CommonSense Blog

My Summer Reading List: Politics and Government

By Bob Pearson | Aug 29, 2017

The theme for my summer reading centered around politics and government. As many of you know, I like to read in themes to go deeper and learn more, when possible, about a specific topic or way of thinking.

Here is a review of this summer’s books.

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amy Parnes – To say this campaign had its challenges would be an understatement. The authors, who thought they would be chronicling a ground-breaking win, instead were given the task of describing what went wrong. Kudos to them for showing us what failure looks like from the inside in a professional manner. It happens in business and politics. The world still spins. And we can all learn from it.

The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom by David Boaz – The left and the right argue about how much government should do for us. Libertarians save time, in this regard, since their view is generally to minimize the role of government. This was a helpful, albeit slightly academic read on why they hold these views so strongly. Very helpful to me to see the principles and passion that guide a minimalist view of the world of government. We would all benefit from asking “why do we need something” more often.

Ghost: Confessions by a Counterterrorism Agent by Fred Burton –  Fred Burton had a storied career working for the U.S. government and devoted a significant part of his life to chasing leaders of terrorist cells worldwide. Besides the chase, he opens up and shares what it is like to live this life, which shows how much personal sacrifice is involved. This is a very engaging book written by a leader who lives in Austin and works for Stratfor today.

The Anatomy of Terror by Ali Soufan – an ex-FBI agent’s view of how Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden and the rise of the Islamic State have expanded, suffered defeat and grown again over the last decade. Ali Soufan’s insights are a perfect read for those of us who want to go deep and learn about how this evolution is occurring.

Make Your Bed by Admiral McRaven – After these first four books, I needed to go back to inspiration and fun. Admiral McRaven’s now famous book provides the inspiration. It is simple, clear and harder to do than it looks if we think about the principles he outlines in our daily lives. And, no, I do not make my bed every day. I probably should start doing so.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut – we ended our summer visiting our youngest daughter, Brittany, in Dresden, before taking a two-week trip throughout Germany. So, why not end the summer with a read of this famous fictional book that is dark humor at its best and centered in Dresden around the time of WW II and beyond. Thank you to Michael Roth for the suggestion.

The fall reading list now starts. Will be shifting to science for this quarter, starting with mental health and then moving to two books on genomics, one on blockchain and we’ll see from there.

Ideas for new reads always welcome. Best, Bob

  • Kate Coyle

    Perhaps the Emperor of All Maladies if you haven’t already read it!