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An informal survey of journalists and academics resulted in a handful of suggested readings that update Sandburg’s 92-year-old list. It’s at least an interesting starting point for water cooler/barstool debates:

International relations: Correspondents Joe Galloway (“We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young”) or Robert Fisk (“The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East”)

Statesmen: Dwight D. Eisenhower or Mohandas Gandhi

Grassroots poet: Chuck D. (front man of Public Enemy and author of “Chuck D.: Lyrics of a Rap Revolutionary”) or Edward Sanders (author of “America: A History in Verse” and leader of the ‘60s group “The Fugs”)

Scripture: the Quran or The Analects of Confucius

Militarism: Dick Cheney’s Simon & Schuster memoir, due next year, or Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf

Novelist: Isabel Allende (Chilean-American author of 1982’s “The House of the Spirits” and one-time journalist) or George Orwell

Environmental writer: Aldo Leopold (Sand County Almanac), Rachel Carson (“Silent Spring”) or Sandra Steingraber (“Living Downstream”)

Government document: “9/11 Commission Report” or “The Warren Commission Report” (on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy).

Philosopher: Jean-Paul Sartre or the Dalai Lama

Artist:  M. F. Husain (“Barefoot across the Nation: M F Husain and the Idea of India”) or Anish Kapoor

Other: scientist Norman Borlaug, the subject of Leon Hesser’s “The Man Who Fed the World: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug and His Battle to End World Hunger”, or Carl Sagan (“Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science”)

–Bill Knight

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