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Recommended Reading for a Broader Understanding and Appreciation of the World

                                                                 An Earth Manifesto publication by Dr. Tiffany B. Twain  

                                                                                                                         August 1, 2009

The following books have provided me with insight, provocative perspective and reading pleasure over the years.  I encourage readers to check them out, because these books can help give broader understandings and a greater appreciation of the world we live in. 

I.  General Philosophy and History and Perspective

(1) The Lessons of History, by Will and Ariel Durant --- This book provides an excellent perspective on human history and the evolution of civilization and societies.

(2) The Aristos, by John Fowles --- The ideas in this book have provided a seminal contribution to the Earth Manifesto.  John Fowles’ philosophical explorations of existence are fascinating and thought-provoking.

(3) A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson --- Great insights into intricacies of the natural world and our interrelationships with it.

(4) The Alphabet Versus The Goddess – The Conflict Between Word and Image, by the late Leonard Shlain --- One of the most provocative hypotheses ever advanced, concerning the dethroning of Earth goddesses in favor of patriarchal male gods and the accompanying misogynistic assault on women’s status in early and more recent cultures.  Could literacy and associated left-brained thinking have contributed to such a state of affairs?

(5) The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, by Paul Hawken --- This book should be mandatory reading for all decision-makers, because it gives a sensible businessman’s views of mankind's activities and impacts on Planet Earth.

(6) What Really Matters - Searching for Wisdom in America, by Tony Schwartz --- This is a valuable study of the important personal search for meaning in life. 

(7) Philosophy for Dummies, by Tom Morris --- This book represents a surprisingly thorough investigation into the whole realm of thinking in philosophy and spirituality.

(8) Basin and Range, by John McPhee --- The plain-spoken author gives readers an easily comprehensible summary of astonishing geological insights and evolutionary perspective.

(9) The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan --- Trying to see the world through the eyes of plants, rather than our usual anthropocentric ‘Masters of the Universe’ perspective provides not only entertainment, but enlightenment.  The book looks at the world from the perspective of apples that have succeeded by appealing to the human desire for sweetness, and tulips from the perspective of the human desire for beauty, and potatoes that satisfy desires for nutrition --- and marijuana … you just have to read it!


II.  Politics and Economics

(10a) Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond --- Brilliant and important perspective on the nature of civilizations!

(10b) The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore --- A compelling analysis of reason, faith and fear, and the dilemmas of modern America.

(11) Don’t Think of an Elephant, by George Lakoff --- Valuable insights into frames of reference, political spin and strategic initiatives that could help create better societies.

(12) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by Naomi Klein --- Powerful perspective concerning the mega-trends of our economic and political institutions.

(13) Guns, Germs and Steel, The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond --- A radically fresh perspective into human civilizations and the nature of change.

(14) The Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity, by Robert Kuttner --- This book provides a concise and insightful summary of the bottom-line problems facing our economy and society today.

(15) Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy and Everyday Life, by Robert Reich --- Insight into our conflicting desires as consumers, investors and good citizens, and ideas on how we should be improving our societies.

(16) The Age of Turbulence, by Alan Greenspan.  Read about the fascinating life and perspectives of the former long-time Federal Reserve Chairman, before he was shocked with disbelief at how his deregulatory enthusiasms have contributed to the international economic crisis that has unfolded after the completion of this book.

(17) Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can’t Kick Militarism --- This is an illustrated expose by Joel Andreas that explains U.S. war motivations and associated problems throughout history.

(18) What’s the Matter with Kansas?, by Thomas Frank --- Valuable perspective on how religious leaders have helped the Republican Party hijack people’s emotions to get them to support a political platform that is distinctly contrary to their own best interests and the common good.

(19) The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, by Joel Bakan --- A clear exposition detailing the history and evolution of the corporate form of business and the problems associated with the ascendance of corporations as the dominant institutions on Earth.

(20) Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and The Secret History of American Empire, by John Perkins --- Compelling insights into the world of high finance and the ‘corporatocracy’ that controls businesses, governments and the media. 

(21) Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions, by Clyde Prestowitz --- A fascinating book by a conservative diplomat who provides valuable insights into the national security, ideological arguments and the foreign policy directions that our country has taken in the last several decades.

(22) The Nemesis trilogy, including Blowback:  The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, by Chalmers Johnson --- These books provide valuable perspective that helps give Americans the means to transcend our myopic and self-centered ways of seeing the U.S. role in the world, and to give us a better basis for evaluating our foreign policies.

(23) Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, by Michael C. Ruppert --- A profoundly provocative book that uses the perspective of a good cop to evaluate the evidence and the unknowns in the actions of our imperial capitalist society and provides valuable food for thought for our journey forward.  Contains disturbing details about the role of the government in the 9/11 attacks.

(24) American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, by Kevin Phillips --- This book contains important insights that we need to understand for our own good and to help us move forward intelligently in the world.

(25) What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception by Scott McClellan --- Revelations and perspective from inside the White House bubble.

(26) Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend, by Mitchell Zuckoff --- Read all about the Italian immigrant Charles Ponzi and his ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ scheme that became a national sensation of feverish speculation in Boston in 1920.

(27) State of the World 2007: Our Urban Future, and Vital Signs 2005: The Trends That Are Shaping Our Future, by the Worldwatch Institute --- These Big Picture publications focus on the state of human impacts on the planet, including key indicators, sustainable development and social responsibility.

III.  Wonderful Literature

(28) The Log from the Sea of Cortez, by John Steinbeck --- A fascinating account of the 1940 biological expedition of ‘Doc’ Ed Ricketts and author John Steinbeck on a seventy-six-foot-long chartered fishing boat, the Western Flyer.  The book reads like a manifesto, a treatise, and a parable, and it inspired my Tall Tales, Provocative Parables, Luminous Clarity and Evocative Truths --- A Modern Log from the Sea of Cortez in the aftermath of a voyage I made with 7 other gals north from La Paz in February 2008.

(29) Martin Eden, by Jack London --- This is a great novel, and an enjoyable read, with a protagonist whose aspiration, struggle, and transformation are inspiring and humbling.

(30) The Further Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Greg Matthews --- A very funny and entertaining work of fiction that imitates and may even transcend Mark Twain’s best!

(31) East of Eden, by John Steinbeck --- A powerful novel with Abel-and-Cain-like characters who act out a story of struggle and elemental conflict California’s fertile Salinas Valley.

(32) Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis --- A bold novel by a brilliant thinker with one of the most classic male characters in the history of literature, Zorba, who is a bold rascal with a great heart.

(33) Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, by Jorge Amado --- This novel is set during Brazil’s Wild-West-like cacao era, and it introduces us to Gabriela, one of the loveliest of female characters in all of literature.

(34) Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame --- A great book To read aloud to children, and wonderful for adults too, with its delightful animal characters, including the Mole, the Water Rat, the Badger, and the obsessive folly of Toad.

(35) A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson --- This book that will make you laugh out loud with its humorous stories, yet it cleverly includes valuable deeper understandings.

(36) Sailor on Horseback, by Irving Stone --- A fascinating story of the life of one of the most incisive and adventurous of America’s great authors, Jack London.

(37) Goddesses in Everywoman, and Gods in Everyman, two books by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. --- Enlightening insights into our collective unconscious through a study of the very human characteristics and universal archetypes embodied in Greek gods and goddesses.

(38) The Art of Happiness, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. --- This book shares a refreshing worldview that focuses on observations of the human condition that are truly spiritual and practical.

(39) The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard --- The story of one of the most remarkable expeditions in the history of the exploration of our home planet.  The ‘Bull Moose’ Theodore Roosevelt and a party of 21 men set off on a 4-month journey to chart the course of an unknown river, the Rio da Duvida (The ‘River of Doubt’).  They suffered incredible adversities and problems in the undertaking.  The author weaves great storytelling with history, philosophy, geology and insightful understandings.

(40) The Song of the Dodo, by David Quammen --- This book is a seminal work in understanding the natural world and the extinction of the flightless Dodo.

(41) The Power of Now - A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Eckhart Tolle --- This is somewhat of a “New Age” way of looking at the world, but it is a seamless introspection into awareness and clarity in thinking.

(42) The Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean M. Auel --- The first in a series of richly imagined narrative about Ayla, a girl who lived 30,000 years ago in Ice Age Europe.  Ayla’s story is that of a heroine who dealt with great challenges in an epic saga of people and relationships during prehistoric times.


                                                        Dr. Tiffany B. Twain       

AND ---

Other Books that have Influenced the Earth Manifesto:


  The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, by Richard Dawkins.

  The Story of Philosophy, by Will and Ariel Durant.

   On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not, by Robert Burton.

   Blessed Unrest, by Paul Hawken. 

   The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It

     Means, by George Soros.

   Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, by Richard Clarke.

   Where Have All the Leaders Gone, by Lee Iacocca.

   Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American

      Democracy, by Charlie Savage.

   The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America,

      by Robert Scheer.

   Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart, by

      Patrick Buchanan.

   The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on

       American Ideals, by Jane Mayer.

   Small is Beautiful, by E.F. Schumacher

   The River That Flows Uphill:  A Journey from the Big Bang to the Big Brain,

       by William H. Calvin

   The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki

   The Devil’s Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce.

   Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift.


Internet movies:

   Money as Debt.

   Zeitgeist Movie.

   Zeitgeist Addendum.


Other films of value:

  Three Days of the Condor


   Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism

   The U.S. vs. John Lennon

   The Fog of War

   WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception

   A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash

   Good Night and Good Luck

   The Corporation

   9/11: Press for Truth

   I Have Never Forgotten You:  The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal

   As Seen Through These Eyes (Maya Angelou narrates this harrowing and enlightening

     view of the holocaust as seen through the eyes of artists and musicians)

   Standard Operating Procedure (compelling … about Abu Ghraib prison photos)

   Religulous (Bill Maher’s very funny and thought-provoking film)

   Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial (and it loses!)

   Validation (Positivity rules!)

   Jesus Camp (boo, child indoctrinators!)

   Deliver Us from Evil (boo, child abusers!)

   Why We Fight (wow, war -- what a bizarre world we live in!)

   Ten Canoes (elemental storytelling of an ancestral Aboriginal fable)

   500 Days of Summer (delightful creativity and highly entertaining perspective)

   American Teen (we’ve all been there with those high school cliques)

   Juno (off-the-wall girl, pregnant, and an open-minded approach to adoption)

   Mark Twain (illuminating documentary by Ken Burns)