The Seven Books The Next President Should Read

The president, whoever he is, has to have a deep understanding of our world, and its many interacting issues. These seven books take us through some of the most important issues from climate change to foreign policy to campaign finance reform.

Whoever prevails in today's presidential election, has a reading list for him. These seven books discuss some of the most important issues of our time in cutting, lucid prose. From climate change to foreign policy to campaign finance reform, these books provide a needed education for our complicated world. Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, pull out your kindles. You have homework to do.

1.       A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

Zinn might be too populist for either candidate, but he offers an important reminder: that history is not about presidents, it is about the people they serve.

2.       Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber

Debt has grown from a detail of our society to a major driving force in our banking system and economy. Graeber takes us back to its roots, which precede money! Any president needs to understand this integral, but often invisible part of our culture.

3.       The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Food policy often comes down to placating the largest agribusiness firms while not losing too many farmer votes. Michael Pollan’s important and tremendously readable book shows that our current system of mass producing a small number of crops is not sustainable, and that we need to address this issue immediately.

4.       What We Know About Climate Change by Kerry A. Emanuel

Like any vast and complicated science, there are disagreements and open question about climate change, but the basic facts are undisputed: it’s real and it’s getting worse. No president can call themselves a serious leader without a thorough consideration of this issue.

5.       Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins

What are the major forces behind our foreign policy? Presidents don’t get to start fresh, rather they step into the middle of a sea of shifting influences. Perkins reveals the most powerful of these forces and what they are up to. Hopefully it will give the president a moment’s pause as they consider how to proceed.

6.       Republic, Lost by Lawrence Lessig

Just as an alcoholic may have money problems, a broken marriage and anger issues, but the thing they most address first is their drinking, if we want real reform in this country, what we must look to first is campaign finance. Until this happens corporate money will keep pulling politicians off the wagon.

7.       The Political Brain by Drew Westen

Both candidates have been alternately called great and clumsy communicators. Both have issues they would like to bring to the forefront, even though they turn off the voters. Westen brings neuroscience and political science together to explain to politicians how to speak to voters.

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