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What our next president should read

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The New York Times did a great survey in its book section yesterday, asking writers to recommend books for the presidential candidates. The answers ranged from the classic (Henry James, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, essays by Samuel Johnson) to the wonky ("Pornography of Power" by Robert Scheer," "Takeover" by Charlie Savage) to the green (Gore and McKibben, of course) to the snarky (Gore Vidal advises them not to read The New York Times.)

Some books were aimed at particular candidates while others were general. If I were making my own list, I'd want all three candidates to do identical reading. I'd ask all of them to start with Kiran Desai's "The Inheritance of Loss." This is a lovely novel about our new migrant world in which people and ideas travel easily across borders – but with consequences for all of us. I think it'd be a good thing for the head of the most powerful nation on earth to keep this in mind.


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