Books Recommended by Powerful Political Leaders

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

Angela Merkel

Chancellor of Germany

Angela Merkel is a powerhouse in Germany, often called the world’s most powerful woman, the de facto leader of the European Union, and the leader of the Free World. Merkel is a German politician that has been serving as the country’s chancellor since 2005, leading the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and navigating the complex political landscape we see today.

She achieved her doctorate in quantum chemistry in 1986, and worked as a research scientist before beginning a career in politics in the wake of the 1989 revolutions in Germany. Following the reunification of Eastern and Western Germany in 1990, she joined the Christian Democratic Union and was soon appointed as the Federal Minister of women and youth, then later serving as the minister for the environmental and nuclear safety, under the Helmut Kohl government.

When Kohl lost the general elections of 1998, Merkel was named the secretary-general of the CDU and was chosen as the party’s leader 2 years later, only to lose the candidacy to Edmund Stoiber in 2002. However, in the 2005 elections, she had narrowly defeated the opposition becoming the first former citizen of the German Democratic Republic to lead a reunited Germany, and the first woman to lead Germany since it became a modern nation state in 1871. She is currently in her fourth term as chancellor.

In her time, she has overseen the struggle of the European economy, the Ukraine crisis, Europe’s greatest refugee crisis since WWII, and more. The main theme of her government has thoroughly been pragmatism, demonstrating her open-mindedness, and to avoid position-taking for the sake of an ideology. She also speaks Russian, German, and English.

Sources Bio: Books: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/29/angela-merkel-jurgen-osterhammel-the-transformation-of-the-world-book-germany; http://poweroftheword.americanwritersmuseum.org/leaders/angela-merkel/; https://www.bloombergquint.com/pursuits/2017/06/10/libraries-of-leaders-on-the-bookshelves-of-europes-most-powerful-women Images:
The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century by Jurgen Osterhammel

Ranging from finely honed legal argument to wry and some sometimes savage humor to private correspondence and political rhetoric of unsurpassed grandeur, the writings collected in this volume are at once a literary testament of the greatest writer ever to occupy the White House and a documentary history of America in Abraham Lincoln’s time.

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They record Lincoln’s campaigns for public office; the evolution of his stand against slavery; his electrifying debates with Stephen Douglas; his conduct of the Civil War; and the great public utterances of his presidency, including the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address.

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History of Germany Since 1789 by Golo Mann

'At times,' writes Golo Mann, 'the Germans seem a philosophical people, at others the most practical and most materialistic at times the most peaceful, at others the most domineering and brutal. Time after time they have surprised the world by things least expected of them.' It is this quality of paradox, even of mystery, in the German nation that the distinguished historian renders with such subtlety and penetration in this celebrated study.

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It traces the whole sweep of intellectual development in Germany since the French Revolution. As well as chronicling historic events, the book deals in detail with the contributions of philosophers, poets and novelists alongside those of parliamentarians and generals.

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Madam Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie

Written by Curie's daughter, the renowned international activist Eve Curie, this biography chronicles Curie's legendary achievements in science, including her pioneering efforts in the study of radioactivity and her two Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry.

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It also spotlights her remarkable life, from her childhood in Poland, to her storybook Parisian marriage to fellow scientist Pierre Curie, to her tragic death from the very radium that brought her fame. Now updated with an eloquent, rousing introduction by best-selling author Natalie Angier, this timeless biography celebrates an astonishing mind and a extraordinary woman's life.

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Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, Senator from New York, and First Lady of the United States

Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State, Senator from New York, and First Lady of the United States

Hillary Rodham Clinton is most recently remembered as the Democrat candidate in the past US elections, but she has served as Secretary of State, Senator from New York, and First Lady of the United States. Fun fact: her book, It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us, was a best seller and she received a Grammy Award for her recording of it.

Way before her political career, Clinton enrolled in Yale Law School, where she was one of just 27 women in her graduating class. While attending Yale, Hillary began dating one of her classmates, Bill Clinton.

After graduation, Hillary advised the Children’s Defense Fund in Cambridge and joined the impeachment inquiry staff advising the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives. After a while, she “followed her heart to Arkansas,” where her husband had begun his political career. She advocated for public health issues such as expanding health insurance coverage and ensuring children are properly immunized. She also wrote a weekly newspaper column entitled “Talking It Over,” which focused on her experiences as First Lady and her observations of women, children, and families she has met around the world.

She was the first First Lady elected to the United States Senate and the first woman elected statewide in New York. Clinton has been publicly scrutinized for some of her controversial activities however, she has also won many admirers for her strong support for women around the world and her commitment to children’s issues.

Here are Hillary Clinton’s favorite books:

Sources Bio: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/hillary-rodham-clinton/ Books: http://nymag.com/strategist/2017/06/steal-your-summer-reading-list-from-hillary-clinton.html Images: NYMag
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

“It’s something I’ve gone back to repeatedly during difficult times in my life,” she writes. “Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest in our family and something of a Girl Scout, but I’ve always identified with the older brother in the parable. … It’s a story about unconditional love — the love of a father, and also The Father, who is always ready to love us, no matter how often we stumble and fall.” (Clinton’s Notes)

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A chance encounter with a reproduction of Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son catapulted Henri Nouwen on a long spiritual adventure. Here he shares the deeply personal and resonant meditation that led him to discover the place within where God has chosen to dwell. In seizing the inspiration that came to him through Rembrandt's depiction of the powerful Gospel story, Henri Nouwen probes the several movements of the parable: the younger son's return, the father's restoration of sonship, the elder son's vengefulness, and the father's compassion. In his reflection on Rembrandt in light of his own life journey, the author evokes a powerful drama of the parable in a rich, captivating way that is sure to reverberate in the hearts of readers. The themes of homecoming, affirmation, and reconciliation will be newly discovered by all who have known loneliness, dejection, jealousy, or anger. The challenge to love as the father and be loved as the son will be seen as the ultimate revelation of the parable known to Christians throughout time, and here represented with a vigor and power fresh for our times.

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Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

When beloved author Henri Nouwen set out to record this daybook of totally new reflections, he suddenly found himself on 'a true spiritual adventure.' For in these 366 original, interlocking morsels of daily wisdom, Nouwen provides both sustenance and a trail for us to follow, as he unveils, to his own surprise, his personal map of faith.

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From the delicate interplay of human experience to the surrender to Christ and the embrace of Christian community, that journey of Christian spirituality is explored and celebrated here in each eloquent, thought–provoking passage, 'The table is one of the most intimate places in our lives. It is there that we give ourselves to one another. When we say, 'Take some more, let me serve you another plate, let me pour you another glass, don't be shy, enjoy it,' we say a lot more than our words express. We invite our friends to become part of our lives. We want them to be nurtured by the same food and drink that nurture us. We desire communion.... Every breakfast, lunch, or dinner can become a time of growing communion with one another.' Intimately personal and inspiring, Bread for the Journey is a daily feast of fresh insight into the challenges and deep joys of a life lived in close communion with God. Nouwen is a wise, loving companion who invites us along as he finds joy in the community of loss, true freedom in forgiveness of others, and hope in surprising places. Each daily meditation is a stepping–stone along a path of private discovery, offering Nouwen's seasoned yet fresh ideas on kindness, love, suffering, and prayer, the Church as God's people, and the importance of Jesus in one's life–reflecting, as a whole, Nouwen's own 'personal creed.' Bread for the Journey brims with daily nourishment and guidance for devoted followers and new friends alike –– food for thought on a yearlong journey of discovery and faith.

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What’s the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Frank

“After John Kerry lost to George W. Bush in 2004, the writer Thomas Frank popularized the theory that Republicans persuaded whites … to vote against their economic interests by appealing to them on cultural issues – in other words, ‘gays, guns and God.’ There’s definitely merit in that explanation.” (Clinton’s Notes)

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Hailed as 'dazzlingly insightful and wonderfully sardonic' (Chicago Tribune), 'very funny and very painful' (San Francisco Chronicle), and 'in a different league from most political books' (The New York Observer), What's the Matter with Kansas? unravels the great political mystery of our day: Why do so many Americans vote against their economic and social interests? With his acclaimed wit and acuity, Thomas Frank answers the riddle by examining his home state, Kansas-a place once famous for its radicalism that now ranks among the nation's most eager participants in the culture wars. Charting what he calls the 'thirty-year backlash'-the popular revolt against a supposedly liberal establishment-Frank reveals how conservatism, once a marker of class privilege, became the creed of millions of ordinary Americans. A brilliant analysis-and funny to boot-What's the Matter with Kansas? is a vivid portrait of an upside-down world where blue-collar patriots recite the Pledge while they strangle their life chances; where small farmers cast their votes for a Wall Street order that will eventually push them off their land; and where a group of frat boys, lawyers, and CEOs has managed to convince the country that it speaks on behalf of the People.

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Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

“Anger and resentment do run deep. As Appalachian natives such as J.D. Vance have pointed out, a culture of grievance, victimhood and scapegoating have taken root as traditional values of self-reliance and hard work have withered. There’s a tendency toward seeing every problem as someone else’s fault, whether it’s Obama … undocumented immigrants … or me.” (Clinton’s Notes)

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Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history. A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

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The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

The famous bestseller with “concise insight into what drives the mind of the fanatic and the dynamics of a mass movement” (Wall St. Journal) by Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Eric Hoffer, The True Believer is a landmark in the field of social psychology, and even more relevant today than ever before in history.

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Called a “brilliant and original inquiry” and “a genuine contribution to our social thought” by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The True Believer is mandatory reading for anyone interested in the machinations by which an individual becomes a fanatic.

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Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam

Once we bowled in leagues, usually after work—but no longer. This seemingly small phenomenon symbolizes a significant social change that Robert Putnam has identified in this brilliant volume, which The Economist hailed as “a prodigious achievement.”

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Drawing on vast new data that reveal Americans’ changing behavior, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures—whether they be PTA, church, or political parties—have disintegrated. Until the publication of this groundbreaking work, no one had so deftly diagnosed the harm that these broken bonds have wreaked on our physical and civic health, nor had anyone exalted their fundamental power in creating a society that is happy, healthy, and safe. Like defining works from the past, such as The Lonely Crowd and The Affluent Society, and like the works of C. Wright Mills and Betty Friedan, Putnam’s Bowling Alone has identified a central crisis at the heart of our society and suggests what we can do.

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Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59) came to America in 1831 to see what a great republic was like. What struck him most was the country's equality of conditions, its democracy. The book he wrote on his return to France, Democracy in America, is both the best ever written on democracy and the best ever written on America.

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It remains the most often quoted book about the United States, not only because it has something to interest and please everyone, but also because it has something to teach everyone. When it was published in 2000, Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop's new translation of Democracy in America—only the third since the original two-volume work was published in 1835 and 1840—was lauded in all quarters as the finest and most definitive edition of Tocqueville's classic thus far. Mansfield and Winthrop have restored the nuances of Tocqueville's language, with the expressed goal 'to convey Tocqueville's thought as he held it rather than to restate it in comparable terms of today.' The result is a translation with minimal interpretation, but with impeccable annotations of unfamiliar references and a masterful introduction placing the work and its author in the broader contexts of political philosophy and statesmanship.

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Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada

Justin Trudeau is Canada’s super hot, liberal Prime Minister with a hella cute family. He’s honestly a pretty nice guy. He promotes pretty much all the social causes like winter-sport safety, fights back against construction that affects communities like the $100M zinc mine that would have poisoned the Nahanni River, he was MC at a rally that called for the Canadian participation in the Darfur crisis in Sudan, he proudly declares that he’s a feminist, led the country’s legalisation in marijuana, supports LGBTQ communities and legislation, etc.

Justin Trudeau is the eldest son of Pierre-Elliot Trudeau who was the Prime Minister that brought positive immigration policy to Canada, which has now become part of the country’s national identity.

Trudeau was elected on April 14, 2013. Prior, he had been working as a French and Social Science teacher at schools in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was also an actor once in a TV miniseries.

Check out Justin Trudeau’s favorite books:

Book notes:

Trudeau also likes anything by Stephen Kingand anything by Neal Stephenson.

Sources Bio: https://theconversation.com/why-justin-trudeau-is-not-the-leader-many-believe-he-is-90796, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Trudeau Books: https://www.businessinsider.com/justin-trudeau-favorite-books-2017-4#gardens-of-democracy-by-eric-liu-and-nick-hanauer-3 Images: Chatelaine
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

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But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

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La Part de L’autre by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

October 8, 1908: Adolf Hitler recalibrated What would have happened if the Vienna School of Fine Arts had decided otherwise? What would have happened if, this minute, the jury had accepted and not refused Adolf Hitler, flattered and then fulfilled his ambitions as an artist This minute would have changed the course of a life, that of the young, shy and passionate Adolf Hitler, but it would also have changed the course of the world...

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Gardens of Democracy by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer

In The Gardens of Democracy, Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer outline an argument for why our most basic assumptions about these topics need updating for the 21st century. For those finding their voice for the first time, this book offers a conceptual roadmap for a way forward—for what they are resisting, why they resist, and for the better democracy they want to grow.

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Liu and Hanauer’s ideas are simple but revolutionary: true “self-interest” is incomplete without tending to the shared best interests of the national community. They illustrate that to model positivity, good citizenship, and ensure liberty and justice for all, we must achieve compromise by reaching across the aisle and putting the power to execute programs back in the hands of individuals, not big government. True freedom does not live in isolation, and we must redefine how we view prosperity in order to move from a dog-eat-dog mentality that perpetuates the top 1 percent to a communal and inclusive movement that illustrates that we’re all better off when we’re all better off.

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Champlain’s Dream by David Hackett Fischer

In this sweeping, enthralling biography, acclaimed historian David Hackett Fischer brings to life the remarkable Samuel de Champlain -- soldier, spy, master mariner, explorer, cartographer, artist, and Father of New France.

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Born on France's Atlantic coast, Champlain grew to manhood in a country riven by religious warfare. The historical record is unclear on whether Champlain was baptized Protestant or Catholic, but he fought in France's religious wars for the man who would become Henri IV, one of France's greatest kings, and like Henri, he was religiously tolerant in an age of murderous sectarianism. Champlain was also a brilliant navigator. He went to sea as a boy and over time acquired the skills that allowed him to make twenty-seven Atlantic crossings without losing a ship.

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Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan

Tsai Ing-wen

President of Taiwan

Tsai Ing-wen is the current President of Taiwan (officially the Republic of China), in office since May 2016. As chair of the Democratic Progressive Party (DDP), she won the majority vote by 56%, trumping her greatest opponent Eric Chu of the Kuomintang (KMT) or the Nationalist Party.

Her win is attributed to her successful reparation of DPP’s unfavourable image after the Chen Shui-bian presidency, which was marked with deteriorating ethnic relations, extreme corruption, and tense relations with mainland China and the United States. Tsai’s campaign focused on returning Taiwan to greater economic growth, increasing innovation, solidifying free-trade agreements, and breaking into regional economic organizations that controlled world trade.

Her presidency is historical in the sense that she is Taiwan’s first female president, the second person to win as a non-KMT member, and the first Hakka (one of Taiwan’s ethnic minorities) to attain this position.

Check out Tsai Ing-wen’s favorite books:

Sources Bio: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Tsai-Ing-wen, https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/tsai-ing-wen-7434.php, https://www.britannica.com/place/Taiwan/Cultural-life#ref337523 Books: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3357784 Images: Forbes
Macht in der Mitte: Die neuen Aufgaben Deutschlands in Europa by Herfried Münkler

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Si j’étais ministre de la culture by Carole Frechette

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Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Everybody Lies offers fascinating, surprising, and sometimes laugh-out-loud insights into everything from economics to ethics to sports to race to sex, gender and more, all drawn from the world of big data. What percentage of white voters didn’t vote for Barack Obama because he’s black? Does where you go to school effect how successful you are in life? Do parents secretly favor boy children over girls? Do violent films affect the crime rate? Can you beat the stock market?

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By the end of an average day in the early twenty-first century, human beings searching the internet will amass eight trillion gigabytes of data. This staggering amount of information—unprecedented in history—can tell us a great deal about who we are—the fears, desires, and behaviors that drive us, and the conscious and unconscious decisions we make. From the profound to the mundane, we can gain astonishing knowledge about the human psyche that less than twenty years ago, seemed unfathomable. Investigating these questions and a host of others, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz offers revelations that can help us understand ourselves and our lives better. Drawing on studies and experiments on how we really live and think, he demonstrates in fascinating and often funny ways the extent to which all the world is indeed a lab. With conclusions ranging from strange-but-true to thought-provoking to disturbing, he explores the power of this digital truth serum and its deeper potential—revealing biases deeply embedded within us, information we can use to change our culture, and the questions we’re afraid to ask that might be essential to our health—both emotional and physical. All of us are touched by big data everyday, and its influence is multiplying. Everybody Lies challenges us to think differently about how we see it and the world.

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Vladimir Putin, President of Russia

Vladimir Putin

President of Russia

Vladimir (Vladimirovich) Putin is the current president of Russia (and has been since 2000). Today he is the face of Russia and one of the most powerful men in the world.

He was originally born in Leningrad during the Soviet Union, this was also where he studied law until 1975 when he graduated. Following his studies, naturally, he was working for the government as a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years.

What is the KGB?

So it stands for Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti which translates as the Committee for State Security. They were the main security agency in the Soviet Union from 1954 until its collapse in 1991. It was the internal security agency, intelligence agency, and the country’s secret police.

There were a number of similar agencies that held these same responsibilities in each of the Soviet Union republics during the time of its existence. Since the Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore, the KGB has been renamed as the Federal Security Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation.

January 1, 2000, Putin was elected from the previous regime. He crushed it and was in the perfect environment to do so. During his first term from 2000-2008, the economy grew quite substantially for eight years straight. GDP grew 72% measured through the country’s purchasing power.

This was largely due to the 2000s commodities boom which could be accredited to the increase in demand from emerging BRIC markets (Brazil, Russia, India, China). Particularly, China saw a massive influx in demand during this time as the country was “opening up” with more foreign policy that supported import/export trade.

Other factors that contributed were the post-Communist depression recovery (i.e. It’s a lot easier to grow a small country than an already large, developed one). Coupled with prudent economic and fiscal policies, he was pretty good but as you may have noticed in the news, he’s not the best. However, he still remains in power.

Why?

He jails his rivals… Among other things.

The country struggles in transparency, corruption, equal economic opportunity, etc. He was pulling it off for quite a while with insanely high approval ratings, once even ranked as the world’s most popular politicians with approval ratings as high as 89%.

People are accrediting the rating to the improvements in living standards and the reassertion of Russia on the world stage. However, they’re quickly falling and if Putin doesn’t make some changes… Let’s be real, he’ll probably still be in power.

These are some of the thinkers and books that have strongly influenced him along the way. However, please note this comment in a Russian interview “It’s impossible to answer questions like favourite book or favourite performance or favourite music because there are so many favourites”.

“What are the elements of talent? Not one, two or three genes, but a combination of everything”.

Check out Vladimir Putin’s favorite books:

Book Notes

Putin is a fan of Hemingway listing other books like a Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and the Old Man and the Sea

Sources Bio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Yeltsin, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Gorbachev, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KGB Books: https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/vladimir-putins-reading-lis https://www.economist .com/books-and-arts/2018/04/05/understand-putin-by-understanding-his-favourite-thinkers, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7_ICbgShMk Images: Forbes
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway's masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley.

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The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

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A Sportsman’s Sketches by Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev

A Sportsman's Sketches was an 1852 collection of short stories by Ivan Turgenev. It was the first major writing that gained him recognition. He wrote this collection of short stories based on his own observations while hunting at his mother’s estate at Spasskoye, where he learned of the abuse of the peasants and the injustices of the Russian system that constrained them.

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The frequent abuse of Turgenev by his mother certainly had an effect on this work. He was about to give up writing when the first story, "Khor and Khalinich," was well received. This work is part of the Russian realist tradition in that the narrator is usually an uncommitted observer of the people he meets. The work as a whole actually led to Turgenev’s house arrest (part of the reason, the other being his epitaph to Nikolai Gogol) at Spasskoye. It was also partially responsible for the abolishment of serfdom in Russia.

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Short Stories by Mikhail Prishvin

This is moreso a place to start among Prishvin’s number of short stories. This is a collection of short stories translated from Russian to English by David Magarshack.

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War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Hailed as one of the greatest novels of all time and a classic of world literature, War and Peace unfolds in the early nineteenth century during the turbulent years of the Napoleonic invasion of Russia. Tolstoy's epic ranges from stirring depictions of historical events to intimate portraits of family life, moving between public spectacles and private lives to offer a tale of both panoramic scope and closely observed detail.

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From the breathless excitement of 16-year-old Natasha Rostov's first ball, to Prince Andrei Bolkonsky's epiphany on the battlefield at Austerlitz, the novel abounds in memorable incidents, particularly those involving Pierre Bezukhov. A seeker after moral and spiritual truths, Pierre and his search for life's deeper meaning stand at the heart of this monumental book. A tale of strivers in a world fraught with conflict, social and political change, and spiritual confusion, Tolstoy's magnificent work continues to entertain, enlighten, and inspire readers around the world.

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The Garnet Bracelet by Alexander Kuprin

From Ancient Jerusalem to a Russian sea resort, from a royal palace to a traveling circus by way of a bullfight . Join the Russian writer, pilot and explorer Alexander Kuprin on a fascinating journey to a multitude of places in space and time.

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Xi Jinping, Chairman of China

Xi Jinping

Chairman of China

Chairman Xi Jinping is the leader of the Communist Party of China, President of the People’s Republic of China, and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission. He is often referred to as China’s ‘paramount leader’.

He is the son of Xi Zhongxun who was also a politician in his day, working as a part of the country’s first generation of leadership making numerous important contributions, such as the economic liberalization in the south in the 1980s, and was known for his political moderation. However, he endured a number of setbacks in his career.

He was imprisoned and purged too many times in his career and during the Cultural Revolution. As a result his son, Xi Jinping was exiled to rural Yanchuan county where he lived in a cave in the Liangjiahe village where he organized communal labourers.

Once he left, he attended Tsinghua University, the second best school in the country. He was a part of the “Worker-Peasant-Soldier-Student” class, in which underprivileged individuals were given preference in the education system from 1970 to 1976. During this time, students were given preference based on the class background of their parents so children of workers, peasants, and soldiers enjoyed special privileges during the Cultural Revolution. Or in Xi’s case, he no longer had a father and was a peasant.

After school, he began his long political career and rose through the ranks until today, where he is the Chairman of China’s Communist Party. Since he took office, he has introduced a far-reaching number of measures to enforce party power in the country and on the world stage, and maintain nationalist unity among his people.

President Xi has a pretty strong hold on the structure of the political system, the people of the country, and he’s going to be around for a long time especially since he eliminated the two-term limit in the country’s constitution.

In 2018, Forbes called him the most powerful and influential person in the world, dethroning the 5-year chair held by Vladimir Putin.

Here are Xi Jinping’s favorite books:

Sources Bio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worker-Peasant-Soldier_student, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xi_Zhongxun Books: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world/china-watch/culture/president-xi-jinpings-books/, http://en.people.cn/n3/2016/1014/c90000-9127419.html Images: The Straits Times
The Story of Yue Fei

“Xi read more literature when he was a teenager, and more political books as he grew older. Two books he read in his childhood tell the story of Yue Fei, a national hero from the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The books were bought for him by his mother. One story that particularly impressed Xi is the story of Yue’s mother tattooing Yue with a reminder to serve his country… (People.cn, 2016)

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...This way, his mother told him, those words would always be embedded deeply in Yue’s mind.” (People.cn, 2016)

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Historical records (Shiji by Qian Sima)

Sima Qian (145?-90? BCE) was the first major Chinese historian. His Shiji, or Records of the Grand Historian, documents the history of China and its neighboring countries from the ancient past to his own time. These three volumes cover the Qin and Han dynasties.

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Classics of poetry (Shijing by Confucius)

The Book of Odes, also known as the Classic of Poetry, is the oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry, comprising 305 works dating from the 11th to 7th centuries BC. It is one of the 'Five Classics' traditionally said to have been compiled by Confucius, and has been studied and memorized by scholars in China and neighboring countries over two millennia. Since the Qing dynasty, its rhyme patterns have also been analysed in the study of Old Chinese phonology.

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Book of Rites (Liji) by Confucius

The Book of Rites or Liji, literally the Record of Rites, is a collection of texts describing the social forms, administration, and ceremonial rites of the Zhou dynasty as they were understood in the Warring States and the early Han periods.

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The Book of Rites, along with the Rites of Zhou (Zhouli) and the Book of Etiquette and Rites (Yili), which are together known as the "Three Li (San li)," constitute the ritual (li) section of the Five Classics which lay at the core of the traditional Confucian canon. As a core text of the Confucian canon, it is also known as the Classic of Rites (Lijing), which some scholars believe was the original title. Some sections consist of definitions of ritual terms, particularly those found in the Etiquette and Ceremonial, while others contain details of the life and teachings of Confucius.

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The Red and the Black by Stendhal

First published in 1830, “The Red and the Black,” is widely considered the masterpiece of 19th century French author Marie-Henri Beyle, known more commonly by his pen name, Stendahl. It follows the ambitions of Julien Sorel, a young man raised in the French countryside who wishes to rise above his provincial station by climbing the social ranks of Parisian society.

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Through a series of events, Julien’s talent and hard work give way to deception and hypocrisy when he realizes the limitations for advancement of a sincere and honest man of humble origins. Although Julien achieves much which he aspires to, ultimately his pride gets the better of him when he commits a violent crime of passion, leading to his tragic downfall. Through the deep psychological introspection of Julien we see Stendhal’s unique literary genius, the remarkable way in which he allows readers to live in the minds of his characters. Set against the backdrop of the July Revolution of 1830, “The Red and the Black” is a narrative which embodies the rich social conflict of that time. This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper and is translated with an introduction by Horace B. Samuel.

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War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Hailed as one of the greatest novels of all time and a classic of world literature, War and Peace unfolds in the early nineteenth century during the turbulent years of the Napoleonic invasion of Russia. Tolstoy's epic ranges from stirring depictions of historical events to intimate portraits of family life, moving between public spectacles and private lives to offer a tale of both panoramic scope and closely observed detail.

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From the breathless excitement of 16-year-old Natasha Rostov's first ball, to Prince Andrei Bolkonsky's epiphany on the battlefield at Austerlitz, the novel abounds in memorable incidents, particularly those involving Pierre Bezukhov. A seeker after moral and spiritual truths, Pierre and his search for life's deeper meaning stand at the heart of this monumental book. A tale of strivers in a world fraught with conflict, social and political change, and spiritual confusion, Tolstoy's magnificent work continues to entertain, enlighten, and inspire readers around the world.

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Three Stories by Feng Menglong

“The books written by Feng Menglong, a Chinese vernacular writer and poet of the late Ming Dynasty, also left a deep impression on Xi, even inspiring him to memorize some passages. Feng was the magistrate of the remote Shouning County in Fujian province. Shouning County is subordinate to the city of Ningde, where Xi once worked. With personal experience of the hard life there, Xi was very impressed by Feng’s spirit and has often quoted his words later in life.” (People.cn, 2016)

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Long March by Wang Shuzeng

With solemn sense of historical responsibility, significant narrative structure and delicate writing style, the book depicts Long March, the magnificent feat of human history which panoramically re-appears this spectacular history of revolution, makes out heroic saga to the world and promotes teenagers' understanding about the spirit of the Long March.

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The sorrows of young werther by Johann Goethe

First published in 1774, “The Sorrows of Young Werther” is the loosely autobiographical epistolary novel by German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This classically tragic story is one of unrequited love. During a stay in the fictional village of Wahlheim, Werther becomes enamored with the simple ways of the peasantry there. He meets and falls in love with the beautiful young Lotte, despite her engagement to Albert.

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The highly emotional Werther is overcome with grief over the fact that the one that he loves will marry another. Despite this fact, he develops a friendship with the couple over the next few months. Eventually his pain becomes so great that he must take his leave. After a time he returns, but seeing the couple now married brings his grief to an extreme that he can no longer bare, which leads to the novel’s epically tragic conclusion. Cited as a major work from the “Sturm und Drang” period of German literature, which would be highly influential of the Romantic period to come, “The Sorrows of Young Werther” was Goethe’s most famous work during his lifetime, one which would bring him instant international fame. This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper and follows the translation of R. D. Boylan.

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What is to be done? By Nikolai Chernyshevsky

Almost from the moment of its publication in 1863, Nikolai Chernyshevsky's novel, What Is to Be Done?, had a profound impact on the course of Russian literature and politics. The idealized image it offered of dedicated and self-sacrificing intellectuals transforming society by means of scientific knowledge served as a model of inspiration for Russia's revolutionary intelligentsia.

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On the one hand, the novel's condemnation of moderate reform helped to bring about the irrevocable break between radical intellectuals and liberal reformers; on the other, Chernyshevsky's socialist vision polarized conservatives' opposition to institutional reform. Lenin himself called Chernyshevsky 'the greatest and most talented representative of socialism before Marx'; and the controversy surrounding What Is to Be Done? exacerbated the conflicts that eventually led to the Russian Revolution. Michael R. Katz's readable and compelling translation is now the definitive unabridged English-language version, brilliantly capturing the extraordinary qualities of the original. William G. Wagner has provided full annotations to Chernyshevsky's allusions and references and to the, sources of his ideas, and has appended a critical bibliography. An introduction by Katz and Wagner places the novel in the context of nineteenth-century Russian social, political, and intellectual history and literature, and explores its importance for several generations of Russian radicals.

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The Old man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal -- a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream.

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Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss. Written in 1952, this hugely successful novella confirmed his power and presence in the literary world and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.

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Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose.

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Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier, and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait that resulted is larger than life, epic in scope—an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.

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Leaves of grass by walt whitman

When Walt Whitman self-published Leaves of Grass in 1855, he rocked the literary world and forever changed the course of poetry. In subsequent editions, Whitman continued to revise and expand his poems--but none matched the raw power and immediacy of the first edition.

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This beautifully-designed volume presents the original edition Leaves of Grass in its entirety, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous letter to Whitman.

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