Mind-Stretching Summertime Book Recommendations
By Ralph Nader
July 2, 2021
1. Honor Thy Label: Dr. Bronner’s Unconventional Journey to a Clean, Green, and Ethical Supply Chain by Gero Leson. Dr. Leson, Bronner’s vice president, tells the inside story of pioneering efforts for “building and scaling” ethical production, cooperating with suppliers in Sri Lanka, Ghana, India, Palestine, and beyond, and embracing Fair Trade and Regenerative organic agriculture.
2. To Be A Water Protector: The Rise of the Wiindigoo Slayers by Winona LaDuke. To readers who take water for granted, read LaDuke, indigenous leader, farmer, advocate, and inimitable storyteller about natives who, beset by ruthless extractive corporations, can’t take water for granted. Learn about water protectors in action by the few and for the many.
3. When Reagan Sent in the Marines by Patrick J. Sloyan. A Sloyan classic of on the ground reporting in Lebanon, with broader contexts, and a historical contribution in understanding what happened, why, and the consequences. Certainly a required reading by those in the State Department, the Pentagon, Congress, and peace advocates everywhere.
4. The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town by Brian Alexander. This small Ohio community hospital, struggling to continue, reveals, in the hands of master narrator, Alexander, the sickness, greed, rapacity, and cruelty of the so-called health industry. He exposes “the human cost of the war being waged on Americans by the medical industry, politicians, and big businesses.” Single-payer anyone? (See: singlepayeraction.org).
5. The United States of War: A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State by David Vine. It takes an anthropologist, who gets into the field, to describe “the powerful forces that have shaped the permanent system of imperial war in which the United States is trapped today.” As Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret) declares: “This book will stir your soul – if you have one left – to action.”
6. The Case Against George W. Bush by Steven C. Markoff, with a foreword by Richard A. Clarke, who was special assistant to GWB for national security. Markoff doesn’t forget the massive war crimes of GWB who, receiving ample lecture and book advance fees, never looks back on the thousands of U.S. soldiers who lost their lives or their health while causing over one million innocent Iraqi deaths and the pulverizing of Iraqi society, which is in chaos to this day. Markoff wants George W. Bush brought to justice. He makes the case with relentless documentation.
7. Defending the Public Enemy: The Life and Legacy of Ramsey Clark by Lonnie T. Brown Jr. From his time as U.S. Attorney General until his recent passing, Ramsey Clark’s remarkably brave engagements for human rights, uncompromising due process of law even for a captive dictator, and the plight of the downtrodden, received scant media attention. This book resurrects the story of an authentic, selfless life of a tireless American advocate for global justice. (Also see the documentary: Citizen Clark: A Life of Principle).
8. America’s Mighty Medical-Industrial Complex: Negative Impacts and Positive Solutions by Dr. John Geyman. Even if you’re not one of the many millions of Americans harmed, defrauded, or denied by the healthcare corporations, the drug companies, and giant taxpayer-subsidized insurers, this clear compelling book will make your blood boil. A former family practitioner, professor of medicine and author of a dozen books on this industry, Dr. Geyman makes the case for Single-payer – comprehensive, lifesaving, less expensive with free choice of physician and hospital. He’ll send a free copy of his book, in your name, to your members of Congress if you send him a personal note to your Senator or Representative and demand a considered response. Send your note and the name of your Representative and/or Senators to: firstname.lastname@example.org).
9. Lincolnomics: How President Lincoln Constructed the Great American Economy by John F. Wasik. While revealing as history, Wasik’s account about the first Republican President’s launches of infrastructure shame the ignorant, obstinate, narcissist Republicans of today who wish instead to build up tyrant Trump’s political infrastructure. This is a book to be read and used today.
10. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Eleventh Edition). Why not read the dictionary as you read a history or a novel, page by page? It’s a wonderful educational immersion that excoriates tedium and opens zillions of windows. (There are also many informative sketches in modern dictionaries).
On the gift shop wall at the American Museum of Tort Law (take a virtual tour at tortmuseum.org), where there is a sign that declares: “Readers Think and Thinkers Read.” They also are more likely to engage in strengthening our deteriorating democracy – a task that is easier than we think. (See, Breaking Through Power, both the book and the eight days at Constitution Hall).