The “Occupy Wall Street” Library

by Henry on October 10, 2011

So I’m informed that the Occupy Wall Street movement has a pretty good library, and that it’s possible to donate books to it by sending them to:

The UPS Store
Re: Occupy Wall Street
Attn: The People’s Library
118A Fulton St. #205
New York, NY 10038

I’ve just sent them a copy of Pierson/Hacker’s Winner Take All Politics, which I think is both very readable (important if you are trying to get through it under not exceptionally wonderful reading conditions) and terrific on the substance of why we are in a 99%/1% society. I encourage CT readers (a) to send books that they think might be good reading for OWS people, and (b) to leave comments saying which books they think should be in the library, and why. You certainly do not have to do (a) to write (b), but if you are in a position to send a book, it would obviously be nice (and a good, albeit small gesture of solidarity – I may be atypical, but if I were sitting and camping out, I’d really like to have something good to read during the duller moments). Also – these don’t have to be weighty tomes of policy analysis or whatever – you may reasonably think that the people occupying Wall Street don’t need to read those books, or that they may want lighter and livelier stuff.



Trey 10.10.11 at 8:23 pm

Miller’s Democracy Is in the Streetson the SDS is both well-written and appropriate, detailing the problems involved in trying to create consensus democracy when surrounded by idealists who may or may not share the same ideals. I can’t remember if it covers the fracture into the Weather Underground or not.


Ben Alpers 10.10.11 at 8:32 pm

James Scott’s Seeing Like a State wouldn’t be a bad addition.


Felix 10.10.11 at 9:11 pm


SamChevre 10.10.11 at 9:21 pm

Dean Baker’s The Conservative Nanny State

If I get a copy, once I’ve read it, I’ll give it to my local anarchist library (The Flying Brick.)


Warren Terra 10.10.11 at 9:25 pm

I was going to send them a few copies of Frederick Lewis Allen’s The Lords Of Creation, which I thought would be very appropriate, but I see others must have had a similar idea – all of the cheap copies on have gone (the cheapest is now $15, compared to hundreds of copies of his other books for $5 or much less, delivered).

I could send his Only Yesterday or The Big Change, but I haven’t read them and don’t know if they’re as appropriate.


Meredith 10.10.11 at 9:30 pm

How about some James Thurber or, more current, Firoozeh Dumas’ Funny in Farsi? I can imagine small groups reading stories aloud together. Good laughter. Good insights into (good) things that make this country tick (and OWS may need some uplifting reminder of that now and then).


Omega Centauri 10.10.11 at 9:35 pm

Ones I have that I think are appropriate. I’m at work and can’t grab the books for the authors names, etc, but:
The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein.
The Spirit Level.
Virus of the Mind (about memes).


Mike 10.10.11 at 9:40 pm

You could also do what Jeffrey Sachs did when he came down and bring ten copies of your latest book for the library to show how you’re totally on the same side–and definitely always have been–as the protesters.
Also I’m sure Naomi Klein is well represented in the OWS library (although the other branches probably have libraries which could use a copy).


John Protevi 10.10.11 at 9:48 pm

John Quiggin, Zombie Economics


Salient 10.10.11 at 9:49 pm

One copy of Geoghegan’s Which side are you on?, one copy of Cohen’s Why Not Socialism?, and a scrounged-up copy of Allen’s The Lords of Creation are on their way! (Estimated delivery October 17th, eesh, but wow is ‘media mail’ postage cheap.)


Elizabeth 10.10.11 at 9:58 pm

The Annotated Communist Manifesto. It may already be there — I read that the publisher has donated a large box of books to the OWS library — but I believe you can’t have too many!


LFC 10.10.11 at 10:17 pm

mostly tongue-in-cheek
from c. 1970:
J-F Revel, Without Marx or Jesus: The New American Revolution Has Begun, with an afterword (in the US edition) by Mary McCarthy
If only that blurb by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. weren’t on the cover…


To 10.10.11 at 10:41 pm

David Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years


Ben Alpers 10.10.11 at 11:02 pm

Some classics:

Ursula LeGuin’s The Dispossessed

Abbie Hoffman’s Revolution for the Hell of It

Richard Powers’s Gain (not as classic as the other two, of course, but still an enjoyable, relevant novel for those cold fall nights)


homunq 10.11.11 at 12:05 am

Gaming the Vote, by William Poundstone. The plurality voting system is how the 99% can beat the 1% in a “democracy”.


homunq 10.11.11 at 12:09 am

oops, I meant to say, plurality voting is how the 1% can win, and voting reform is how the 99% can take back their government.


derek 10.11.11 at 12:14 am

Jeez – how about something a little bit lighter!! – I think if I were there, I’d want to read something a tad less “deep” and “profound” before I went to sleep – just sayin’


Andrew F. 10.11.11 at 1:10 am

Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy.


Ebenezer Scrooge 10.11.11 at 1:56 am

I’m lucky enough to be a Wall Street brain dog, so I’ll drop by with my copy of James Winters’ “Oligarchy.”


maidhc 10.11.11 at 2:00 am

I would like to give them a copy of Carry It On! by Pete Seeger and Bob Reiser. It’s a collection of labor songs from the protests of previous generations.

I’d like to hear the crowd down on Wall Street do a rousing chorus of

The banks are made of marble
With a guard at every door
And the vaults are fill of silver
That the worker sweated for


djw 10.11.11 at 2:15 am

Tilly, Durable Inequality. (will send one of my spare copies tomorrow)


Eric H 10.11.11 at 2:37 am

* LeGuin, The Dispossessed, +1
* Kolko, The Triumph of Conservatism (as a warning to what might they might accidentally contribute to)
* Carson, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory, The Homebrew Industrial Revolution, The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand — a complete description of what they’re facing and what might be done about it.


dictateursanguinaire 10.11.11 at 4:02 am

Doug Henwood’s Wall Street would be a very good addition; I believe he has made it available for free on the internet. Wonkish but very understandable to a non-economist. Not that one needs a very cohesive or technical knowledge of why things are the way they are in order to correctly perceive them as messed-up but the lack of knowledge of finance jargon is often taken as a sign that people ‘don’t really know what they’re talking about.’ (personally, I’m disturbed by the implicit idea that certain, ahem, technocrats and/or people in the media have that people’s experience of being dicked over isn’t valid unless they can explain why their feelings are valid in macroeconomic terminology but things being the way they are, might as well know the argot.)


Joshua Gamen 10.11.11 at 5:26 am

Growing up, most of us were taught that if we wanted to change things in America, we could do it at the ballot box. Well, today large numbers of Americans are realizing that both major political parties have been bought and paid for.


Meredith 10.11.11 at 5:35 am

Are we assuming here that all these OWS folks need are some lessons in left-leaning economics? Fine to provide that, but also:

Not in that list: Who is the great writer — prize-winning, deservedly — who wrote that great novel, almost an allegory, about the quintessential American Adam-as-lonely-developer? A Saratoga/Skidmore figure. Damn, I love that book and can’t even remember the author’s name or the title at this late hour!


roger 10.11.11 at 6:21 am

Matt Taibbi’s Griftopia, Alyssa Katz’s history of the real estate bubble from the grassroots, Our Lot, and Jamie Galbraith’s The Predator State: how conservatives abandoned the free market and why liberals should too.


Ingrid Robeyns 10.11.11 at 7:41 am

I think it is fantastic that they have a library and that Henry opened this post for suggestions.

How about sending them some poetry? (most poetry I read is not in English, so I’ll leave concrete suggestions to others).

Somehow, I’ve been thinking a lot about Arundhati Roy’s short pieces on the Dam projects and on the privatizations in India; perhaps that would be a good book to send them too, since it is all about political-economic struggles from below (I think it’s called The cost of living, but my copy is circulating among my students).


Zamfir 10.11.11 at 7:52 am

Are we assuming here that all these OWS folks need are some lessons in left-leaning economics?
Comparative advatage :) Choosing books on left-leaning economics and politics is what the readers of CT excel at.


Md 10.11.11 at 8:25 am

_Wealth and Democracy_. By Kevin Phillips


Sam Dodsworth 10.11.11 at 8:29 am

I’ve sent Hirschmann’s “Exit, Voice and Loyalty” – a really great book I discovered via Crooked Timber – and the first volume of Warren Ellis’ “Transmetropolitan”.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden 10.11.11 at 9:06 am

Among some more obvious choices, I’m also sending them the four novels of Ken MacLeod’s “Fall Revolution” series. It’s never too early to start thinking about the politics of class struggle in a world shared with remorseless posthuman intelligences.


Kevin Donoghue 10.11.11 at 9:12 am

I’d want to read something a tad less “deep” and “profound” before I went to sleep …

Agreed, Tom Sharpe and P.G. Wodehouse might be quite welcome. And even if you want to stick to writing which is somehow relevant to OWS, there’s plenty of stuff which is both informative and entertaining; for example, Galbraith’s The Great Crash and Fintan O’Toole’s Ship of Fools.


Yarrow 10.11.11 at 11:29 am

Also — if there’s an Occupy in your town (check on Occupy Together), then they probably have a People’s library too.

And if they don’t, you could start one.


tomslee 10.11.11 at 11:38 am

Zamfir’s comment (#28) aside, I’d welcome inspiration more than education if I were there. Perhaps some of the great social justice novels so I could see myself better as inheritor of a historic movement: The Jungle, Grapes of Wrath, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, or there must be more modern ones that I’m unaware of.


harry b 10.11.11 at 11:49 am

CJ Sansom’s Winter in Madrid (a very high quality thriller by someone clearly on the right side of things). Maybe Richmal Crompton’s Just William, a book for all ages. If they want something educational, and have the energy, Donald Sassoon, One Hundred Years of Socialism is really outstanding, Ok, I’ll get hold of those three and send them.


Michael Harris 10.11.11 at 12:07 pm

Deer Hunting With Jesus (Joe Bageant)


Kim Weeden 10.11.11 at 12:18 pm

How about accessible analyses of social movements themselves, many of which emphasize strategies that are and are not successful in implementing lasting change? Doug McAdam’s Freedom Summer is a classic, and still a fun and inspiring read.

Or, for more current analyses, Sarah Soule’s book on how environmental protests can change corporate practice (Contention and Corporate Practice), or David Meyer’s Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America .


Christoph 10.11.11 at 12:32 pm

I would be willing to send my copy of Arguing in Communities for a civics lesson.

Also, from the origins of the problems with partisanship: Michel’s Political Parties


Wax Banks 10.11.11 at 2:18 pm

I can already hear the knees jerking, but for years I’ve been moved and inspired by Hitchens’s Letters to a Young Contrarian. Appropriate, merciless, pitiless, damned funny, very short – and I can’t think of many authors more ‘readable,’ whatever that means…


Wax Banks 10.11.11 at 2:20 pm

Oh, and Transmetropolitan is a fine choice – Ellis spends a surprising amount of time writing absolute hogshit but TM is pretty much ideal for the OWS group. Plus: pretty pictures!


mark f 10.11.11 at 2:43 pm

Capital Moves by Jefferson Cowie.


actor212 10.11.11 at 4:16 pm

Will they accept DVDs? I’ve got a few dozen from contributions to Link TV and Free Speech that I couldn’t possibly keep up with.


Surely 10.11.11 at 4:22 pm

Surely American Psycho.


Akshay 10.11.11 at 4:33 pm

Tomslee@34: Good one on inspiration! I suggest Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild, on the British Abolitionist movement. It is truly inspiring, because they won! The Story of My Experiments with Truth, by Gandhi, would be a more obvious suggestion.

If I were there, I am sure reading about/doing meditation or reading any of the Great Classics(tm) by Great Authors(r) would be good for me. But I might sooner desire to read early to mid Discworld novels.


David Moles 10.11.11 at 4:35 pm

I just sent ’em The Dispossessed, the U.S.A. trilogy, China Mountain Zhang, and two copies of Iron Council. Via the Powell’s Union bookstore, naturally.


whetstone 10.11.11 at 4:43 pm

Karen Ho, Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. The most interesting book I’ve read about the financial crisis. There are lots of books about it in a who-what-where-when sense, but this one’s really about why, and not in an easy, “because people are greedy” sense: how the culture of Wall Street (from how it recruits to how it treats its employees) encourages insane risk-taking and ambivalence towards… well, everyone else.

Basically, it does a good job of arguing where people on the Street are coming from when they do what they do; it’s like an academic version of Liar’s Poker. It really gets to the motivations of the individual players on an impressively deep level.


Jeff 10.11.11 at 4:54 pm

How about 13 Bankers, Simon Johnson & James Kwak


david 10.11.11 at 5:16 pm

I think I’ll bring in Dostoyevsky’s the Gambler.


Warren Terra 10.11.11 at 5:55 pm

According tou what I’ve heard, they don’t have power (except in the media area, and that’s dedicated). I suppose some people might have battery-powered devices, but I suspect DVDs aren’t the way to go.


Betsy Fagin 10.11.11 at 6:12 pm

Thank you all for your fantastic suggestions! If anyone’s in NYC, please do stop by and say hello. We just started cataloging & have the first 500 records available online. You can have a look at to see what we have on site.


LeeEsq 10.11.11 at 6:44 pm

I would put forward The Radicalism of the American Revolutin. It makes a pretty convincing argument that the American Revolution was a revolution in every sense of the word and its a good source of arguments for liberals trying to make the American Revolution their own rather than conceed it to conservatives.


J. Otto Pohl 10.11.11 at 6:46 pm

Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth still stands the test of time as a great book. I suspect it can still provide some insights into the world outside the US.


Salient 10.11.11 at 7:33 pm

According to what I’ve heard, they don’t have power

That’s what FOX News would like you to believe!

{some puns are irresistible}


Ric 10.11.11 at 8:06 pm

I would recommend David Schweickart’s book After Capitalism. A fantastic book on what he calls Economic Democracy.


neonnautilus 10.11.11 at 8:30 pm

“Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people” and
“Winning your election the Wellstone way”


e julius drivingstorm 10.11.11 at 8:52 pm

I haven’t read it yet, but I have a copy of Michael Shermer’s Why People Believe Weird Things (1997) casually displayed in my office. It’s a great prop, along with my Easy button. One section in the book under Pseudoscience and Superstition is titled “The Unlikliest Cult” subheaded as follows:

Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and the Cult of Personality


JJ 10.11.11 at 8:56 pm

The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy by Barrington Moore, an homage to the fate of millions of peasants stranded by the transition from feudalism to industrialism, and the wars, migrations and revolutions which resulted from their sacrifice to the social imperatives of modernism.


32Groove 10.11.11 at 10:05 pm

Allan Engler’s “Economic Democracy: The Working Class Alternative to Capitalism.” A study of Engler’s work would provide OWS’ers a rationale for their cause.


Meredith 10.11.11 at 11:24 pm

Memory serves, at last. Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer, by Steven Milhauser.


Watson Ladd 10.11.11 at 11:48 pm

J. Pohl, I prefer Black Skins, White Masks. Wretched of the Earth is all too often understood as a defense of negritude, which isn’t really the point.


tatere 10.11.11 at 11:49 pm

A copy of “Systems of Survival” by Jane Jacobs, because even though the style is maybe a bit odd, the ideas keep coming to mind lately. Plus it seems like not many people have seen it. Plus “Three Men In A Boat”, just because.


john c. halasz 10.12.11 at 12:39 am


jeer9 10.12.11 at 12:45 am

Indispensable Enemies by Walter Karp


BBA 10.12.11 at 12:50 am

Bartleby the Scrivener – the original occupier of Wall Street.


john c. halasz 10.12.11 at 1:08 am




bourbaki 10.12.11 at 1:52 am

I have to second #46’s suggestion. I’m reading Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wallstreet right now and it really explains the cultural reasons for (some of) high finances behaviors and attitudes.


may 10.12.11 at 2:36 am

don’t forget

Marilyn Warings’

“Counting for Nothing”.


lupita 10.12.11 at 3:08 am

Whatever Camila Vallejo has read.


gordon 10.12.11 at 5:01 am

I hope they have a copy of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”, but if not maybe they could use one.

And on the lighter side, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels , starting with “The Colour of Magic” and “The Light Fantastic”. Maybe some of the younger ones haven’t read “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”?


Meredith 10.12.11 at 5:43 am

@64Bartleby, yes.


bobbyp 10.12.11 at 12:52 pm

Damn….I lost my old copy of the IWW songbook. A true classic.


Lewis Carroll 10.12.11 at 1:22 pm

When Corporations Rule the World, by David Korten.

By someone who doesn’t get enough exposure, in my opinion.


Cahal 10.12.11 at 2:56 pm

Econned, Yves Smith

Whoops! John Lanchester

The Skeptical Economist, Jonathan Aldred*

23 Thing, Ha Joon Chang

* Especially this one


Phil Verostko 10.13.11 at 1:32 am

Age of Greed by Jeff Madrick
Get Up, Stand Up by Bruce Levine.


clarellen 10.13.11 at 2:36 am

How about Joy Berry’s “A Childrens Book About Being Greedy”.


gordon 10.13.11 at 2:45 am

And for some spiritual food, maybe H.D.Thoreau’s “Walden”.


Ember 10.13.11 at 7:38 am

I sent them a copy of this

I think it will accord with how they see life, and it’s a happy book as well as thoughtful. As the weather turns colder, I think they might like something that warms the heart and cheers the soul.


AntiAlias 10.13.11 at 10:43 am

Edward Luttwak, Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook.


Teresa O'Driscoll 10.13.11 at 12:42 pm

I will willingly donate them a copy of my book, 9 Days to Heaven, How to make everlasting meaning of your life as it may give them a little welcome perspective!


Laurence 10.13.11 at 3:36 pm

Bill Black, The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One


ezra abrams 10.13.11 at 10:13 pm

Crooked timber – congrats to you
I’ve been looking at the various “liberal” websites, and most of them do NOT have a “click to donate to ows bailfund” button
Most of them, doing nothing but the usual blah blah, are sitting around in their computer office, offering OWS advice.
kinda makes me wanna puke; ows is doing something, bloggers are criticizing.
At least this one has a link to donate money to the bail fund
PS: I think CT readers will be really amused by the link below; these guys recorded parole decisions by judges, and found that as the judges got hungry (eg, just before lunch) they got meaner.


LFC 10.14.11 at 12:45 am

Bloomberg is apparently planning to clear the park (or try to) at 7 a.m. tomorrow (Friday 10/14). (For source of this info, see the most recent post at my blog under “update”.) Which raises the question whether he’s going to try to confiscate the books…seems unlikely, but one can never tell, I suppose.


John Quiggin 10.14.11 at 8:10 pm

@LFC The park clearance was abandoned, happily.

I didn’t bring books with me to the US, but I’ve been buying every magazine I could find about the Arab Spring and then OWS. So, on the principle that there is nothing more enjoyable than reading about yourself, I took them all down to McPherson Square to drop them off for Occupy DC. In return, I got a reprint of a pamphlet by MLK (cover price, just one dime).


william u. 10.15.11 at 3:03 pm

Judt’s social-democratic jeremiad Ill Fares the Land. However, I think it suffers from a deficit of economic analysis, so toss in Glyn’s Capitalism Unleashed and back issues of Henwood’s Left Business Observer.

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