Recommended Reading

Old books and reading glasses

Every year, in consultation with Pardee RAND faculty, Dean Susan L. Marquis assigns summer reading to the incoming cohort of students. If you're looking for something thoughtful to broaden your horizons, look no further!

Dean's Reading List for 2017

This year, Dean Marquis is asking all incoming students to read Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, as well as one of the other four books she and the faculty recommended.

Book cover: Evicted


Poverty and Profit in the American City

By Matthew Desmond

Penguin Random House, 2016, 432 pages

Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction

In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind...

Book cover: The End of Power

The End of Power

From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn't What It Used to Be

By Moisés Naím

Basic Books, 2013, 320 pages

Mark Zuckerberg's inaugural pick for his "Year of Books" challenge, The End of Power updates the very notion of power for the 21st century. Power, we know, is shifting: From West to East and North to South, from presidential palaces to public squares, from once formidable corporate behemoths to nimble startups and, slowly but surely, from men to women. But power is not merely dispersing; it is also decaying. Those in power today are more constrained in what they can do with it and more at risk of losing it than ever before. In The End of Power, award-winning columnist and former Foreign Policy editor Moisés Naím illuminates the struggle between once-dominant megaplayers and the new micropowers challenging them in every field of human endeavor.

Book cover: Rolling Blackouts

Rolling Blackouts

Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq

By Sarah Glidden

Drawn and Quarterly, 2016, 304 pages

Cartoonist Sarah Glidden accompanies her two friends―reporters and founders of a journalism non-profit―as they research potential stories on the effects of the Iraq War on the Middle East and, specifically, the war’s refugees. Joining the trio is a childhood friend and former Marine whose past service in Iraq adds an unexpected and sometimes unwelcome viewpoint, both to the people they come across and perhaps even themselves.

Book cover: Dreamland


The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic

By Sam Quiones

Bloomsbury Press, 2016, 384 pages

In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America—addiction like no other the country has ever faced. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.

Book cover: The Undoing Project

The Undoing Project

A Friendship that Changed Our Minds

By Michael Lewis

W.W. Norton & Company, 2016, 368 pages

The Undoing Project is about a compelling collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures. They became heroes in the university and on the battlefield—both had important careers in the Israeli military—and their research was deeply linked to their extraordinary life experiences. Amos Tversky was a brilliant, self-confident warrior and extrovert, the center of rapt attention in any room; Daniel Kahneman, a fugitive from the Nazis in his childhood, was an introvert whose questing self-doubt was the seedbed of his ideas. They became one of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, working together so closely that they couldn’t remember whose brain originated which ideas, or who should claim credit. They flipped a coin to decide the lead authorship on the first paper they wrote, and simply alternated thereafter.

This story about the workings of the human mind is explored through the personalities of two fascinating individuals so fundamentally different from each other that they seem unlikely friends or colleagues. In the process they may well have changed, for good, mankind’s view of its own mind.

Previous Recommendations

Note: the links below go to Google Books or the publisher's website, where you can read an online excerpt and choose an online retailer if you're interested in purchasing a copy.

Pardee RAND faculty have also made summer reading recommendations in past years. In 2012, they recommended ten books to change the way you think. In 2013 they made more recommendations — some of which came from alumni and students, too.