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Since much of our factual information was generated by others publishing important books we list them all here for your convenience.

1776 - David McCollough - The "father" of our country is followed during through the first campaigns of the Revolutionary war. Washington appears in fresh relief, as a human being as full of mistakes as the rest of us--with one major difference from most of us: He learned quickly from each one. America's passion for guns derives in measure part from this era. Time has marched on; we are no longer threatened by tyranny. We now propagate it in new clothing--"American Interests" by which we mean world hegemony. Is "King" George W Bush really any different from King George III who lost a war to an authentic George?

A Bound Man - Shelby Steele - This is a book that probably had to be written for it illustrates certain facets of our history of blatant and violent bigotry. It is also a book after its time--it misses or misreads important and historic events. We do not see things as bad as Steele paints them. He slots American black people as being either bargainers or challengers. In fact, that is not true. There are other varieties and Barack Obama is one of them. He neither challenges nor bargains. He is a black man by his own definition, but most of all he is a human being. He looks at humanity with equality, transcending differences of which color is only one.

Abraham - Bruce Feiler - To know Abraham, one must also know something of one's self as well as of his scribes. With stunning insights, Feiler leads us through the hundreds of descriptions of Abraham across three faiths.

Al Qaeda Now - Karen Greenberg - Editor - Two dozen contributors to this book add more than perspective; it adds new dimensions as well. Now, more than two years after publication, this book is still current. It reinforces our conclusions elsewhere in that we must listen to bin Laden, and listen closely if we care what this man thinks. We should, for he does not think like we do. Until we know his thought processes, we cannot understand his tactical use and motivation of suicide bombers much less understand his ultimate strategy.

A Nation of Sheep - William J Lederer - Lederer's title drips with the Authoritarianism of Adorno, Milgram, Altemeyer, and Zimbardo. We, the people, have not changed one iota. As a society, we care too little about foreign affairs, the Constitution, or even our own pocketbooks.

Ancestor's Tale - Richard Dawkins - Dawkins combines science with storytelling as few writers can. He brings evolution to life in its beauty and depth, its probabilistic meanderings, yet certain of some direction, even to a noncompetitive dead end. An ultimate secularist, Dawkins provides ammunition galore for those being attacked by Intelligent Design movement. His kind, the atheists among us, show up better than do the torch bearers for Monotheism.

A Problem From Hell - Samantha Power - Power draws a bead on the mindsets of those "watching" as genocidaires hacked people to death; 8000 per day for 100 days in Rwanda.

Bush on the couch - Justin A Frank - Frank confirms our worst fears pieced together from other sources. He does not use the terms sociopath or psychopath, rather he prefers the Freudian terms sadism, omnipotence, anal stage, grandiosity, paranoia, megalomania, and Oedipal complex. Yet he vividly illustrates how socio-psychopathic behavior arose in the most powerful man on earth. Using original sources, including family histories and biographical information, Frank analyzes the Bush family behavior as being dysfunctional and absentee, not by design, or to blame, for Bush's parents were themselves products of dysfunctional socialization. [This inter-generational phenomenon must be removed from violent societies if peace is ever to reign.]

Challenging Nature - Lee M Silver - Silver is at once insightful, entertaining and enlightening and gives fair treatment to each side of the gulf between religion and science--we recommend his book highly.

Command Of Office - Stephen Graubard - If there is a current writer with a grasp of history reflected by Barbara Tuchman in her "March of Folly," Stephen Graubard is that writer. He will disturb many for his forthright appraisal of what is happening at the White House and what has happened since the glory days of Theodore Roosevelt, who was not only from another century, but from another political party as well.

Confessions of a Thug - Phillip Meadows Taylor - Taylor's narrative was unique, rare even today, in that he gives us a profound and full profile of the terrorist personality, thinking, and beliefs. Taylor achieved this by writing in a monologue format quoting the central character, Ameer Ali, verbatim. Taylor skillfully blends the proud braggart, tender father with the cold-blooded, deceitful killer into an all-too-human composite.

Conservatives Without Conscience - John Dean - Conservatism itself, Dean says, can be good, bad or evil. He devotes his entire book to the bad and evil. It is vital reading for any and everyone who cares about the future of democracy and the United States in particular.

Darwin On Trial - Phillip Johnson - To those who really want to understand this conflict, Johnson provides a sharp view of how fundamentalism permeates both sides of the argument over Evolution.

Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together- William Isaacs - If there is one skill we can acquire to counter terror, violence, and war, it is dialogue. Those who already have the skill, will still enjoy reading this timely and provocative book.

Elizabeth I - CEO - Alan Axelrod - In just 45 years, Elizabeth transformed England, one piece at a time. A country that was in chaos and at the mercy of European powers when she ascended the throne, became the foremost and most successful empire on earth. Drama appears on nearly every page with Axelrod's gift for imagery in words.

Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life - Ashutosh Varshney - Varshney's synthesis is a landmark, based on valid scientific research of novel and practical design. Theorists and activists alike can learn from him. He does not go into the human psyche for answers, he goes into the field and observes what works.

Evolution And Human Violence - Editors of, Nature, the world's foremost science periodical are not usually given to hyperbole. This article is no exception for it makes a solid case for a genetic origin of our murderous instinct. That murder was common in human prehistory there can be no doubt. So also in certain primitive societies in recent history. Aggression is equally common, and can lead to murder. But how does one separate an instinct for aggression, that just happens to lead to murder, from a separate and independent instinct for murder? This issue and others are discussed at length by Jones.

Fear Less - Gavin de Becker - De Becker challenges us to think and act in new ways. With insight, we can control our future. Without it, we stay on the treadmill--over-reacting in wrong ways to the wrong things.

Fundamentals of Extremism - Kimberly Blaker -- The Christian Right in America - This collaborative review misses hardly a descriptive trick. It is an excellent review of events spawned by extremist behavior. Contributors quoted pull no punches.

Galileo's Revenge - Peter Huber - Huber's book dramatically illustrates the power of myth in American culture, or is it avarice that drives the frivolous law suit syndrome? It is both, obviously.

Global Middle Class Development - Walter Russell Mead and Sherle Schwenninger - Democracy is not a given; it requires a strong infrastructure and a middle class to operate it along with a strong tradition of adherence to a constitutional legal system. The history of the last two centuries has been one of gradual industrial development first, then the transition to democracy follows naturally. Sometimes the transition is sudden, as in the case of the US, or Germany and Japan after World War II. In other cass, the approach to democracy is quite gradual.

God Is Not Great - Christopher Hitchens - Hitchens is not only fine story teller, but an accurate historian of religion. As an atheist he focuses on the bad points of religion; hence his sub-title. Our present take, is while societies everywhere practice religion of one sort or another, it is the uncommon extremists who co-opt religion (as well as other sectors of societies) for no good that are at the root of the association between Monotheism and Violence.

God's Politics - Jim Wallis - Jim Wallis is a rarity in that as an evangelical Christian, he recognizes not only the excesses of the current administration, but of those in his own religion. Moreover, the cures he suggests fit well with those advocated on this website as well as elsewhere.

Hannah Arendt on Violence - Authors have various perceptions from different angles as to the origins of violence. Arendt addresses the macro aspects of violence as they play out among nations. Her perspectives are mainly national or international in nature. Yet she uses terms that will be familiar as manifestations of the Authoritarian Personality as discussed on this web site. Arendt sees political violence as having five aspects. They are worth illustrating:

Islam - Karen Armstrong [A Brief History]- Ms Armstrong writes a different kind of book for our times--a book sensitive to and respectful of Islam. As a Christian might view Christianity, she views Islam. She provides a chronology of major events with short descriptions of each. Along with that Ms Armstrong brings insight needed for the non-Muslims to understand the faith.

It Can Happen Here - Joe Conason - Insights upon insights are among the offerings of this gifted writer. In this, his fourth major book on contemporary American politics, Conason essentially indicts the Bush/Cheney Administration of fascism; the very kind predicted by Sinclair Lewis in "It Can't Happen Here" 1935: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross."

Letter to a Christian Nation - Sam Harris - Harris writes: "Thousands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own."

Man's search For Meaning - Viktor Frankl - "Along with the volumes on genocide and works on authoritarianism, this book is a must read for its insights into how the oppressed can survive very rough times, and still be of good spirit. Frankl was certainly exceptional. While a prisoner in the Nazi death camps under frightful conditions, he did nothing less than create a new and revolutionary school of psychotherapy--Logotherapy. It is practiced to this day."

March of Folly - Barbara Tuchman - This is a profound but very readable book. The March of Folly reads the historical rhythm of waves, cresting and crashing again and again in monotony. Again and again, Kings and democrats alike persist in stubborn belief that their power is not only invincible but infinitely wise. Absolute power corrupts absolutely was never truer said.

Mein Kampf - Adolf Hitler - Hitler was not as original as he would have us believe. But the mere fact that he brought such a holocaust upon the world demands we understand his ideas and techniques when they occur. Unfortunately, some of them are afoot in our times.

Napoleon and the 100 Days - Stephen Coote - Coote does a marvelous job of "novelizing" history. His book is just plain interesting to read. Instead of names, dates and places, the usual history fare, Coote brings Napoleon to life. His personal failings are woven into his military genius in unforgettable ways. Napoleon was an accomplished Authoritarian a dozen decades before the personality was defined and named.

Nationalism and its Alternatives - Karl Deutsch - A moral to be drawn from Deutsch, is that reform can happen, if allowed to do so naturally in an evolutionary fashion. Europe is on the leading edge of this experiment, in spite of Bush's criticism of their wise choices. France and Germany are each examples of the internal Locus of Control we discuss elsewhere in terms appropriate to the individual.

Plan Of Attack - Bob Woodward - A most scary excerpt: "One theme that emerged repeatedly in all the hours I spent interviewing the president, and the hundreds of hours I spent interviewing others close to him or involved in the Iraq War decisions is Bush's conviction that he made the right decision."

Obedience to Authority - Stanley Milgram - If there is a kernel to the story of violence in American culture, this book is that kernel. Milgram adds magnificently to the pioneering work of Adorno et al on the Authoritarian Personality. Milgram details his many rigorous experiments, and interprets them relentlessly.

Prince of War - Billy Graham - Cecil Bothwell - A man of the cloth preaching war? Hard to believe! Yet it is true. For six decades Billy Graham preached war and American hegemony to presidents, their advisers and to his "crusaders." Graham had a great deal to do with the rise of the militant Right in American Politics. Graham is a master of back-room politics. Instilling fear is his modus operandi. His actions were most often self-serving. In the process he became a multi-multi millionaire.

Science -- The March of Unreason - Dick Taverne - Taverne sees through the hypocrisy and fraud inherent in propaganda. He gets down to some of the perceptual and expressive ills of humanity. He frames his many arguments around the use and misuse of the scientific method in its effects on many facets of our lives. Taverne illustrates the fallacies in resisting the march of science and reason, especially as they affect progress in medicine, farming, industry, governance, and religion.

Shake Hands With The Devil - Romeo Dallaire - In historical perspective, the ultimate tragedy in Rwanda was only one of several in the Great Lakes region of Africa. In psychological perspective, from a UN commander who lived it, this book is a revelation in how humanity can turn on itself in rapid and devastating ways, ignoring the principles of society, even those of Nature itself.

Short History of Myth - Karen Armstrong - In her words: "Myths gave explicit shape and form to a reality that people sensed intuitively. They told them how the gods behaved, not out of idle curiosity or because these tales were entertaining, but to enable men and women to imitate these powerful beings and experience divinity themselves."

Snakes in suits - Babiak & Hare - Being a psychopath is not illegal. But their behavior ought to be. In the fashion of a Greek tragedy, these authors dramatically weave several stories of how psychopaths destroy lives--this time the setting is the work place. Their descriptions resonate perfectly with Martha Stout's "The Sociopath Next Door."

Sociopath Next Door - Martha Stout - To quote: "Short of a sociopathic leader who diverts the course of an entire nation, leading it into genocide or unnecessary war, the psychopathic killer is surely the most terrifying example of a psyche without a conscience..." Martha Stout

Statistics on the Table - Stephen Stigler - For the serious researchers, for those who care about history or have a serious need to know about how to evaluate social behavior with the least possible error, this is the book to be read carefully. It is not a how-to book; rather, it is a collection of essays on a number of statistical concepts, how they developed, and who was really who in the history of this key branch of mathematics. Every essay carries a "moral" of substance that requires little or no math to grasp.

Surviving The Slaughter - Marie Beatrice Umutesi - Umutesi is a sociologist who was working in rural development when the genocide broke out. As a well-educated moderate, and Hutu, pgs 13-16, she related easily to both groups. Nevertheless, she was chased by both sides during the civil war after president Habyarimana was assassinated. Her story is a searing account of the hardships both groups of refugees underwent. Her first-hand account adds dimension and depth to our knowledge of both the goodness and awfulness of humankind at its best and worst.

Target Iran - Scott Ritter - This is Iraq all over again with some twists. One highly significant twist is that Iran is admittedly pursuing technology prerequisite for either power generation or WMD. A second twist could logically be to lead Islam back to the prominence it enjoyed a millennium ago. Yet a third twist could be to turn the tables on the Sunni states. Who knows all the real reasons for the escalation of tension, but anti-Americanism also motivated both Iraq and Iran to respond as they have. Ritter provides stunning insights into the behavior of the American state--primarily spanning the two Bush administrations.

Terror in the Name of God - Jessica Stern - This book is a must read by anyone who cares about the future of humanity. Any scholar of terrorism will find new information from the terrorists themselves. Ms. Stern provides deep insights into why Judaism, Christianity and Islam spawn so much violence. Ms. Stern is not an armchair pundit; she traveled extensively to interview terrorists themselves. By her own admission, she became a new person from the experience. Her findings are at once sobering (persuasive of the problem) and encouraging (with understanding of a problem can come control.)

Terror Presidency, The - Jack Goldsmith - History is difficult to predict, but our view of this volume is that it will become a defining reference on the Bush administration. Goldsmith accurately reports the history, as he experienced it, in the Office of Legal Counsel. While he is critical of certain aspects of how the Bush Administration conducted the war on terror, he none the less sided with Bush on most issues. Goldsmith parts company with Bush over his style. Earlier war presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt actively sought the help of congress, the media, and others. Not so Mr. Bush; he goes it alone. For that reason Bush lost the services of one of the best conservative lawyers around.

The Arab Center - Marwsan Muasher - "The Palestinians and the Israelis have both realized from the get go, that the basic issues are land, water and Jerusalem. Until these issues are mot settled equitably, insurgencies (intifadas) will continue ad infinitum. That s history. It is also in our genes. But we must rise above such primitive responses id we are ever to move off dead center."

The Authoritarian Personality - Theodor Adorno et al - Like so many others, Adorno questioned why the German citizens tolerated mass extermination of their fellow citizens during WWII. He decided to find out why and discovered a composite personality he termed authoritarianism from a set of traits developed from contacts with former Nazis and German citizens in various walks of life. His book was influential in that it opened new avenues of research.

The Authoritarian Specter - Bob Altemeyer - From De. Bob himself: "Do you notice how seldom authoritarians aggress against others in a fair fight? The victim is usually already under control, as in a prison, or else caught unawares, outnumbered, or overwhelmingly out-weaponed. Women, children, and others unable to defend themselves are typical targets. Attacks occur at night by hooded men, or when the victim has been isolated or when his or her back is turned. Undoubtedly, authoritarians fear retaliation and legal punishment. But doesn't their behavior suggest an enjoyment of power per se?"

The Battle For God - Karen Armstrong - Ms. Armstrong focuses on the monotheistic fundamentalisms. She describes religious fundamentalism as one of the more powerful forces shaping current events. Historically, fundamentalists in each monotheism have typically turned first against the very sects from which they sprang. Only then did they war on secularism. Those wars, however, were rarely what they seemed; the fundamentalists often joined forces with equally extreme secularists--a phenomenon seen today.

The End Of Faith - Sam Harris - "I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable" With this simple statement, Harris captures his most basic thesis. The converse, of course is not true, a point which Harris makes again and again with poignant examples.

The Hegehog and the Fox - Isaiah Berlin - ”The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Archilochus. This metaphor for creative and conventional applies in our time, just as it did in the eras of Tolstoy and Berlin. In employing this metaphor, Berlin pays brilliant homage to Tolstoy’s greatness in this little book of just 81 pages of text. Berlin’s little book became a classic in its own time; it is a masterful presentation of Tolstoy’s views on history. Tolstoy was ahead of his times, yet we wonder what he would think today--faced with the huge advances in physics, bioscience, and psychology. What would he think of a world that is probabilistic at its core, where biochemists are on the verge of creating life from inert matter, and where the psyche has been deciphered,

The Hijacking of Jesus - Dan Wakefield - From the inside cover: "Christianity in America has become almost synonymous with right-wing fanaticism, conservative politics, and -- courtesy of Mel Gibson -- a brutally sadistic version of the religious experience. Millions of devout Christians, like Dan Wakefield, are appalled by this distortion of their faith, which only three decades ago stood for peace, equality, healing, and compassion for society's outcasts -- the issues that made up the ministry of Jesus."

The Iron Wall - Avri Shlaim - We cannot say enough about this book. Written by an Israeli insider, it is an authoritative easy read, and provides reasonable interpretations of the evidence available. Israel's military and Zionist histories run on parallel tracks. Avi Shlaim illustrates how these interwove in marvelous clarity to bring about modern Israel as well as its history dealing with Palestinian intifadas.

The Lucifer Effect - Philip Zimbardo - At once this book is as amazing, educational, and as hopeful as it is depressing. The Stanford Prison Experiment presaged Abu Ghraib and other disgraceful practices by this Administration--Astonishing? Not after reading the book! The blame, if that is the right word, lies within each and all of us. Zimbardo's well-known Stanford Prison Experiment, SPE, has special significance into our times; it presaged conditions that arose at Abu Ghraib even as it paralleled the holocaust as a system.

The Magic of Dialogue - Daniel Yankelovich - Dialogue, the highest realm of communication, comes naturally to many people. To others it comes only with experience. To still others it remains ever a stranger. Yankelovich leads us on a remarkable journey of insight into this vital tool that just might salvage our future. Dialogue is mostly about listening, and Yankelovich has been listening for a long time, not just to nature's songs but to American voices. His wisdom is on display in this delightful book; it is as simple and easy to read as it is profound in its meaning.

The One Percent Doctrine - Ron Suskind - A Pulitzer Prize winner has done it again. For anyone wanting or needing insight into the inner workings of the Bush Administration, this is the book to read.

The Process - Uri Savir - "What I discovered [in the negotiations] was that a West Bank Palestinian could not build, work, study, purchase land, grow produce, start a business, take a walk at night, enter Israel, go abroad, or visit his family in Gaza or Jordan without a permit from us. During the 28 years of occupation, about a third of the Palestinian population had been detained or imprisoned by Israel and the whole population had been grossly humiliated by us.

The Trouble with Islam - Irshad Manji - Ms. Manji is one of those rare people who combine sharp wit with very serious business--the future of world society. Born of a Muslim family, she could see the religion's workings from the inside out. Like Isaac Newton, she is gifted with penetrating insight and is making the most of it. She calls herself a Muslim Refusenik, then goes on to explain: "It simply means I refuse to join an army of automatons in the name of Allah."

The Undergrowth of Science - Walter Gratzer - History is replete with examples where conservative ideologues in society fought new science. Galileo is perhaps the most famous scientist who suffered repression. Less well known but all too prevalent are those in the scientific community who put forward false theses; some had otherwise good reputations. They just became enamored with their own ideas. Gratzer illustrates several such incidents from the last century, otherwise know as the scientific age--a period that profoundly changed the quality of life on earth even as it challenged the conservative views of religion and other precepts of society.

The Wrath of Nations - William Pfaff - Pfaff brings the currents of history to life, not by listing a series of events on timelines, but by illustrating their underlying currents: struggles for dominance and control. He does this--in ways unique for his time--in the retrospective style of a historian. He views current events in their proper and often surprising historical context. Nationhood and nationalism go hand in hand. In his view, nationalism will pass in due course as something better comes along. He does not dwell on what that might be. But we surely agree. Nationalism is too much akin to jungle warfare to bring peace to humanity.

Toward A New Civilization - Arthur Blech - Quoting Blech: "We humans are the cause of hazards to our existence created by overpopulation, environmental degradation, and injecting various toxic substances into the food supply; we are the designers of an unbalanced economy whose stratification favors the well-to-do to the detriment of the disadvantaged, keeping most in a state of turmoil; we are the contrivers of religious systems, some of which are responsible for the most unnatural crimes committed by humans against humans; last but not least, we are the instigators of mass slaughters resulting from wars fought in anger, causing ever increasing casualties and destruction reaching totally destabilizing magnitudes. These acts bode ill for civilization."

Violent Politics - William Polk - William Polk, as a historian of terrorism has few, if any, peers. He is also a brilliant and gifted writer; Polk makes each page come alive. At once dispassionate and compassionate, he leads his readers through the waves of history climaxing in our day where Mr. Bush has committed the US to a "Long War," courtesy of the Neocons. To deny that is to deny the very existence of 737 US military and air bases throughout the world along with instituting new legal structures that immunize American counterinsurgency forces from prosecution by local authorities everywhere on earth. This grand plan for world dominance must be thoughtfully reviewed and reversed before our great nation drowns in an apocalyptic tsunami of hatred and bloodshed, with 15 trillion dollars wasted in the process. William Polk makes just this historic case. We will return to this below, but first, the tides and their lessons in Polk's narrative deserve rendition.

Voltaire - We Must Take Sides, or The Principle of Action The Principle of Action is a more timely title for this essay our times.

Voltaire was northing if not and accomplished poet, philosopher, and satirist. Hence his title for this essay. He proposed just the opposite, for to tke sides would damage not only the present, but the future as well. And his further point is that issues blow over, leaving those who took sides sidelined without a cause. History moves on; new issues arise; so why does it matter?

Voltaire is widely quoted, and we find many bits of wisdom that apply in our times.

When Victims Become Killers - Mahmood Mamdani - Mamdani is one of those rare observers of the human condition who can maintain the open and enquiring mind necessary to sort the many contributing factors into a credible and coherent history. His book is sure to become a classic. It earns five stars on total content, message for our times, and conclusions for the future. We strongly recommend it to anyone hoping to understand how the human condition can reach a condition where Bishops, priests, and nuns, along with laity such as accountants doctors, nurses and human rights workers can become bloodthirsty murderers. In this context, fear was the most basic emotional driver. The Hutu government played on that feature to exploit an ingrained obedience in the Rwandan populace.

Why We Hate: Solutions - Rush Dozier - Dozier gives us a well researched and annotated discussion on why we hate. He searches for underlying causes and their effects. He is at once scientific and practical, theoretical and factual. He also offers valid means for reducing hate.

Without Conscience–The Psychopaths Among Us - Robert Hare - Marvelous rendition, very readable and accessible by any who might be interested. Hare is a world-class resource for what ails humanity. At once scientific and down to earth, he presents a readable account of a, perhaps “the”, primary danger in our times. The dangerous psychopaths are those who are socially smooth and ingratiating on the one hand, but who are devious exploiters and defilers on the other. The metaphor might well be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One never knows until s/he is stung and by then it is too late. The psychopath is in it only for him/herself. Nothing else matters. They populate all societies.

Women and Gender in Islam - Leila Ahmed - Ahmed has produced an even-handed book on a touchy issue and it is already a classic. Her book is so well researched and documented that it is fit for any library, scholar, or historian. At the same time Ahmed's simple and readable style is accessible to the rest of us. It compliments The Trouble With Islam (by Irshad Manji) very nicely. It is must read for it deals with half of Islam in an evenhanded way.

Other recommended books not reviewed by roadtopeace

Fieldwork Under Fire - Nordstrom & Robben, Eds. -

It Can't Happen Here - Sinclair Lewis -


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