Best Books on American Democracy and Life This Year

Best Books on American Democracy and Life

Have you read any great books this year that helped you understand where we are and where we’re going in this wild, amazing journey of America?

Sadly, one of the most timely and important books of the year is from my friend, Adam Winkler. We know that we must now, at long last, figure out the relationship of the Second Amendment to sensible public policy in a democracy. No book is better grounding for that than Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,  Adam Winkler (Norton).

What recently published book (or poem, essay or article) that relates to our American Republic would you recommend? Fiction or non-fiction, so long as it tells the story of where we are, where we’re going, and/or what paths we might take . . .  Here’s an excerpt from my list, in addition to Gunfight, and not in any particular order (and more to come):

It All Turns on Affection: The Jefferson Lecture & Other Essays, Wendell Barry (Counterpoint 2012)

The Shareholder Value Myth, Lynn Stout (Berrett-Koehler 2012)

Republic Lost, Lawrence Lessig (Twelve Books 2012)

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebees, Farm Fields & the Dinner Table, Tracie McMillan (Scribner 2012)

Brandishing the First Amendment, Tamara Piety (Univ. Mich. Press 2012)

Private Empire: ExxonMobil & American Power, Steve Coll (The Penguin Press 2012)

And, of course, don’t forget Corporations Are Not People  (Berrett-Koehler 2012).

Let me know if you have other suggestions, or a comment on the books you see posted here. If you send me an email at with your suggestions or comment along with your mailing address (not retained or shared, I assure you)  I’ll be happy to send you a copy  of that short but perennial “best book”,

The US Constitution The United States Constitution (along with the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address).  It is a convenient pocket-sized edition (see image).

Looking forward to hearing (and reading) your suggestions.

Best wishes for the holidays, and a peaceful new year.

– Jeff Clements

About Jeff Clements

Jeff Clements is co-founder and chair of the board of Free Speech for People, a national non-partisan campaign to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, challenge excessive corporate power, and strengthen American democracy and republican self-government. He co-founded Free Speech For People in 2010, after representing several public interest organizations with a Supreme Court amicus brief in the Citizens United case. Jeff has served as Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Public Protection Bureau in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. As Bureau Chief, he led more than 100 staff in the enforcement of environmental, healthcare, financial services, civil rights, antitrust and consumer protection laws. In private practice, Jeff has been a partner at Mintz Levin in Boston, and in his own firm. Jeff also has served in leadership capacities on numerous boards, including that of the Portland Water District, a public agency responsible for protecting and delivering safe drinking water and ensuring proper treatment of wastewater for 160,000 people; Friends of Casco Bay, an environmental organization he co-founded with others to protect and enhance stewardship of Maine’s Casco Bay; and The Waldorf School in Lexington, Massachusetts. In 2012, Jeff co-founded Whaleback Partners LLC, which provides cost-effective capital to farmers and businesses engaged in local, sustainable agriculture. Jeff graduated with distinction in History and Government from Colby College in 1984, and magna cum laude from the Cornell Law School in 1988. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts with his wife and three children. Jeff Clements Twitter: @ClementsJeff Email:
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