Want to know what books Van Jones recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Van Jones's favorite book recommendations of all time.
Part literary criticism, part media analysis, and part marketing handbook, A Poetics of Resistance provides a refreshingly new take on the Zapatistas. While much has been written on the history of the Zapatista insurgency and on the communiqués of Subcomandante Marcos, very little has been said about Zapatismo: the ideologies, organizing methodologies, and communications strategies of the movement. The appeal of the Zapatistas, and their survival, has as much to do with their goals as with the compelling and wildly effective language and aesthetics they’ve used to convey...more
Part literary criticism, part media analysis, and part marketing handbook, A Poetics of Resistance provides a refreshingly new take on the Zapatistas. While much has been written on the history of the Zapatista insurgency and on the communiqués of Subcomandante Marcos, very little has been said about Zapatismo: the ideologies, organizing methodologies, and communications strategies of the movement. The appeal of the Zapatistas, and their survival, has as much to do with their goals as with the compelling and wildly effective language and aesthetics they’ve used to convey their vision. Weaving together varied elements of poetics and symbolism, Zapatismo has emerged as something entirely new: a resolutely radical public relations campaign for human liberation.
The first “postmodern revolution” presented itself to the world through a complex and evolving web of propaganda, using a wide range of media: the colorful communiqués of Marcos; the ski masks, uniforms, toy dolls, and other accoutrements of the insurgent or sympathizer; and murals, songs, and other popular cultural forms. Employing persuasive publicity, myths, and symbols, the Zapatistas both communicated their message and developed a clear aesthetic that could contain many messages at once and self-replicate on a global scale. Jeff Conant offers an engaging and innovative tool for organizers and educators to understand how the Zapatistas' strategy works, and to continue developing and refining their effective messages of participatory, bottom-up revolution.
Jeff Conant is a writer and activist in the San Francisco Bay Area and the author of A Community Guide to Environmental Health.less
Van JonesYes. I think it’s that they chose to create a myth in which they rooted their story. I’m very interested now in the deeper psychology of change. As Democrats, we don’t have a champion for change, but change is coming to people faster than they know what to do with. The question I think for a lot of Americans is what do you hold on to? Where do you stand? Where do you take your stand? (Source)
At its birth, SNCC was composed of black college students who shared an ideology of moral radicalism. This ideology, with its emphasis on nonviolence, challenged Southern segregation. SNCC students were the earliest civil... more
At its birth, SNCC was composed of black college students who shared an ideology of moral radicalism. This ideology, with its emphasis on nonviolence, challenged Southern segregation. SNCC students were the earliest civil rights fighters of the Second Reconstruction. They conducted sit-ins at lunch counters, spearheaded the freedom rides, and organized voter registration, which shook white complacency and awakened black political consciousness. In the process, Clayborne Carson shows, SNCC changed from a group that endorsed white middle-class values to one that questioned the basic assumptions of liberal ideology and raised the fist for black power. Indeed, SNCC's radical and penetrating analysis of the American power structure reached beyond the black community to help spark wider social protests of the 1960s, such as the anti-Vietnam War movement.
Carson's history of SNCC goes behind the scene to determine why the group's ideological evolution was accompanied by bitter power struggles within the organization. Using interviews, transcripts of meetings, unpublished position papers, and recently released FBI documents, he reveals how a radical group is subject to enormous, often divisive pressures as it fights the difficult battle for social change. less
Van JonesIn Struggle is about the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC or Snick], and the young people who risked their lives as freedom writers and did the sit-ins and the voter registration. Snick, at its core, never really had more than 30 people, and their average age was somewhere between 19 and 22, but they broke the back of Jim Crow segregation after 244 years of enslavement and 100... (Source)
The Bridge offers the most complete account yet of Obama’s tragic father, a brilliant economist who abandoned his family and ended his life as a beaten man; of his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who had a child as a teenager and then built her career as an anthropologist living and studying in Indonesia; and of the succession of elite institutions that first exposed Obama to the social tensions and intellectual currents that would force him to imagine and fashion an identity for himself. Through extensive on-the-record interviews with friends and teachers, mentors and disparagers, family members and Obama himself, David Remnick allows us to see how a rootless, unaccomplished, and confused young man created himself first as a community organizer in Chicago, an experience that would not only shape his urge to work in politics but give him a home and a community, and that would propel him to Harvard Law School, where his sense of a greater mission emerged.
Deftly setting Obama’s political career against the galvanizing intersection of race and politics in Chicago’s history, Remnick shows us how that city’s complex racial legacy would make Obama’s forays into politics a source of controversy and bare-knuckle tactics: his clashes with older black politicians in the Illinois State Senate, his disastrous decision to challenge the former Black Panther Bobby Rush for Congress in 2000, the sex scandals that would decimate his more experienced opponents in the 2004 Senate race, and the story—from both sides—of his confrontation with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. By looking at Obama’s political rise through the prism of our racial history, Remnick gives us the conflicting agendas of black politicians: the dilemmas of men like Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, and Joseph Lowery, heroes of the civil rights movement, who are forced to reassess old loyalties and understand the priorities of a new generation of African-American leaders.
The Bridge revisits the American drama of race, from slavery to civil rights, and makes clear how Obama’s quest is not just his own but is emblematic of a nation where destiny is defined by individuals keen to imagine a future that is different from the reality of their current lives. less
Van JonesPresident Obama’s stark victory in 2008 was one of the signal events, I think, in American history. While we’re very close to it right now – so we’re kind of worried about what’s happening in this subcommittee and that new cycle and this language in that bill – this is a watershed moment. America is a particularly interesting country in that it has a very ugly founding reality that’s very unequal... (Source)
Here we have Johnson's service in the Second World War and the foundation of his long-concealed fortunes- as well as the facts behind the myths he created about them. But the explosive heart of the book is Caro's revelation of the true story of the fiercely contested 1948 senatorial election, for 40 years shrouded in rumor, which Johnson... more
Here we have Johnson's service in the Second World War and the foundation of his long-concealed fortunes- as well as the facts behind the myths he created about them. But the explosive heart of the book is Caro's revelation of the true story of the fiercely contested 1948 senatorial election, for 40 years shrouded in rumor, which Johnson had either to win or face certain political death, and which he did win - by 'the 87 votes that changed history'.
Caro allows us to witness a momentous turning point in American politics: the tragic last stand of the old politics versus the new - the politics of issue versus the politics of image, mass manipulation, money and electronic dazzle. less
Van JonesI’m always fascinated by people from humble beginnings in our country who rise up to do great things, whether that’s Lyndon Johnson or Bill Clinton or Barack Obama or even Jesse Jackson. It’s almost a common trope that you have kids who grow up in very humble, hard backgrounds, who in our country can rise to become tremendous champions. (Source)
Don't have time to read Van Jones's favorite books? Read Shortform summaries.
Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:
- Being comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
- Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
- Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.