The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson
Below are some of the books that I have read and enjoyed, and that I believe that the general public can read, understand, and enjoy. Those books marked with a § are a good starting point as they are especially readable and enjoyable. While some of these books are out of date, their content is still appropriate today. Please note that I have read many other books on these subjects, most of which are more scholarly, but I have deliberately limited this list to appropriate general public reading, and not the more scholarly books I have read. This list is limited to my personal areas of interest and knowledge, and I do not believe that I could honestly recommend any book that I am unfamiliar with, or on a subject that I have limited knowledge of.
I have read multiple biographies of our Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln, all of them very good and could be recommended. I prefer biography's that stress the character of the person, and the historical context of their times. I believe that the following books meet these criteria, as well as being an enjoyable read for the general public.
- § Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
- § Founding Fathers: The Essential Guide To The Men Who Made America By Encyclopedia Britannica
- § Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different by Gordon S. Wood
- Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
- American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis
- Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson
- Founders' Son: A Life Of Abraham Lincoln By Richard Brookhiser
- His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis
- James Madison: A Life Reconsidered by Lynne Cheney
- John Adams by David McCullough
- Revolutionary Founders: Rebels, Radicals, and Reformers in the Making of the Nation by Alfred F. Young Gary B. Nash, and Ray Raphael
- Samuel Adams: A Life by Ira Stoll
- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
- The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness by Harlow Giles Unger
Economics can be a dry subject, so I have chosen those books that illuminate economics in a more lively and engaging manner. The only textbook that I have included is Thomas Sowells' Basic Economics, as I believe it is important that everyone should have a basic knowledge of Economics.
- § "That Which is Seen and That Which is Not Seen", "The Law", and "Government" by Frederic Bastiat
- § Naked Economics: Undressing The Dismal Science (Fully Revised And Updated) By Charles Wheelan
- § Naked Money: A Revealing Look At What It Is and Why It Matters By Charles Wheelan
- § Naked Statistics: Stripping The Dread From The Data By Charles Wheelan
- § Studies Show: A Popular Guide To Understanding Scientific Studies” By John H. Fennick.
- § The Armchair Economist – Economics and Everyday Life (2nd Edition) by Steven E. Landsburg
- At The Brink by John R. Lott Jr.
- Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell
- Economic Facts and Fallacies, 2nd edition by Thomas Sowell
- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
- Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman
- Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't by John R. Lott Jr.
- Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You about Economics by John Tamny
- SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
- The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data by David Spiegelhalter.
The more you understand logical fallacies, cognitive biases, and reasoning the more accurate it becomes to think things through. It will also help you understand other peoples’ opinions and ideas. The following books are a good starting point.
- § Everything Is Obvious – How Common Sense Fails Us by Duncan J. Watts
- § Mastering Logical Fallacies by Michael Withey
- § Mindfields: How cognitive biases confuse our thinking in politics and life by Mr. Burt Webb
So many choices, and so difficult to choose. I have therefore limited myself to 10 choices from American and English Literature. I admit that most of my fiction reading has occurred during my youth. So these choices are not always the greatest, and not always the best, but the ones I have thoroughly enjoyed.
- All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
- The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
- Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
- Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
- The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
I have read multiple histories of the Pre-Revolutionary, the Revolutionary War, and the Constitutional times of American History. I have also read several books on the Civil War and its historical context, as well as books on other time periods of American history. All of them have been good and that I can recommended. I prefer histories that illuminate the historical context of these times. I believe that the following books meet these criteria, as well as being an enjoyable read for the general public.
- § A History Of The American People By Paul Johnson
- § A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic (1754-1801) by John Ferling
- § Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson
- § The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood
- A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution by Carol Berkin
- America: The Last Best Hope (Volume I): From the Age of Discovery to a World at War by William J. Bennett
- America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II): From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom by William J. Bennett
- America: The Last Best Hope (Volume III): From the Collapse of Communism to the Rise of Radical Islam by William J. Bennett
- Independence: The Struggle to Set America Free by John Ferling
- Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America by Garry Wills
- The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties by Carol Berkin
- The Constitution: An Introduction by Michael Stokes Paulsen and Luke Paulsen
- The Heritage Guide to the Constitution: Fully Revised Second Edition – by David F. Forte (Editor), Matthew Spalding (Editor), Edwin Meese III (Foreword)
- The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution by Linda R. Monk
Please note that the following books are very concise, paperback, and of a size that can fit into your pants pocket, which makes them convenient to carry and read in small bites:
- American History: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Paul S. Boyer
- American Political History: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) 1st Edition by Donald T. Critchlow
- American Political Parties and Elections: A Very Short Introduction by L. Sandy Maisel
- American Politics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Richard M. Valelly
- The American Presidency: A Very Short Introduction by Charles O. Jones
- The Founding Fathers: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) By R. B. Bernstein
- The U.S. Congress: A Very Short Introduction by Donald A. Ritchie
- The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction by Linda Greenhouse
These books provide illumination, and not heat, on the political issues of our time. I have deliberately not included topics of a single interest, but more of a collection of essays.
- § Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph by Dennis Prager
- § Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer
- § Think a Second Time by Dennis Prager
- Arrogance: Rescuing America From The Media Elite by Bernard Goldberg
- Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News by Bernard Goldberg and Ed Morrisse
- Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right by Bernard Goldberg
- Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell
It is important that you understand the world's religions in that they have shaped so much of history and culture. You only need one book to discover the major religions of the world - Huston Smith's "The Worlds Religions". The other books help provide perspective on the world's religions.
- § The World's Religions (Plus) - 50 Anniversary Edition By Huston Smith
- Finding God: Ten Jewish Responses By Rifat Sonsino
- Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism By Dennis Prager And Joseph Telushkin
- Why The Jews?: The Reason For Antisemitism By Dennis Prager And Joseph Telushkin
A major interest of mine, as it has helped me in my spiritual discovery, and provided me with the basis of my morals, ethics, and character. The following books are an eclectic selection that can provide insights on this subject.
- § The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World by Paul Davies
- Amazing Truths - How Science and the Bible Agree by Dr. Michael Guillen
- Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Humanism by Paul Kurtz
- Genesis and the Big Bang: The Discovery Of Harmony Between Modern Science And The Bible by Gerald Schroeder
- Imagine There's No Heaven: voices of secular humanism by Free Inquiry Editors
- Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith by Philip Kitcher
- Living Without Religion by Paul Kurtz
- Pascal's Fire: Scientific Faith and Religious Understanding by Keith Ward
- Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould
- The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? by Paul Davies
- The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins
- Why Science Does Not Disprove God by Amir Aczel
Most of my scientific reading has been in Astronomy and Physics (my special interest) although I have read other scientific books. As I do not think I am qualified to recommend books on the other sciences I have limited this list to my special interests.
- § A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
- § What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein's Ideas, and Why They Matter by Jeffrey Bennett
- Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
- Physics For The Rest of Us by Roger S. Jones
- Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli
- The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World by Edward Dolnick
- The End of Discovery: Are We Approaching the Boundaries of the Knowable? by Russell Stannard
- The End Of Science: Facing The Limits Of Knowledge In The Twilight Of The Scientific Age by John Horgan
- The Life of Isaac Newton by Richard S. Westfall
- The New Cosmos: Answering Astronomy's Big Questions by David J. Eicher
- The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity by Prof. Pedro G. Ferreira
- The Quantum Universe: (And Why Anything That Can Happen, Does) by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw
Like Economics mathematics can be dry and difficult to understand. The books I have recommended are not of this kind, and I believe that you will find these books an interesting read.
- § Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences by John Allen Paulos
- A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper by John Allen Paulos
- Beyond Numeracy by John Allen Paulos
- Bridges to Infinity: The Human Side of Mathematics by Michael Guillen
- Five Equations that Changed the World: The Power and Poetry of Mathematics by Michael Guillen
- The Universe Speaks in Numbers by Graham Farmelo
Philosophy can be esoteric and difficult to understand. The books I have recommended are not of this kind, and I believe that you will find these books interesting.
- § The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers by Will Durant
- A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
- Great Thinkers of the Western World by Ian P. Greal, Editor
As an adolescent and young adult, I read hundreds of science fiction novels and thousands of short stories. The shortlist that follows are those novels that have stayed in my memory. I would also suggest that an Anthology of the Short Stories by these authors would also be good reading.
- Aldous Huxley - Brave New World
- Arthur C. Clarke - Childhood's End, Rendezvous With Rama, 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Frank Herbert - Dune, Children Of Dune, Dune Messiah
- George Orwell - 1984, Animal Farm
- H.G. Wells - The Invisible Man, The Time Machine, The War of The Worlds
- Isaac Asimov - Foundation Trilogy, Nightfall and Other Stories, I Robot (Series)
- John Wyndham - The Day of the Triffids
- Niven And Pournelle - The Mote In God's Eye, Lucifer's Hammer
- Ray Bradbury - Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles
- Robert Heinlein - Stranger In A Strange Land, Starship Troopers, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, The Puppet Masters
A good reference book is very handy to have around. Although most of this information is available on the Internet, it is often scattered around, and many time of dubious integrity. I often refer to the following reference books when I am researching or thinking about my observations.
- § 1,000 Years, 1,000 People: Ranking the Men and Women Who Shaped the Millennium by Agnes Hooper Gottlieb and Anges H. Gottlieb
- § Mastering Logical Fallacies by Michael Withey
- § The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy by E. D. Hirsch Jr.
- § The Scientific 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Scientists, Past And Present By John Galbraith Simmons
- § The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection Of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, And Dangerous Delusions By Robert Todd Carroll
- A History of Art for Young People by H. W. Janson and Anthony F. Janson
- An Outline History of Western Music by World, Martin, Miller, and Cykler
- Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia
- Masterpieces of World Literature - Frank N. Magill, Editor
- Masterpieces of World Philosophy - Frank N. Magill, Editor
- The 100 Most Influential Philosophers - Encyclopedia Britannica
- The 50 Greatest Mathematicians of the World by Rajesh Kumar Thakur
- The Billboard Encyclopedia of Classical Music
- The Lives & Times of the Great Composers by Michael Steen
Bastiat was a French economist and political philosopher of
the mid-19th century. Even though his examples are of that time,
they are perfectly understandable by anyone in today's world. I
would encourage all to read his essays, and if I could I would make
it required reading for all high school students.