Americans remember Reagan fondly, but what did the Gipper really stand for? The historian chooses the best books on Ronald Reagan and his time.
American presidents may not want to send troops into battle or militarise foreign policy but, in the end, most of them do. The author and journalist explains how this happens, and why it’s not even the military that’s to blame. He picks the best books on American militarism.
The Puritans got modern American cuisine off to a bad start. But the food writer and critic says subsequent immigrants have helped create a culture where food is appreciated.
The Almanac of American Politics
by Michael Barone and Chuck McCutcheon
by Eugene Burdick
The Rational Public
by Benjamin I Page and Robert Y Shapiro
Fire on the Prairie: Harold Washington, Chicago Politics, and the Roots of the Obama Presidency
by Gary Rivlin
The Emerging Republican Majority
by Kevin P Phillips
American statistician Andrew Gelman, professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University and author of Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State explains the (often surprising) realities of how Americans vote.
by Bernard Bailyn
Empires of the Atlantic World
by JH Elliott
Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
by David Eltis and David Richardson
The British Atlantic World, 1500-1800
by David Armitage and Michael J Braddick (editors)
Soundings in Atlantic History
by Bernard Bailyn (editor)
Harvard professor and Pulitzer prize-winning historian Bernard Bailyn recommends reading on three centuries of empire, conflict and slave trading between the Americas, Europe and Africa
The Islamic scholar and commentator tells us what it means to be Muslim and Western, and explains how mainstream views get trapped between noisy extremism and a sensation-seeking media
The American economy has been driven by waves of technological change and the successful adoption of ideas from elsewhere. The author of Land of Promise tells us how it happened, and what history teaches us about the way ahead
The writer dubbed “LA’s number one muckraker” peels away the phoney baloney to tell us about power, pollution and pulp fiction in the City of Angels.
The job of the intelligence services is to understand others and help leaders act more wisely, says the author of a new history of the FBI. There’s a balance to be struck between liberty and security but when the CIA and FBI do not harmonise their intelligence missions, people die.
The historian tells us how French condescension towards America goes back to the 18th century, but more recent antagonisms can be traced to the Second World War
Modern America is a story of expanding frontiers, says bestselling author Simon Winchester. He tells us about five novels that shed light on the social history of his adopted homeland, from the late 19th century to the Great Depression.
Vegas tugs on the imagination like few other places. A sin city journalist tells us about innocent beginnings, muckraking and mobsters, and how Vegas has changed through boom and bust
The changing relationship between China and America will be one of the defining foreign policy issues of our times. To understand its dynamic, says the sinologist, we must take account of China’s lingering sense of victimhood
There’s a lot more to the story of colonists and Native Americans than the tale of the first Thanksgiving taught in school, says history professor Colin Calloway.
The anthropologist tells us about books that give voice to low-wage migrant labourers and explains the mutual dependence of slums and “urban glamour zones”
If you were starting from scratch, no one would design a healthcare system like America’s. The health economist tells us how it evolved and what needs to change. He picks the best books on US healthcare reform.
‘The authors of these five books are people who came to New York for freedom – not so they could get rich, but so they could be free to pursue their interests and live their lives the way they wanted.’ New Yorker par excellence Fran Lebowitz recommends the writers who best capture her immutably mutable city.
Amy Waldman reported on the aftermath of 9/11 for the New York Times, but when it came to writing a book about it, she wrote a novel. The Submission was hailed as one of the best novels to come out of the tragedy, including by the Financial Times. Here, she chooses some of the best literature inspired by 9/11, including novels, a memoir and a book of poetry.
The historian reflects on the past 60 years of American involvement in Egypt and tells us, after the Arab Spring, what may make the coming years different
The US has repeatedly misdiagnosed the war in Afghanistan. Former soldier, Andrew Exum, tells us about flawed policy, unhappy outcomes and what could and should have been different.
The author of the acclaimed noir novels Black Water Rising and The Cutting Season, Attica Locke, tells us about stories of freed slaves, oil barons and gangsters on the run – books that capture the outlaw spirit of her home state.
In the last of our series of interviews on American progressivism, the mayor of Los Angeles chooses five novels and biographies that provide lessons from the past and show what a democratic society should aspire to be
The veteran Middle East correspondent gives us his tips for the best reading about the US-led invasion and occupation, and explains why the West shouldn’t have intervened in Iraq in the first place
The prominent left wing blogger tells us what books have shaped his worldview. He explains why America needs to wake up to the forces preventing change, and better understand the root causes of its political deadlock
The former union boss shares his reading list for American progressives, and tells us what makes a good leader and how it takes only a few committed people to bring change
The novelist Hari Kunzru explains his fascination with the Mojave desert – a mysterious, forgotten place full of secret military sites where the silence feels like a physical weight on one’s ears
In the latest instalment of our series on American progressivism, the environmental advocate and human rights activist tells us why the age of Obama will really only begin after the president has left office
The author and economist argues that the West is in decline, the U.S. faces structural unemployment, and authoritarian states like China are in many ways better positioned to deal with financial busts
The New Yorker’s Ben Greenman selects books that get closer to the heart and history of the city. Street interviews, personal reflections and political struggles reveal NYC’s vibrant but troubled past.
The former FBI Chief Negotiator says that negotiators need to come across as non-threatening and non-judgmental. And active listening isn’t just something you use in a hostage situation; it’s important in everyday life, too
U.S. government adviser and Dean of the American University School of Public Affairs leads a book-bound tour that takes us from the Bacardi dynasty in Cuba to American military interventions in Central America
Is lobbying always a bad thing? Or can it be used to effect social change? Washington insider Mark Bloomfield gives a lobbyist’s perspective. He picks the best books on lobbying.
McCrum looks at three stages of evolution in the English language. The first British, the second American and then the third – the globish stage – the one in which English is used as international default position
From immediate post-war battles against the New Deal to the rise of the neoconservative movement, Washington Post columnist and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, E J Dionne traces the growth of conservatism in America
Award-winning writer Tom Piazza explains his fascination with New Orleans. He recommends the five books that best represent the history and culture of the city (pre- and post-Katrina).
In 1968 Karl Marlantes was a 22-year old Rhodes scholar and did not have to go to Vietnam. He nonetheless joined the US Marine Corps, ending up with multiple medals but also lifelong PTSD. In this interview, he recommends the best Vietnam War books, exploring its moral ambiguities, the warrior mentality and the humanity of ‘the enemy.’
The CNN columnist and former speechwriter for George W Bush, David Frum, recommends five conservative books that transformed the way we think about fundamental problems.
The leading Conservative strategist and Head of Americans for Tax Reform argues that liberals actively undermine what makes America great. He chooses five books to better understand conservative America
The feminist historian and author of History of Women in the Americas shares her book choices and explains why abortion will always remain a flashpoint in the United States.
The Professor of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University discusses American foreign correspondents. Laments the lack of swashbuckling approach amongst current crop of journalists
Professor of politics and history at Emory University chooses five books on the American Communist movement and Soviet espionage in America—and argues that American spies did pose a genuine threat to national security
The graduate of West Point Military Academy, fluent Arabic speaker and Iraq war veteran, talks about the books that inspired him to take a stand against the US military’s regressive Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy
Keith Slotter has been an FBI Agent for the past 23 years. He chooses five books about crime and says that legalising abortion cuts crime – because the criminals remain unborn
The Diario of Christopher Columbus's First Voyage to America
by Bartolomé de las Casas
Shipwrecks and Commentaries
by Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies (1552)
by Bartolomé de las Casas
Royal Commentaries of the Incas (1609)
by Garcilaso de la Vega, El Inca
Red Earth, White Lies
by Vine Deloria Jr
Expert in Spanish Colonial History describes Christopher Columbus as a character from science fiction. Huge political irony that the first exploration of North America was led by a black man
The international relations professor tells us about the special relationship between America and Israel – how it came about, what it means, and how it should change
The best books on Hollywood. ‘Smart people went to the ballet and opera, and what the poor and lower middle classes did with their time didn’t matter. But these men in Hollywood had a vision and were creating this product that was loved by everybody of all different backgrounds.’
The editor-in-chief of Slate Group says what is charming about Bush is his wit and physicality, but he needs to cut people down and does it in a very effective and cruel way. He called Karl Rove “Turdblossom”
It’s as old as Plato’s Gorgias, but it was Richard Nixon who really got it down to a fine art. Rutgers professor David Greenberg recommends the best books to read to better understand political ‘spin.’