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Updated 27 Feb 2010

Most of the basic literature we have relied upon to find a road map for peace can be found in the references below. To briefly summarize: Our genetic endowment contains genes for violence, aggression, and conventionalism. Countering those expressions are genes for parenting and altruism. The latter are vital for only they can save humanity from perpetual violence and war.


The immediate social problem is the Sociopathic or Psychopathic personality, to use popular terminology. However, the two defining features of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, need for admiration, and lack of empathy, are pervasive in the Sociopath and Psychopath. It is these people who, throughout history, have hijacked movements, governments, religions, and business organizations for their own gain and society's loss. They do not shrink from brutal methods. They torment, abuse, murder others compulsively. The worst lead others into war and genocide. As often as not, their own subjects suffer more than their enemies. Even the minor sociopath leaves human wreckage in his/her wake.

At the societal level, it is the tolerant societies that lead the modern-world development. Democracies that encourage pluralism in all sectors of society, that encourage but constrain their market economies, and provide equal opportunity for all are the nations that survive and lead. Democratic governance can take many forms and is still evolving. So also for the very concept of nationalism.

The following literature is arranged in alphabetical order within and between topics. Some are negative, others are positive.

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Atheism
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God Is Not Great - Christopher Hitchens - An atheist focuses on the bad points of religion. While societies everywhere practice religion of one sort or another, it is the uncommon extremists who co-opt religion that are at the root of the association between monotheism and violence.

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.

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Authoritarianism
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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.

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 Dr. 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?"

Bush On The Couch - Justin A Frank MD - Frank gives us a rare and vital opportunity to follow child and adult development sequences to their culmination in omnipotence, megalomania, and sadism, the most basic roots of human violence. He makes a strong case for the influence of nurture as giving rise to Bush's behavior. His explanations make eminent sense. They also provide a more complete theoretical framework for how Bush came to be what he is. Frank's characterizations agree with most other observers on Bush's dysfunctionalism--meaning here: unreality and fantasy as a way of life.

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.

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 the Bush 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.

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Dialogue
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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.

Don't Think of an Elephant - George Lakoff [Framing For Dialogue]. This book belongs on the bookshelf of conservative and progressive alike. Used with integrity, it can change the tenor of discourse. Lakoff's little book is highly readable; it fully deserves its best-seller listing. It is as timely now as it was when first printed. Having already a wide distribution, and with its theses well proven, we can adopt its methods with assurance that discourse can be moved toward increased dialogue. Reducing the use of propaganda on all sides seems to be a necessary element toward achieving peace on earth.

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.

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Economics
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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."

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Empire
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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.

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Evolution
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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 the Intelligent Design movement. His kind, the atheists among us, show up better on the violence scale than do the torch bearers for Monotheism.

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

Darwinism and Its Discontents - Michael Ruse - This well-crafted book considers Darwinism, from the “-ism” point of view–for “-ism” Darwin has become. This is the fault of modern society whose discontents are ”ism” followers and "ism" creators in their own right. The last thing Darwin had in mind was to create a quasi “cult.” He did not, of course. However, unlike most cults, Darwin’s detractors created Darwinism by labeling what they PROJECTED as a threat–-a threat to their sense of self, their self image, their salvation. This is not at all bad in-and-of-itself; we all have a right to protect our individuality. The problem comes from the collective result when sociopaths use anti-Darwinism to further their grips on the human mind in order to achieve their own ends.

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.

Evolution And Human Violence - Dan Jones - Editors of Nature; 31 Jan 2008; Vol 451; Issue 7178; Pg 512, 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 in an article by Dan Jones.

Outliers - Gladwell stands many of our conceptions of success on their heads. Who are our ancestors; where we are born; when we are born, trends in society, and the march of technology all matter as much as our genes. These "accidents" conspire to thrust the "fortunate" forward while leaving out the rest. In other words, there is a Newton, Pasteur, Obama, and their like, born among us every year. If the times and tides are right, they have opportunity make it. If not they don't. This is how evolution affects society as it evolves.

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Extremism / Fundamentalism
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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 pull no punches.

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 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."

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Genocide
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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.

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.

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 all ethnic groups. Nevertheless, she was chased by both Hutu and Tutsi during and after the civil war that followed the assassination of president Habyarimana. 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 at its worst.

When Victims Become Killers - Mahmood Mamdani - Mamdani is one of those rare observers of the human condition who can maintain the open and inquiring 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 humanity 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.

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History
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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.

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 spanning the globe along with newly instituted new legal structures that immunize American counterinsurgency forces from prosecution for criminal acts 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. The tides and their lessons in Polk's narrative deserve wide dissemination.

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Human Nature
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Human Nature - Edward O Wilson - Wilson is not just a brilliant story teller; he is first and last a consilient researcher. His book is engaging in his discussion of traits shared by animals. For example, the greatest differences between ants and humans is the human ability to rationalize. If ants could rationalize, they could be our peers! He makes that case by listing 56 total traits exhibited by these species. Of these 56 traits, he found 26 exhibited by both. These species are not even in the same phylum! In fact, ants rank five taxonomic ranks below Homo sapiens, and are closer to the eukaryote domain than they are to us. Nearly half of our behavioral traits must be common to virtually all animal life. The logical conclusion is that our genome is ordinary. Its apparent uniqueness arises only through our ability to rationalize. Our propensity for aggression, obedience, conventionalism, altruism, nurturing and parenting is common to life in general.

One moment In Eternity: Human Evolution - Eugene Minard. Like Wilson, Minard looks at the big picture. He recreates history in a very readable style. He covers Evolution, Human Nature, Human Self Extinction, and Self Directed Evolution in their natural sequence. He concludes that it is not al Qa'ida that is our enemy. We are our own worst enemy.

Our system of governance was not designed to cope with a charismatic psychopath as Justin Frank labels George Bush. In all likelihood we would have eventually encountered a debt limit, but that day was hastened by the groundless war in Iraq. Not only that, but what is much worse, the Bush presidential policies polarized America. Instead of pulling together, Americans are now demonizing their own kind to degrees not seen since Vietnam and the Civil War.

Minard believes strongly that human salvation will only come via the scientific method—if it comes. We would agree. Religion, as vital as it may be, has preached how to live the good life for two millennia with no real lasting effect. Life expectancy and healthful living only came with the advent of science. A new adage: "With understanding comes control." seems more appropriate in our days.

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Modernization
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Galileo's Revenge - Peter Huber - Huber's book dramatically illustrates the power of myth in modern American culture, or is it avarice? It is both, obviously. Reading Huber, one gets the feeling that the entire legal system has gone awry, that frivolous lawsuits are the order of the day. His pet peeve is junk science, where "professional witnesses" who may be neither professional nor witness, are allowed to testify in a court where the issue is what happened, not what might have happened or could have happened in some convoluted sense.

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Moving Forward
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Don't Think Of An Elephant - George Lakoff: Framing For Dialogue: Lakoff provides much more than a road map for effective communications--his matchless insights into the basic mechanics employed so effectively by the Republican party beginning in Nixon's time. Thanks to Lakoff, the political playing field can now be leveled--if we take his advice. The challenge for progressives will be to not misuse the power of Framing.

To make best use of framing, one must first figure out what one stands for and why. The next step is to find metaphors that accurately frame what one believes that are also acceptable to all. INTEGRITY is the keyword in moral framing. Used with mutual integrity, framing by both sides can lead to true togetherness.

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Myth
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Baloney Detection Kit - Carl Sagan - Baloney underlies all propaganda whether secular, economic, moral, or religious. Peace is unlikely to come as long as baloney clouds issues, underlies advertising media, spews from the central office, or is handed down by governors of whatever stripe. As long as dogma and mythology masquerade as science, justice, and truth, peace will remain mired in the swamp of baloney.

Galileo's Revenge - Peter Huber - Huber's book dramatically illustrates the power of myth in modern American culture, or is it avarice? It is both, obviously. Reading Huber, one gets the feeling that the entire legal system has gone awry, that frivolous lawsuits are the order of the day. His pet peeve is junk science, where "professional witnesses" who may be neither professional nor witness, are allowed to testify in a court where the issue is what happened, not what might have happened or could have happened in some convoluted sense.

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."

Why People Believe Weird Things - Michael Shermer - Along with the books written by: Adorno, Milgram, Zimbardo, Altemeyer, Dean, Varshney, Dozier, Armstrong, Huber, Stern, Frank, Stout, Manji, and Ahmed, Shermer's book deserves a serious read by all who are serious about researching violence in our times. It details the very human traits that get us into trouble time after time after time. It nicely explains why, after five or so millennia, monotheism has failed to bring peace on earth. In short, it is all in how culture interacts with our genetic potential for violence. We discuss this at length elsewhere. See Browser's Hub.

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Natural History
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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 progressing in 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 on the violence scale than do the torch bearers for Monotheism.

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Politics
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Bush On The Couch - Justin A Frank MD - Frank gives us a rare and vital opportunity to follow child and adult development sequences to their culmination in omnipotence, megalomania, and sadism, the most basic roots of human violence. He makes a strong case for the influence of nurture as giving rise to Bush's behavior. His explanations make eminent sense. They also provide a more complete theoretical framework for how Bush came to be how and what he is. Frank's characterizations agree with most other observers on Bush's dysfunctionalism--meaning here: unreality and fantasy as a way of life.

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.

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.

It Can't Happen Here - Sinclair Lewis - This satirical political novel published in 1935, asks the question: "what if some ambitious politician used a presidential election to make himself dictator by promising quick, easy solutions to social problems as Hitler did? It is the ages-old question of how a society will trade off between visions of security or freedom. In fact it can happen here as Joe Conason, next, points out.

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."

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.

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.

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 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 Authoritarian Specter - Bob Altemeyer - From Dr. 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 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 - Avi 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 One Percent Doctrine - Ron Suskind - A Pulitzer Prize winner has done it again. The doctrine: "If there is a one percent chance that terror will emanate from any source, then preemptive action is justified against that source." Such a doctrine is seriously flawed: who can afford to chase 99 red herrings for every real article? In mathematical terms, the "statistical power" of the intelligence the Bush Administration relied upon to justify the invasion of Iraq could hardly have been different from zero. For anyone wanting or needing insight into the inner and inane workings of the Bush Administration, this is the book to read.

The Wrath of Nations - William Pfaff - Pfaff brings the currents of history to life, not by listing a series of events on time lines, 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.

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.

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Psychology
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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--overreacting in wrong ways to the wrong things.

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."

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.

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 the Bush 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.

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.

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Religion
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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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

Terror in the Name of God - JessicaStern - 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.)

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 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 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."

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.

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Science / Mathematics
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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 on the violence scale than do the torch bearers for Monotheism.

Evolution And Human Violence - Dan Jones - Editors of Nature; 31 Jan 2008; Vol 451; Issue 7178; Pg 512, 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 in an article by Dan Jones.

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.

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.

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.

White House Undermining Science - Seth Shulman - Shades of Lysenko and Himmler, not to mention Pope “What’s His Name” who put Galileo under house arrest and burned the great philosopher, Giordano Bruno at the stake. Times have not changed, but to democracy’s everlasting credit, the methods have. Bush’s many critics in government scientific positions merely face being fired, forced to draw conclusions opposite to what their data says, denied rights to publish, being excluded from their career work, compromised of their integrity, or muzzled, all in the name of politics, religion, or whatever it is that drives extreme behavior in the White House. Like the nameless pope, Mr. Bush’s ultimate legacy in history will include his futile opposition to truth and justice. Meanwhile he has done America a grievous disservice.

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Sociology
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Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life - Ashutoshv 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.

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.

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.

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Sociopathy / Psychopathy (Narcissism)
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Bush On The Couch - Justin A Frank MD - Frank gives us a rare and vital opportunity to follow child and adult development sequences to their culmination in omnipotence, megalomania, and sadism, the most basic roots of human violence. He makes a strong case for the influence of nurture as giving rise to Bush's behavior. His explanations make eminent sense. They also provide a more complete theoretical framework for how Bush came to be how and what he is. Frank's characterizations agree with most other observers on Bush's dysfunctionalism--meaning here: unreality and fantasy as a way of life.

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

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."

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.

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Violence / Terrorism
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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.

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. Ali wears his hang-ups, which many of us have, as a badge.

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.

On Violence - Hannah Arendt - 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 Authoritarian Personality as discussed on this web site. Arendt sees political violence as having five aspects. They are worth illustrating: Power, Strengrh. Force, Authority, and violence.

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.)

The Terror Presidency - 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.

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War
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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.

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."

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.

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.

The One Percent Doctrine - Ron Suskind - A Pulitzer Prize winner has done it again. The doctrine: "If there is a one percent chance that terror will emanate from any source, then preemptive action is justified against that source." Such a doctrine is seriously flawed: who can afford to chase 99 red herrings for every real article? In mathematical terms, the "statistical power" of the intelligence the Bush Administration relied upon to justify the invasion of Iraq could hardly have been different from zero. For anyone wanting or needing insight into the inner and inane workings of the Bush Administration, this is the book to read.

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Women
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The Trouble With Islam - Irshad Manji. We cannot say enough about this book. Sharp wit and deep insights appear on nearly every page. Manji is one of the few of either gender who stands up to the Islamic powers that be. Her stance is simple: "I remain outspoken for change because of what's happening 'on the ground' -- massive human rights violations, particularly against women and minorities -- in the name of Allah."

From Manji herself: "But what this book hammers home is that only in Islam today is literalism mainstream. Which means that when abuse happens under the banner of Islam, most Muslims have no clue how to dissent, debate, or reform ourselves.

"The Trouble with Islam Today shatters our silence. It shows Muslims how we can rediscover Islam's lost tradition of independent thinking -- known as "ijtihad" -- and re-discover it precisely to update Islamic practices for the 21st century. The opportunity to update is especially available to Muslims in the West, because it's there that we enjoy precious freedoms to think, express, challenge and be challenged without fear of state reprisal. In that sense, the Muslim reformation begins in the West."

Posted by RoadToPeace on Monday, February 25, 2008.

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