The transfer of power is complete. On a tempestuous 1/20, President Obama handed over the reigns of the American government to Donald Trump. The moment was surreal and not without controversy. Inaugural attendance was down dramatically while protesters filled the streets of DC, New York, and San Francisco where a human chain spanned the Golden Gate Bridge.
Many Americans are still reeling from the election and wondering how we got to this moment. Future historians will ask was the election of Donald Trump an aberration from normative politics, or the culmination of a longer history. In such times, looking to past precedent and recalling the words of intellectuals offers us a glimmer of understanding and much-needed insight.
Over the course of the month, I’ll be compiling a list of book recommendations from scholars and professors that I admire, but for now let’s start with the five books I consider essential reading for a Trump presidency.
1. Hannah Arendt The Origins of Totalitarianism
2. Zygmunt Bauman Modernity and the Holocaust
3. Donald Kinder & Cindy Kam Us Against Them: Ethnocentic Foundations of American Opinion
4. Dan T. Carter The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, The Origins of New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics
5. Gail Bederman Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States
Be sure to subscribe to get updates as the reading list expands over the month.