Summer is a time for relaxation, and nothing says “relax” like a good book—even a wonky one. Below we have listed the best summer reads from the Brookings Institution Press. Whether you’re looking for the perfect poolside read or airplane book, or even just a book to enjoy on your commute to work, we’ve got you covered.
Through Labor Day, you can receive 40% off when you use code HOTSUN at checkout. Offer is only valid at brookings.edu.
America is becoming a class-based society, and the upper middle class is leaving everyone else in the dust. In Dream Hoarders, Richard Reeves explores the proliferation of “opportunity hoarding” among the top 20 percent—the practice of those at the top of the income ladder passing their status onto their children through unfair means, and to the detriment of middle- and lower-class children looking for upward mobility.
Unwinding Madness: What Went Wrong in College Sports and How to Fix It
by Gerald Gurney, Donna Lopiano, and Andrew Zimbalist
Unwinding Madness is the most comprehensive examination to date of how the NCAA has lost its way in the governance of intercollegiate athletics—and why it is incapable of achieving reform and must be replaced. The authors argue that the NCAA has placed commercial success above its responsibilities to protect the academic primacy, health, and well-being of college athletes and has fallen into an educational, ethical, and economic crisis—and they propose solutions to fix the problems now facing college athletics.
Loan Sharks: The Birth of Predatory Lending
by Charles R. Geisst
Looking for an investment return that could exceed 500 percent annually—maybe even twice that much? Private, unregulated lending to high-risk borrowers is the answer, or at least it was in the United States during the time of the Civil War. Newspapers called the practice “loan sharking” because the lenders employed the same ruthlessness as the great predators in the ocean. Loan Sharks is the first history of predatory lending in the United States.
From Vietnam in the 1960s to the Afghanistan of this decade, James Dobbins was on the frontlines of American diplomacy and working to advance U.S. national interests in some of the world’s most difficult and troubled situations. In his memoir, Dobbins takes the reader behind the scenes at the Vietnam peace talks, the darkest dates of the Cold War, the reunification of Germany, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the U.S. military interventions in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, and Somalia. He provides a thoughtful insider’s account of all these ventures, analyzes the sources of both success and failure, and provides incisive portraits of many of the chief actors.
Why Presidents Fail and How They Can Succeed Again
by Elaine C. Kamarck
From the failed attempt to rescue the U.S. diplomats held hostage by Iran in 1980 under President Jimmy Carter and the missed intelligence on al-Qaida before 9/11 under George W. Bush to the computer meltdown that marred the arrival of health care reform under Barack Obama, the American presidency has been a profile in failure. In Why Presidents Fail and How They Can Succeed Again, Elaine Kamarck surveys these and other recent presidential failures to understand why Americans have lost faith in their leaders—and how they can get it back.
Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage
by Isabel V. Sawhill
Over half of all births to young adults in the United States now occur outside of marriage, and many are unplanned. The result is increased poverty and inequality for children. In Generation Unbound, Isabel Sawhill looks at the importance of birth control, especially long-acting reversible contraceptives, in helping women plan for parenthood and, in turn, helping their economic mobility.
Slow, incremental change has become a relic of the past. Today’s shifts come fast and big. They are what Darrell West calls megachanges, in which dramatic disruptions in trends and policies occur on a regular basis. What to do? We should alter our expectations about the speed and magnitude of political and social change, and recognize that we need to promote incremental change, not large-scale transformation. With megachange becoming the new normal, our domestic and global institutions must develop the ability to tackle the massive economic, political, and social shifts that we face.
Don’t want to spend your whole summer reading? Our Short Histories are pocket-sized explorations of the most important social, cultural, economic, and political concerns we face.
Corruption: A Short History, by Carlo Alberto Brioschi
Marijuana: A Short History, by John Hudak
Global Cities: A Short History, by Greg Clark