Ezra Klein recommends 6 of his favorite books
Journalist Ezra Klein is the editor-at-large and co-founder of Vox.com. His new book, Why We're Polarized, argues that our political system isn't broken: Its very design made the damaging current cultural divide inevitable.
Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity by Lilliana Mason (2018).
This is the academic book on identity polarization. It's a touchstone for understanding politics in this era, and one of the works that have done the most to shape my thinking.
Drift Into Failure: From Hunting Broken Components to Understanding Complex Systems by Sidney Dekker (2011).
For the most part, the way we think about problems afflicting complex ecosystems is reductive and wrong. Neither this book nor any other has all the answers, but this one offers a better frame.
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson (2016).
Anderson's book compellingly recenters America's racial narrative on the propulsive power of white fury. The sentiments she traces, and the force they carry, don't just explain our political past; they also reveal our political present.
Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy (2009).
Over the past few years, I've become convinced that the way we treat animals is a signal moral horror of our age. But then why is it so easy to ignore? Why do so many of us ignore it? This book is about how we think about how we treat animals, and it's a powerful lesson in how dominant ideologies protect and hide themselves in all areas of life.
The Final Days by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (1976).
All the President's Men is Woodward and Bernstein's best-known book, but The Final Days is, for my money, more revelatory. It's particularly good on the way Nixon's circle justified what they had done, and what they were protecting. Why is it relevant now? Well...
On Press: The Liberal Values That Shaped the News by Matthew Pressman (2018).
The media want to be a mirror held up to reality. In truth, we shape reality in what we choose to highlight and how we choose to report on it. What Pressman shows is that the decisions we make are, in turn, shaped by broader forces around us, and that different technological and social eras create very different forms of media.
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