This is a list of books in the economics/social justice/politics realm that I have read or intend to read or have been recommended to me or just sound like they may be interesting or important.
Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey Into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley by Corey Pein Enjoy the delirium as one Corey Pein attempts to navigate the crazy world of the Silicon Valley startup economy. Yes, this will be nauseating, frustrating, and probably pretty amusing if you don’t have to enjoy the titular brevity of existence.
Saving Capitalism – For the Many, Not the Few By Robert B. Reich The former Secretary of Labor lays out the systemic problems inherent in our form of capitalism. Reich debunks the myth of the “free market,” outlines the modern formation of corporate monopolies, and explains the breakdown and failure of our financial law enforcement apparatus. Easy to read and a clear vision of what we need to confront in order to make the economy work for working people.
The Divide – American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi America is in an age of unprecedented wealth inequality and governs through a system of law enforcement that preys on the poor and unfortunate. The poor go to jail for being to poor to pay a speeding ticket, but own a bank and destroy the economy? Hey, have some more money!
The Unwinding – An Inner History of the New America By George Packer This is a detailed study on the dissolution of America’s manufacturing heartland which fostered the growth of the largest middle class in the history of the world. Packer observes this slow-motion catastrophe from many angles to create a cohesive cultural picture of what happened to the middle class, the heartland, and our collective belief in the American Dream. Required reading for anyone still wondering where all those Trump voters actually came from.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair This story of an immigrant family living and working in the Chicago stockyards was an important book for illustrating the need for progressive reforms at the turn of the last century. The predatory nature of corporate governance and capitalism’s disregard for human life seem no less relevant today. The gruesome, detailed portrayals of early 20th century industrial meat production were so shocking at the time that President Theodore Roosevelt created the Food and Drug Administration to enforce the purity of food and medicines.
Democracy in Black – How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. Professor Glaude pulls together the many threads that make up the fight for racial justice in modern America. His thoughtful critique of activist movements throughout the country’s history is accessible even to those who are not familiar with the nuance and subtext of the fight for justice for African Americans, or anyone interested in learning what our racist heritage actually means in modern America.
Chain of Title by David Dayen Follow this intrepid reporter and three regular people through the tangled web of fraud and deceit as they unravel the epically-criminal robo-signing scandal at the heart of the foreclosure crisis. Dayen is one of my favorite reporters and has been on the mortgage crisis/recession/fraud beat for a long time.
Capital in the Twenty First Century by Thomas Piketty This may become the founding academic text on the study of modern wealth inequality. When published in 2014 Piketty’s book made a truly remarkable splash into the mainstream news, especially when you consider its slightly radical content and obvious nod-to-Marx title. Piketty explains the actual mechanics of wealth inequality and how this self-perpetuating system has led us to where we are today.
Our Revolution – A Future to Believe In by Bernie Sanders Long-shot Democratic candidate and small-donation fundraising magician Bernie Sanders tells his story of the campaign and articulates his vision for a political revolution in the United States.