Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Recommended Books For Better Citizenship"

Now retired, with my children grown, I participate very little in our nation's education system, other than to pontificate occasionally about the Department of Education's abject failure to educate our nation's children.  Our kids need math and science in order to compete with the world's emerging economic giants, India and China.  However, I believe that the study of history and the social sciences are the most important curricula we could offer our children.  Learning where we've been and where we're going is essential if we are to maintain our nation's greatness.

If I were designing a four-year high school recommended reading lists, these books would be on my recommended reading list to insure our children receive a proper insight on who we were and why that is important.

"Common Sense" by Thomas Paine.  This little phamplet was America's first "best seller".  It beautifully documented the ills of a European class system and provided inspiration for the founding of a democratic society.

"Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom" by Thomas Jefferson.  Had Michelle Bachman actually read this she would not be uttering such stupid remarks regarding "religion in government".   Jefferson's book was written to actually bar any government from dictating a national religion.  He was dismayed by the Church of England's dominance over colonial society with its mandating tithing and excluding worship under any other religious theorems.  Jefferson believed that all of us should be free to choose our method of worship.  (He would abhor the liberal's worship of heathenism, liberalism and the championing of perversion and be totally against the federal government's imposed restraints on the public display of crosses and Ten Commandments plaques.

"Utopia" by Sir Thomas Moore.  A revolutionary political and social tract that dare to advocate for personal freedoms, with the idea that personal freedoms invigorate society.  This book greatly influenced Jefferson and the founding fathers as they wrote our Constitution.

The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.  A beautiful and poetic declaration that documents the ills of a royal despot and offers the unique idea that man's rights are divined by god and not man.  Eloquently says that men can rule themselves better than any government can do.

The U.S. Constitution, James Madision, et al.  Before I could graduate from the 8th grade I was required to be tested on my knowledge of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.  Further, we were required to memorize The Bill of Rights.  This practice should be resumed so that our young people can understand their rights as well as their responsibilities as a citizen.

"Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose.  The text describes the great adventure and tremendous challenges experienced by Lewis and Clark as they set out to explore the America west of the Mississippi shortly after the Louisiana Purchase.

"Manifest Destiny: American Expansion and the Empire of Right" by Anders Stephanson:  Documents the period from 1820 to 1840's when America truly believed that American territorial expansion was the "divine right of America" to defeat our neighbors and acquire territory, with the belief that it was God's destiny to do so.  Probably the only era in our history when we were indeed aggressive "colonizers". 

"The Red Badge of Courage" by Stephen Crane.  A novel that best describes the human tragedy of the Civil War and why it should never be repeated.

"Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  A biography of Abraham Lincoln.  Offers insight into Lincoln, the man, his skills in dealing with political opponents as well as Lincoln's actions in prosecuting the Civil War.

"USA Trilogy" by John Dos Passos.  Relates to readers the exploitation of American laborers by the "Robber Barron's of the late 19th century.  Describes the heroics of the pioneering early labor leaders and of the Progressive Movement in America.

"No Ordinary Time", by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  This text beautifully describes the relationship of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor and provides great insight into FDR's achievements in leading us through The Great Depression and World War II.  Provides a humanistic touch to great moments in history.

"They Thought They Were Free" by Milton Mayer.  Most people today wonder in amazement that the Germans could tolerate and participate in the extermination of 7 million human beings, whose only sin was being Jewish.  Mayer's book explains the events that led up to the holocaust and how it became possible..and real.

"Profiles In Courage" by John F. Kennedy.  With Americans greatly frustrated by the shallowness of today's politicians, they would do well to read Kennedy's profile of politicians who showed great courage in the face of desperate odds.

"The Greatest Generation" by Tom Brokaw.  Tells the remarkable story of a generation that endured the Great Depression, fought and won a World War to free millions of people, and responsible for the greatest  rise of economic prosperity in the history of the world.


Grenadavet said...

Good list! I would add "The Prince" Machiavelli and "From Beirut to Jerusalem" by Thomas Friedman. The latter is an awesome insight to the Middle East, and explains why we will never impose our "democracy" there.

JustCommonSense said...

I agree Grenadavet...in fact, anything from Friedman is tops. His Beirut to Jerusalem gives great insight into the who what and why of all the Middle East hostilities.

grenadavet said...

And maybe "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire"?

JustCommonSense said...

I don't know about that, Grenadavet...that may be too close to what is happening to us now...and scare the hell out of them! But, yes.

Anonymous said...

OF course if the Rise and Fall is on the list we should at "Sun Tzu - Art of War" so we know what our enemies are reading and their mindset.

Anonymous said...

JCS ... It is hilarious watching you not getting being made fun of... :D

JustCommonSense said...

Thanks Anon/Grenada Vet.