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David Eil @economistified
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Inspired by @sallykuchar , I'm gonna keep a thread of books that I read in 2018, w very brief comments on each one
First gonna tweet all the books I've read so far, then will add to it as I read others
1. William Galston, Liberal Purposes: 5/5.

Thesis: Liberalism does not have a completely vacuous theory of the good life. Maximum possible tolerance is not complete tolerance. Rebuts other popular theories of liberalism e.g. Rawls amazon.com/Liberal-Purpos…
2. Bloom, I am Fire and Air

2/5. Not that great but at least it's short. A character analysis of Cleopatra in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. I love the play but found this book pretty banal.

amazon.com/dp/B071Y3867L/…
3. Isabel Wilkerson, Warmth of Other Suns. 5/5

The Great Migration of Blacks out of the US South told thru 3 individuals, who left different parts of the south at diff times for diff destinations. Engaging & informative, historical narrative at its best amazon.com/dp/B003EY7JGM/…
4. Caro, Passage of Power. 5/5

Fourth of Caro's justly praised books on LBJ. Narrative of day of JFK's death and LBJ's assumption of power afterwards particularly transfixing.

amazon.com/dp/B0062B0844/…
5. Wolff, Fire and Fury. 3/5

Some decent gossipy tidbits but not that much is new and substantial. Also of questionable journalistic integrity.
amazon.com/dp/B077F4WZZY/…
McGerr, A Fierce Discontent
4/5

A gallant effort to write an overview of the progressive movement in the US in late 19th/early 20th c. But v hard to summarize this movement, sometimes it's hard to understand what's going on.

amazon.com/Fierce-Discont…
7. Forman Jr, Locking Up Our Own
5/5

Focusing on DC, Forman Jr describes efforts of black politicians and police to limit violence in their community. Cautionary tale for gun control advocates. amazon.com/dp/B01M1JHFJA/…
8. Caro, The Power Broker 5+/5.

A true masterpiece. If I can recommend one book to you, it's this one.

amazon.com/Power-Broker-R…
9. Foner, Reconstruction 4/5

Very good, but sometimes it's just too big a topic for one book to contain and devolves into lists of what's happening in various states.

amazon.com/dp/B003YUCE9I/…
10. How Democracies Die 4/5

At times harrowing, but also some terms were not well defined.E.g. half of the things they say describe Trump could plausibly describe HRC. Stuff at the end on race is trenchant but should have been a bigger and earlier theme. amazon.com/dp/B071L5C5HG/…
11. Kazin, A Godly Hero 4/5

Even-handed biography of W J Bryan, imho a figure of under-appreciated importance in US history

amazon.com/dp/B000XU4TEA/…
12. Michaeli, The Defender 5/5

History of the famous Chicago newspaper, great window into Chicago history and African American history amazon.com/dp/B00AXS6BDE/…
13. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers. 3/5.

Oppressive, frustrating, and claustrophobic reading experience. Reminds me why dating is terrible. amazon.com/dp/B0084B1P2Y/…
14. Enos, The Space Between Us 4/5

Develops thesis that segregation is cause as well as result of racial tension. Interesting and valuable analysis but I found pop-science writing style cloying at times

amazon.com/dp/B075V7L8PN/…
15. Smith, FDR

Lots of good stuff but even at a few hundred pages lots more to know about FDR. Not much detail about New Deal policy or his programs as NY Gov. Also a mistake: claims WJ Bryan had never left country before becoming SoS. amazon.com/dp/B000QFBXD2/…
16. Rothstein, The Color of Law. 4/5.

Valuable analysis of mortgages in particular. But this is written like a legal brief not like social science research - if you're a researcher you might find that frustrating

amazon.com/Color-Law-Forg…
17. Proulx, Postcards. 3/5.

Just never really cared that much about anybody in this book. amazon.com/dp/B0012095FI/…
18. Amar, America's Constitution. 4.5/5

Thesis: constitution was a radically democratic document for its time, but one that protected slavery, even if it was sort of embarrassed about that fact. Adds political analysis, not just legal. amazon.com/Americas-Const…
19. Cather, My Antonia 4/5

Stories of and nostalgia for the American frontier and the immigrants who made it.
amazon.com/dp/B0083ZCCQE/…
20. Whittington, Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy. 3.5/5

Why and when presidents cede power to the Supreme Court. Bringing political analysis to this question is refreshing but book isn't always clear & well organized imho amazon.com/Political-Foun…
21. Triple H memoirs 4/5

Self-serving as you expect any political memoir to be, but I kind of have a soft spot for HHH. Infighting w commies in MN early in his career is pretty interesting.

amazon.com/Education-Publ…
22. Bailyn, The Barbarous Years 3.5/5

Starting to think it's basically impossible to write a compelling book of historical survey.

amazon.com/dp/B0082XLXOO/…
23. Chernow, Grant 5/5

Moving portrait of one of the finest men the United States has ever produced. Particularly appreciate attention to the Andrew Johnson years.

amazon.com/Grant-Ron-Cher…
24. JBP, 12 Rules: 1/5

Book club made me do it

amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01FPG…
25. Peter Ackroyd, Rebellion. 4/5.

I was embarrassingly ignorant of the history of 17th c England and now I am less so. Apparently religion was a really big deal.

amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00J6T…
26. @JeffreyToobin , The Nine. 5/5.

Entertaining tour of Supreme Court justices and opinions of the 90s and 00s.

amazon.com/dp/B0013TPXN6/…
27. Bailyn, Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. 4.5/5

Bristling with insight. Esp good on evolution of American political thought in decades leading up to the Constitution. Today we think of it as constant, but it changed and often rapidly.

amazon.com/Ideological-Or…
28. Akhil Reed Amar, The Bill of Rights. 4.5/5

The author lays out his "refined incorporation" theory of how the individual rights protected against the federal govt in the constitution and BoR come to be protected against the states by the 14th A.

amazon.ca/Bill-Rights-Cr…
29. @jaketapper , The Hellfire Club. 4/5

Was hoping for an entertaining thriller with lots of '50s politics and culture references and was not disappointed.

amazon.com/dp/B075CS3WKW/…
30. Ron Chernow, Washington. 5/5

You think you know Washington? You don't know Washington. Ron Chernow knows Washington.

Also, should be a movie franchise.

amazon.com/dp/B003ZK58SQ/…
31. Unhealthy Politics. 4/5

Disheartening look at the political challenges facing evidence based medicine in the United States

amazon.com/Unhealthy-Poli…
32. Jean Edward Smith, John Marshall. 5/5

Marshall's contributions to the nation are vastly under-appreciated, perhaps second only to Washington. Tough bio to write b/c requires mastery of politics, history, and law, but JES handles it like a pro.

amazon.com/dp/B00IHCFBF2/…
33. Reich, Who We Are and How We Got Here. 4.5/5

Reich sometimes struggles to explain clearly, but this is a major book in a field I am about 95% sure you're going to hear a lot more about in the next 5-10 years.

amazon.com/Who-Are-How-Go…
34. Akhil Reed Amar, America's Unwritten Constitution. 4.5/5

Much valuable insight for understanding the Constitution. Especially good on the exclusionary rule and Warren court generally. Eventually got annoyed at the constant word play.

amazon.com/Americas-Unwri…
35. Eric Schickler, Racial Realignment. 4/5

Writing is academic, dry, and repetitive. But the material is very good. More thoughts here:
36. DKG, Team of Rivals. 5/5

A monument to Lincoln's prodigious humanity and immense political talent. Think you there was or might be such a man as this I dreamt of?

Also maybe the book that made Hillary Clinton SoS?

amazon.com/dp/B000N2HBSO/…
37. Marie Gottachalk, Caught. 3/5

Some good information, but argumentation often loose and the organization is haphazard. If you're interested in mass incarceration, I would recommend Locked In instead.

amazon.com/dp/B017I2M8SO/…
38. @JohnCarreyrou , Bad Blood. 5/5

I love a good fraudster story, and this one does not disappoint. Every bit as 🍌 as you have heard and imagined.

amazon.com/dp/B078VW3VM7/…
39. Pauline Meyer, American Scripture. 5/5

Good on the Declaration's sources and original meaning, great on its evolving uses and interpretations in the years between founding and the Civil War.

amazon.com/American-Scrip…
40. Scott Turow, One L. 4/5

Turow's observations are trenchant and his writing fluid. I'll know soon if my experience is anything like his

amazon.com/dp/B003WUYE2K/…
41. David McCullough, Truman. 4/5

Heroic everyman faces with integrity and determination some of the most difficult decisions history has to offer.

I may be overdoing it on the megabios recently, but this felt like it could have been 100 pages shorter.

amazon.com/Truman-David-M…
42. John Locke, Two Treatises on Govt

A big deal back in the day, but pretty tedious to read now

amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000FC…
43. WEB DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America 4/5

Seminal and still worth reading for ppl interested in Reconstruction, but if you're only going to read one I recommend Foner.

amazon.com/Black-Reconstr…
44. Paul Kens, Lochner v New York 4.5/5

Thorough discussion of the legal and political buildup and aftermath to this famous Supreme Court case.

amazon.com/Lochner-v-New-…
45. @patrick_sharkey , Uneasy Peace 4/5

Reviews the large decline in crime in the US over last 25 years, its costs, benefits, and future prospects. Good overview, but much of it prob familiar to you if you follow these issues closely.

amazon.com/Uneasy-Peace-D…
46. John Lewis Gaddis, On Grand Strategy 2/5

Too cute and too sweeping for its scant substance.

amazon.com/dp/B073QZX7YX/…
47. John Rawls, A Theory of Justice 3/5

I don't get what the fuss is all about. Rawls gives you a lot to think about, but his claims are often vague and the supporting arguments weak. Probably I am just not galactic-brained enough to grasp it.

amazon.com/Theory-Justice…
48. Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial 5/5

One of the top American historians on perhaps the greatest American of them all, meeting the nation's most trying challenge.

amazon.com/dp/B0044XV6G6/…
49. William Stuntz, The Collapse of American Criminal Justice 5/5

This book and @JohnFPfaff 's Locked In are the two to read on the failures of America's criminal justice system.

amazon.com/Collapse-Ameri…
50. Curt Gentry, J Edgar Hoover: The Man and His Secrets 4/5

Good god

amazon.com/dp/B00630Z8GM/…
51. @joshchafetz , Congress's Constitution. 4/5

A pep talk for Congress and possible gameplan for Dems in 2019. Good complement to @kewhittington 's book on Pres/SC power distribution.

amazon.com/Congresss-Cons…
52. @AliceDreger , Galileo's Middle Finger. 5/5

This woman is a hero and deserves a medal. The least you could do is read her book.

amazon.com/Galileos-Middl…
53. Alex Haley & Malcolm X, Autobiography of Malcolm X 5/5

Impossible to summarize my thoughts about this book in a tweet, but it's electric. Somehow had escaped reading it before now.

amazon.com/dp/B013ZNNX5C/…
54. @MirTamimAnsary , Destiny Disrupted 4.5/5

Good history of Islamic civilization told from an Islamic perspective, but for a Western audience.

amazon.com/dp/B005EYEPB2/…
55. Robert Service, Lenin 2/5

V. I. Lenin! Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov!

amazon.com/Lenin-Biograph…
56. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

I decided a while ago that this would be the last book I read before starting law school. I will not make myself ridiculous by rating a wonder of the world on a 5-point scale.

amazon.com/Crime-Punishme…
57. Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah's Men 5/5

Describes the CIA-led 1953 overthrow of Mossadegh's govt in Iran. Catastrophic failure of American foreign policy. Truman had it right, then Dulles brothers overturned him. Ike aloof. Brits worst of all.

amazon.com/All-Shahs-Men-…
58. David McCullough, The Great Bridge 4/5

Captures the spirit and significance of an American landmark.

amazon.com/dp/B000QXDGL6/…
59. Knut Hamsun, Hunger 5/5

Raskolnikov meets Gregor Samsa meets Orwell in Down and Out meets Joe Gould.

amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0055D…
60. Nabokov, Pale Fire 5/5

Nabokov's genius reigns sublime. #NemblaForever

amazon.com/dp/B004KABDSY/…
61. Joyce, Ulysses

A masterpiece, but not the kind of thing you look forward to relaxing with after a long day of reading legalese.

amazon.com/dp/B000FC1C64/…
62. @ArmsControlWonk , 2020 Commission Report on NK Nuclear Attacks Against the US. 4/5

Some events in this narrative seemed to me improbable, but none implausible. Also trenchant observations on how govt dysfunction on all sides leads to catastrophe. amazon.com/dp/B079VDR6HM/…
63. Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem 5/5

I don't normally read much sci-fi, but I'll def read the rest of this trilogy. Re-imagines and dramatizes real-world scientific and moral questions in a thought-provoking way.

amazon.com/dp/0765377063/…
64. Gregory Downs, After Appomattox 4/5

Better than any other Reconstruction book I've read on the legal and practical machinery of Reconstruction through 1871. Also good on tensions between military, Johnson, and Congress.

amazon.com/dp/B00W3EE2EG/…
65. @kcjohnson9 and @staylor5448 , The Campus Rape Frenzy 4/5

This book is important and revealing, which makes its occasional lapses in rigor and frequently sarcastic tone all the more disappointing

amazon.com/dp/B0742MHYCZ/…
66. Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark 3.5/5

Many interesting observations when it focuses on specific novels and stories, esp Hemingway and Huck Finn; I found it less valuable as it got more general.

amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000RN…
67. Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass 5/5

The first 27 years of one of the most incredible lives of the 19th c, as told by the man who lived them.

amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B072HM…
68. Timothy Williamson, Doing Philosophy. 4/5

A defense of philosophy. Some interesting paradoxes, but a lot of stuff you basically already know if you're a science-y person. Mostly only skims interesting areas.

amazon.com/Doing-Philosop…
69. @JonHaidt & Greg Lukianoff, Muh American Mind. 3.5/5

Good overview of the campus insanity, but some exaggeration & oversimplification. If you read the Atlantic article & followed these controversies u can prob skip it. Some useful advice for parents.

amazon.com/dp/B076NVFT5P/…
70. E.M. Forster, A Passage to India 5/5

Really remarkable book. I think it's about the awkwardness and difficulty of interpersonal intimacy and understanding, especially across a cultural divide. I think it will be on my mind for a while.

amazon.com/Passage-India-…
71. Robert Plomin, Blueprint 2/5

Sloppy in places, poorly written and edited, and doesn't really contain much that's new if you follow this field at all. Disappointing, bc this topic is important.

amazon.com/dp/B07K9KXVM5/…
72. E.O. Wilson, Sociobology (Abridged) 5/5

A landmark in 20th century science. Sweeping, masterful, still vibrating with insight and provocation. You can read it without a bio background, though be prepared to look some stuff up and to be amazed.

amazon.com/Sociobiology-A…
73. @davidwblight , Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom 5/5

An instant classic in American biography, and the definitive work on Douglass other than those authored by the man himself.

amazon.com/Frederick-Doug…
74. Elizabeth Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime 3/5

Some valuable history esp on Great Society, but imho the reasoning and argumentation is often pretty loose.

amazon.com/War-Poverty-Cr…
75. @jbf1755 , Field of Blood 4.5/5

Engaging and convincing portrait of life in Congress in the ~2.5 decades before the Civil War, seen through the eyes of a man who "witnessed it all."

amazon.com/dp/B079Y83ZJM/…
76. @marthasjones_ Birthright Citizens 4.5/5

Perceptive and at times even moving account of how free black Baltimoreans claimed and used their legal rights in the decades before the Civil War.

amazon.com/Birthright-Cit…
77. @DorisKGoodwin , Leadership In Turbulent Times 4/5

See this thread for more thoughts:

amazon.com/Leadership-Tur…
78. Andrew Ferguson, The Rise of Big Data Policing

Valuable insights: 1) high cost of error in big data policing 2) prediction doesn't necessarily demand a police response, other interventions are available. More thoughts here:

amazon.com/Rise-Big-Data-…
79. Michelle McNamara, I'll Be Gone In The Dark 4/5

Enthralling read; Tragic that the author did not live to finish this book and see the killer found.

amazon.com/dp/B071YRW9CB/…
80. @tylercowen , Stubborn Attachments 4/5

Asserts the "overriding importance" of economic growth. More thoughts here:



amazon.com/Stubborn-Attac…
81. @hwbrands , Heirs of the Founders 4.5/5

Enjoyed learning more about these important Americans. Thread here:

amazon.com/dp/B079WN7MKQ/…
82. Eric Posner and @glenweyl , Radical Markets 4/5

I may not have ended up radicalized, but I was provoked to thought:



amazon.com/Radical-Market…
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