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My Top 5 Books for Political Leaders

Joshua Dubois, president Obama's former spiritual advisor, recommends readings for those in positions of authority.
My Top 5 Books for Political Leaders
Image: Jeff Elkins

As former head of the White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Joshua DuBois was hailed by Time as “pastor-in-chief,” sending President Obama an e-mail every morning with a snippet of Scripture. CT asked DuBois—who recently compiled The President’s Devotional (HarperOne) and who now heads the Values Partnerships consulting firm—to choose the five books every political leader should read.

Bearing the Cross, by David J. Garrow

This biography of Martin Luther King Jr. is a must-read for anyone seeking to build, join, or marshal the forces of a movement. It shows King at his soaring heights and tragic depths, and reminds us that heroes are also flawed human beings. Garrow beautifully recounts King’s dialogue with God—stretching from quasi-agnosticism to genuine relationship with Christ. Bearing the Cross reads like a novel in its retelling of some of the most important decades in American history, and leaders should be able to apply its lessons over and over.

Tally’s Corner, by Elliot Liebow

We often see the poor as “other”—people who deserve help but are not really like us. Tally’s Corner, Liebow’s classic sociological study of men on a particular corner in Washington, D.C., brings us face to face with the working poor. Liebow provides a window into their world, showing that their values are well developed, albeit lived out in situations very different from our own. A great book for anyone interested in serving the poor.

The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien

More than any other book, O’Brien’s short stories—told from the rivers and deltas of Vietnam—ground readers in the sacrifices ...

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