Here are some of the books used as sources during the writing of Economix. They’re sorted into:
Highly recommended (readable, relevant, and informative)
Recommended (two out of three)
For wonks only (these are good books, but not recommended unless you’re a wonk)
Further watching (documentaries).
Joel Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power. How the modern corporation works, and for whom. Made into a good movie, also called The Corporation.
E. Ray Canterbery, A Brief History of Economics: Artful Approaches to the Dismal Science. A clear, lively history, not just of economics, but of the economy.
James Carroll, House of War. A stunning history of the Pentagon, the postwar military, and the economic institutions that feed it.
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring. The book that touched off the environmental movement. Still a great read, and it’s never been more relevant.
Robert A. Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. A biography of Robert Moses, the much-imitated planner who covered New York City in highways.
Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance. All you ever wanted to know about J.P., his crowd, and his legacy. Chernow explains obscure subjects in extreme detail while never being boring.
Ron Chernow, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.. Chernow brings his talents to bear on John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil.
Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition. How societies fall apart, and how ours may soon.
Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. What it’s like to work low-wage jobs, all day every day.
Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition. A defense of the free market, based more on how it works on a blackboard than how things happen in the real world.
John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society. How we keep producing more stuff we don’t particularly want, while shorting what we do want, in Galbraith’s inimitable style.
John Kenneth Galbraith, The New Industrial State (James Madison Library in American Politics). As close as anyone’s ever come to nailing down the modern industrial economy like Adam Smith nailed down the economy of his day.
William Greider, One World Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism. An excellent look at the global economy. Written in the 1990s but just as relevant today.
William Greider, The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy. An excellent overview of the modern economy, its problems, and how to fix them.
Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents–The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, Volume 2). Hayek’s wide-ranging writings are always a pleasure to read. But as happened with Adam Smith, free-market apologists have oversimplified his ideas to the point of parody.
Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers, Seventh Edition. The lives and ideas of the great economic thinkers in sparkling prose, with all sorts of cool there was no space for in Economix, like Veblen’s womanizing (heck I had to cut Veblen entirely), Keynes’s bisexuality, Marx’s carbuncles. . . .
Doug Henwood, Wall Street: How It Works and for Whom. How the financial world really works, and for whom.
Will Hutton, The World We’re In. A great source of info about the economy of modern Europe.
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. How the combination of neglect and poor planning undid our cities after World War II.
David Cay Johnston, Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich–and Cheat Everybody Else. A meticulous account of how the tax code has been corrupted to hand all the money to the rich.
David Cay Johnston, Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill). The various ways that taxpayers support big businesses without getting any say in their actions.
Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. How the same free-market ideology was forced on country after country, and the insane consequences.
Naomi Klein, No Logo: 10th Anniversary Edition with a New Introduction by the Author. How corporate marketing has penetrated into our culture and taken over the economy. Today, marketers use it as a handbook.
Paul Krugman, The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century (Updated and Expanded). How the Bush administration dismantled the New Deal.
Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal. Krugman finally embraces the “economic heresy” that power matters. Essential.
Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, and Paul Hawken, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. How taking care of the environment pays better than waste.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto. A short, clear intro to Marx and Engels’s ideas.
John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. How corporations twist Third World governments’ arms until they buy big, useless projects (with money lent by other corporations).
Kevin Phillips, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich. The history of the American ruling class since its birth after the Civil War.
Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives: A Jacob Riis Classic (Including Photography). The classic look at American slums of the 19th century, still sadly relevant.
Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Sinclair’s The Jungle for modern times. If you want to break that Big Mac habit, this is the book.
Eric Schlosser, Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. The shadow economy—drugs, porn, and illegal work.
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations. The granddaddy of them all. Smith’s style can wear on modern readers, and he was never much for organizing his ideas, but nobody else has ever matched his mastery of both the finest details and the big picture. Always keep in mind that it’s a very accurate description of the economy as it was when the book was published, not the world of today.
Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents. A former chief economist of the World Bank skewers the globalization agenda of the 1990s.
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America. Tocqueville means “equality in America.” A thoughtful, perceptive description of the America that was lost with the rise of the trusts.
Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class. There was no room for Veblen in Economix, but this is his masterpiece—a brilliant, wicked look at how primitive the most “evolved” of us are, in hysterically overdone prose. Who else could call yappy lapdogs “canine monstrosities” and get away with it?
Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States. The side of American history you usually don’t get in the textbooks, and *never* got when it was written.
Steven Ambrose, Nothing Like It in the World. A history of the transcontinental railroad. Ambrose is a great storyteller, and has a great story to tell.
Daniel Boorstin, The Image. How the economics of the media lead to increasing concentration and an increasingly shallow culture. Written in the 1960s and more relevant every year.
Elisabeth Bumiller, May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons. Women in modern India. Lots of good information about how women suffer and survive in an agricultural society, although Bumiller started as a style reporter and it shows—the book reads like a dutiful “what I did last summer” essay, except when she’s writing about movie stars.
Bryan Burrough and John Hellyar, Barbarians at the Gates. The takeover of RJR Nabisco in the 1980s.
John A. Byrne, The Whiz Kids. The story of the first managers-by-numbers, and the world they (unfortunately) created.
Christopher Cerf and Victor S. Navasky, The Experts Speak. A collection of unmitigated wrongness, some of it economic. You’ll never trust an expert again.
Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumer’s Republic. The creation of postwar consumer society.
Richard Coniff, The Natural History of the Rich. An irreverent look at the evolutionary psychology of wealth. Veblen would have been pleased.
Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844. A masterful look at the dark side of industrialization.
David Hackett Fisher, The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History. A masterful work that traces the price of food in Europe and shows how stable prices coincided with periods of peace, reason, and culture (the Renaissance, the Enlightenment) while rising prices touched off periods of insanity and war (the Hundred Years’ War, the Thirty Years’ War, the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, etc).
Robert Frank, Richistan. The new super-rich and their lives.
Paul Fussell, Class: A Painfully Accurate Guide to the American Status System. A hysterical look at a subject that was still nearly taboo when the book was written.
William Grieder, Secrets of the Temple. The Federal Reserve in the Volcker years. Explains the politics that underlie the Fed’s economic choices.
Ben Hamper, Rivethead. The experiences of a GM assembly-line worker in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Haynes Johnson, Sleepwalking Through History. The Reagan years, by an unsympathetic observer.
David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule the World. How large swaths of the real economy are controlled by big corporations.
Paul Krugman, The Accidental Theorist. A collection of Krugman’s columns, from his earlier, more academic days.
Paul Krugman, Pop Internationalism. How trade really works, vs what we hear about it.
Paul Krugman, The Return of Depression Economics and the Crash of 2008. The original edition dealt with the Asian crash of the late 1990s and the depression it looked to be starting. As it happened, the depression was staved off for ten years—this edition includes brings the story up to the present.
Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics. Economic and statistical thinking applied to all sorts of things.
William Manchester, The Glory and the Dream. A social, economic, and political history of the United States in its glory years. It begins with vivid descriptions of the Depression.
Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor. Mayhew was an oral historian before the phrase was coined; his interviews with the small tradesmen, peddlers, and street urchins of his day are revelations.
C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite. How the military, big business, and government resemble each other, with the same group presiding over all three.
Sylvia Nasar, A Beautiful Mind. The life of John Nash, a brilliant mathematician, and his legacy in economics. It’s a great story, and even became a decent movie. Doesn’t help understand the economy, though.
Frederick Law Olmstead, The Cotton Kingdom. A Northerner travels in the antebellum South. An essential corrective to the happy-slaves-and-mint-juleps myth, plus it’s just an excellent travel book.
Richard Parker, John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith’s life, ideas, and legacy, as well as the economic and political world he lived in.
Pamela Paul, Parenting, Inc. 2008. The useless (and occasionally harmful) products being forced on babies and toddlers.
E.F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful. How economic thought and practice went wrong, by an economist.
Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. Schumpeter wrote about historical development and technological change at a time when many economists were stuck in sterile supply-demand models.
William Serrin, Homestead. 1992. A lively history of Homestead, Pennsylvania, site of a major steel works and a famous strike in the 1890s.
Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith’s other masterpiece, about our moral impulses. Modern psychologists would do well to take another look at this.
Ron Suskind, The Price of Loyalty. The experiences of Paul O’Neill, George W. Bush’s first Treasury Secretary, in Bush’s dysfunctional cabinet.
Upton Sinclair, The Jungle. Famous as an exposé of unhygienic meatpacking plants, but it was written as a tearjerker about the plight of the workers. Said Sinclair: “I aimed for the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”
Studs Terkel, Working. Terkel was an oral historian; his interviews with a broad range of people about their jobs are more informative than a dozen textbooks.
Susan Gregory Thomas, Buy, Buy Baby. How companies market to babies and toddlers, or to their nervous parents.
Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. An exploration of the interrelationships of Protestantism and capitalism, and more generally of economic institutions and ideas.
Jack Welch, Jack: Straight from the Gut. Autobiography of the longtime CEO of GE. A good read, but I kept thinking of what John Stuart Mill said: “That the energies of mankind should be kept in employment by the struggle for riches . . . is undoubtedly more desirable than that they should rust and stagnate. While minds are coarse they require coarse stimuli, and let them have them.”
Daniel Yergin, The Commanding Heights. A history of the fall and rise of free-market ideas in the twentieth century. Lots of information, although presented somewhat uncritically. Also a BBC series.
Daniel Yergin, The Prize. The story of oil, from kerosene lights to supertankers.
Jared Diamond, The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee. Our biological heritage and how it shapes us.
Al Franken, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. A hysterical and chilling look at the right-wing insanity that poisons our political discourse, and our economic discourse as well.
Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point. How small changes can have huge effects, which is something that economists’ equations don’t usually catch.
Malcolm Gladwell, Blink. How our first impressions overpower our conscious minds. A fun read, and after you’ve read it, you’ll never believe that we make our decisions rationally.
Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques. Part travel book, part economic anthropology, all fascinating.
Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. 1841. Exactly what it says, including vivid (and possibly imagined) descriptions of the Tulipomania in Holland, the South Sea Bubble in Britain, and the Mississippi bubble in France.
Theodore Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s political ideas, plus all the cowpunching, fistfighting, and hill-storming you could want.
James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds. How many brains can be better than one (like in a market), but without much examination of when and why that’s true.
Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower. The world that was lost in World War I. Lots of info about prewar economic and social ideas.
Alan Weisman, The World Without Us. 2007. What would happen to the world if we all disappeared tomorrow. A lot of info about our infrastructure.
Isadore Barmash, Welcome to Our Conglomerate—You’re Fired! 1971. A fun look at the wave of mergers of the 1960s.
Edwin Black, IBM and the Holocaust. How IBM and other big businesses worked with Nazi Germany, through subsidiaries. Some sources say this book has been discredited, some say it hasn’t.
Leon Blum, For All Mankind. 1945 (written 1941). Blum was a French socialist and Prime Minister; this book shows how the future looked to socialists during World War II.
Fernand Braudel. The Structures of Everyday Life, The Wheels of Commerce, and The Perspective of the World. A history of the early development of capitalism; more readable than that sounds.
Henry Brown. A Narrative of the Life of Henry “Box” Brown. Brown was a slave who mailed himself to freedom. A slave’s view of slavery.
David Callahan, The Cheating Culture. 2004. The various ways people game the system.
Ron Chernow, The Warburgs. Chernow is as good as ever, but his subject—a German-Jewish-American banking family—just isn’t as interesting as Rockefeller or Morgan.
Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent. How the giant media works hand-in-glove with big business and the government.
The Marquis de Custine, Journey for Our Time. A Frenchman’s travels in the Russia of the Czars. Shows how Stalin didn’t invent his horrors—he just perfected the machine the Czars had left him.
Brian Czech, Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train. Some good info about economics, some about the economy, but it doesn’t really hold together.
Joseph R. Daughen and Peter Binzen, The Wreck of the Penn Central. An in-depth look at the dysfunctional management that brought down America’s biggest railroad.
Mike Davis, Planet of Slums. 2006. The consequences of globalization (and other things).
Nicholas Dawidoff, The Fly Swatter. 2002. A bio of Alexander Gerschenkron, the Harvard economist, by his grandson.
Thomas Edsall, Power and Money. How money penetrated the political system, even more than previously, in the 1970s and 1980s.
Thomas Eliot, Recollections of the New Deal. Interesting reminiscences of life in Washington in the early Roosevelt years, by a young New Dealer.
Friedrich Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. How economic conditions shape society. Still a classic, and packed into less space than Marx takes to define a term.
Niall Ferguson, The House of Rothschild Volume 1: Money’s Prophets. Very interesting, if you care about the house of Rothschild.
Niall Ferguson: The Cash Nexus: Economics and Politics from the Age of Warfare to the Age of Welfare, 1700-2000. What it says on the label. Not brilliant.
Barbara Freese, Coal. 2003. A readable history of the substance that touched off the Industrial Revolution.
Andrea Gabor, The Capitalist Philosophers. 2000. Ideas about management and the people who thought them up.
John Kenneth Galbraith, Almost Everybody’s Guide to Economics. Breezy and readable, and with flashes of brilliance, but it should have been better than it was.
John Kenneth Galbraith, The Economics of Innocent Fraud. Fun but light.
John Kenneth Galbriath, The Culture of Contentment. How, in a sense, FDR’s policies worked too well—they produced a country of comfortably rich people who thought and voted like rich people.
John Kenneth Galbraith, The Liberal Hour. Worst. Cover. Ever.
John Kenneth Galbraith, A Journey Through Economic Time. Galbraith on his life and ideas.
John Kenneth Galbraith, A Life in Our Times. Galbraith on his life and ideas again, more detailed than A Journey Through Economic Time.
John Kenneth Galbraith, The Good Society. More a collection of epigrams than a coherent book, but the epigrams are pretty good.
Claire Gaudiani, The Greater Good. 2003. Charitable giving and volunteerism in the US.
Henry George, Progress and Poverty. George’s classic work demolishing the economics of his day and arguing for a single tax on land.
Henry George, The Science of Political Economy. George’s unfinished masterpiece. Parts are long outdated, parts are as relevant as the day they were written.
Henry George, Social Problems. George’s genius shows through everywhere, even in the dull bits places where he argues with defunct economic theories.
Emma Goldman, My Further Disillusionment in Russia. Goldman went to Russia after Lenin’s revolution. The title says it all.
David Halberstam, The Powers That Be. An inside view of the mass media and its interactions with politics.
H.J. Habbakuk and M. Postan, eds. The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, volume VI. 1965. Covers the Industrial Revolution. Surprisingly readable, considering.
Friedrich Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order. Hayek’s mind ranged far, and his writings are often more about the phenomenon of emergence than the market per se. His books are joys to read if you just plain like ideas.
Robin Hahnel, The ABCs of Political Economy. A decent overview of economics with an attempt to be more relevant than the standard text.
Robert Heilbroner, Teachings From the Worldly Philosophy. Readings from economists.
Robert Heilbroner and Lester Thurow, Economics Explained. No better than other intro works.
Doug Henwood, After the New Economy. The tech bubble of the 1990s, by a left-winger who knows his stuff.
Burton Hersh, The Mellon Family. An informative history of Andrew and his kin.
Thomas Hine, I Want That: How We All Became Shoppers. 2002. Shopping in our culture.
David Horowitz, ed, Corporations and the Cold War. An examination of the interrelationships between the military and industry.
Jane Jacobs, The Economy of Cities. Not bad, but read The Death and Life of Great American Cities instead.
Steve Keen, Debunking Economics. Explains economic theory in order to debunk it, which is both useful and vexatious.
Paul Kennedy, Preparing for the Twenty-First Century. An overview of the world in the late 20th century.
John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace. Why the Treaty of Versailles was a bad idea. A marvel of clear thinking and clear writing.
John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. Keynes’s ideas, unjustly abandoned for years, are now making a comeback.
Alfie Kohn, No Contest. How the idea of competition has permeated our culture.
Paul Krugman, Development, Geography, and Economic Theory. The weaknesses of the mathematical approach to economics, somewhat illogically combined with a defense of the same approach. Nerds only.
Paul Krugman, Peddling Prosperity. Covers many subjects, most especially supply-side theory, why it’s wrong, and why it keeps being spouted.
Mark Kurlansky, Salt. A lot of info about salt in science, history, and commerce, but somehow not enough to do the subject justice.
William Lutz, Doublespeak. 1989. A catalog of tormented language, from advertising to politics to economics.
Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy. Only for people who really care about Marx. Or who like to see one philosopher smack down another.
Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1. Full of ideas, information, insights, and invective, but also a dreary slog through overwritten theory.
Thomas Malthus, An Essay Upon the Principle of Population. One of the few classic books that actually says what everybody thinks it says.
Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics. The book that birthed modern economics. As often happens, only a small part of it made it into later textbooks; Marshall’s ideas were far more wide-ranging than he gets credit for.
Deirdre McCloskey, The Rhetoric of Economics. How economics is less a hard science and more a method of persuasion.
John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy. A combination of strict Classical models and deep philosophical thinking. Still good reading today.
The Baron de Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws. An interesting pre-Smith thinker about economics (among many other things).
Michael Moore, Downsize This! Lots of facts, lots of attitude.
A.L. Morton, A People’s History of England. 1938. English history with a Marxist bent.
Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong, Crashing the Gate. What’s wrong with the Democratic party, by two insurgent bloggers. Tells how the Democrats came to rely more on big-money contributions than the Republicans did.
Alec Nove, An Economic History of the U.S.S.R. 1969. Only if you’re very interested.
Vance Packard, The Naked Society. The postwar loss of privacy and increase of regimentation, and how big business’s need for control drives it.
Kevin Phillips, American Dynasty. The Bush family. Not as brilliant as Phillips’s other work.
Robert Reich, Supercapitalism. Reich was Clinton’s Secretary of Labor. Supercapitalism is flawed, and Reich would probably disown much of it now, but it’s still full of good info.
David Remnick, ed. The New Gilded Age. 2000. A bunch of New Yorker essays on business and the economy from the 1990s.
David Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. A work of pure theory, with no reference to the real world at all. It set the tone for much of economics since.
Eleanor Roosevelt, My Day. A collection of Roosevelt’s daily newspaper columns—she was practically the first blogger.
Paul Samuelson, Economics, 1948. The first modern economics textbook. Sixty years later it could still get you through econ 101, which is both high praise for the book and an indictment of modern economics.
Paul Samuelson and William Nordhaus, Economics, 18th edition, 2005. A modern edition of the same book.
Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches. The Dutch in the 17th century invent capitalism.
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. The Crisis of the Old Order, The Coming of the New Deal, and The Politics of Upheaval. A history of the Depression and the early Roosevelt years.
Allen W. Smith, The Looting of Social Security. 2004. Just what it says.
William Souder, A Plague of Frogs. 2000. Widespread frog mutations in the Midwest, the result of how polluted and degraded even the most “pristine” areas have become.
Keith Sward: The Legend of Henry Ford. A decent bio of Ford, from an author who’s not afraid to point out his flaws.
Richard M. Titmuss, The Gift Relationship. The differences between the blood supplies in the US and the UK, and how it shows that straight self-interest doesn’t work.
Alexis de Tocqueville, Memoir on Pauperism. Interesting essay on poverty and its causes, but lacks the scope and perception of Democracy in America.
Leon Trotsky, Leon Trotsky Speaks. Trotsky was a close associate of Lenin. Like many revolutionaries, he was far more reasonable when out of power.
Andrew Ure, The Philosophy of Manufactures. Ure was an apologist for industry and everything that went with it (like child labor). Almost funny today. Almost.
David Warsh, Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations. 2006. The story of how modern economics got away from the sterile math of the 1970s, to somewhat less sterile math.
Frederick Weaver, Economic Literacy: Basic Economics With an Attitude. Lots of good info on economics, and what’s wrong with it.
Eric J. Weiner, What Goes Up. 2005. A lively oral history of Wall Street.
Steven R. Weisman, The Great Tax Wars. The history of the income tax and other taxes from Lincoln to Wilson.
Bob Woodward, Maestro. Alan Greenspan’s years at the Fed. Woodward has a reputation as an investigator, but in this book he just repeats what he’s told by prominent figures.
Robert Wright, Nonzero. How cooperation beats competition, and how we keep figuring that out on bigger and bigger scales.
Fritz Stern, Gold and Iron: Bismarck, Bleichröder, and the Making of Modern Germany. Bismarck’s unification of Germany and the role Gerson von Bleichröder, his banker, played in it.
Brooks Adams, America’s Economic Supremacy. Free from both interesting insights and useful facts.
Peter Gay, Schnitzler’s Century. 2001 Tries to be a history of the creation of the modern middle class, but winds up being a hodgepodge of facts hanging uncomfortably on the biography of the obscure Arthur Schnitzler, who is obscure for good reason.
Christopher Lasch, The Revolt of the Elites. A cultural screed that somehow misses the honkingly obvious economic side of things.
Friedrich Engels, Engels on Capital. Engels tries to explain Capital in layman’s terms. He winds up mainly berating everyone who misunderstood it, which was apparently everyone.
Jason Goodwin (no relation): Greenback. The history and politics of banknotes. Unmemorable.
Friedrich Hayek, Hayek on Hayek. A collection of essays that don’t hang together.
Robert Heilbroner, The Nature and Logic of Capitalism. Some good insights, but falls short.
Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead. Not great.
V.I. Lenin, State and Revolution. Lenin contradicts other Marxists in brain-numbing detail.
Albert L. Meyers, Modern Economics: Elements and Problems. 1941. Only for people who deeply care what a pre-Keynes econ textbook looks like.
William Niskanen, Reaganomics. 1988. The Reagan administration, from the perpective of a chairman of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors.
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged. Porn for rich people. In Rand’s world, rich people are rich because they’re better than everyone else, and they’d be even richer except that nasty inferior people keep convincing them to give away their money.
Philip Slater. Wealth Addiction. Tries to be too many things.
David Stockman, The Triumph of Politics. Stockman was Reagan’s budget director; he dishes about the whole dysfunctional administration, but he doesn’t wind up looking too bright either.
Walter I. Trattner, From Poor Law to Welfare State. The history of welfare systems. Academic in the worst sense—a dry recitation of facts, free of any interpretations that might make it offensive or interesting.
Leon Trotsky, Marxism and Terrorism. Dull.
The Century of the Self. Documentary maker Adam Curtis traces how advertising and PR has shaped our culture.
The Corporation. Joel Bakan’s book in movie form.
The Commanding Heights. A BBC series based on Daniel Yergin’s book.
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. The rise and fall of Enron.
Flow. The modern scramble for water.
Maxed Out. The disastrous rise of debt in the United States. Prophetic.
The Power of Nightmares. Adam Curtis on how we create our own enemies to justify the great investment we’ve made in fighting them.
SiCKO. Michael Moore keeps the clowning to a minimum as he skewers the current health care system.
The Trap. Adam Curtis shows how free-market ideology leads to regimentation. Not accurate in every particular, but good overall.
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. An expose of some of Wal-Mart’s less palatable practices. A bit overwrought.
Why We Fight. The modern military and how it’s taken on a life of its own.