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Ralph Nader has put together a list of 12 inspiring books he recommends for Holiday reading, or perhaps gift giving.

Ralph Nader being interviewed during his 2008 presidential campaign, 08/01/08. (photo: Scrape TV)
Ralph Nader being interviewed during his 2008 presidential campaign, 08/01/08. (photo: Scrape TV)

Recommended Holiday Reading for the Caring, Agitated Mind

By Ralph Nader, Reader Supported News

23 December 11


1. America Beyond Capitalism by Gar Alperovitz (Democracy Collaborative Press and Dollars and Sense, 2011). If you want to see how community economies are spreading to displace the sales and influence of companies such as Bank of America, ExxonMobil, Aetna, ADM and McDonalds, this is your book. Democratic credit unions, local renewable and efficient energy, community health clinics and farmer-to-consumer markets are some of the possibilities outlined in this optimistic book.

2. Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit From the Nest Eggs of American Workers by Ellen E. Schultz, award-winning reporter for The Wall Street Journal (Portfolio/Penguin Hardcover, 2011). This book meticulously documents how big business and their attorneys avariciously turned pension plans into piggy banks, tax shelters and profit centers at the expense of millions of trusting, loyal workers. This is the searing story of corporate greed on steroids.

3. This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement ed. by Sarah van Gelder of YES! Magazine (Berrett-Koehler Publisher, Inc. San Francisco, 2011). Sixteen short essays viewing the Occupy initiatives around the country from a variety of perspectives. Very lively, forward-looking, and filled with interesting insights.

4. The Vertical Farm - Feeding the World in the 21st Century by Columbia University Professor Dickson Despommier (St. Martin's Press, New York, 2011). Scientific American writes, "Imagine a world where every city has its own local food source grown in the safest way possible, where no drop of water or particle of light is wasted, and where a simple elevator ride can transport you to nature's grocery store - imagine the world of the vertical farm." This mind-stretcher shows how to feed people and save the environment - see if it is too good to be true!

5. Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development - Transforming the Industrial State by Nicholas A. Ashford and Ralph P. Hall (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2011). This is a big picture, big book integrating the design of multipurpose solutions to the sustainability challenge so that economics, employment, technology, environment, industrial development, national and international law, trade, finance, and public and worker health and safety are taken into account. If the piecemeal frustrates you, try this whole meal.

6. Amglish In, Like, Ten Easy Lessons: A Celebration of the New World Lingo by Arthur E. Rowse with illustrations and caricatures by John G. Doherty (Roman and Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland, 2011). Amglish is described as informal American English, influenced by the syntax of tweets and the slips-ups of celebrities, that has begun to dominate the globe. As William Powers says, "Amglish is not only here to stay, it's a kind of party and Arthur E. Rowse shows us how to join in and have fun. Lively, illuminating and totally cool-smart."

7. Crude Awakening: Money, Mavericks and Mayhem in Alaska by Amanda Coyne and Tony Hopfinger (Nation Books, New York 2011). The authors, renowned for their tough scoops that regularly appeared in Alaska Dispatch, pour into this wonderful book their inside and outside knowledge of Alaska's combustible politics of big oil, the politicians, and the underhanded dealings that attracted federal investigators who had their own problems. Read about power in Alaska and what its future portends for the lower 48.

8. All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons by Jay Walljasper (The New Press, New York, 2010). You may not know all of the commonwealth in our country that belongs to you and other Americans. Sure, we own the valuable public lands - one third of our country - and the public airwaves. But the finest writers in this burgeoning field of awareness point to much more. But what we own - the immensity all around us - we do not control. Control has been the preoccupation of corporations that strive to turn our government against the core concept of the commons. Engage these engrossing pages and see how we can recover the commons for the good life and for our posterity.

9. While We Were Sleeping: Success Stories in Injury and Violence Prevention by David Hemenway (University of California Press, Berkeley, 2009). In the swirl of corporate propaganda against health/safety regulation, this book did not receive the notice it and its celebrated author deserve. From his professional position at the Harvard School of Public Health, David Hemenway takes you into your daily world and shows how successful regulation made your immediate surroundings and environment safer and more healthful. It is an ode to brave legislators and regulators who stood up to the corporatists for a change, saved lives, and prevented injuries and illnesses.

10. Consequential Learning: A Public Approach to Better Schools by Jack Shelton (NewSouth Books, Montgomery, Alabama, 2005). A wake-up call to parents and students indentured to sterile, high-frequency, multiple-choice standardized tests. Mr. Shelton stresses that student learning comes from both the classroom and the community, with the lessons of the former applied to the benefit of the latter. He shows from his experience in Alabama's schools and colleges how students become "self-aware learners" from connecting school and community "in the formation of their personal characters." Filled with examples and strategies for both civic and academic growth.

11. Save the Humans?: Common Preservation in Action by Jeremy Brecher (Paradigm Publishers, Boulder, Colorado, 2011). This book is about "common preservation" past and present as "world leaders fail" to address problems of deep significance to billions of human beings and their environment. Brecher shows how common preservation worked in Gandhi's civil disobedience campaigns in colonial India, and the Polish Solidarity movement that weakened the Soviet Union's control of Poland. He takes his theme right to today's Occupy initiatives.

12. Stanley K. Sheinbaum: A 20th Century Knight's Quest for Peace, Civil Liberties and Economic Justice by Stanley K. Sheinbaum, with William A Meis Jr. (Fairtree, Los Angeles, 2011). Don't let this just-published, witty gem fall through the cracks. It is the absorbing story of a civic renaissance man who shaped foreign policy, influenced police practices in Los Angeles, protected whistle-blowers, pioneered the campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern, and took tough stands to advance first-stage Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Called a "fearless activist" by Norman Lear, and "addicted to fairness and justice" by Barbara Streisand, Scheinbaum's nine decades of robust activity are filled with motivational and character lessons for a young generation looking for exemplary guidance.

Enjoy and replenish! Happy Holidays!
- Ralph Nader your social media marketing partner


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+17 # Andrew Hansen 2011-12-23 10:14
Thanks much for the reading list.
+36 # Vardoz 2011-12-23 12:27
I just heard on NPR that 1 in 2 Americans now live in poverty! This is the sadest Xmas for this nation I can ever remember. Xmas should now be a national day of mourning for how un Christian we are, how much suffering is acceptable, how little regard there is for people. This year we are not buying gifts for ourselves, we are only giving to those less fortunate.
+21 # davehaze 2011-12-23 14:35
Few folk have as much brain and heart as this guy, and are so maligned -- by his "friends" and enemies. Jesus maybe.

So to Ralph, Merry Creatures and Happy Convergence of Space and Time
+22 # eric mills 2011-12-23 14:51
Thanks for the list, Mr. Nader, as well as for all your efforts over the years on behalf of all of us.

I would add to the list Chris Hedges' EMPIRE OF ILLUSION: THE END OF LITERACY AND THE TRIUMPH OF SPECTACLE (2009), a Pulitzer Prize winner.


And most anything by Gore Vidal.
+3 # racetoinfinity 2011-12-24 08:23
Great list! Thanks!
+6 # Jorge 2011-12-24 09:19
Thanks Mr. Nader for all you do and have done. Now can you announce your support for a third party candidate (Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party)?
Other books to add to your list: "The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout, Ph.D (gives a great analysis of the 4% of the population who have no conscience and claw their way to the top of business/govern ment/military, etc.) and any books by Al Franken (e.g. "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot") for some needed humor.
+2 # IndigoE 2011-12-24 09:39
Here, here! Thank you Ralph Nader (for everything).

Eric Mills, I like your list too!
-16 # Pyotr7 2011-12-24 10:16
Thanks Ralph, for giving us George Bush, John Roberts, Alito, and the Iraq war with your arrogrant, brain dead, vainglorious run for President.
+2 # lark3650 2011-12-26 14:51
Ralph has always been a champion for the American know not of what you speak.
-10 # frankscott 2011-12-24 17:01
thank you ralph, for all you have done, even if a couple of those books are not deserving your praise, and to pyogr7 whatever,appare ntly the brain dead and putrid of soul are still with us...
have a dreadful deserve it...

+5 # lark3650 2011-12-26 14:49
What awful things to say about someone who has spent his whole life on the side of the American people....those are some hateful comments....Hap py Holidays to you too.
-9 # SoCal Johnnie 2011-12-26 00:20
Yeah Nader,
Thanks for the lost decade...
Your 3rd party candidacy costs Gore the 2000 election... G.W. Bush wins and..
-9-11 attacks take place (even after warning from Clinton.) I knew 2 people on Flight 11...
-Bush invades Iraq...civil war will continue in 2012 after 4,700 allied dead and $800 billion spent...
-Afghanistan War leading where ??
-Financial meltdown-Bankin g system destroyed, Real Estate market destroyed, and the Job market destroyed...
And on and on and on...
That's your legacy Nader...Now get lost....
+5 # lark3650 2011-12-26 14:45
Al Gore lost the election not because of Ralph Nadar but because he didn't even carry his own home state. Ralph Nadar has worked tirelessly his whole life standing up for what is right and just for American citizens. He deserves your kudos not your faulty criticism.
+5 # Mardi Gras 2011-12-26 11:29
To Ralph Nader -- an American hero:

Thank you for all you have done for this country --from taking on the courageous, lonely role of whistleblower to continued contributions of reason and heart to our political discourse.

You have believed that we Americans don't have to allow the corporatists to slash and burn at will. You have taken so much flak for the sake of the American people and improved governance.

Who came up with the idea that you caused Gore to lose the election? Gore lost his own election in so many ways, including not having the backbone to stand up to the blatant thievery of the GOP.

-1 # barbaratodish 2011-12-26 18:54
Recommended reading for Ralph Nader and all transcendent "raiders":

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