Relevant Political Books
January 11, 2021 7:56 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for recommendations on quality, relevant historical/political books for what the US is going through right now, and in particular, looking to the future. I am primarily looking to learn from history on how we may be able to deal with the aftermath of the Trump administration and last Wednesday's events. How do we survive this, what do we need to watch out for, where might we go from here? Details inside.

While I am particularly interested in the political side and the aftermath of a coup attempt, autocracy, fascism, etc., this obviously all ties into many (all?) facets of life, for example race issues/BLM movement, etc. and would also welcome books covering a range of those topics. I am mostly interested in books, but quality and through articles, research, and other media are welcomed too.

1. I have already ordered Masha Gessen's Surviving Autocracy

2. I heard a comment on the radio about how we can hold people accountable and it reminded me of an article I read years ago (can't find a link) about how South Africa rebuilt after apartheid, what worked and especially what didn't. Any recommendations on this or similar?

3. Germany is obviously a big hitter but there are so many options, a starting point would be helpful. However, I also heard (or read, again I can't remember where, might have been another Masha Gessen article) a statement that many of the nations that survived things like this had a very clean break - like after WWII - and the ones that didn't have a clean break, as we might not, didn't end up doing so well. I am also interested in books on those nations that didn't fare well.

4. Finally, I only took one intro level political course in college and while I am well-read on current events, I spend a lot of time looking up definitions (mostly of type of government and rule) to try to keep all the vocabulary straight. What are the best resources for a thorough and clear background on political theory and government? Maybe undergrad level? Good textbooks are welcome but I am also more open to other media on this in particular. I would like clear definitions with examples. I'm also a very visual learner so would LOVE quality graphics/charts. For example I am working on making my own chart of types of government rule and how they are related (for ex. fascism is a type of authoritarian rule), along with hallmarks of each type, and examples.

Thanks so much!
posted by sillysally to Law & Government (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Not a book, but a report: Towards Non-Recurrence: Accountability Options for Trump Era Transgressions.

There's also an interview with Ian Bassin, who founded the organization that produced the report.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 9:14 AM on January 11

I don't have a specific book to recommend, but you might look for something written about Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I have seen commentary recently that Russia opted for "unity" (scare quotes intentional) rather than demanding accountability for Soviet abuses. The result was election of of former KGB leader Vladimir Putin, who continues to hold onto power.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 9:47 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

Nixonland is a great book and everyone should read it.

Aside from the superficial similarities (both racist criminals), there are a lot of differences between Nixon and Trump. I found it somewhat soothing when I read it early in the Trump administration in the sense, of "There's nothing new under the sun. We survived Nixon, so we can survive Trump." I'm not sure I agree with that any more (and the author certainly doesn't), but one thing you'll certainly get out of it is an understanding of how the modern GOP and its attendent right wing media ecosystem was created in the 1960s.
posted by caek at 10:22 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

What you want is to read up on Reconstruction and its aftermath (i.e. Jim Crow). Here's a decent list:
posted by coffeecat at 10:29 AM on January 11

If you don't have time for Nixonland, this article on Trump by the author is worth reading.
posted by caek at 10:29 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

Was coming in to recommend Nixonland, and the other books in the series as well. Nixonland is just a crackling-good, amazingly researched read.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:23 PM on January 12

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