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Recommend a Good Liberal Book

Progressive & Liberal!

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Jun 7, 2007, 12:59pm Top

Hi All,

What left-of-center book would you recommend to someone who leans right in his poilitcs?

A simple screed will be impossible for me to read.

Chomsky and Zinn don't work for me, either.

I recently read Peter Beinhart's Why Liberals -- and Only Liberals -- can Win the War on Terror because I find him bright and reasonable. It was a pretty good book, but I'm looking for more, preferrably a book for something, rather than merely against the right.

Any thoughts?

Jun 8, 2007, 3:26pm Top

Have you read Homegrown Democrat seems a "kinder, gentler" musing on liberal/progressive politics.

Jun 14, 2007, 12:06am Top

I just started The Assault on Reason by Al Gore - and am finding it to be enlightening from not just a left-of-center POV, but from the standpoint of how technology is dumbing down America.

Jun 14, 2007, 8:43am Top

If you haven't read A people's history of the United States by Howard Zinn I highly recommend that. I feel like it's the liberal leaning history primer.

Jun 14, 2007, 3:06pm Top

#3 - I finished Al's book the other day. It certainly is not a 'feel good' book! I am so glad I read it, though.

Jun 15, 2007, 12:11am Top

Re #4: I know Zinn is a lefty, but I don't consider People's History a "liberal leaning history primer" -- I consider it all the information I never got in high school history class that certainly would have made a difference in my life. I was so pissed off when I read it because of all the lies and half truths I was fed all my life. Nice to know it's actually part of the curriculum in some schools these days.

Jun 15, 2007, 1:51am Top

The current, June 16, issue of The Economist has a review of Paul Starr's Freedom's Power: The True Force of Liberalism which might be of interest.

Jun 19, 2007, 6:19am Top

I'd recommend Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think by George Lakoff. Actually, I'd recommend it to people who lean left in their politics, too.

Jun 20, 2007, 12:57am Top

If you aren't afraid of getting meaty, John Rawls' A Theory of Justice is sort of the intellectual touchstone of American liberalism (though not at all representitive of the entire Left spectrum).

Jun 20, 2007, 8:16pm Top

I'd also recommend "Sermon on the Mount", which I believe is Matthew 5-7 or so in most New Testaments.

Edited: Jun 21, 2007, 8:08am Top

gregtmills #9
If you aren't afraid of getting meaty, John Rawls' A Theory of Justice is sort of the intellectual touchstone of American liberalism.

I tried reading that once but ground to a halt about ten pages in. It's quite dense, isn't it?

Rawls has written a book called Justice as Fairness, which "summarises" his ideas (i.e. it's 240 pages rather than 560 pages) so I might give that a go sometime.

Jun 25, 2007, 10:45am Top

Try Reason Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America. He does state his criticisms of the far right, Radcons he calls them, as distinguished from more traditional conservatives, but the book is anything but a "screed."

Jun 27, 2007, 8:56am Top

There has been a wave of God is Bad books lately---I read The God Delusion, and despite how much I enjoy anti-religious anything, I found myself skipping whole chapters. The author sets up logical proofs about there not being a God and goes systematically down the list, discount the most common arguments for God's existence. For someone who never put any stick in these old arguments, it got tiresome. But as the divide between church and state is increasingly chewed away by right wing buttholes, I think this literary trend is important and relevant. Anyone read some of the others? WHat did you think?

Jun 27, 2007, 2:07pm Top

I tend to think that these books are about as helpful in convincing anyone as the guy who stands at the cable car turnaround at Fifth and Powell in San Francisco with a megaphone telling me that I'm going to Hell. ie. not much at all.

Jun 27, 2007, 4:57pm Top

Of the current crop, I only read God Is Not Great, which was enjoyable because when Hitchens gets going, his screeds can get pretty funny.

I've read a lot of books on skepticism, particularly the books that came directly before publishers seriously got on the bandwagon.

Michael Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things is pretty good, as is Doubt: A History
by Jennifer Michael Hecht . I've also been meaning to read Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell, but I'll need to clear some headspace first.

The problem with a lot of these apologias for atheism is that the arguments are simply repeated. That's why someone like Dennett is important, bringing as he does new, empirical arguments.

Jun 27, 2007, 5:04pm Top

Don't you, by and large though, feel that these books are mainly, errr, preaching to the choir as it were?

Jun 27, 2007, 7:11pm Top

But as the divide between church and state is increasingly chewed away by right wing buttholes, I think this literary trend is important and relevant.

I think books specifically about the divide between church and state are considerably more relevant to this issue than debates about atheism. One I read recently was Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers by Brooke Allen, which did not impress me much. One I may read in the future is Piety and Politics: The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom by Rev. Barry W. Lynn, and I am sure there are others.

Jun 27, 2007, 7:13pm Top

Yep. Most def. But I'm sure there are more than a few people who, in moments of doubt either way, are able to get to a place that suits them better. They also provide a literature to fall back on in cases where the view point of a considered secularist is needed, say, in court or on a schoolboard.

Jun 28, 2007, 1:32pm Top

I agree with daschaich. To put a book promoting atheism in the "liberal and progressive" category seems to accept the right wing contention that liberals are atheists. Some are, some are not. Just as some conservatives are, and some are not. I expect that the separation of church and state, however, is important to all liberals and progressives, including believers, for several reasons. for one thing, members of minority religions are the most likely to suffer if that separation falters. Secondly, a state role in religion generally leads to a weakening rather than a strengthening of religion. Though why conservatives, who contend the state ruins everything it touches, would want the state to play a stronger role in something they hold especially dear, is beyond me.

Jun 28, 2007, 1:49pm Top

Well, I'd think then the responsibilty of progressive believers is to articulate why their belief informs their secularism.

If I were a believer, it would be an affront to me that I needed the government intervention to reach my spiritual goals. The Constitution was not designed to get anyone to Heaven, it was designed to allow each of us to pursue our own route. It seems to me that this is a favorable condition for Christians to practice their faith actively and consciously. Creating a society whose guiding principle is providing an easy path for people of faith robs credit from the faithful and the object of their faith, as well as chipping away at the health of the broader civil society.

That's what I'd argue. And I guess I just did.

Jun 28, 2007, 9:02pm Top

#20: "The Constitution was not designed to get anyone to Heaven, it was designed to allow each of us to pursue our own route."

I forgot who made the joke, but it reminds me of someone who took the old Ronald Reagan line about big government to address the problem of having an office of faith-based initiativesand said, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you be more religious."

I was browsing amazon the other day and came across some books that might appeal to liberal parents: Reviving Ophelia and Real Boys. They are both basically about how the gender-roles and expectations that our mass culture is demanding girls and boys follow are far too restrictive and instead result in maladaptive behavior. Might pick them up myself at some point.

22sdgossage First Message
Jul 9, 2007, 11:56pm Top

If you are looking for something more satirical, try Fair and Balanced, My Ass by Amann and Breuer. A slightly whimsical look at the Fox News channel.

Jul 12, 2007, 10:22pm Top

#22 - Oh, I think I need to get that book just for the title alone.

Jul 12, 2007, 10:25pm Top

Oh, great cover, too!

Jul 13, 2007, 1:10am Top

Thanks for posting the book cover - a great incentive to buy the book.

Jul 23, 2007, 11:01am Top

Transforming a Rape Culture by Emilie Buchwald et al, and The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.

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