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Democracy Library
Suggested Reading for an Educated Citizenry

As part of the Public Radio Collaboration Whose Democracy Is It?, Talk of the Nation has assembled a "library of democracy," compiled from suggestions from both guests and listeners. Browse our reading list:

  • Politics
  • History
  • Literature
  • Children's Literature
  • Science
  • Miscellaneous


    Politics

  • Lincoln on Democracy, an anthology
    -- suggested by former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo

  • All The King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
    -- suggested by Marcus Rosenbaum, NPR's "Librarian of Democracy"

  • The Prince, by Machiavelli
    -- suggested by Christina Neitz in Minneapolis, Minn.

  • Democracy in America, by Alexis De Tocqueville
    -- suggested by Dennis Finn in Pullman, Wash.

  • Why We Can't Wait, by Martin Luther King Jr.
    -- suggested by Christopher Carpenter in Tokyo, Japan

  • The Courage of Their Convictions, by Peter Irons
    -- suggested by Jeff Steinmetz in Charlotte, N.C.

  • Second Treatise of Government, by John Locke
    -- suggested by Derek Prater in Kansas City, Mo.

  • The Future of Freedom, by Fareed Zakaria
    -- suggested by Nanci Dickinson, Portland, Ore., and Jim Booth in Lansing, Mich.

  • Why Americans Still Don't Vote, by Frances Fox Piven
    -- suggested by Richard Hervey in Corvallis, Ore.

  • The Rights of Man, by Thomas Paine
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Benjamin Franklin : An American Life, by Walter Isaacson
    -- suggested by Doug Dorr

  • Pericles Of Athens And The Birth Of Democracy, by Donald Kagan
    -- suggested by David Johanson of St. Paul, Minn.

  • On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill
    -- suggested by Marcia Calvin in Connecticut

  • Profiles In Courage, by John F. Kennedy
    -- suggested by Dave Crawford in Flagstaff, Ariz., and Deborah Lepper in Jacksonville, Fla.

  • Equality, by Henry Alonzo Myers
    -- suggested by Ralph in Birmingham, Mich.

  • The Social Contract, by Jean Jacques Rousseau
    -- suggested by Dennis Geivett

  • Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, by Richard Rorty
    -- suggested by Dale Schellenger in Denver, Colo.

  • Parliament of Whores, by P.J. O'Rourke
    -- suggested by Don Downs in Englewood, Fla.

  • Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau
    -- suggested by David Lindberg in Wilmington, N.C.

  • Self-Reliance and other Essays, by Ralph Waldo Emerson
    -- suggested anonymously

  • The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx
    -- suggested by Joseph Biskup in San Jose, Calif.

  • The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics, by Dan T. Carter
    -- suggested by Ruthanne Joy Greenwood in Balboa Island, Calif.

  • Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting by in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich; What is To Be Done? by V.I. Lenin; Strategy and Tactics by Leon Trotsky
    -- suggested by Hannah Humphrey

  • Manufacturing Consent, by Noam Chomsky
    -- suggested by Francis W. Reuterman

  • Elements of the Philosophy of Right, by George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
    -- suggested by Joshua M. Hill

  • Deterring Democracy, by Noam Chomsky
    -- suggested by Erik in West Linn, Ore.

  • Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith; Philosophical and Economic Manuscripts of 1844, by Karl Marx; Das Kapital, by Karl Marx
    -- suggested by Doug Ryan in Phoenix, Ariz.

  • The Promise of Politics, by Henry Kariel
    -- suggested by Harry Styron in Walnut Creek, Calif.

  • Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America, by Bertram Gross
    -- suggested by Mike in Ellensburg, Wash.

  • The Law, by Frederic Bastiat
    -- suggested by Herb Cunningham in Raleigh, N.C.

  • America: Who Stole the Dream?, by Donald J. Barlett and James B. Steele
    -- suggested by Elizabeth Duncan in Boise, Idaho

  • Citizenship Papers, by Wendell Berry
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Take Back Your Government: A Practical Handbook for the Private Citizen, by Robert Heinlein and Jerry Pournelle
    -- suggested by Donald Carpenter

  • Memoirs of A Revolutionist, by Peter Kropotkin
    -- suggested by Baubak Gandomi in Paris, France

  • Advise and Consent, by Allen Drury
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Taking Rights Seriously, by Ronald Dworkin
    -- suggested by Randall Smith in Portland, Ore.

  • Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, by E. F. Schumacher
    -- suggested anonymously

  • A Theory of Justice, by John Rawls
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Anarchy, State and Utopia, by Robert Nozick
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, by James C. Scott
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Community and the Politics of Place, by Daniel Kemmis
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Capitalism and Development in Latin America, by Andre Gunder Frank
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Cicero's Orations
    -- suggested anonymously

  • The Wretched of the Earth, by Frantz Fanon; Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire
    -- suggested by Lorna Gonsalves in Ohio

  • Dialectic of Freedom, by Maxine Greene; Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences, by Jacques Derrida
    -- suggested by Joshua in Portland, Ore.

  • Condition of Postmodernity, by David Harvey
    -- suggested anonymously

  • The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, by Karl Polanyi
    -- suggested by Sean Mitchell McDonald in Asheville, N.C.

  • Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes
    -- suggested by Eric Smith

  • Models of Democracy, by David Held; Democracy and Disagreement, by Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson
    -- suggested by Randall Curren


    Literature

  • Animal Farm and 1984, both by George Orwell; Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley; We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin; Crazed, by Ha Jin
    -- suggested by Boston University English professor and National Book Award winner Ha Jin

  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers
    -- suggested by Kellie Lockwood in Florence, Ind.

  • Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman; The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
    -- suggested by Christopher Carpenter in Tokyo, Japan

  • Anthem and We the Living, both by Ayn Rand
    -- suggested by Alex in Nashville, Tenn.

  • Lord of the Flies, by William Gerald Golding
    -- suggested by Erin Merritt

  • The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
    -- suggested by Al Magary in San Francisco

  • The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein
    -- suggested by Margaret Middleton in Little Rock, Ark.

  • Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
    -- suggested by Cheryl Kasson in Denver, Colo.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    -- suggested by Richard Oba, Nina Shaw

  • The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
    -- suggested by Eric Skalwold in Ithaca, N.Y.

  • How To Be Alone, by Jonathan Franzen; The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, by the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler; Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse
    -- suggested by Roy Mathew

  • Oliver Wiswell, by Kenneth Lewis Roberts
    -- suggested by Frank Gill

  • The Crucible, by Arthur Miller
    -- suggested by Jill Dains

  • An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen
    -- suggested by Patrick Fimbres in Tucson, Ariz., and Ted Eliason in Denver, Colo.

  • The Trial by Franz Kafka
    -- suggested by Chris Sherman in Hermiston, Ore.

  • Antigone, by Jean Anouilh; Cry the Beloved Country, by Alan Peyton
    -- suggested by Benita Campbell in Littleton, Colo.

  • The Sheep Look Up, by John Brunner
    -- suggested by Hal Harkrader

  • Fire on the Mountain, by Terry Bisson
    -- suggested by Todd Ellner in Portland, Ore.

  • What's It All About, Charlie Brown?, by Jeffrey H. Loria
    -- suggested by Todd Ellner in Victor, Idaho

  • Transmetropolitan, by Warren Ellis
    -- suggested by David Jowers

  • Catch 22, by Joseph Heller
    -- suggested by Debi Pavlou

  • Watership Down, by Richard Adams
    -- suggested by Melodie Rayburn in Kansas City, Mo.

  • Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
    -- suggested by Suzanne Brick

  • Unintended Consequences, by John Ross
    -- suggested by Sharon O. Warner in Orem, Utah

  • Pere Goriot, by Balzac
    -- suggested by Deborah Seymour

  • Freedom, by William Safire
    -- suggested by Robert G. Brown in Portage, MI

  • Germinal, by Emile Zola
    -- suggested by Anne Woods

  • Desiderata by Max Ehrmann
    -- suggested by Dave Stone in Erie, Colo.

  • A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt -- suggested by Seth Hopkins

  • The Adventures of Augie March, by Saul Bellow; Moby Dick, by Herman Melville; The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne; American Pastoral, by Philip Roth
    -- suggested by Jeff Cieszkowski

  • The Gilded Age, by Mark Twain
    -- suggested by Ed Cable in Denver, Colo.

  • Drop City, by T.C. Boyle
    -- suggested by Mark Pontini in Michigan

  • Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koestler
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
    -- suggested anonymously

  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Lysistrata, by Aristophanes
    -- suggested anonymously


    Children's Literature

  • Frog and Toad Are Friends, by Arnold Lobel; Amos and Boris, by William Steig; Molly's Pilgrim, by Barbara Cohen; The Araboolies of Liberty Street, by Sam Swope; This Land is Your Land, by Woodie Guthrie; Two Eggs, Please, by Sarah Weeks
    -- suggested by Eden Lipson, New York Times children's book editor

  • Yertle the Turtle, by Dr. Seuss
    -- suggested by Jen Wickman of Durham, N.C.

  • Johnny Tremaine
    -- suggested by Anne Skenzich

  • A History of US in 10 volumes, by Joy Hakim
    -- suggested anonymously

  • The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
    -- suggested by Jo Rabaduex

  • Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story, by Ken Mochizuki
    -- suggested by Eric Engdahl in San Rafael, Calif.

  • A Wrinkle In Time, by Madelene L'Engle
    -- suggested by Greg Mitchell in Raleigh, N.C.

  • The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins, by Dr. Seuss
    -- suggested by Chris Coffin

  • The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
    -- suggested by Deborah Seymour

  • Iggie's House, by Judy Blume
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Pink and Say, by Patricia Polocco
    -- suggested by Mariam Fleming

  • The Once and Future King, by T.H. White
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Busytown, by Richard Scarry
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Gordon the Goad, by Munro Leaf
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Fish is Fish, by Leo Lionni
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam, by Walter Dean Myers
    -- suggested anonymously


    History

  • Battle Cry of Freedom, by James M. McPherson; Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, by Joseph J. Ellis
    -- suggested by Marcus Rosenbaum, NPR's "Librarian of Democracy"

  • Democracy Ancient and Modern, by Moses I. Finley; American Slavery, American Freedom, by Edmund S. Morgan
    -- suggested by Orlando Patterson, Harvard University sociologist

  • A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn
    -- suggested by Richard Hervey in Corvallis, Ore.

  • Gideon's Trumpet, by Anthony Lewis
    -- suggested by Kevin Hawkins

  • From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend: A Short, Illustrated History of Labor in the United States, by Priscilla Murolo
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Lion and the Throne: The Life and Times of Sir Edward Coke, by Catherine Drinker Bowen
    -- suggested by Ned Budlong

  • In Search of History, by Theodore H. White
    -- suggested by Dennis Geivet

  • McCarthyism: The Great American Red Scare, by Albert Freid
    -- suggested by Phil Houle in Traverse City, Mich.

  • Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond
    -- suggested by Nina Shaw

  • Democracy: The God That Failed, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
    -- suggested by John Jascob in Newmarket, N.H.

  • The Education of Henry Adams, by Henry Adams
    -- suggested by Anita Morse in Notre Dame, Ind.

  • Chasing the Red, White, and Blue, by David Cohen
    -- suggested by Charles L. Baker in Louisville, Ky.

  • The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, by Kermit L. Hall
    -- suggested by David Saldivar

  • Revolutionary Suicide, by Huey Newton
    -- suggested anonymously

  • A Different Mirror, by Ronald Takaki
    -- suggested by Karen Vidlock in St. Paul, Minn.

  • Lincoln, by David Herbert Donald
    -- suggested anonymously

  • The Story of American Freedom, by Eric Foner; Class, Race, and the Civil Rights Movement, by Jack Bloom; Grassroots Socialism: Radical Movements in the Southwest 1895-1943, by James R. Green; European Social Democracy and American Imperialism, by Leo Panitch
    -- suggested by Hannah Humphrey

  • The Making of the President, 1960, by Theodore H. White
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Don't Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned, by Kenneth C. Davis
    -- suggested by Chris Sherman in Hermiston, Ore.

  • The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America, by Lawrence Goodwyn
    -- suggested by Mike Ellensburg, Wash.

  • Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich, by Kevin Phillips
    -- suggested anonymously

  • The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from Crimea to Kosovo, by Phillip Knightley
    -- suggested by Bora Zivkovic in Raleigh, N.C.

  • American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders, by Jacob Needleman
    -- suggested by Nick Schommer in Minneapolis, Minn.

  • When the Tree Flowered: The Story of Eagle Voice, a Sioux Indian, by John Neihardt; Black Elk Speaks, by Nicholas Black Elk as told to John Neihardt
    -- suggested by Michael Hoenig in Kansas City, Mo.

  • The Constitution of Athens
    -- suggested by Patricia Lawrence in Baton Rouge, La.

  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, by Edmund Morris; Watergate: The Presidential Scandal That Shook America, by Keith W. Olson
    -- suggested by Barbara Parr in Norman, Okla.

  • Black Reconstruction in America, by W.E.B. DuBois
    -- suggested by Josie Johnson

  • Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
    -- suggested by Linda in Wiesbaden, Germany

  • The Annals for America, published by Encyclopedia Britannica
    -- suggested by Luke in Portland, Ore.

  • Wide as the Waters, by Benson Bobrick
    -- suggested by Kevin Hardy in Tallahassee, Fla.

  • Arguing About Slavery, by William Lee Miller
    -- suggested by David Levin in Linville, N.C.

  • Up From Slavery, by Booker T. Washington
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Concerning the League: The Iroquois League Tradition As Dictated in Onondaga (Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics, Memoir 9), by John Arthur Gibson
    -- suggested anonymously

  • The History and Culture of Iroquois Diplomacy, by Francis Jennings
    -- suggested anonymously


    Science

  • Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, by Howard Reingold
    -- suggested by Ray Kurzweil, inventor, futurist and author of The Age of Spiritual Machines

  • The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, by Lawrence Lessig
    -- suggested by Ray Kurzweil

  • Remaking Eden: How Genetic Engineering and Cloning Will Transform the American Family, by Lee M. Silver
    -- suggested by Jack Zenteno in Reno, Nev.

  • The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin
    -- suggested anonymously

  • Cybernetics and Society: The Human Use of Human Beings, by Norbert Weiner
    -- suggested anonymously


    Miscellaneous

  • The Bible
    -- suggested by Ralph Stern in Denver, Colo.

  • The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran
    -- suggested by William Slattery

  • Beyond Good and Evil, by Friedrick Nietzche
    -- suggested by Patrick Fimbres in Tucson, Ariz.

  • Ten Theories of Human Nature, by Leslie Stevenson and David L. Haberman
    -- suggested by Deborah Lepper in Jacksonville, Fla.

  • Money and the Meaning of Life, by Jacob Needleman
    -- suggested by Nick Schommer in Minneapolis, Minn.

  • Rules of Civility, by George Washington
    -- suggested by Joanne Bock

  • Hope, by L. Neil Smith and Aaron S. Zelman
    -- suggested by Sharon O. Warner in Orem, Utah





       
       
       
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