A Patriot’s Reading List

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

In honor of the First Amendment, I submit the following books as required reading for true patriots across the nation. What is a patriot? I believe Samuel Clemens put it best when he said “A patriot supports his country all the time and his government only when it deserves it.”

A true patriot isn’t afraid to criticize his government or his country when such is deserved and necessary. The authors of these books have by their courage in these troubled times proven themselves to be true patriots.

Jesus is Not a Republican edited by Clint Wills. An excellent collection of articles and essays from historians and theologians alike, outlining and explaining exactly why the Religious Right is wrong about Christianity and the origins of this country. A must-read for anyone who wants to have a fuller understanding of the hypocrisy, lies and danger of the modern fundamentalist movement.

The Greatest Story Ever Sold by Frank Rich. A brilliant analysis of the history of the Bush administration, from its ignominious beginnings to its hubristic invasion of Iraq, and all the flops, foibles, and disasters in between. Rich dissects the lies and distortions spun by Bush and his loyalists to reveal the true nature of this most corrupt of presidential administrations in American history.

Fiasco by Tom Ricks. One of the best books on the history of the war in Iraq. Fiasco is a hard-hitting indictment of the administration’s failures in Iraq, from the distorted intelligence interpretations to the lies and fabrications created to justify the invasion, the post-war incompetence and bungling that led directly to the disaster our troops are mired in today. A brilliant work that deserves to be read.

Chasing Ghosts by Paul Rieckhoff. Unique among books about the war, this one is actually written by a soldier who served during the run-up, invasion, and early days of the insurgency. Paul Rieckhoff has seen it, done it, and lived it, unlike the degenerate kakistocracy occupying the white house today. If you want the real deal, the truth and nothing but, you must read this book.

What Was Asked of Us by Trisha Wood and Bobby Muller. An anthology of soldiers’ tales of the war, with various perspectives. One thing we must remember about war is that the people sent to fight believe, often very deeply, that what they were asked to do was the right thing. This book shows that, in often painful detail. It’s a hard read, but an eye-opener.

A must read for anyone who wants to get the soldiers’ experience, first hand.

The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism by Haynes Johnson.  A well-written and insightful account of the reign of terror of one of the worst and most shameless politicians in American history, Senator Joe McCarthy.  Johnson delves deeply into the history of the McCarthy era and the climate of fear and suspicion that he created, with special focus on his attacks on the integrity of the Army in his attempts to root out communists and subversives.  He then takes us to the present day and the post-9/11 climate of fear and suspicion created by the current crop of shameless and incompetent politicians ruining the country today.  An excellent work and a must-read.