Scott McLemee wrote a fantastic column in which he emailed a number of journalists, thinkers, and intellectuals and asked them what book they would have Barack Obama read if it could only be one.
Some of the suggestions:
Elvin Lim: The president-elect should read Preparing to be President: The Memos of Richard E. Neustadt (AEI Press, 2000), edited by Charles O. Jones. Richard Neustadt was a scholar-practitioner who advised Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Clinton, and, until his passing in 2003, also the dean of presidential studies. Most of the memos in this volume were written for president-elect John Kennedy, when the country was, as it is now, ready for change.
Jenny Attiyah: We don’t have to agree with everything we read in this country. Reading is not unpatriotic. So may I suggest that the future commander-in-chief actually read the speeches by Osama bin Laden? At a minimum, he can read between the lines. As Sun Tzu said, “know thine enemy”. But we know so little about bin Laden. We don’t even know where he lives. Supposedly, he “hates our freedoms” – but he would argue that what he hates is the freedom we take with our power.
Myself, if I had to choose just one, I think I’d probably go with George Monbiot’s Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning.