image Public domain books aren’t just essential as transmitters of culture. Fiction or nonfiction, they can also be sources of wisdom.

So now here’s the question of the day. "Which two public domain books should U.S. presidential and vice presidential candidates read, and why?" I’d welcome answers from both inside and outside the States.

My recs: The Art of War and Democracy in America

At top of my list would be The Art of War (warning of the need to know the enemy and avoid locking into expensive or obsolete strategies) and Democracy in America (celebrating what made America different, while also telling how the U.S. could lose its uniqueness).

Yes, this is an e-book blog with the main focus on technology, but I’d welcome civil discussion of the contents of these ought-to-read books in specific political contexts. Try to let facts and dispassionate analysis prevail over partisanship.

Related: Copies of The Art (Feedbooks, Manybooks) and Democracy (Manybooks). Memo to Hadrien at Feeedbooks: Democracy, written by a Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, would be an excellent addition to your collection.


  1. I’m a software developer now (I created, covered here by the Teleread blog). But before I went into software full time, I wrote a PhD dissertation on Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, which I adapted into an article for a political economy journal called The Independent Review.

    I actually take the contrarian view that Democracy in America is not as relevant as many people have thought to our present world. The advanced industrial information economy we live in today was way beyond any thing Tocqueville conceived or imagined in his reflections on the future of democracy in America.

    As for free books to read, I think the presidential candidates really need to read books and essays by the proponents of Free Software and Free Culture, like Richard Stallman and Lawrence Lessig. As more and more intellectual property issues come before Congress, the Supreme Court, and our treaty negotiators, we need a President who understands how these decisions will impinge on the future of human freedom and creativity.

  2. To my point of view any functional head of states must reads books on justice. If justice being practised in governance almost all the ills of society and the world wide chaos can go withine short period of time.
    Now, today when we are in final day of voting each one of eligible voters must use its voting rights to save democracy in this country.Thanks

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