An interesting article by a reporter for Congressional Quarterly, Elham Khatami, for the website Congress.org, lists the most influential books that have been published in the past century and had impact on Congressional action!
All five books are of historic importance for sure! 🙂
The first chronologically is Upton Sinclair’s novel, THE JUNGLE, published in 1906. It was read by President Theodore Roosevelt, and it led to quick action on federal legislation on meat, food and drug inspection and protection. It was the beginning of government on the national level taking responsibility for the health and welfare of its citizens!
Next published was THE GRAPES OF WRATH, a famous novel by John Steinbeck, which portrayed the problem of poverty during the Great Depression, specifically in relation to farm workers. It led to covering farm workers under labor laws for the first time, during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt!
Next was Michael Harrington’s nonfiction work, THE OTHER AMERICA, published in 1962, describing the wide extent of poverty in America, and not only of minorities, but also of rural whites! It spurred the movement toward the War On Poverty thought of by John F. Kennedy, and passed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson!
The fourth book was also nonfiction and also published in 1962, Rachel Carson’s SILENT SPRING, which dealt with the dangers of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which were shown to pollute the soil, water and air. It led to the beginning of action under John F. Kennedy, continued under Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon, and led to the passage of environmental laws and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970!
The final book, also nonfiction, was Ralph Nader’s UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED, published in 1965. Dealing with automobile safety, it helped to lead to mandatory safety measures, and the creation of the Department of Transportation under Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission!
All of these significant books, and the reaction by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon, occurred during “progressive” periods of American history, and are a further repudiation of those, such as Glenn Beck, who constantly attack “progressivism”, despite its many contributions to the creation of a better, more humane America!