller - A Washington Post Bestseller - On President Obama's Black History Month Recommended Reading List - Finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction - Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Boston Globe, Washington Post, Chicago Review of Books, The Root, Buzzfeed, Bustle, and Entropy

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The Living Presidency

2020 | Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash

A constitutional originalist sounds the alarm over the presidency's ever-expanding powers, ascribing them unexpectedly to the liberal embrace of a living Constitution. Liberal scholars and politicians routinely excoriate the imperial presidency--a self-aggrandizing executive that has progressively sidelined Congress. Yet the same people invariably extol the virtues of a living Constitution, whose meaning adapts with the times. Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash argues that these stances are fundamentally incoherent. A constitution prone to informal amendment systematically favors the executive and ensures that there are no enduring constraints on executive power. In this careful study, Prakash contends that an originalist interpretation of the Constitution can help to rein in the "living presidency" created and legitimated by the living Constitution. No one who reads the Constitution would conclude that presidents may declare war, legislate by fiat, and make treaties without the Senate. Yet presidents do all these things. They get away with it, Prakash argues, because Congress, the courts, and the public routinely excuse the executive's constitutional violations. Eventually, these transgressions are treated as informal constitutional amendments. Whatever good comes from excusing presidential imperialism in particular circumstances, the end result is an executive liberated from the Constitution. The solution is originalism. Though associated with conservative goals, originalism in Prakash's argument makes the strangest of political bedfellows: almost all Americans decry the presidency's escalating powers, especially when they dislike the incumbent. Republicans and Democrats alike therefore have good reason to embrace originalism as a constraint on presidential power. Toward this end, The Living Presidency proposes a baker's dozen of reforms, all of which could be enacted if only Congress were to assert its lawful authority.

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Supreme Inequality

2020 | Adam Cohen

A New York Times "20 Books We're Watching For in 2020" pick From New York Times bestselling author Adam Cohen, a revelatory examination of the conservative direction of the Supreme Court over the last fifty years since the Nixon administration In 1969, newly elected president Richard Nixon launched an assault on the Supreme Court. He appointed four conservative justices in just three years, dismantling its previous liberal majority and setting it on a rightward course that continues to today. Before this drastic upheaval, the Court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, had been a powerful force for equality and inclusion, expanding the rights of the poor and racial minorities. Its rulings integrated schools across the South, established the Miranda warning for suspects in police custody, and recognized the principle of one person, one vote. But when Warren retired, Nixon used his four nominations to put a stop to that liberal agenda, and turn the Court into a force for his own views about what kind of nation America should be. In Supreme Inequality, bestselling author Adam Cohen surveys the most significant Supreme Court rulings since the Nixon era and exposes how rarely the Court has veered away from its agenda of promoting inequality. Contrary to what Americans like to believe, the Court does little to protect the rights of the poor and disadvantaged; in fact, it has not been on their side for fifty years. Many of the greatest successes of the Warren Court, in areas such as school desegregation, voting rights, and protecting workers, have been abandoned in favor of rulings that protect corporations and privileged Americans, who tend to be white, wealthy, and powerful. As the nation comes to grips with two new Trump-appointed justices, Cohen proves beyond doubt that the modern Court has been one of the leading forces behind the nation's soaring level of economic inequality, and that an institution revered as a source of fairness has been systematically making America less fair. A triumph of American legal, political, and social history, Supreme Inequality holds to account the highest court in the land, and shows how much damage it has done to America's ideals of equality, democracy, and justice for all.

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