Politics & Social Sciences

Must read books on politics and social science.

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville’s children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress–with so many kids, she had always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes.

Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders. From radical and impetuous I.R.A. terrorists such as Dolours Price, who, when she was barely out of her teens, was already planting bombs in London and targeting informers for execution, to the ferocious I.R.A. mas

Catch and Kill Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

In 2017, a routine network television investigation led Ronan Farrow to a story only whispered about: one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers was a predator, protected by fear, wealth, and a conspiracy of silence. As Farrow drew closer to the truth, shadowy operatives, from high-priced lawyers to elite war-hardened spies, mounted a secret campaign of intimidation, threatening his career, following his every move, and weaponizing an account of abuse in his own family.
All the while, Farrow and his producer faced a degree of resistance they could not explain — until now. And a trail of clues revealed corruption and cover-ups from Hollywood to Washington and beyond.
This is the untold story of the exotic tactics of surveillance and intimidation deployed by wealthy and connected men to threaten journalists, evade accountability, and silence victims of abuse. And it’s the story of the women who risked everything to expose the truth and spark a global movement.

Both a spy thriller and a meticulous work of investigative journalism, Catch and Kill breaks devastating new stories about the rampant abuse of power and sheds far-reaching light on investigations that shook our culture.
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Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth

In 2010, the words “earthquake swarm” entered the lexicon in Oklahoma. That same year, a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia—including his iconic crystal-encrusted white glove—was sold at auction for over $1 million to a guy who was, officially, just the lowly forestry minister of the tiny nation of Equatorial Guinea. And in 2014, Ukrainian revolutionaries raided the palace of their ousted president and found a zoo of peacocks, gilded toilets, and a floating restaurant modeled after a Spanish galleon. Unlikely as it might seem, there is a thread connecting these events, and Rachel Maddow follows it to its crooked source: the unimaginably lucrative and equally corrupting oil and gas industry.

With her trademark black humor, Maddow takes us on a switchback journey around the globe, revealing the greed and incompetence of Big Oil and Gas along the way, and drawing a surprising conclusion about why the Russian government hacked the 2016 U.S. election. She deftly shows how Russia’s rich reserves of crude have, paradoxically, stunted its growth, forcing Putin to maintain his power by spreading Russia’s rot into its rivals, its neighbors, the West’s most important alliances, and the United States. Chevron, BP, and a host of other industry players get their star turn, most notably ExxonMobil and the deceptively well-behaved Rex Tillerson.

Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law

There are questions that the Mueller report couldn’t—or wouldn’t—answer. What actually happened to instigate the Russia investigation? Did President Trump’s meddling incriminate him? There’s no mystery to what Trump thinks. He claims that the Deep State, a cabal of career bureaucrats—among them, Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, and Peter Strzok, previously little known figures within the FBI whom he has obsessively and publically reviled—is concerned only with protecting its own power and undermining the democratic process. Conversely, James Comey has defended the FBI as incorruptible apolitical public servants who work tirelessly to uphold the rule of law.

For the first time, bestselling author James B. Stewart sifts these conflicting accounts to present a clear-eyed view of what exactly happened inside the FBI in the lead-up to the 2016 election, drawing on scores of interviews with key FBI, Department of Justice, and White House officialsand voluminous transcripts, notes, and internal reports. In full detail, this is the dramatic saga of the FBI’s simultaneous investigations of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump—the first time in American history the FBI has been thrust into the middle of both parties’ campaigns for the presidency. Stewart shows what exactly was set in motion when Trump fired Comey, triggering the appointment of Robert Mueller as an independent special counsel and causing the FBI to open a formal investigation into the president himself. And how this unprece

Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump

No one is above the law. This belief is as American as freedom of speech and turkey on Thanksgiving—held sacred by Democrats and Republicans alike. But as celebrated Supreme Court lawyer and former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal argues in Impeach, if President Trump is not held accountable for repeatedly asking foreign powers to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, this could very well mark the end of our democracy. To quote President George Washington’s Farewell Address: “Foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.” Impeachment should always be our last resort, explains Katyal, but our founders, our principles, and our Constitution leave us with no choice but to impeach President Trump—before it’s too late.

Blowout Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth

In 2010, the words “earthquake swarm” entered the lexicon in Oklahoma. That same year, a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia—including his iconic crystal-encrusted white glove—was sold at auction for over $1 million to a guy who was, officially, just the lowly forestry minister of the tiny nation of Equatorial Guinea. And in 2014, Ukrainian revolutionaries raided the palace of their ousted president and found a zoo of peacocks, gilded toilets, and a floating restaurant modeled after a Spanish galleon. Unlikely as it might seem, there is a thread connecting these events, and Rachel Maddow follows it to its crooked source: the unimaginably lucrative and equally corrupting oil and gas industry.

With her trademark black humor, Maddow takes us on a switchback journey around the globe, revealing the greed and incompetence of Big Oil and Gas along the way, and drawing a surprising conclusion about why the Russian government hacked the 2016 U.S. election. She deftly shows how Russia’s rich reserves of crude have, paradoxically, stunted its growth, forcing Putin to maintain his power by spreading Russia’s rot into its rivals, its neighbors, the West’s most important alliances, and the United States. Chevron, BP, and a host of other industry players get their star turn, most notably ExxonMobil and the deceptively well-behaved Rex Tillerson.

Crime in Progress Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump

Fusion GPS was founded in 2010 by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, two former reporters at The Wall Street Journal who decided to abandon the struggling news business and use their reporting skills to conduct open-source investigations for businesses and law firms—and opposition research for political candidates. In the fall of 2015, they were hired to look into the finances of Donald Trump.

What began as a march through a mind-boggling trove of lawsuits, bankruptcies, and sketchy overseas projects soon took a darker turn: The deeper Fusion dug, the more it began to notice names that Simpson and Fritsch had come across during their days covering Russian corruption—and the clearer it became that the focus of Fusion’s research going forward would be Trump’s entanglements with Russia.

To help them make sense of what they were seeing, Simpson and Fritsch engaged the services of a former British intelligence agent and Russia expert named Christopher Steele. He would produce a series of memos—which collectively became known as the Steele dossier—that raised deeply alarming questions about the nature of Trump’s ties to a hostile foreign power. Those memos made their way to U.S. intelligence agencies, and then to President Barack Obama and President-elect Trump. On January 10, 2017, the Steele dossier broke into public view, and the Trump-Russia story reached escape velocity. At the time, Fusion GPS was just a ten-person consulting firm tucked away above a Starbucks near Dupont Cir

Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite

For over a decade, the work of five-time New York Times bestselling investigative reporter Peter Schweizer has sent shockwaves through the political universe.

Clinton Cash revealed the Clintons’ international money flow, exposed global corruption, and sparked an FBI investigation. Secret Empires exposed bipartisan corruption and launched congressional investigations. And Throw Them All Out and Extortion prompted passage of the STOCK Act. Indeed, Schweizer’s “follow the money” bombshell revelations have been featured on the front pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and regularly appear on national news programs, including 60 Minutes.

Now Schweizer and his team of seasoned investigators turn their focus to the nation’s top progressives—politicians who strive to acquire more government power to achieve their political ends.

Can they be trusted with more power?

In Profiles in Corruption, Schweizer offers a deep-dive investigation into the private finances, and secrets deals of some of America’s top political leaders. And, as usual, he doesn’t disappoint, with never-before-reported revelations that uncover corruption and abuse of power—all backed up by a mountain of corporate documents and legal filings from around the globe. Learn about how they are making sweetheart deals, generating side income, bending the law to their own benefits, using legislation to advance their own interests, and much more.

Profiles in Corruption contains tomorrow’s headlines.

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

In 2017, a routine network television investigation led Ronan Farrow to a story only whispered about: one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers was a predator, protected by fear, wealth, and a conspiracy of silence. As Farrow drew closer to the truth, shadowy operatives, from high-priced lawyers to elite war-hardened spies, mounted a secret campaign of intimidation, threatening his career, following his every move, and weaponizing an account of abuse in his own family.

All the while, Farrow and his producer faced a degree of resistance they could not explain – until now. And a trail of clues revealed corruption and cover-ups from Hollywood to Washington and beyond.

This is the untold story of the exotic tactics of surveillance and intimidation deployed by wealthy and connected men to threaten journalists, evade accountability, and silence victims of abuse. And it’s the story of the women who risked everything to expose the truth and spark a global movement.

Both a spy thriller and a meticulous work of investigative journalism, Catch and Kill breaks devastating new stories about the rampant abuse of power and sheds far-reaching light on investigations that shook the culture.

A Warning

On September 5, 2018, the New York Times published a bombshell essay and took the rare step of granting its writer anonymity. Described only as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” the author provided eyewitness insight into White House chaos, administration instability, and the people working to keep Donald Trump’s reckless impulses in check.

With the 2020 election on the horizon, Anonymous is speaking out once again. In this book, the original author pulls back the curtain even further, offering a first-of-its-kind look at the president and his record — a must-read before Election Day. It will surprise and challenge both Democrats and Republicans, motivate them to consider how we judge our nation’s leaders, and illuminate the consequences of re-electing a commander in chief unfit for the role.

This book is a sobering assessment of the man in the Oval Office and a warning about something even more important — who we are as a people.

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World

A debut from Melinda Gates, a timely and necessary call to action for women’s empowerment.

“How can we summon a moment of lift for human beings – and especially for women? Because when you lift up women, you lift up humanity.”

For the last twenty years, Melinda Gates has been on a mission to find solutions for people with the most urgent needs, wherever they live. Throughout this journey, one thing has become increasingly clear to her: If you want to lift a society up, you need to stop keeping women down.

In this moving and compelling book, Melinda shares lessons she’s learned from the inspiring people she’s met during her work and travels around the world. As she writes in the introduction, “That is why I had to write this book—to share the stories of people who have given focus and urgency to my life. I want all of us to see ways we can lift women up where we live.”

Melinda’s unforgettable narrative is backed by startling data as she presents the issues that most need our attention—from child marriage to lack of access to contraceptives to gender inequity in the workplace. And, for the first time, she writes about her personal life and the road to equality in her own marriage. Throughout, she shows how there has never been more opportunity to change the world—and ourselves.

Writing with emotion, candor, and grace, she introduces us to remarkable women and shows the power of connecting with one another.

When we lift others up, they lift us up, too.

Siege: Trump Under Fire

Michael Wolff, author of the bombshell bestseller Fire and Fury, once again takes us inside the Trump presidency to reveal a White House under siege.

Just one year into Donald Trump’s term as president, Michael Wolff told the electrifying story of a White House consumed by controversy, chaos, and intense rivalries. Fire and Fury, an instant sensation, defined the first phase of the Trump administration; now, in Siege, Wolff has written an equally essential and explosive book about a presidency that is under fire from almost every side.

At the outset of Trump’s second year as president, his situation is profoundly different. No longer tempered by experienced advisers, he is more impulsive and volatile than ever. But the wheels of justice are inexorably turning: Robert Mueller’s “witch hunt” haunts Trump every day, and other federal prosecutors are taking a deep dive into his business affairs. Many in the political establishment—even some members of his own administration—have turned on him and are dedicated to bringing him down. The Democrats see victory at the polls, and perhaps impeachment, in front of them. Trump, meanwhile, is certain he is invincible, making him all the more exposed and vulnerable. Week by week, as Trump becomes increasingly erratic, the question that lies at the heart of his tenure becomes ever more urgent: Will this most abnormal of presidencies at last reach the breaking point and implode?

Both a riveting narrative and a brilliant front-lines report, Siege provides an alarming and indelible portrait of a president like no other. Surrounded by enemies and blind to his peril, Trump is a raging, self-destructive inferno—and the most divisive leader in American history.

The Mueller Report: The Final Report of the Special Counsel into Donald Trump, Russia, and Collusion

There has never been a more important political investigation than Robert S. Mueller III’s into President Donald Trump’s possible collusion with Russia. His momentous findings can be found here, complete with:

The 300+ pages of the historic report, as released by the Justice Department
An introduction by constitutional scholar, eminent civil libertarian, and New York Times bestselling author Alan Dershowitz.
The relevant portions of Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the 1999 provisions written by former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, which establish and regulate the powers of the special counsel.
Rod Rosenstein’s 2016 order appointing Robert Mueller III as special counsel and outlining the scope of his investigation.
Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary of the report, as sent to Congress.
Barr’s explanation of the four reasons for redacting the report, and a key for identifying them in the color-coded report

The wait is over. Robert Mueller, a lifelong Republican, has concluded his investigation and submitted its findings to Attorney General William Barr. Barr has told Congress that Mueller found no proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and did not come to a conclusion on obstruction of justice—neither concluding the president committed a crime nor exonerating him. But Mueller’s report was over 300 pages and Barr’s summary was only four pages, raising questions about the conclusions of a historic investigation.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller III’s probe into Russian influence on the 2016 election of Donald Trump—including links between the campaign and Russian interests, obstruction of justice by President Trump, and any other matters that may have arisen in the course of the investigation—has been the focal point of American politics since its inception in May 2017.

Democrats in the US House of Representatives hoped to use the report to begin impeachment proceedings, with the support of those critical of the president. Media tracked Mueller’s every move, and the investigation was subject to constant speculation by political pundits everywhere. It resulted in the indictments of Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and many others. President Trump and his supporters affirmed that the investigation was a “witch hunt” and the product of a plot by the political establishment—the “deep state”—to delegitimize his presidency.

Mueller’s findings—at least according to Barr—allowed the latter to claim victory. But now, thanks to a subpoena from House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler for the full report, a resolution from the House of Representatives to release the full report to the public (though blocked in the Senate by Mitch McConnell), and popular demand, it’s time for public to judge if that is true.

The Mueller investigation will join Watergate, and the Mueller Report will join the 9/11 Commission Report, the Warren Report, and the Starr Report, as one of the most important in history. The Mueller Report is required reading for everyone with interest in American politics, for every 2016 and 2020 voter, and every American. It’s now available here as an affordable paperback, featuring an introduction from eminent civil libertarian, Harvard Law Professor Emeritus, and New York Times bestselling author Alan Dershowitz, who provides a constitutional, civil law-based commentary sorely needed in today’s media landscape.

Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From the outspoken former governor, an “explosive” (Guardian) “must read” (Hugh Hewitt) account of Chris Christie’s life in politics including his eye-opening insights into Donald Trump — “you will like the stories he tells” (Brian Kilmeade).

After dropping out of the 2016 presidential race, Chris Christie stunned the political world by becoming the first major official to endorse Donald Trump. A friend of Trump’s for fifteen years, the two-term New Jersey governor understood the future president as well as anyone in the political arena–and Christie quickly became one of Trump’s most trusted advisers. Tapped with running Trump’s transition team, Christie was nearly named his running mate. But within days of Trump’s surprise victory over Hillary Clinton, Christie was in for his own surprise: he was being booted out.

In Let Me Finish, Christie sets the record straight about his tenure as a corruption-fighting prosecutor and a Republican running a Democratic state, as well as what really happened on the 2016 campaign trail and inside Trump Tower. Christie takes readers inside the ego-driven battles for Trump’s attention among figures like Steve Bannon, Corey Lewandowksi, Reince Priebus, Kellyanne Conway, Jeff Sessions, and Paul Manafort. He shows how the literal trashing of Christie’s transition plan put the new administration in the hands of self-serving amateurs, all but guaranteeing the Trump presidency’s shaky start. Christie also addresses hot-button issues from his own years in power, including what really went down during Bridgegate. And, for the first time, Christie tells the full story of the Kushner saga: how, as a federal prosecutor, Christie put Jared Kushner’s powerful father behind bars–a fact Trump’s son-in-law makes Christie pay for later.

Packed with news-making revelations and told with the kind of bluntness few politicians can match, Christie’s memoir is an essential guide to understanding the Trump presidency.

The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump

On March 16, 2018, just twenty-six hours before his scheduled retirement from the organization he had served with distinction for more than two decades, Andrew G. McCabe was fired from his position as deputy director of the FBI. President Donald Trump celebrated on Twitter: “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy.”

In The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, Andrew G. McCabe offers a dramatic and candid account of his career, and an impassioned defense of the FBI’s agents, and of the institution’s integrity and independence in protecting America and upholding our Constitution.

McCabe started as a street agent in the FBI’s New York field office, serving under director Louis Freeh. He became an expert in two kinds of investigations that are critical to American national security: Russian organized crime—which is inextricably linked to the Russian state—and terrorism. Under Director Robert Mueller, McCabe led the investigations of major attacks on American soil, including the Boston Marathon bombing, a plot to bomb the New York subways, and several narrowly averted bombings of aircraft. And under James Comey, McCabe was deeply involved in the controversial investigations of the Benghazi attack, the Clinton Foundation’s activities, and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.

The Threat recounts in compelling detail the time between Donald Trump’s November 2016 election and McCabe’s firing, set against a page-turning narrative spanning two decades when the FBI’s mission shifted to a new goal: preventing terrorist attacks on Americans. But as McCabe shows, right now the greatest threat to the United States comes from within, as President Trump and his administration ignore the law, attack democratic institutions, degrade human rights, and undermine the U.S. Constitution that protects every citizen.

Important, revealing, and powerfully argued, The Threat tells the true story of what the FBI is, how it works, and why it will endure as an institution of integrity that protects America.

The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In a 2017 survey, presidential historians ranked Dwight D. Eisenhower fifth on the list of great presidents, behind the perennial top four: Lincoln, Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Teddy Roosevelt. Historian William Hitchcock shows that this high ranking is justified. Eisenhower’s accomplishments were enormous, and loom ever larger from the vantage point of our own tumultuous times.

A former general, Ike kept the peace: he ended the Korean War, avoided a war in Vietnam, adroitly managed a potential confrontation with China, and soothed relations with the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death. He guided the Republican Party to embrace central aspects of the New Deal like Social Security. He thwarted the demagoguery of McCarthy and he advanced the agenda of civil rights for African Americans. As part of his strategy to wage, and win, the Cold War, Eisenhower expanded American military power, built a fearsome nuclear arsenal and launched the space race. In his famous Farewell Address, he acknowledged that Americans needed such weapons in order to keep global peace—but he also admonished his citizens to remain alert to the potentially harmful influence of the “military-industrial complex.”

From 1953 to 1961, no one dominated the world stage as did President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Age of Eisenhower is the definitive account of this presidency, drawing extensively on declassified material from the Eisenhower Library, the CIA and Defense Department, and troves of unpublished documents. In his masterful account, Hitchcock shows how Ike shaped modern America, and he astutely assesses Eisenhower’s close confidants, from Attorney General Brownell to Secretary of State Dulles. The result is an eye-opening reevaluation that explains why this “do-nothing” president is rightly regarded as one of the best leaders our country has ever had.

Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award for Nonfiction

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Ghost Wars, the epic and enthralling story of America’s intelligence, military, and diplomatic efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 9/11

Prior to 9/11, the United States had been carrying out small-scale covert operations in Afghanistan, ostensibly in cooperation, although often in direct opposition, with I.S.I., the Pakistani intelligence agency. While the US was trying to quell extremists, a highly secretive and compartmentalized wing of I.S.I., known as “Directorate S,” was covertly training, arming, and seeking to legitimize the Taliban, in order to enlarge Pakistan’s sphere of influence. After 9/11, when fifty-nine countries, led by the U. S., deployed troops or provided aid to Afghanistan in an effort to flush out the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the U.S. was set on an invisible slow-motion collision course with Pakistan.

Today we know that the war in Afghanistan would falter badly because of military hubris at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the drain on resources and provocation in the Muslim world caused by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and corruption. But more than anything, as Coll makes painfully clear, the war in Afghanistan was doomed because of the failure of the United States to apprehend the motivations and intentions of I.S.I.’s “Directorate S”. This was a swirling and shadowy struggle of historic proportions, which endured over a decade and across both the Bush and Obama administrations, involving multiple secret intelligence agencies, a litany of incongruous strategies and tactics, and dozens of players, including some of the most prominent military and political figures. A sprawling American tragedy, the war was an open clash of arms but also a covert melee of ideas, secrets, and subterranean violence.

Coll excavates this grand battle, which took place away from the gaze of the American public. With unsurpassed expertise, original research, and attention to detail, he brings to life a narrative at once vast and intricate, local and global, propulsive and painstaking.

This is the definitive explanation of how America came to be so badly ensnared in an elaborate, factional, and seemingly interminable conflict in South Asia. Nothing less than a forensic examination of the personal and political forces that shape world history, Directorate S is a complete masterpiece of both investigative and narrative journalism.