Good Political Book

The Good Politician
by Nick Clarke, Will Jennings, Jonathan Moss, Gerry Stoker

Surveys show a lack of trust in political actors and institutions across much of the democratic world. Populist politicians and parties attempt to capitalise on this political disaffection. Commentators worry about our current ‘age of anti-politics’. Focusing on the United Kingdom, using responses to public opinion surveys alongside diaries and letters collected by Mass Observation, this book takes a long view of anti-politics going back to the 1940s. This historical perspective reveals how anti-politics has grown in scope and intensity over the last half-century. Such growth is explained by citizens’ changing images of ‘the good politician’ and changing modes of political interaction between politicians and citizens. Current efforts to reform and improve democracy will benefit greatly from the new evidence and conceptual framework set out in this important study.

Expert Political Judgment
by Philip E. Tetlock

Since its original publication, Expert Political Judgment by New York Times bestselling author Philip Tetlock has established itself as a contemporary classic in the literature on evaluating expert opinion.

Tetlock first discusses arguments about whether the world is too complex for people to find the tools to understand political phenomena, let alone predict the future. He evaluates predictions from experts in different fields, comparing them to predictions by well-informed laity or those based on simple extrapolation from current trends. He goes on to analyze which styles of thinking are more successful in forecasting. Classifying thinking styles using Isaiah Berlin’s prototypes of the fox and the hedgehog, Tetlock contends that the fox–the thinker who knows many little things, draws from an eclectic array of traditions, and is better able to improvise in response to changing events–is more successful in predicting the future than the hedgehog, who knows one big thing, toils devotedly within one tradition, and imposes formulaic solutions on ill-defined problems. He notes a perversely inverse relationship between the best scientific indicators of good judgement and the qualities that the media most prizes in pundits–the single-minded determination required to prevail in ideological combat.

Clearly written and impeccably researched, the book fills a huge void in the literature on evaluating expert opinion. It will appeal across many academic disciplines as well as to corporations seeking to develop standards for judging expert decision-making. Now with a new preface in which Tetlock discusses the latest research in the field, the book explores what constitutes good judgment in predicting future events and looks at why experts are often wrong in their forecasts.


The Truths We Hold
by Kamala Harris

A New York Times bestseller

From one of America’s most inspiring political leaders, a book about the core truths that unite us, and the long struggle to discern what those truths are and how best to act upon them, in her own life and across the life of our country.

Senator Kamala Harris’s commitment to speaking truth is informed by her upbringing. The daughter of immigrants, she was raised in an Oakland, California community that cared deeply about social justice; her parents–an esteemed economist from Jamaica and an admired cancer researcher from India–met as activists in the civil rights movement when they were graduate students at Berkeley. Growing up, Harris herself never hid her passion for justice, and when she became a prosecutor out of law school, a deputy district attorney, she quickly established herself as one of the most innovative change agents in American law enforcement. She progressed rapidly to become the elected District Attorney for San Francisco, and then the chief law enforcement officer of the state of California as a whole. Known for bringing a voice to the voiceless, she took on the big banks during the foreclosure crisis, winning a historic settlement for California’s working families. Her hallmarks were applying a holistic, data-driven approach to many of California’s thorniest issues, always eschewing stale “tough on crime” rhetoric as presenting a series of false choices. Neither “tough” nor “soft” but smart on crime became her mantra. Being smart means learning the truths that can make us better as a community, and supporting those truths with all our might. That has been the pole star that guided Harris to a transformational career as the top law enforcement official in California, and it is guiding her now as a transformational United States Senator, grappling with an array of complex issues that affect her state, our country, and the world, from health care and the new economy to immigration, national security, the opioid crisis, and accelerating inequality.

By reckoning with the big challenges we face together, drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her, Kamala Harris offers in THE TRUTHS WE HOLD a master class in problem solving, in crisis management, and leadership in challenging times. Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values. In a book rich in many home truths, not least is that a relatively small number of people work very hard to convince a great many of us that we have less in common than we actually do, but it falls to us to look past them and get on with the good work of living our common truth. When we do, our shared effort will continue to sustain us and this great nation, now and in the years to come.


The Righteous Mind
by Jonathan Haidt

Why can it sometimes feel as though half the population is living in a different moral universe from you? Why do ideas such as ‘fairness’ and ‘freedom’ mean such different things to different people? Why is it so easy to see the flaws in others’ arguments, and less in our own? Jonathan Haidt, one of the world’s most influential psychologists, reveals that the reason we find it so hard to get along is because our minds are designed to be moral. Not only that, we are hardwired to be moralistic, judgemental and self-righteous too. Our intrinsic morality enabled us to form communities and create civilization, and it is the key to understanding political and religious divisions. It explains why some of us are liberal, others conservative. It is often the difference between war and peace. It is also why we are the only species that will kill for an ideal. Drawing on moral psychology, ancient philosophy, modern politics, advertising and the semantics of bumper stickers, Haidt’s incredibly wise and enjoyable book examines how morality evolved ; why we are predisposed to believe certain things ; how our surroundings can affect our morality ; and how moral values are not just about justice and fairness – for some people authority, sanctity or loyalty are more important. Morality binds and blinds, but with new evidence from his own empirical research, Haidt shows that it is possible to liberate ourselves from the disputes that divide good people and cooperate with those whose morals differ from our own. After all, they might just have something to say.

The Beauty Myth
by Naomi Wolf

The bestselling classic that redefined our view of the relationship between beauty and female identity.

In today’s world, women have more power, legal recognition, and professional success than ever before. Alongside the evident progress of the women’s movement, however, writer and journalist Naomi Wolf is troubled by a different kind of social control, which, she argues, may prove just as restrictive as the traditional image of homemaker and wife. It’s the beauty myth, an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society’s impossible definition of “the flawless beauty.”


Fascism: A Warning
by Madeleine Albright

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Best Books of 2018 –The Economist

A personal and urgent examination of Fascism in the twentieth century and how its legacy shapes today’s world, written by one of America’s most admired public servants, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state

A Fascist, observes Madeleine Albright, “is someone who claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is utterly unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use violence and whatever other means are necessary to achieve the goals he or she might have.” 

The twentieth century was defined by the clash between democracy and Fascism, a struggle that created uncertainty about the survival of human freedom and left millions dead. Given the horrors of that experience, one might expect the world to reject the spiritual successors to Hitler and Mussolini should they arise in our era. In Fascism: A Warning, Madeleine Albright draws on her experiences as a child in war-torn Europe and her distinguished career as a diplomat to question that assumption.

Fascism, as she shows, not only endured through the twentieth century but now presents a more virulent threat to peace and justice than at any time since the end of World War II.  The momentum toward democracy that swept the world when the Berlin Wall fell has gone into reverse.  The United States, which historically championed the free world, is led by a president who exacerbates division and heaps scorn on democratic institutions.  In many countries, economic, technological, and cultural factors are weakening the political center and empowering the extremes of right and left.  Contemporary leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are employing many of the tactics used by Fascists in the 1920s and 30s.

Fascism: A Warning is a book for our times that is relevant to all times.  Written  by someone who has not only studied history but helped to shape it, this call to arms teaches us the lessons we must understand and the questions we must answer if we are to save ourselves from repeating the tragic errors of the past.


The Chelsea Girls
by Fiona Davis

The bright lights of the theater district, the glamour and danger of 1950s New York, and the wild scene at the iconic Chelsea Hotel come together in a dazzling new novel about a twenty-year friendship that will irrevocably change two women’s lives—from the national bestselling author of The Dollhouse and The Address.

From the dramatic redbrick facade to the sweeping staircase dripping with art, the Chelsea Hotel has long been New York City’s creative oasis for the many artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, and poets who have called it home—a scene playwright Hazel Riley and actress Maxine Mead are determined to use to their advantage. Yet they soon discover that the greatest obstacle to putting up a show on Broadway has nothing to do with their art, and everything to do with politics. A Red scare is sweeping across America, and Senator Joseph McCarthy has started a witch hunt for Communists, with those in the entertainment industry in the crosshairs. As the pressure builds to name names, it is more than Hazel and Maxine’s Broadway dreams that may suffer as they grapple with the terrible consequences, but also their livelihood, their friendship, and even their freedom.

Spanning from the 1940s to the 1960s, The Chelsea Girls deftly pulls back the curtain on the desperate political pressures of McCarthyism, the complicated bonds of female friendship, and the siren call of the uninhibited Chelsea Hotel.


When They Go Low, We Go High
by Philip Collins

When First Lady Michelle Obama approached the podium at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, nobody could have predicted that her rousing and emotional “When they go low, we go high†? speech would go on to become the motto for the political left and an anthem for opponents of oppression worldwide. It was a speech with the kind of emotional pull rarely heard these days, joining a long list of addresses that have made history. But what about Obama’s speech made it so great?When They Go Low, We Go High explores the most notable speeches in history, analyzing the rhetorical tricks to uncover how the right speech at the right time can profoundly shape the world. Traveling across continents and centuries, political speechwriter Philip Collins reveals what Thomas Jefferson owes to Cicero and Pericles, who really gave the Gettysburg Address, and what Elizabeth I shares with Winston Churchill.In telling the story of great and sometimes infamous speeches—including those from Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., Disraeli, Hitler, Elie Wiesel, Margaret Thatcher, and Barack and Michelle Obama—Collins breathes new life into words you thought you knew well, telling the story of democracy. Whether it’s the inaugural addresses of presidents or the revolutionary writings of Castro, Pankhurst, and Mandela, Collins illuminates and contextualizes these moments with sensitivity and humor. When They Go Low, We Go High is a strong defense of the power of public speaking to propagate and protect democracy and an urgent reminder that when great men and women speak to us, their words can change the world.

The Origins of Political Order
by Francis Fukuyama

Nations are not trapped by their pasts, but events that happened hundreds or even thousands of years ago continue to exert huge influence on present-day politics. If we are to understand the politics that we now take for granted, we need to understand its origins.

Francis Fukuyama examines the paths that different societies have taken to reach their current forms of political order. This book starts with the very beginning of mankind and comes right up to the eve of the French and American revolutions, spanning such diverse disciplines as economics, anthropology and geography. The Origins of Political Order is a magisterial study on the emergence of mankind as a political animal, by one of the most eminent political thinkers writing today.


What You Should Know About Politics . . . But Don’t
by Jessamyn Conrad

Now in its second edition, here is one of the first and only issue-based nonpartisan guides to contemporary American politics. It’s a very exciting time in American politics. Voter turnout in primaries and caucuses across the nation has shattered old records. More than ever, in this election year people are paying attention to the issues. But in a world of sound bites and deliberate misinformation and a political scene that is literally colored by a partisan divide—blue vs. red—how does the average educated American find a reliable source that’s free of political spin? 
What You Should Know About Politics . . . But Don’t breaks it all down, issue by issue, explaining who stands for what, and why, whether it’s the economy, the war in Iraq, health care, oil and renewable energy sources, or climate change. If you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or somewhere in between, it’s the perfect book to brush up on a single topic or read through to get a deeper understanding of the often mucky world of American politics.


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