Books·Holiday Gift Guide

10 books for the political pundit on your list

Books that readers across the political spectrum can enjoy.

Can't find a gift for that partisan in your life? Here are 10 books that survey today's political landscape in time for the season.

You can see the complete CBC Books gift guide here.

In Search of a Better World by Payam Akhavan

Scholar Payam Akhavan demystifies notions about human rights being a foreign concern in his memoir In Search of a Better World. (House of Anansi)

What is it about: Can cynicism be harmful? It is a question Payam Akhavan sets out to answer during his 2017 CBC Massey Lecture on human rights. Drawing from his expertise in international law, the Rwandan genocide and the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Akhavan questions the distance many believe to exist between our society and the issues affecting the broader world. 

What Happened by Hillary Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton describes the 2016 U.S. presidential election from her perspective in What Happened. (Craig Ruttle/The Associated Press)

​What is it about: Hilary Clinton invites readers of her memoir to peer behind the headlines that adorned her 2016 presidential campaign. It also serves as a reading list as Clinton enumerates the books that accompanied her throughout this period — from the poems of T.S. Elliot to the hiking memoir Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates finds a resemblance between the history of the Southern United States and 21st-century politics. (Nina Subin/Penguin Random House)

​What is it about: Ta-Nehisi Coates worries the present treads too closely to the past. In this collection of essays, he scrutinizes the parallels between the history of white supremacy in American history and the transition from the Obama to the Trump administration, considering the political movements this change engendered. 

Devil's Bargain by Joshua Green

Journalist and author Joshua Green says the key to understanding the triumph of Trumpism is to look at the role Steven Bannon plays in the White House. (Matt Mendelsohn/Penguin Random House)

​What is it about: This memoir proposes that in order to understand Donald Trump's presidency, it is necessary to reexamine his relationship with Steve Bannon. Joshua Green etches a portrait of the American president and his former White House chief strategist through a series of interviews that span Trump's entire election campaign, mapping the rise to power of both men.

A Woman's Work by Harriet Harman

​What is it about: Harriet Harman tracks developing attitudes towards women in politics through her own experience. As the longest-serving female MP in British politics, she recalls the odyssey towards equality for women and the movements and legal reforms that were necessary to guarantee today's freedoms.

The Reconciliation Manifesto by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson

Arthur Manuel, pictured here in 2001, died in January 2017. (Canadian Press/Tom Hanson/Lorimer)

​What is it about: While individuals might desire to move towards reconciliation, the authors of this manifesto believe bigger steps are necessary. Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson propose that adhering to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples goes beyond creating government-funded organizations. Their analysis sets out to generate a better understanding of true reconciliation.  

Policing Black Lives by Robyn Maynard

Robyn Maynard is the author of Policing Black Lives. She will give a presentation at the Association of Black Social Workers 40th Anniversary Conference next week in Halifax. (Stacy Lee Photography, Fernwood Publishing)

​What is it about: For Robyn Maynard, racism in Canada is not a current topic, but rather a reality with a long history. From colonial stigmas to disparities in educational resources for black students, the study encompasses a 400-year-old history of institutional prejudice and violence. 

I Was Told To Come Alone by Souad Mekhennet

(Henry Holt/Ben Kilb)

​What is it about: Journalist Souad Mekhennet is caught between two worlds. Raised in Germany within the Muslim faith, she has the advantage of peering into both cultures and rising above common prejudices to gain access to unprecedented interviews during events such as the Arab Springs. Her memoir approaches social divisions as an opportunity for mediation.

As We Have Always Done by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is an Indigenous writer, musician and academic. (Nadya Kwandibens/University of Minnesota Press)

​What is it about: Activist Leanne Simpson believes progress must be radical. Having repeatedly attempted to be recognized by the state throughout history, she contends Indigenous peoples can effect change effectively through local resistance. Her study suggests ways for communities to reclaim and preserve Indigenous lands. 

The Effective Citizen by Graham Steele

Graham Steele is a former Nova Scotia cabinet minister. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

​What is it about: Former Nova Scotia cabinet minister Graham Steele offers a political cheat sheet. He reveals the thinking process behind the decisions that are made in government and invites citizens to use this to their advantage. The memoir serves as a glossary of terms to dissect political jargon and understand what those is power are truly saying and doing.


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