February 8, 2008

BILL MOYERS: You've kept us busy this week — and given us a great deal of enjoyment — with your nominations of the one book you would like the next President to read.

We were inspired to ask you after Katie Couric had asked the presidential candidates to name the single book — the Bible excepted — that they would take to the white house next January. We turned the question around and invited your recommendations. Thousands of you responded with suggestions all across the spectrum, from history and biography to politics, novels, and poetry. You will find the complete entries at the MOYERS BLOG on pbs.org.

Many of you recommended classics such as John Steinbeck's THE GRAPES OF WRATH, George Orwell's ANIMAL FARM, and IF I RAN THE ZOO by my grandchildren's all-time favorite, Dr. Seuss. We detected only one organized campaign behind a certain book and we disqualified it as a result. Now lets take a look at a few of the titles that will give you a taste of what viewers like you want the next President to think about:

KADIRA BELYNNE: I would like to see the next President take A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, by Howard Zinn to the White House. This book chronicles the conflict-of-interest ridden collusion between big business and government officials, and the way that working people and poor people have struggled to claim the rights promised by our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Kadira Belynne.

J.M. THOMAS: The next President must read Jared Diamond's COLLAPSE to gain an understanding of the interconnections between science, public policy, the environment, resource utilization and the decline of civilizations. J.M. Thomas.

R.C. EDWARDS: The next President should take ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand with them when they go to the White House, then start cutting the federal government down to its real essentials: courts, police and national defense. R.C. Edwards.

JOHN MCELROY: Naomi Klein's SHOCK DOCTRINE is the single best narrative that I have found that explains how we as a country have lost our sense of community. New forms of capitalisms are toxic ... Naomi has found the best metaphor, shock ... to explain why we are in the position we find ourselves. John McElroy.

SHIRLEY BORUD: THREE CUPS OF TEA by Greg Mortenson presents the things that matter from a Third-World perspective. Education, human dignity, fostering relationships based on mutual respect: these are approaches that will help to restore America's standing among nations. Shirley Borud.

JACK WALLACE: I would recommend Barbara W. Tuchman's THE MARCH OF FOLLY. This covers many incidents in history where government created and extended world problems and in the end the government lost what it coveted most. Shouldn't we expect our leaders to learn from history? Jack Wallace.

CHARLES PETERS: I would recommend the President reads A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens. With the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor and middle class, the book's timeless message is still as relevant today as when the book was written. Charles Peters.

JENNIFER ALESSI: ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN by Robert Fulghum. Think of how wonderful the world would be if we just followed these basic rules. Play fair. Don't hit people. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. I think that pretty much says it all, don't you? Jennifer Alessi.

R. FEMMER: Samuel P. Huntington's CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS portrays the international challenges facing the West midst the conflicts, economics, and rising power of non-Western civilizations in Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere. R. Femmer.

DON HENDRESS: All top government leaders should read and reread Lee Iacocca's WHERE HAVE ALL THE LEADERS GONE? This excellent book addresses leadership qualities, priorities, optimism, responsibility, accountability, discipline and community spirit. Don Hendress.

BILL MOYERS: The list goes on and on. Reading the titles and your comments would have made this an exciting week even without Super Tuesday. It's also been satisfying.

So here, for what it's worth, is one more suggestion — mine: COMMAND OF OFFICE: HOW WAR, SECRECY AND DECEPTION TRANSFORMED THE PRESIDENCY FROM THEODORE ROOSEVELT TO GEORGE W. BUSH. The author is Stephen Graubard. As a much younger man he was invited by Eleanor Roosevelt to FDR's wartime inauguration in 1945. Ever since, he has watched the presidency evolve with greater and greater authority and less and less regard for the checks and balances that sustain democracy.

The next occupant of the White House can't read this without weighing how much more war, secrecy, and taste for empire America can tolerate. Unless we are vigilant and combative, says Stephen Graubard, there will come a moment when we will have quietly, perhaps even unknowingly, acquiesced in the loss of our liberty or our government, or both.

That's it for the JOURNAL. I'm Bill Moyers.