The Most Important Books about Social Issues in the United States 2020
The list is also available on Goodreads, feel free to vote your candidates.
Healthcare From The Trenches, by Alejandro Badia
The U.S. healthcare system is in crisis.
As Americans, we’re facing serious problems – not only with skyrocketing healthcare costs but also lack of patient access and inefficient delivery. Now with the frightening Coronavirus pandemic that is further taxing our healthcare system – and consequently, our economy – we are seeing these issues amplified. Despite all the political debates and media coverage on healthcare policy and reform, there is always one glaring omission: feedback from the people in the trenches – the doctors and other healthcare professionals who actually provide care to the patients.
This book is written from a doctor’s perspective, by Alejandro Badia, M.D., F.A.C.S. He didn’t want to write this book but felt he had to because of the incredible problems he sees every day in getting the patient the care they need; and, as an expert, his treatment plans are constantly second-guessed and obstructed by the system which has a near-zero understanding of the problem that the patient faces. It became unbearable for Dr. Badia to continue to practice without calling out what is happening, every day, as the norm, and not the exception anymore.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty
The main driver of inequality—returns on capital that exceed the rate of economic growth—is again threatening to generate extreme discontent and undermine democratic values. Thomas Piketty’s findings in this ambitious, original, rigorous work will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.
Windfall, by Meghan L. O'Sullivan
As a new administration focuses on driving American energy production, O’Sullivan’s “refreshing and illuminating” (Foreign Policy) Windfall describes how new energy realities have profoundly affected the world of international relations and security. New technologies led to oversupplied oil markets and an emerging natural gas glut. This did more than drive down prices—it changed the structure of markets and altered the way many countries wield power and influence.
America’s new energy prowess has global implications. It transforms politics in Russia, Europe, China, and the Middle East. O’Sullivan considers the landscape, offering insights and presenting consequences for each region’s domestic stability as energy abundance upends traditional partnerships, creating opportunities for cooperation.
Chaos Monkeys, by Antonio García Martínez
Imagine a chimpanzee rampaging through a datacenter powering everything from Google to Facebook. Infrastructure engineers use a software version of this “chaos monkey” to test online services’ robustness—their ability to survive random failure and correct mistakes before they actually occur. Tech entrepreneurs are society’s chaos monkeys. One of Silicon Valley’s most audacious chaos monkeys is Antonio García Martínez.
After stints on Wall Street and as CEO of his own startup, García Martínez joined Facebook’s nascent advertising team. Forced out in the wake of an internal product war over the future of the company’s monetization strategy, García Martínez eventually landed at rival Twitter. In Chaos Monkeys, this gleeful contrarian unravels the chaotic evolution of social media and online marketing and reveals how it is invading our lives and shaping our future.
We Want to Do More Than Survive, by Bettina L. Love
Issues with education
Drawing on her life’s work of teaching and researching in urban schools, Bettina Love persuasively argues that educators must teach students about racial violence, oppression, and how to make sustainable change in their communities through radical civic initiatives and movements. She argues that the US educational system is maintained by and profits from the suffering of children of color. Instead of trying to repair a flawed system, educational reformers offer survival tactics in the forms of test-taking skills, acronyms, grit labs, and character education, which Love calls the educational survival complex.
To dismantle the educational survival complex and to achieve educational freedom—not merely reform—teachers, parents, and community leaders must approach education with the imagination, determination, boldness, and urgency of an abolitionist. Following in the tradition of activists like Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Fannie Lou Hamer, We Want to Do More Than Survive introduces an alternative to traditional modes of educational reform and expands our ideas of civic engagement and intersectional justice.
How To Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
Not being racist is not enough. We have to be antiracist.
In this rousing and deeply empathetic book, Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracism Research and Policy Center, shows that when it comes to racism, neutrality is not an option: until we become part of the solution, we can only be part of the problem.
Using his extraordinary gifts as a teacher and story-teller, Kendi helps us recognise that everyone is, at times, complicit in racism whether they realise it or not, and by describing with moving humility his own journey from racism to antiracism, he shows us how instead to be a force for good. Along the way, Kendi punctures all the myths and taboos that so often cloud our understanding, from arguments about what race is and whether racial differences exist to the complications that arise when race intersects with ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality.
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