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Bill Moyers' Best Books of 2009

Bill Moyers concluded the JOURNAL this week with the following remarks about what he’s been reading lately:
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Other books on Bill Moyers’ recommended reading list, and the reasons why he picked them, are:

STRENGTH IN WHAT REMAINS, by Tracy Kidder. I read it last summer and hardly a day passes that I don't think of Deo, the young medical student who escaped genocide in Burundi — and lives his life as if he can heal the world.

LESSONS IN DISASTER: MCGEORGE BUNDY AND THE PATH TO WAR IN VIETNAM, by Gordon Goldstein. One of my own colleagues from my White House years grapples with our failure and his own responsibility. I've not read a more important book about the uses and misuses of American power since my 2008 favorite by Andrew Bacevich, THE LIMITS OF POWER.

WHY SCHOOL? RECLAMING EDUCATION FOR ALL OF US, by Mike Rose. I interviewed Mike Rose 20 years ago for my series WORLD OF IDEAS. He was already on the path to becoming one of our most exciting thinkers about education in the lives of marginalized people. He lives in the real world, and this new book — slim and vividly written — is an inspiration for how to cope with it in our classrooms.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE BUDDHIST TO KNOW NOTHING. This little book, conceived and edited by my longtime friend and collaborator Joan Konner will surprise you with absolutely Nothing. Read it — and Nothing happens. Nothing is the joy of it.

REBEL GIANT: THE REVOLUTIONARY LIVES OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND CHARLES DARWIN, by David R. Contosta. You'll never think of February 12, 1809 the same way again.

THE HEALING OF AMERICA: A GLOBAL QUEST FOR BETTER, CHEAPER, AND FAIRER HEALTH CARE, by T. R. Reid. Stop the health care debate in its tracks. Allow no Member of Congress to go home for the holidays until everyone has read this book by the long-time WASHINGTON POST reporter who shows us how it could be done. Then throw out the current script written by the insurance companies and Big Pharma and start over, with Reid's book as the blueprint.

FORD COUNTY, by John Grisham. If you like Grisham (and I do), you'll love him short. Go home again — to Ford County, Mississippi — with one of the best good ol' boys ever to spin yarns below the Mason Dixon line.

Happy New Year, under the circumstances.

Bill Moyers

What do you think? What recent books do you think should be on everybody’s reading lists?


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Aviation may be a passion of mine for several years, thanks for that post.

The China Study by T.Colin Campbell. This book will open your eyes with over 200 hundred thousand research papers on the top 25 diseases in America. If combined with the book of healing of America we may not need a health care system!

My friend and I were recently discussing about how modern society has evolved to become so integrated with technology. Reading this post makes me think back to that discussion we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further develops, the possibility of uploading our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I dream about every once in a while.

(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]R4i SDHC[/url] DS Qezv2)

What are we going to do after you leave the show? What are you going to do for that matter?

First, I would recommend anything that Bill Moyers does or has done for anyone who is looking for a different and very important voice. Second, a book called Happiness by Matthieu Ricard which is a blend of the science of the west and rich insights of the east. A real eye and soul opener.
David Gary

The best book I read over the Christmas vacation was "Stones Into Schools" by Greg Mortenson. I saw him speak in Bloomington IL this September and am reading his "Three Cups of Tea" with my enrichment classes of fifth graders. He is a powerful voice for peace, education, kindness and for appreciating the humanity in all cultures. Both books are fantastic reading with very uplifting messages.

these people need bigger exposure. PBS is preaching to the choir. Can't we get them on Oprah or other widely viewd media?

I would recommend The God Delusion. An interesting read for both atheists and followers of religion.

We the People by Thom Hartmann. Douglas Kay a brit bashing the U.S.A. after the yanks saved their butts in WWI& WWII.Doug if it was not for us yanks you would be writing and speaking in GERMAN pal.Where are brit soldiers about 20 miles back playing jacks in the sand.Like Canada when visiting. Bad mouthing the U.S. as we U.S. tax payers pay to protect Canada.They blame us for all the world problems.The Queen sold them four 1960s submarines for 700/800 million dollars that are dry docked because they do not run.Also they say we start wars but I seem to remember PEARL HARBOR and NEW YORK city 911.When were they attacked? Seems to me that our U.S. nuclear subs are protecting their shores and we U.S. tax payers are paying for it.Doug you know the old saying?DO NOT CURSE THE FARMER WITH YOUR MOUTH FULL OF FOOD!!!!

Best books suggestions:

Crossing the Rubicon - by Michael Ruppert

We The People - by Thom Hartmann

Exposing U.S. Government Policies on Extraterrestrial Life - by Michael Salla

The New Pearl Harbor Revisited - by David Ray Griffin

Amma: Healing the Heart of the World - by Judith Cornell

Shopping Our Way to Safety: How We Changed from Protecting the Environment to Protecting Ourselves
by Andrew Szasz

Chris wrote, in part, "The tsunami of spending, deregulations, corrupt economics and financial system,
corrupt judicial system has swamp our ship!"

And a Happy New Year to you, too :-))

No other activity, other than travel, could have brought together the mix of people hurled off the airplane and gates down to street level to wait for 7 hours for some kind of "sign" that would put them back on track for the "process" of getting home.

A fellow travelor huddled in my grouping noted that the few kiosks operating at the baggage claim level "hit the jackpot" with the airport shut down.

Think about it. People have managed to create their own "jackpots" through FORCE. Send in one person to create chaos in the airport and ALL local businessescash in on stranded travelors...and that is the MATH operating the "economy":

More misery for others =
More money for me

After a two day adventure instead of 12 hours, hearing the vacuous and made-up "story" about the shutdown got me to call the cable company and cancel TV - waste of money to listen to lies...(getting in through the exit side...?! didn't happen...too many people to push through and if ANY security person yelled "stop that man!" at Newark Aiport - you think that man would NOT have been stopped?! PEOPLE are providing their own "security" these days, no?)

Anyone got the list of "books" planed for publication this year? If we could get that list we'd be ahead in knowing what the next phase of the "business model" is going to be...where is the FORCE going to be applied and how is the FRAUD structured?


"rights" like keeping some of the fruit of your own labor)
"Dante's Inferno", a "classic", seems like just another "business model"...
Seriously, we better put a new currency in circulation that is not
"global"...and sue them for conspiracy to bring down the infrastructure of the USA."
Posted by: Anna D

"Keeping some of the fruit of your own labor" did not work personally for us.
"Sue them" does not work also!
Motions to object, to dismiss to intervene, to complain etc. does not work also.
Outright confiscation of "the fruits of your own labor" has been in place and
in practice by the corporation - under the terms "Debtors in possessions."

"The judicial system" is corrupt, dysfunctional and there is no such
thing as "sue them" for "justice for ALL."

"I would argue that the most serious threat to the United States is
not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan but our own
fiscal irresponsibility," Walker tells Kroft on 60 minutes.
It's been called the "dirty little secret everyone in Washington knows!"
The tsunami of spending, deregulations, corrupt economics and financial system,
corrupt judicial system has swamp our ship!"
It is no longer the "dirty little secret...!"
It is "The fall of an EMPIRE...!"

I would pick We Hold These Truths: The Hope Of Monetary Reform by former Treasury analyst Richard C. Cook ( as book of the year and maybe the decade.
Review by Mike Whitney here:

Robin Meyers - "Saving Jesus From the Church" (which included a cover blurb by Moyers, too!)

Books to read: Another interesting "trilogy" :

James Bamford's three books on the National Spy Agency (aka National Security Agency, the biggest and most powerful of our spy operations:

0) The Puzzle Palace
1) Body of Secrets
2) The Shadow Factory

(also Pretext 4 War)

Of particular interest is that Bamford says that, as of early 2002, the NSA had, de facto, repealed the 4th Amendment (and the 9th, I'd argue) because it had by then put "splitter boxes" on the major trunk fiber-optic lines of all US Telcos except Qwest, who refused (and, maybe not post hoc, ergo propter hoc, but coincidence, Qwest's CEO was brought up on insider trading charges).

The "splitter boxes" basically copy every bit, byte, of US and foreign email, telephone conversations, web-browsing, VoIP, and pour it into an ocean's-worth of bit-buckets--that is, computer disk farm(s), somewhere in Texas (how fitting a venue!). Someone else has described the volume of data collected as being the equivalent of the entire contents of the Library of Congress EVERY FOUR DAYS.

Of course, with so much data to sift through, some measure of personal privacy exists--again, de facto: the NSA and outsourced spooks/data-diggers/pattern-recognition companies etc. can't search for everyone's name/digital activities all at once in realtime.

However, if for any reason your name comes up, similar to how Google operates as we, the users, perceive it, the NSA operatives merely type in a batch of search terms (let's say, YOURLASTNAME and YOURFIRSTNAME not TIMBUKTU and [CRITICIZES THE PRESIDENT] and [KEEPS QUOTING FROM THE US CONSTITUTION and DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE] and CREDIT/DEBIT TRANSACTIONS and LIBRARY BOOK TITLES BORROWED and INTERSTATE TOLL TRANSPONDER ACTIVITY and RIFLE and HANDGUN POSSESSION and IS A VETERAN TRAINED IN RIFLE BAYONET USE] and so on, and then hit the "enter" or "return" key.

What the government speaks of as a "watch list" is essentially a computer file (used to be a "card deck") of such search terms that is automatically run daily/weekly/monthly/hourly, etc. An "automatic search" ongoingly. I'm pretty sure that the software, developed by NSA, folks like Google, folks like Israeli data-mining companies, etc., have any "hits" on folks' "watch lists" automatically generate an e-mail, or txtmsg or Tweet, to the person(s) who've submitted the search terms/names to be tested against their humongous database. Compare the BBC show "The Last Enemy" which refers to the War Department's "Total Information Awareness" (TIA, but not to be confused with TIA, as Thanks In Advance). (You may want to join XIVA if such things bother you.)

There have been several movies & TV shows which treat of how the world actually is getting to work when every hominid has a micro-radio transmitter embedded somewhere in his or her body from birth (or, as The Last Enemy fantasizes, nano-robots are introduced into every human's body and those little robots put the human's government ID into every strand of DNA of that person, so there's no possibility of cutting a little RF-ID transmitter out from under your skin, as every cell in your body has been "stamped" with the ID nano-robots.

(And you thought greeting cards and cartoons showing a naked baby with a barcode on the butt were funny!!!)

And recall that Henry Kissinger illegally wiretaped his subordinates' telephones, the telephones of reporters like Daniel Schorr, that no warrants have been issued to the NSA for this wholesale wiretapping, that such wiretapping is, in fact, illegal, subjects the government terrorists who employ such wiretaps to a 5-year prison term and a fine ($10K maybe?) for EACH AND EVERY SUCH ILLEGAL INSTANCE OF EAVESDROPPING WITHOUT COURT ORDER... Well, you should get the clear impression that this country is in very deep sneakers.

Chalmers Johnson touches on these spying activities as he catalogs the US Empire of military installations, comfy couches (or SOFAs--Status Of Forces Agreements), the world over, endlessly expanding, endlessly secret. No "permanent military installations," just "enduring" ones, as the former Unitary Liar-In-Chief, Shrub put it. So, how many military bases DO we have in Iraq now? Fourteen plus the armed city-within-a-city called the US Embassy Fortress in Baghdad? New airbases in all of the "'Stans"? I'll bet if you add the "contractors," or mercenaries, soldiers-of-fortune, to the 500,000 or so US military we have in military bases around the world--something like more than 750 "admitted" bases in 129 or so of the world's 160 or so nations.

Deep sneakers.

This is just to generate thought and/or conversation. I was sitting around with some friends the other night and we began to list the best productions (fiction) of the last decade. TV, film, whatever. Here's my top ten:

1) The Wire. Maybe the best TV series ever.

2) The Lord Of The Rings Saga. What an achievement!

3) Cyrano and Henry IV on Broadway. Kevin Kline is America's best actor.

4) Deadwood. The best Western tale since John Ford died.

5) Firefly. The decade's best sci-fi.

6) Prince's Superbowl halftime show. The first time I ever enjoyed the halftime show and I enjoyed it a lot.

7) The Sopranos. I know, it was just a soap opera, but it really hooked me.

8) In The Loop. My favorite comedy since 2000.

9) Children Of Men. Best sci-fi film since Blade Runner.

10) The Daily Show. Is it fiction? Is it news? It is the most effective riposte to rightwing fantasy.

War Dances by Sherman Alexie. He's a remarkable writer, and an even more remarkable speaker. His book readings are more performance art and should not be missed.

I have found the books of Patrick Taylor..AN IRISH COUNTRY DOCTOR, AN IRISH COUNTRY VILLAGE, AN IRISH COUNTRY CHRISTMAS and AN IRISH COUNTRY be wonderful stories that took me to a time and place that I enjoyed immensely.

Bill, I agree with you about FORD COUNTY STORIES..that was one great read.

Please have a happy new year, I am looking forward to 2010 and your informative show.

It should have been called the Dynamite Prize because sooner or later it was bound to blow up on the rest of us.

Posted by: Paul Olmsted

Thanks, Paul, for the recommendation - sounds good.

Wondering what books are already in the "process" for sale in 2010...?

If mass media continues to "publish" only the pictures of the people after they got blown up by dynamite "business models" and not what they looked like before being blown up, what are we doing...?

It was theft, pure and simple. And they're still at it - they really DO want it ALL...people better stop the flow of money out in "bills" and "mortgages" and everything else - do EXACTLY what the "big boys" are doing - they've SHUT OFF the "trickle".

Health care bill is nothing more than finding a reason NOT to clean up the "dynamited" people...until 2014, or wha'ever...Senate convening in a holier than thou skit about a "Terry Schiavo" while New Orleans drowns...they're NUTZ in D.C.

We're talking 40-80 million people across the USA,

or more since they're so good at making stuff up in the way of "data", er, "intelligence"...

do they REALLY believe that their inane metaphysical math blather is such powerful juju that they will yaddayadda their way out of it with an endless parade of revisionist history "books" and send-only mass-media propaganda...?


When you look around at who still has a new, computer-age "job" and what their "job" is - it's amazing - the USELESS have created a square circle in a sealed imaginary bubble with paper derivatives flying around in there from the WIND created by the's nutz.

And we're nutz for not printing up a whole new currency that is not blood soaked and covered with "opiates" and thrown out of the back of C-5s at "terrorists" so that they stop shooting...

LOOK at who has the cash and ask yourself - is that person COMPETANT to rule the world...? Drug pushers, hedgehogs, banksters, "corporate creatures" upheld by "judges" as "privileged" above and beyond HUMAN "rights"

("rights" like keeping some of the fruit of your own labor)

"Dante's Inferno", a "classic", seems like just another "business model"...

Seriously, we better put a new currency in circulation that is not "global"...and sue them for conspiracy to bring down the infrastructure of the USA.

Hi Bill,
I would like to recommend "Lecturing Birds on Flying" by Pablo Triana. This book is about how mathematical models not only did not help prevent the financial meltdown of 2008-09 but actually made it easier for the wall street elite to roll the dice and bring on the worst economic crisis we have faced since the great depression. The Nobel Prize in Economics has been awarded to some of the same people who believed (incorrectly) that they could eliminate risk in the markets. It should have been called the Dynamite Prize because sooner or later it was bound to blow up on the rest of us.


I recommend Andrew Marin - Love Is An Orientation. It's about how to build bridges between the Christian and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.

Thanks. God Bless.


I recommend two books regarding our need for health care reform: "Why Our Health Matters," by Andrew Weil who suggests specific solutions; and "The China Study," by T. Colin Campbell. And I urge all to read John (the economic hit man) Perkins' new book, "Hoodwinked" to gain a larger perspective of our fiscal disaster, and what we need to do to return to healthy and democratic capitalism. Thanks to all who have shared their favorites and thus added to my list of reads to tackle.

James Bradley's The Imperial Cruise. Details T. Roosevelt's side deal with Japan giving Korea for Philippines, and setting the stage for US competition with Japan for the control of Asia and WWII. Also throws light on the brutality and crass logic of racial imperialism. Merry Christmas Bill.

Having been born and living in Britain for 65 years I know how much better off the people are not having to worry about basic needs.

Despite what Americans have been fed about Government run enterprises the fact is they are the best way of avoiding tragedy. The tragedy of losing homes, the tragedy of being jobless and limited or no safety net.

The USA is 25th of developed nations delivering health care, this from a nation which brags about democracy and the benefits of being American, the benefits are few and far between as all the homeless can testify.

If government run schemes are so bad according to most Republicans why are their wars government run. Perhaps it's because all the wars they've got America into have been a failure unless they had an ally.

THE CANAL BUILDERS: MAKING AMERICA'S EMPIRE AT THE PANAMA CANAL by Julie Greene, prof. of history, U. of MD, would be my enthusiastic recommendation. In that single volume she tells me just about everything I've ever wanted to know about the exploits and exploitations of the U.S. in the Isthmian Canal region at the turn of the twentieth century. The thoroughly researched account of the largely unheralded sacrifices and contributions of laborers drawn mostly from the Caribbean Basin was eye-opening, but it was also sorely painful to read. Oh that we could just be fair and respectful in our dealings with one another!!

My choice is Paul Krugman's "The Return of Depression Economics". No other book on the subject comes in close to making me understand what's been going on.

To: Bill Moyers,


I have watched your programms and heard Radio for a few years. There is only one attitude in all these people giving their opinions. Firstly, What their social and financial stature is. Secondly, what religion are they.

This is where their opinion lies. You have only to find this out, before you begin listening or talking with them. One good example..... Lieberman!!. He is nothing more than a rich Jew.

One book that I am recommending is:

Woodrow Wilson by John Milton Cooper, Jr.

It is the first major biography on Wilson. The book tells alot about the triumphs and failures of leadership.

One last note, I have been a fan of Bill Moyers since I was in H.S.and now at the age of 48 I continue to learn more about the world and its history and politics from a fresh perspective from Moyers!
Keep-up the good work

Last week (Dec 18, 09) you interviewed a writer who wrote on the relationship President Ted Roosevelt had with Japan regarding the occupation of Korea. What is the name of the author and name of the book?

Because of the interview on The Journal, I'm reading The Evolution of God by Robert Wright. Before this volume became avaialble from the library, I first read Wright's The Moral Animal.
Thanks for you & your program.

Dear Mr Moyers,
Thank you for another year of thought-provoking programmes.
I would like to recommend The Wasted Vigil by Nasdeem Aslam. A beautifully written and haunting novel about modern Afghanistan.

A wonderful description of the delusional state nof American culture and politics. Thank you Chris for yor clarity and passion.

Irecommend John Cassidy's 2009 book, How Markets Fail. Written by a person who has studied economics and is also a journalist writing for the New Yorker magazine,it gives the reader the clearest presentation around of the development of economic ideas, from Adam Smith to the present day, that control the thinking of politicians and their economist advisers. His term, Rational Irrationality best describes the actions that have lead to the current economic situation. Read also his blog with that title.

I had no idea of the true nature of Teddy Roosevelt's adventurous spirit and courage until I read The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard. He traveled extensively in South America and then began a descent through the unexplored Amazon Jungle on a newly discovered and major River -- Rio Duvida. What a read!!!

Dear Sir,

Congratulations on your wonderful show. My apologies if you have already mentioned this book or have done a show about it (if not, I think it would be a great individual to interview and/or subject to address)… and although it’s not a 2009 book, I think its subjects are just as relevant and important: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thank you Bill. I am so deeply grateful you keep challenging yourself and embrace truth as best you know it.
I highly recommend "Armenian Golgotha" translated by Peter Balakian. (Knopf, 2009) It is a recently found memoir of his great uncle, a breathtakingly global minded intellectual and moral leader who here enlightens any age. This book is not simply about being a rare, most articulate first hand witness to the genocide that led to the next,nor about a accurate recording of atrocities, but a keen, honest reflection on all of humanity as well as a compelling mandate for noble choices we have before us today. It is a gift, a missing and vital piece of our history. Golgotha remains extraordinarily prescient and instructive. Such a genuine spirit encourages that most precious light that shines through our greatest darkness. It's unique book that has me underlining constantly. A noble spirit such as yourself will appreciate this invaluable find.

Thank you Bill. I am so deeply grateful you keep challenging yourself and embrace truth as best you know it.
I highly recommend "Armenian Golgotha" translated by Peter Balakian. (Knopf, 2009) It is a recently found memoir of his great uncle, a breathtakingly global minded intellectual and moral leader who here enlightens any age. This book is not simply about being a rare, most articulate first hand witness to the genocide that led to the next,nor about a accurate recording of atrocities, but a keen, honest reflection on all of humanity as well as a compelling mandate for noble choices we have before us today. It is a gift, a missing and vital piece of our history. Golgotha remains extraordinarily prescient and instructive. Such a genuine spirit encourages that most precious light that shines through our greatest darkness. It's unique book that has me underlining constantly. A noble spirit such as yourself will appreciate this invaluable find.

I enjoyed Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna- it was a large sprawling story that eventually grabbed your heart and mind about liberty and intellectual freedoms. Lorrie Moore's The Gate at the Stairs was good for different reasons, I laughed out loud at some portions. Finally Sara Maitland's A Book of Silence explores the terrain of lack of noise.

Dear Bill, I recommend: "In Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy" by Peter G. Brown, who explains how the core Quaker principle of "right relationship" —respecting the integrity, resilience, and beauty of human and natural communities—can serve as the foundation for a new economic model; he and co-author Geoffrey Garver propose new economic policies that combine ecological awareness with a focus on fairness toward all peoples. Leonard Lopate of WNYC interviewed one of the authors recently at:( ). I think the Avram Burg book is very important too.

As one of the best books of 2009, I recommend "Just Food", by James E. McWilliams. It goes against the grain of many of the nostrums for environmentally and socially conscious eating. Informative & the rare book that can change your fundamental thinking on an issue.

Chris Hedges'


is by far the most original, interesting and poignant socio-political commentary that everyone's New Year List should contain. Hedges' horrifically accurate chapter on the harm the billion-dollar "Adult Industry" is causing America's girls, women and men is worth the price of 'admission' to Hedges' masterpiece. You won't be able to view your TV channels, press, and pundits or your politicians with the same innocent eyes. The obligatory emotional stunting of men that forces them handcuffed and delivered to an omnipotent, insidious 'adult industy's cell of the mind' is painfully documented and will make you see things differently. Must be read.

This is an indictment on today's "AMerican way" from politicas to the aduld industry that's destroying souls--with proof and insights.

Excellent list! But my favorite would have to be PBS's FRONTLINE's very own documentary (is the Book out yet?)entitled:

"THE WARNING" -- by Michael Kirk, producer--PBS

That's where the most fascinating story ever told unfolds in fascinating dramatic fashion keeping us glued to our seat. We had no clue that the Chairwoman of the obscure Commodity Futures Trading Co, Ms Brooksley Born delivered the prognosis of the 2008 financial meltdown--back in l998, and got fired for her efforts by Messrs. Greenspan, Rubin, Geithner, Summers and, worse, that some of the shoot-the-messenger authors would now be dictating policy in the current Administration!

Phenomenally incredible story that we were totally in the dark about that almost reads like 'fiction' but, unfortunately, is not. Where's the book? Perhaps Mr. Moyers could write the epilogue and get together some experts and become the editor-in-chief for the new 'Warning' book. The story MUST be told! Lest the world forget Ms Born's heroic stand and how close the world was in l998 to preventing this catastrophe whose victims are now multiplying daily!

"NEMESIS" by Prof. Chalmers Johnnson, together with the rest of his trilogy, "Blowback" and "Sorrows of Empire" would also top my Xmas List together with Bacevich's "Limits of Power" that promises to be a good read--and we feel Mr. Moyers' recommendation is always on target...

Mr. Kuttner's comment in the Journal today was a real gem and invites another "must" book (can't remember publishing date--but will be channeling author!) for reading over the holidays--"PLATO'S REPUBLIC":

"A truly transformative presidency transforms Reality; it doesn't work within its parameters".

Thank you, Bill Moyers, and a wonderful Xmas and New Year to all at the Moyers Journal, Frontline and the indispensable PBS!

First of all, it was NOT ALL Democrats who gave in to corporate greed. In fact MOST did not and the platform for the Democratic Party called for universal health care. And that got us SOME reforms that WILL help millions of people. It’s NOT enough, but it’s NOT nothing.
Second, unlike the situation when Republicans were in the bare majority but had support of some key Democrats, today with Democrats having a nominal super majority, there are NO Republicans assisting with their agenda. Clearly the problem is that there are a sufficient number of corporatist Democrats who wield inordinate power.
Third, members of Obama’s staff and cabinet are enthralled to the corporatists; but he will move more progressive if we the people make him do so.
Fourth, this trend toward corporate control of the government has been going on for 30 years; we should not be so naïve to assume we can change the trend of the entire society in a few months or a year.
Fifth, because the mass media is corporate-owned, there is little support for progressive FACTS and IDEAS. Today we have one major media outlet that is entirely devoted to the corporate agenda, Faux News. This means we need to make changes in the media and maximize use of the internet for rational, fact-based, and effective political change.

Instead of throwing the entire Democratic Congress or Obama under the bus, we should be:
Boosting support for those Democrats and Independents like Bernie Sanders who stood with the people.
Identifying progressive Democrats to run against the conservaDems in the primaries and support those challengers.
Identifying progressive Democrats to run in the now Republican seats of Congress and support them.
Maintaining the pressure on Obama to take progressive options and change his staff and cabinet to more progressives
Boosting progressive media of all kinds; maximize use of the internet.

To be sure, the corporatists really like to hear progressives attacking the Democrats or Obama and saying they’re not going to turn out and vote in 2010 or 2012, or advocating third parties, rallies in the street, etc. The banksters are well aware that the Republican Party has self-destructed. Now they want to see the same with the Democrats because the ONLY effective control on corporate power can be a government controlled by and beholding to the people. They WANT to so fracture American society that the government can surely pose NO restraint upon them whatsoever.

I say resist the urge to fracture and demonize Democrats. Be smart. Be effective. Draw together progressives for effective action in the only political party that has a prayer of moving government in a more progressive direction. It already has budged it a bit; reinforcing that is our best hope of becoming the change we all seek.

I give Matt Taibbi an A for effort in hitting some nails square on the head, but Robert Kuttner knows how we should really use the information. If all we do is rail against Obama and the Democrats, we'll just put the Republicans back in power. What we need to do is boost progressive membership and control of the Democratic Party.

Junot Diaz' "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao". A rollicking good read, and a whole political education on the history of the Trujillo era Dominican Republic. My favorite book this year.

Junot Diaz' "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao". A rollicking good read, and a whole political education on the history of the Trujillo era Dominican Republic. My favorite book this year.

I recommend Pema Chodron's "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times." Even though it was written in 1996, I read in 2009 and it was -- for me -- the most useful book I read all year. Hope Obama reads it to gain a better sense of perspective on adversity and how to lean into the sharp points of life.

In my opinion the most important book of the last decade is "Democracy Inc: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism" (Princeton U. Press)by Professor Sheldon Wolin.

It has only been reviewed twice, first by Chalmers Johnson in TruthDig and then by Chis Hedges in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The cynic would say that the absence of coverage attests to its importance.

Nemesis was first published in 2007 so since we are talking about books not necessarily published in 2009, I would recommend another 2007 book "Where have all the leaders gone ?" by former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca. This book is a collection of Lee's insights on various issues that remain relevant today. I especially liked the chapter on his efforts to establish a research group to find a cure for Diabetes, the disease that killed his long time wife. When his oganization found and announced a potential cure, the response from the academic research community became more about protecting their financial research grants than openly evaluating the medical potential of this cure. As Lee said, "The gloves came off when university leaders and academics saw a potential threat to their grant money stream". I wonder how many other potential medical cures are being held hostage by this system ?

I'm old enough to remember when foreclosure was an embarrassment. It's now become another excuse to blame someone else instead of taking responsiblity for ones own inadequacies. There will always be exceptions but the vast majority of peole get exactly what they deserve.

Dear Bill, thanks for all of your important work.

Five recommended recent books:

"Suspect Society" by Henry Giroux

"The ABCs of the Economic Crisis" by Fred Magdoff and Michael Yates

"Globalization and Militarism" by Cynthia Enloe

"Reason, Faith and Revolution" by Terry Eagleton

"Morbid Symptoms: Health under Capitalism" edited by Leo Panitch and Colin Leys

I don't think the best book has been written yet, but its coming soon!


"Odysseus in America," by Jonathan Shay, about the difficulties combat veterans face returning home. This book, like "Nemesis," needs to be read and reread as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue.

I teach at Bunker Hill Community College. Due to the revisions in the G.I. bill, the campus now has 285 veterans, about twice that of a year ago. I am not a veteran. All I know from reading Shay's book is that what men and women returning from war face is more difficult than I could ever imagine. We must all train ourselves to support these men and women that we, the people, sent to war.

Empire of Liberty by Gordon S. Wood. Latest volume of the Oxford History of the US, covering the period from 1789-1815. This is a very readable and well sourced book by one of the best of the era's historians. The tale of our republic's beginnings helps me to realize that we have always struggled against our worse angels and somehow we have survived.

Eaves of Heaven by Andrew Pham. This book is a beautifully written memoir of Andrew's father covering his childhood during the years prior to the Vietnam war and his adult life during the war. Outstanding for understanding the view of the war from a Vietnamese perspective and the consequences of meddling in the affairs of another country.

My favorite of 2009 -- REPUBLICAN GOMORRAH: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party - by Max Blumenthal

Bill Moyers,
The best non-fiction book that we need to read at the present time is Plato's Republic. We have lost sight of what is "good" and the concept of good government. We need statesman not politicians. We need trained technicians that know how to govern not self-aggrandizing manipulators bought off by big business. I have written a book called, Earthland: Meaningful Reality that updates Plato's Republic to include the application of present day technology and wisdom from throughout the ages that I am trying to get published. I took my first book Earthland: the Real and Ideal to China when I went there with a group of philosophers from the American Philosophical Association. It is very possible my book aided China in their concepts of social organization.
I need to get my books published and distributed. Any suggestions are much appreciated.

I don't think that any of these were written or published this year, but they are all great reads.

  • The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet

  • Lamb: The Gospel According Bif, Jesus' Childhood Friend by Christopher Moore

  • Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast

  • The Sherwood Game by Esther Freisner

  • Bill of Wrongs by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose

THE HEALING OF AMERICA: A GLOBAL QUEST FOR BETTER, CHEAPER, AND FAIRER HEALTH CARE, by T. R. Reid. --- This book is already on the list. Excellent choice. This should also be in everyone's Christmas stocking.

Bob the Health and Health Care Advocate

Best books:
Buyout of America, Josh Rosman
Call to Liberty, Anthony Signorelli

Dear Mr. Moyers,
I've written about a lot of books in the 94 articles I've put on the Obama Blog. A real good one we're reading right now is titled "WEB OF DEBT" by Ellen Hodgson Brown. You can easy understand why the Investment Banks don't want any regulations on the derivatives market or the hedge funds promoting them. They feel a $600 trillion market and growing is a better way to get ahead than CREATING JOBS. They feel a derivative is an asset. They haven't figured out that they are worthless. A lot, lot worse than junk bonds. I know you'll enjoy reading it. I enjoy your program.
Yours truly, LaVern Isely, Disgusted Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member

Biography of Dorothea Lange by Linda Gordon was superb.

I nominate Sheldin Wolin's "Democracy Inc. - Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism"

Hi Bill,

A must read is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" by Chris Hedges.

If you have already read it, then I am quite surprised that you have not already intervied Hedges.

Happy New Year!

What is the What by Dave Eggers--shocking story of one of the 'lost boys of Sudan' and the even more shocking story of his adventures in the USA. The horror of the Sudan continues . . .

I would strongly reocommend Pat Conroy's "South of Broad" Its so good you don't want to put it down, but you don't want it to end.
I would place Conroy second only to Sam Clemens. Woody

One square inch of silence : one man's search for natural silence in a noisy world / Hempton, Gordon

I said to myself last night as I went to sleep after watching the Journal - 'remember to wake up and mention T.R. Reid's book' - glad to see you beat me to it, sir.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens

Traitor to His Class by H.W. Brands

FDR by Conrad Black

The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans

Invertebrate Zoology (1st Edition) by Paul A. Meglitsch

War and Peace by Lev Tolstoy

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb
(Adult Supervision Recommended for Minors)


To Read: Sacred Mountain:
encounters with the vietnam beast-Edw.Tick PhD

WAR & THE SOUL, also by Edward Tick PhD

mesmerizing, heart-wrenching, the case against wars of all kinds

Hypnotizing Maria by Richard Bach
A story that confirms: "That the little things we do, and don't even notice,are changing other people's lives-and others are doing the same for us"

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Two great books I read recently:

Justice: What's the Right Thing to do by Michael Sandel

and The Life you Can Save by Peter Singer

1984 by George Orwell

Although not a 2009 book, Barton Gellman's "Angler" should be a must-read for fans of Bill Moyers Journal (and others). Angler was the Secret Service's code name for Richard Cheney. Gellman recounts and explains how Cheney and his minions came to dominate White House and other government deliberations. We thought we were well-informed, yet repeatedly exclaimed, "I can't believe this!" "Angler" is a tale of bureaucratic cunning and mastery, not the widely-believed, simplistic story of an ignorant, indolent President being dominated by his Veep.

Another recommendation: "River of Doubt" -- a thrilling account of Theodore Roosevelt's post-Presidential exploration of a tributary of the Amazon River.

Important books during 2009

*A Place Of Healing:Working With Suffering In Living and Dying by Michael Kearney, MD

*Mortally Wounded by Michael Kearney, MD

*Hold Me Tight:Emotionally-Focused Couples' Therapy by Sue Johnson, PhD

*Finding Beauty In A Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams

*Learning To Fall:The Blessings Of An Imperfect Life" by Philip Simmons, PhD

"River Flow" by David Whyte

*Dancing In Limbo: Making Sense of Life After Cancer" by Glenna Halvorsen-Boyd, PhD and Lisa K. Hunter, PhD

Taking The Leap by Pema Chodron

The Healthy Aging Brain:Sustaining Attachment,Attaining Wisdom by Louis Cozolino, PhD

Here For Now: Living Well With Cancer Through Mindfulness by Elana Rosenbaum, LCSW

Forgive For Love by Fred Luskin, PhD

To Love and Be Loved by Sam Keen, PhD

The Art of Happiness In A Troubled World by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler, MD

Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD and James H. Fowler, PhD

"The Heart Speaks" by Mimi Guarneri, M.D. - the best book I've read this year. From the Introduction: "This book, then, is the story of how I was trained to see the heart as a simple mechanical pump and was led by my patients to appreciate it as a center of great complexity and power.
I view the heart now as a flower, one exquisite layer opening to the next. It is to this large, multilayered heart of feeling and poetry, intelligence and spirit that I have dedicated my life."
There are other ways to transform medicine and healthcare than just by reforming healthcare industry and healthcare insurance.
Roger Prasser
"All of the information chemicals (neurotransmitters) found in the brain are also found in the heart." Dr. Carla Hannaford, Ph.D.

As a humble bookseller I would like to recommend Rick Bragg’s The Most They Ever Had. He bears witness to the lives of good, hard working people employed in the cotton mill in Jacksonville Alabama. His words show he honors telling their stories, giving them the respect and dignity their lives deserve. He conveys their essence with power; “You need not use foul language to damn a man here. Just say a day’s work would kill him, and you tore him down to the bald nothing.” We used to value hard work in this country. The people in this book are proud people who take pride in providing for their families. They don’t expect much, just a roof over their heads, a newer car every once in a while, and maybe a night at the movies. They are not anticipating easy lives or great wealth. Is it too much to expect a safe working environment and a living wage? Apparently it is. Rick Bragg has written a eulogy to the time in America where we built things rather than chased ever faster after the next deal and the easy dollar. Now a company’s parts are worth more than its whole, the jobs can be done cheaper overseas, and the bad boys of Wall Street need to be kept happy. We have become a nation of financiers. A nation obsessed with flashy ball players paid mega dollars to play a boy’s game, CEO’s bringing home checks with so many zeroes it will make your head hurt, and TV reality shows illustrating the decline of our culture. In this era of bigger is better, Rick Bragg has written a book about the lives of hard working, everyday people who hold their dignity close. Rick reminds us of a set of values and a way of life that defined our country far better than the lust for the deal, and fast money culture of late.

I would like to recommend 'The Globalization of Addiction' by Dr. Bruce Alexander, 2008, Oxford University Press. It goes far beyond addiction in explaining how we got so dislocated and desperate and lost our bearings in western societies.

A book that every person who claims to be educated should read, published in 1980 but even more salient today, Bill Catton's Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change.

His recent sequel, Bottleneck: Humanity's Impending Impasse published this year, is more opaque, perhaps because Catton is 83 years old now, but it also bears reading, as long as you read Overshoot first. If you don't understand Catton, you don't understand how the world operates, and the consequences for your children's future.

Not-2 Is Peace, by Adi Da.

"Only everybody-all-at-once can change the current chaos."

Timeless wisdom plus practical plan of action.

(available as free pdf at



The End of Overeating by David Kessler should be required reading before one can receive their high school diploma.

JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass is outstanding.

Robert Kuttner is ridiculous in admitting that he "would hold his nose and vote for the health care Bill". This is the change you all voted for. This is the result of the Kool-Aid you were drinking over the last 2 years. None of this is at all different than what was happening during the primaries. This silly Kuttner man went so far as to say "I do have the 'audacity to hope'". These crazy old left wing liberals need to take a brief moment to get off their respirators and really understand they sold us all out and it is time to admit they screwed us royally. This is who they are now. He is Yet Another Old Man, much like Howad Dean, who is now singing another tune, hoping we will forgive him. Well old man, I will not. You put your boy in the Whitehouse, over the popular vote. You did everything you could do to shove this down my throat. I was a Clinton Delegate who was called a racist repeatedly simply for holding true to my beliefs. I am a veteran. I have lived my beliefs. The rest of you are all idealists. I will not forgive you now that you're coming off your respirators. The great uniter has only succeeded in uniting the majority of the Country against him. By the way, I am still a Democrat. So don't start your your BS rhetoric about me being a Republican or a bitter Clinton loser. I am neither. Who among you can say you have gone to war for your Country? Who among you has worked for 2 years, signing up voters, knocking on doors and working for a better world?

Just shut up, quit whining and go somewhere else with your "voters remorse". For those of you who don't have it yet, you ought to be ashamed after everyone he has left behind and lied to.

I would like to recommend Greg Mortenson's newest book "Stones into Schools". It picks up where "Three Cups of Tea" leaves off.

Good to see one of my faves on the top of Bill's list and some other great books among the comments. On the fiction side, it's a bit dated, but I finally got to *The Road* by Cormac McCarthy. Best dystopian novel since P.D. James' *Children of Men*.

I would recommend Michael Fellman's book "In the Name of God and Country" which is just being published by Yale U. Press. Fellman is a retired historian of Simon Fraser Univ. in Vancouver, Ca. By exhaustively examining five cases, John Brown, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Haymarket Riots and the Philippine War, he concludes that terrorism is intrinsic in America's history.
Profound and heartfelt thanks for your TV programs.
For a view on our economy from my life-time of personal and professional activities see my invited lecture on why the "U.S. Needs an Economic Miracle" given last year at Truman State Univ. accessible on my blog.
Siegfried Sutterlin, Ph.D.

"3 Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson should be required reading of every leader and citizen on this planet. When will our leaders care enough to listen to people, who know from experience what will win hearts and minds or is that not really what they are trying to win? Also, "Unbowed" by Wangari Maathai, in 2004, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize--her life story puts us all to shame in its incredible depth, suffering, and accomplishment. AND, "Rosalie Edge: Hawk of Mercy" by Dyana Furmansky --the book Ken Burns should have read before doing his series on the National Parks in order to understand and credit the dynamo underneath the paradigm change in American conservation, who held up a mirror to the hypocrisy in the conservation movement in the 1930's. She put words and actions to values of preservation of wildlife and landscapes for their own sake, not just for the use by humans for "sport" and resource rape, a concept we are still far from comprehending to the fullest, even for our own survival.

Just so happens I just finished reading an extraordinary book, the best book I've read about contemporary politics in twenty years. Not policy, but politics, how progressive politics has gotten done in one mans career over the past 35 years. You can extrapolate how a real health care reform bill could get through Congress if Democrats really wanted it to.

The Waxman Report.

Another good book for 2009: THE HOLOCAUST IS OVER -WE MUST RISE FROM ITS ASHES by Avraham Burg

"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. It's a book about what it was like for black women to work as domestics for white women in the South in the 60's. The author is a white woman raised in the South, so I was skeptical that she could pull off writing a book from the Black Women's experience, but it is well worth reading.

I also agree that Ralph Nader's "Only the Superrich Can Save Us" should be on the list of Bill Moyers' Best Books of 2009.

Paul Waldman's "Being Right Is Not Enough: What Progressives Can Learn From Conservative Success."


I recommend Ralph Nader's ONLY THE SUPERRICH CAN SAVE US. It is a fantasy that I want to come true.

Hands down, Chris Hedges'
"Empire of Illusion". It doesn't cut any deeper that this trenchant deconstruction of the American psyche and its corporate manipulators.

Runners-up include: "The Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir", the illustrated edition of Paul Fussell's classic "The Great War and Modern Memory", "Experiments at 3 Billion AM" by Alexander Zelenyi, and "The Philip K. Dick Collection" (3 volumes, Library of America).

The Great War For Civilization by Robert Fisk.
Written by a foreign reporter for the Independent of Britain with decades of personal on-site experience, if you want to understand the middle east from Lebanon to Pakistan and in between this is the mother of all resources.

Best book of 2009:

"JFK and the Unspeakable" by James Douglass

Bill has shown great courage in his choice of topics on the Journal. Talking about or recommending this book will be a real test of his courage!

Crossing the Rubicon

I agree that T.R.Reid's book does show us how we could get better health care for the average American at one-half the current price. So where is the "Reid blueprint" in the congressional proposals?

i was just tickled to death with your declaration that these are YOUR favorite books this year. 20 years ago i started giving out awards in my mind for book of the year and movie of the year and song of the year. and i remember most of them as stand outs for one reason or another. and i've been doing it for so long that now it comes out in casual conversation. i'll just say oh yeah, that was my movie of the year etc. and when they look puzzled i explain i give out awards in my own mind. i'm happy to know i'm not alone in that endeavor, and i'm actually in stellar company.

I'm always lifted by listening to bill Moyers Journal. Yes also to the way advocating can raise people's hopes and self confidence. A must read book along those lines was published in 2007...titled "Righting Wrongs: Advocacy Principles, Methods & Practice" by Robert's a nourishing book...a gold mine of info and encouragement... published by Trafford (
It should also be in a lot of advocates stockings!
Looking forward with thanks to more of your Journals in the New Year. Estelle Zarowin email at

Frozen earth, the Once and Future Story of Ice Ages, by Doug Macdougall. Not a new book but relevant. From page 182, about the cycles of warming and cooling discovered in the ice-cores: " fact, the present warm period is considerably longer than any other in the ice-core record..." One has to wonder if the warming due to mankind hasn't kept us from another glacial period in this continuing Pleistocene Ice Age.

Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture, by Thom Hartmann

Plain and Honest Men; The making of the Constitution by Richard Beeman is a wonderful history of the day to day, ebb and flow of the purposeful politics and the unintended consequences during the writing of our constitution.

All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg is an powerful autobiographical story of growing up dirt poor in the deep south, the love and struggle of a single Mom and the rise of a Pultizer Prize winning journalist from those whiskey stills and cotton fields.

The Woman Behind the New Deal : The life of Frances Perkins by kirstin Downey

True Compass by Ted Kennedy--best book of the year

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