Check back periodically for updates to our suggested reading, geared toward helping make sense of the topics that are being introduced into our education system. All of the books here have been read and reviewed by Allison Duquette.
Critical Theory Reading
Faces at the Bottom of the Well by Derrick Bell
The subtitle of this book is “The Permanence of Racism” and is a collection of short stories. Derrick Bell is colloquially known as the godfather of Critical Race Theory. He was a civil rights attorney and spent much of his law and professorial career piecing together the tenets of CRT, but did not coin the term. He was a professor at NY University Law School, Harvard Law School and the University of Oregon School of Law. The short stories in this book take many forms. Several stories are imaginary dialogues between the author and other characters. A couple of the stories are reasonable, entertaining and well written. Others are science fiction or fantasy based and are outlandish in their premise and implication. All of them center around his belief that white people are and will always be racist and would sell out black people if given the chance. Black people are always portrayed as the victims and are resentful of whites. It is helpful to read how critical race theorists think in order to understand their motives.
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
The subtitle of this book is “Why it’s so Hard for White people to Talk About Racism” and is one of the best-selling CRT books. Robin Diangelo was a professor of multicultural education at Westfield State University and charges exorbitant amounts of money to lecture and consult on social justice and racism. This book was written from her experience as a DEI trainer. It is poorly written and jumbled making it hard to pull anything of meaning from it. It reads as a series of anecdotes from her life and stories she has heard in her trainings. She admits to racist thoughts and actions on multiple occasions throughout the book and projects those thoughts on to all white people, subconsciously claiming that if she feels that way, then all other white people must as well. It is worth reading because it is so popular and used as a main reference for CRT and DEI trainings. Though, you will probably regret reading it.
White Like Me by Tim Wise
The subtitle of this book is “Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son”. Tim Wise is a prominent anti-racist activist and commentator. This book reads much like Robin Diangelo’s “White Fragility” (see above). It is mostly anecdote and personal reflection taken mainly from his childhood. He is also Jewish, so that adds a slight twist that Robin doesn’t have and the writing is better. It predates “White Fragility” by 10 years and isn’t as inflammatory, focusing more on the black experience as opposed to white people being evil. It is a more entertaining read than White Fragility and may be better for those that want to hear the same basic concepts without the accusatory tone.
From Transgender to Transhuman by Martine Rothblatt
This book does not have a subtitle as the title probably speaks for itself. Martine Rothblatt is a transgender woman, prominent activist and entrepreneur who started Sirius XM. The book explains how there is no need to separate humans by sex anymore. That because of the past subjugation of women, and new technology, anyone can change their gender at any time and no longer having an “apartheid of sex” as she puts it will solve all of our problems. This, in turn, will lead to humans uploading their consciousness onto computers and we will all live forever in cyberspace no longer needing our flesh at all. This is a good example of Gnosticism and Hermeticism in practice. If you want to be entertained by a purportedly scientific take that actually completely turns the science of biology on its head, check it out. It is a valuable insight into transgenderism and where many in the cult feel it is leading.
Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky
The subtitle of this book is “A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals” and that’s exactly what it is. If you want the handbook for how the left and critical theorists organize and have been organizing since the 1960s, this is it. Saul Alinsky, a prominent and very successful community organizer of the 1930s through the 1970s, wrote down his tactics and requirements for organizing the “Have-Nots against the Haves” complete with examples of how he has carried it out himself. Rewritten as “Beautiful Trouble”, this has become the guide book for how the leftists in this country have conducted themselves especially in the last decade. It does not go into ideology in any way, it is simply how to organize and manipulate communities to your purposes and can be used by anyone. The other books on this list are the why, this book is the how and should be read by anyone looking to understand the tactics being used and how to use them.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This book does not have a subtitle. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a prominent anti-racist, journalist and author. This book is written as a letter to his son and rambles between being an autobiography and ranting against “those who believe they are white” as the cause of all the sorrows of the world including why black people shoot each other and beat their kids. Like D. Watkins (“We Speak For ourselves” see below), Coates grew up in Baltimore, but unlike Watkins, he doesn’t provide any workable solutions. He only tells his son that he will struggle forever in this awful country. The term “black bodies” is used throughout the book instead of “black people”. In fact, he never refers to black people at all, only their bodies. Using “bodies” is a social justice term that many critical theorists in different disciplines have adopted and is meant to show the dehumanization of the marginalized. The book feels like a giant guilt trip for white people. It’s saving grace is that it is a short read and the writing itself is actually interesting and better than most critical theory works, if a tad on the pretentious side.
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
There is no subtitle for this book as it is pretty self-explanatory. Ibram Kendi coined the term “antiracism” and is one of the most prominent activists in the CRT space. He was recently disgraced as his Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University has produced minimal work in the several years it has been in existence and the millions of dollars it has spent. In this book he posits that people can only be racists or actively antiracist. No on can be not racist. According to Kendi, by being antiracist you must also be “gender antiracist”, “queer antiracist” and, wait for it… “anticapitalist”. And there it is. This book perfectly defines race Marxism and is full of circular definitions, hypocritical ramblings and hyperbole. As in Coates’ book (see above) no one should take personal responsibility for anything because all of their actions and the inequities of outcomes between racial groups is the fault of racist policy to keep people of color down for white people’s benefit. Some of the historical quotes are interesting, but Kendi acts as though people still think now the way they did in the 1700’s. For a pretty long book, it’s a fairly quick read and is actually entertaining, if you take most of what he says with a grain of salt. It is worth the read.
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
This is a graphic novel geared towards children that is in a lot of high school and middle school libraries. Aside from the disturbing trend of promoting graphic novels instead of real written novels to teens, this book has graphic visual depictions of sexual acts. It is autobiographical and tells the story of the author’s journey to discovering that she doesn’t feel she is the gender she was born as. It is the story of a girl who is neglected by her parents who do not teach her how to read until she is 12 or how to perform basic personal hygiene as she gets older and starts her period. It is a clear description of how early childhood trauma can lead to becoming entrenched in gender ideology. The term queer is an identity that is purely political that stands in opposition to everything normal and which strives to dismantle all of mainstream society. This is why queer is always changing. As fringe ideas become accepted, queer must change to become that which is not accepted to challenge “the norm”. This book is worth looking through if you are a parent and want to know what public schools are thrusting onto your children.
Classics and Historical Literature
My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass
This is an autobiography by the famed Frederick Douglass, arguably one of the most famous and talented orators in US history. He was born a slave, escaped slavery and secured his freedom as a young man. After his journey to freedom, which is not accounted in the book, he became involved in abolitionist groups and traveled the northern states and the UK lecturing on the injustices and cruelty of slavery. His accounts of slavery are incredibly interesting and eye opening. Though, some of the abject cruelty is left out on purpose. The comparison between the slave states and the free states by someone who lived in both at the time as a black man is an invaluable history lesson and not what most writers of today would have you believe. This is an incredibly valuable read as a first-hand account of slavery and the attitudes of the day.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
This is a beautifully written fiction about several slaves and their journeys after being sold or escaping from a plantation in Kentucky. Harriet Beecher Stowe was the daughter of a preacher in CT and was a prominent abolitionist. This novel was written in 1852, and Lincoln once joked that it started the civil war. Stowe took stories or dialogue that she personally witnessed or heard from family members and pieced them together to create the narrative of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. So, even though it is fiction, all of the stories in it are real. It is definitely worth the read as another account of slavery from someone who lived at the time.
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
The Communist Manifest is a short read and there is no need to waste money on it as it is easy to find online. It is amazing that it took two people to write it and that something so short has caused so much human suffering throughout the world. It is written like a couple of people who have a rudimentary understanding of economics, but very childish ideas of how to make society fairer. It is worth the read for those who want to go to the source of Marxism. Though, like anything Marx did many of the concepts are taken from those who came before him. He and Engels just packaged it nicely and made the concepts workable, if devastating. It is not difficult to understand and you will see parallels to much of what is going on today.
Das Kapital by Karl Marx
Das Kapital is a series of essays by Marx that go over labor, the transformation of commodities into money and capital and how capitalists continuously take advantage of laborers. This work is arguably his most important besides, perhaps, The Communist Manifesto. It is a difficult read that simultaneously reduces the economy into too simplistic terms and makes it more complicated than it needs to be. It is good insight into where Marxists get their speaking and writing style. I would not recommend this text to everyone except for educational purposes or as a cure for insomnia. Except for the chapter on the history of industrialization, which was quite interesting, it’s not a fun read by any stretch of the imagination.
Interviews With The Founders by Justin American
The subtitle of this book is “The Way America is Now – and the Way America is Supposed to be”. Justin American is a radio commentator and speaker who educates Americans on the history of our country. This is a cute book and I put it in the classics and historical literature section because it is full of long quotes from the founding fathers and ends with speeches by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. It is written as the author interviewing each of the founders on various topics and uses their own words to answer his questions. It really puts life into the founders’ words that might be otherwise dry and hard to understand. Each chapter focuses on a different topic such as the size of the federal government, religion and firearms. Those founders that are highlighted are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln. Check it out if you want a fun view on the founders in their own words.
Warning to the West by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
This short book is exactly what the title makes it out to be. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn fought for Russia in WWII and was subsequently thrown in the Soviet Gulag after being critical of Lenin. He was released from the prison camp, exiled from the Soviet Union and wrote the three volume work The Gulag Archipelago. In the 1970’s he traveled around the US and Europe giving speeches about his time in the Soviet prison camp and warning western capitalist countries what their fate could be if they continued to capitulate to communism. This book is a collection of some of his speeches to US and British audiences. It is eye opening and unfortunately, his warnings were not well heeded. Read this to get a first hand account of the horrors of communism and a warning for what could be coming next.
Race Marxism by James Lindsay
The subtitle of this book is “The Truth About Critical Race Theory and Praxis”. James Lindsay is the author of multiple books on the topic of Critical Theory, the voice of the New Discourses podcast, and a prominent lecturer on the subject. Originally a math professor, he was one of three participants in the Grievance Studies Affair and has now devoted all of his time to exposing Marxism’s march through the Western world. Race Marxism gives the background, history and employment of CRT. The book starts at the surface and goes deeper and further back in time as it continues. The book ends with how CRT is used in institutions and what we can do about it. James is one of the foremost, if not the foremost, educator on all things Critical Theory. This is a must read if you want to understand it thoroughly.
Irresistible Revolution by Matthew Lohmeier
The subtitle of this book is “Marxism’s Goal of Conquest and the Unmaking of the American Military”. Matthew Lohmeier is a US Airforce lieutenant colonel with an extensive history in the armed services. In his book he gives a general overview of Marxism and its history in the United States. He does not go into as much detail as James Lindsay and so may be a good start for those looking for a less in-depth introduction to Marxism. He also discusses Mao and the Chinese cultural revolution. Throughout the book, he gives examples of military trainings and anecdotes of how Marxism has crept into the armed forces. He finishes with suggestions of how to fight the encroachment. Because of the focus on the military, this book would be an excellent read for those currently serving.
Counter Wokecraft by Charles Pincourt and James Lindsay
The subtitle of this book is “A Field Manual for Combatting the Woke in the University and Beyond”. This is a short book that is mainly focused on how Critical Theorists or “the Woke” infiltrate and take over institutions and how to counteract them. Charles Pincourt is the pen name of a college professor and for a background on James Lindsay see the section on “Race Marxism” above. This book focuses on universities. However, the concepts and strategies could be applied to any institution or company. It reads as a handbook or instruction manual of how the woke operate and how to combat them within the workplace. A working knowledge of the background of Marxism and Critical Theory is a plus but not necessary before reading this book. A good read for tools or those not interested in theory, but only interested in stopping Wokeness.
Black Eye for America by Carol M. Swain and Christopher J. Schorr
The subtitle of this book is “How Critical Race Theory is Burning Down the House”. Carol Swain is a political scientist and professor at both Princeton and Vanderbilt Universities. Christopher Schorr has a PhD in American Government from Georgetown University. They came together to write this short book about CRT. It starts with the history of CRT and how it relates to law, the constitution and the Christian heritage of the United States as well as its roots in Marxism. The last several chapters are focused on eradicating CRT. It reads like a textbook with “study questions” at the end of each chapter. This is a good book for those that want a quick overview of CRT, but don’t want the detail or theology offered by James Lindsay.
We Speak For Ourselves by D. Watkins
The subtitle of this book is “How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress”. D. Watkins is from the East side of Baltimore and still lives there working as a professor at the University of Baltimore. He also started the Baltimore Writers Project. This book paints a real picture of what it is like growing up in one of America’s most dangerous cities by someone who has lived it and is still living it. This is a great book for anyone looking for the inner-city black perspective. Watkins also gives excellent examples of ways to truly help that go beyond just protest. These are actions that he takes every day and programs that he has set up to help his community in a real way.
The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
The subtitle of this book is “How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting up a Generation for Failure”. Lukianoff and Haidt are both professors at prestigious colleges and noticed a change in the attitudes of students around 2013. This book attempts to explain that change, why it happened, and what to do about it. They are old school liberals and their bias shows in spots, but overall, the book is well written and has a lot of good insight. Their assessment of what is happening on campuses is generally correct. However, some of their solutions for it seem a bit naïve. It was written in 2018 and they predict that things will get better in a couple of years, but we all know how that turned out. It is actually a very good read for parents especially of young children.
Uncle Sam’s Plantation by Star Parker
The subtitle of this book is “How Big Government Enslaves America’s Poor and What we Can do About it”. Star Parker is a commentator and founder of CURE (Center for Urban Renewal and Education). Her book explores welfare and other social safety nets that were set up with the intent of helping the poor, but she argues they do the opposite. It is from a different perspective in that she actually lived on welfare for many years and now helps others to get off it and on their feet. It goes through the history of different welfare programs, how they impact different communities and why they are detrimental. Her analysis is in depth and offers unique insight as she weaves in personal stories, the stories of those she helps through her work and asks questions of the reader. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to question the roll of government.
Free to Choose by Milton and Rose Friedman
The subtitle of this book is “The Classic Inquiry Into The Relationship Between Freedom and Economics” and is written by the Nobel Prize winner for Economics. This is an excellent book and even though it was published in 1980, it is very relevant to today. It starts with an overview of basic economics and free markets, then goes on to describe how government intervention, in messing up free markets, makes everyone’s lives worse off. He does this generally and then uses specifics such as the public school system to hammer home his point. Not all of his solutions would be applicable today, but the general principal of the book is sound. The last chapter of the book is about how he believes “New Deal Liberalism”, at that time, was waning. However, he warned that the country could go in the direction of more freedom or the direction of socialism. In 1980, it seemed to be a tossup. Now, we know which direction the country has taken. This book is a great read for everyone and should be used as a text in high school economics classes.
Abuse of Language Abuse of Power by Josef Pieper
There is no subtitle as this is an essay more than a “book”. Josef Pieper was a German Catholic philosopher and a professor at the University of Munster. He was heavily influenced by the writings of Thomas Aquinas and Plato. This essay speaks a lot about Plato and Aristotle. It is an examination of language and how it is used to communicate between people and is only useful to communicate reality. He posits that when it is used to communicate anything other than reality it ceases to be communication at all. This concept is explored throughout the essay and you will be able to extrapolate how Marxists use language in the pursuit of power. The writing is lovely and pleasant. Check it out if you want a short, but in depth look at how language can be twisted for the benefit of those with ulterior motives.
Words for Warriors by Sam Sorbo
This is a cute book by actress and commentator Sam Sorbo. The subtitle is “What it Means to be an American, Fight Back Against Crazy Socialists and the Toxic Liberal Left”. It reads like a dictionary with each chapter being a letter. The words defined are from across the political spectrum, people, terms and events. It is a surface level glossary of the recent political environment where she fills in some history and gives her opinion sprinkled with humor. Some of the terms, especially those supposedly used on the right, didn’t seem to have been very widespread and the writing was nothing to write home about, but overall, it was a fun read. It is a good quick reference guide for talking points.
In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park
The subtitle of this book is “A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom”. Yeonmi Park is a North Korean defector and has worked tirelessly as a human rights activist since her escape from the regime. She travels the world giving speeches and interviews about the country in which she grew up and about which very little is known. This book is the story of her young life and her journey to freedom in South Korea. It is a heartbreaking and fascinating read, but hopeful in the end. The writing is simple and effective portraying the hardships that Park experienced in North Korea, in China and her ultimate escape. It is a glimpse into the most repressive and secretive country on earth and well worth reading.