What Now? A Reading List for Reformers and Radicals in the Battle Against Trumpism

12/06/2016 11:05 am ET Updated Dec 07, 2017
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a rally as part of their "USA Thank You Tour 2016" in Cincinnati, Ohio, December
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a rally as part of their "USA Thank You Tour 2016" in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 1, 2016 . REUTERS/William Philpott

Lots of activists around the country, young and old, reformers and radicals, are trying to figure out not only how to fight Trump and Trumpism but also how to think strategically about building a powerful progressive movement that can move the country in a better direction and learn from the successes and mistakes of past and recent activism.

I've divided these reading suggestions into three categories. I don't agree with all of them but they raise the right questions and can provoke good discussions:

I. Here are some books on progressive movement-building and the obstacles they often face:

  • John Nichols and Robert McChesney, "People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy"
  • Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, "American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper"
  • Becky Bond and Zack Exley, "Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything"
  • John Judis, "The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics"
  • Thomas Frank, "Listen Liberal"
  • Daniel Schlozman, "When Movements Anchor Parties: Electoral Alignments in American History"
  • Sarah Jaffe, "Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt"
  • Larry Bartels and Christopher Achen, "Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government"
  • Zachary Roth, "The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy"
  • Ari Berman, "Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America"
  • Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, "It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism"
  • Richard Flacks, "Making History: The American Left and the American Mind"
    • Greg Jobin-Leeds and AgitArte, "When We Fight, We Win: Twenty-First-Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World"
  • Mark and Paul Engler, "This Is An Uprising"
  • II. Here are some books about the rise of right-wing movements in America and Europe that help put Trumpism in historical context:

    • Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson, "The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism"
    • Jane Mayer, "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right"
    • Arlie Hochschild, "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right"
    • Alan Brinkley, "Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, & the Great Depression"
    • Richard Hofstadter, "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life"
    • David Oshinksy, "A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy"
    • Rick Perlstein, "Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus"
    • Sinclair Lewis, "It Can't Happen Here" (a novel)
    • Jack London, "The Iron Heel" (a novel)
    • Philip Roth, "The Plot Against America" (a novel)
    • Elia Kazan's 1957 film, "A Face in The Crowd"
    • Hannah Arendt, "The Origins of Totalitarianism"
    • Erich Fromm, "Escape from Freedom"
    • Roger Griffin, "The Nature of Fascism"

    III. Here are some books about social democracy to help folks think about what kind of humane and livable society we'd like to see in the United States and how we might learn some lessons from the experiences in other countries (especially Europe and Canada):

    • Anu Partanen, "The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life"
    • Lane Kenworthy, "Social Democratic America"
    • Tom Geoghegan, "Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?: How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life"
    • T.R. Reid, "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care"
    • Sheri Berman, "The Primacy of Politics: Social Democracy and the Making of Europe's Twentieth Century"
    • Helen Russell, "The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country"
    • Robert Reich, "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few"
    • Naomi Klein, "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate"
    • Dan Zuberi, "Differences That Matter: Social Policy and the Working Poor in the United States and Canada"
    • David Thomas and David Biette, eds., "Canada and the United States: Differences that Count"
  • Michael Moore's film, "Where To Invade Next?"
  • Peter Dreier is the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books).