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John Kerry's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books John Kerry recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of John Kerry's favorite book recommendations of all time.

In the fifty years since it was published, The Other America has been established as a seminal work of sociology. This anniversary edition includes Michael Harrington’s essays on poverty in the 1970s and ’80s as well as a new introduction by Harrington’s biographer, Maurice Isserman. This illuminating, profoundly moving classic is still all too relevant for today’s America.

When Michael Harrington’s masterpiece, The Other America, was first published in 1962, it was hailed as an explosive work and became a galvanizing force for the war on poverty. Harrington shed...
Recommended by John Kerry, and 1 others.

John KerryI think in conjunction with that, probably Michael Harrington’s The Other America in the 1960s was huge for those of us who came of age in that period. It really created the war on poverty and defined Lyndon Johnson’s initiatives and the great social leap forward of that period. And I think Paul Wellstone is an outgrowth of that in every respect. The Conscience of a Liberal spoke to Barry... (Source)

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From his earliest childhood memories to the college classroom, from rural Minnesota farm fields and the defense of workers' rights to his 1990 election campaign promises of politics for the benefit of the people, The Conscience of a Liberal candidly discusses Wellstone's life experiences and the coming-of-age of his political views. What emerges is an intriguing inside look at Wellstone's crusade to assert an unabashedly liberal agenda.From the moment he was elected, Wellstone has passionately articulated a path to economic and social justice for all citizens, justice not contingent on the... more
Recommended by John Kerry, and 1 others.

John KerryIt’s a call to conscience. It also reminds us of the sacrifice that large-scale injustice requires and also explains why civil disobedience is required. Speaking of call to conscience, I think Paul Wellstone’s The Conscience of a Liberal is a pretty good statement of principle and values. (Source)

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Letter from the Birmingham Jail

There is an alternate edition published under ISBN13: 9780241339466.

Martin Luther King, Jr. rarely had time to answer his critics. But on April 16, 1963, he was confined to the Birmingham jail, serving a sentence for participating in civil rights demonstrations. "Alone for days in the dull monotony of a narrow jail cell," King pondered a letter that fellow clergymen had published urging him to drop his campaign of nonviolent resistance and to leave the battle for racial...
Recommended by John Kerry, and 1 others.

John KerryPersonally, I think the Letter From the Birmingham Jail from Martin Luther King was as eloquent and as influential a document on the civil rights movement and progressive thinking about rights as anything that I’ve ever read. It’s one of the most powerful pieces I’ve ever read, period. On Martin Luther King day it’s one of my favourite things to remind me, it’s so powerful. It’s unfortunate many... (Source)

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Silent Spring

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet reverberated powerfully throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century. less
Recommended by John Kerry, and 1 others.

John KerryI’d start with Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, which looked at how pesticide use was harming, and in some cases killing, animals and humans, and really was the first book of its kind to illustrate this environmental destruction. I’ve been so involved in the environment for years and years and that has been a great guideline – it was really the awakening, if you will, to the environmental movement... (Source)

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The Grapes of Wrath

The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized—and sometimes outraged—millions of readers.

First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic...

Elizabeth Tsurkov@Maysaloon great book! (Source)

Jonathan EvisonThis is the great American novel for me—the humanity, the landscapes, the progressive and political and social ethos of the novel, not to mention the amazing characters. Steinbeck is the American Dickens, at least in terms of social consciousness. (Source)

John KerryWhile there is a story that takes place between characters, the hardship and unfairness is a central element of the book. It shows how fiction can create progressive change as well. (Source)

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