If you had the authority to do so, what single book would you require to be read by every person coming to the United States seeking citizenship? In no more than two sentences, why this book?; BOOKS FOR PRESIDENT'S DAY

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Parris N. Glendening has been Maryland's governor for 5 years. He taught government and politics at the University of Maryland, College Park for 27 years, until his election as Governor. His textbooks on government and politics have been used in more than 400 colleges. He was awarded the Breslau-Goldman Award for dedication to social justice.

"Democracy in America." Alexis de Tocqueville's timeless essays on the unique American culture and spirit. Written more than a century ago, de Tocqueville still captures the social, political and philosophical foundation of America better than any writer before or after.

Joan Mellen, an English professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, is the author of 12 books. Her books are on a variety of topics -- the Japanese cinema to Marilyn Monroe to sexuality in film. Her most recent books are "Hellman and Hammett" and "Bob Knight: His Own Man."

"The Autobiography of Malcolm X" because it reveals not only how deeply imbedded racism is in the society of which they aspire to be citizens, but no less how intelligence, hard work, will, determination, energy and self-education can lead a person whom the society has written off to excellence and an important place in American history. Malcolm X stands as well for the much-maligned but no less true idea that the best citizens are those who challenge injustice, and who, whatever the risks, summon the courage not to accept the way things are.

Kurt L. Schmoke has been mayor of Baltimore since 1987 and has served as state's attorney. In Schmoke's third inaugural address, he referred to a shared sense of pride that diverse community members called "The Spirit of Baltimore."

"Democracy in America" by Alexis de Tocqueville, because it is a significant analysis of the core values that are the bedrock of our society as seen by a visitor from Europe.

Edward J. Angeletti has for 18 years been an associate judge for Baltimore's circuit court. Before that he served as an assistant state's attorney for Baltimore. Last year he was appointed to the Committee on Public Trust and Confidence in the Judicial System. He has traveled extensively in Europe and Asia. Angeletti is a member of the Sons of Italy's national cabinet. He conducted a Human Rights Seminar in Azerbaijan for Azeri lawyers, journalists and human rights activitists.

The one book I would recommend as required reading for every person seeking U.S. citizenship would be "The American Heritage History of the United States" by Douglas Brinkley, published in November 1998. It is an outstanding history of the U.S. from its earliest days to the present time, including the Starr report to Congress. It permits the reader to learn all about the growth and development of our country through excellent text and stunning illustrations.

Steven David is associate dean for academic affairs, director of international studies and former chair of political science at Johns Hopkins University. He has written two books and numerous articles.

First, I'm not sure I would require a specific book. It sends a bad message early on about freedom to choose. I would recommend George Orwell's "Animal Farm." It skillfully and persuasively explains why totalitarian systems don't work -- an important lesson for new citizens. It's also easy to read -- not a minor characteristic for those whose English might not be fluent.

Hans Knight, a former reporter for the Philadelphia Bulletin and editorial writer for the Harrisburg Patriot News, was a translator at the Nuremberg trials for the U.S. War Department. His free-lance writing is widely published in the New York Times, The Sun and other publications.

Any new American should read William L. Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." To my mind, nothing illustrates more strikingly the truth that democracy -- even at its worst -- is incomparably superior to dictatorship even at its best.

Steve Weinberg is editor of a bimonthly magazine on information-gathering published by Investigtive Reporters and Editors, based at the University of Missouri Journalism School. He is the author of seven nonfiction books.

My choice for the citizen-to-be is "After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection" by James West Davidson and Mark Hamilton Lytle. The book uses narrative storytelling to not only explain 15 episodes from U.S. history, but also explain how historians have arrived at the truest version of each episode.

Ben Ferro is the director of the Immigration and Naturalization Services in Baltimore. Previously he has directed the INS offices in Buffalo, N.Y., and Rome, Italy.

I would recommend "Profiles in Courage." The reason is -- these accounts of extrordinary citizens demonstrate that individuals can make enormous contributions.

Paul S. Sarbanes has been U.S. senator for Maryland for 23 years. He serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sarbanes was a three-term member of the House of Representatives and worked as a law firm associate for six years. The son of Grecian immigrants, Sarbanes has taught Latin and French at the Gilman School.

I would recommend the Declaration of Independence, which is the first expression asserting the basic principles of American freedom and democracy.

Jeff Danziger has drawn cartoons for the New York Daily News and Christian Science Monitor and is a political cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times syndicate. Danziger wrote "Rising Like the Tucson" and a children's book, "The Champlain Monster."

Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men." I think this novel, though complex and slightly dated, is the entry level novel explaining American politics at the rural and state level, albeit southern. It also delineates the rise of a common man, Willie Stark, through the passions and infighting of a kind government that is probably more open and manipulable than the country they are emigrating from.

John McIntyre is chief of The Sun's copy desk and a vice president to the American Copy Editors Society. He also teaches copy editing at Loyola College and conducts workshops on editing for newspapers throughout the United States and Canada.

H. L. Mencken's "Prejudices" (the one-volume selection will do). It might be helpful for a newcomer to learn that the public landscape of the republic has always been inhabited mainly by poseurs and buffoons.

Norman R. Stone Jr. is Maryland state senator for Baltimore County's 7th district. He has been a member of the Senate for 32 years. Stone also served as chairman of the Constitution and Public Law Committee.

The book I would recommend to be read by people seeking to become citizens is "What Every American Should Know About American History" by Dr. Alan Axelrod and Charles Phillips. In a handy, easy-to-read format, this book summarizes major events in our country's history that helped make America what it is today. Starting from the discovery of America, it includes a great deal of important information, including references to major Supreme Court decisions, that would assist a new citizen to better understand our great country.

Craig Eisendrath is the former executive director of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and serves on the board of the Interfaith Council on the Holocaust. A former foreign service officer, he earned a doctorate in the history of American civilization from Harvard.

I think to require a person seeking citizenship to read a particular book would run counter to what is most exciting about the United States -- its plurality as a society and its freedom, particularly of speech. I would suggest Howard Zinn's "The Twentieth Century" because it underscores the responsibility of the people of this country, rather than its government or its corporations, to make their own history.

Victoria Brownworth is the author of five books and editor of seven. She has taught writing for more than 15 years. Her most recent collection of short fiction, "Night Shade" (Seal Press), will be published this spring.

Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird." This simple, straightforward narrative goes to the heart of American experience. A novel about the evil engendered by the legacy of racism is also definingly about justice and ultimately about democracy.

Martin Madden is Maryland state senator for Howard and Prince George's County District 13. He served on the Economic Matters Committee and is a former member of the Literacy Council's board.

Maryland resident Raimonda Mikatavage has written a book titled "Immigrants and Refugees, Create Your New Life in America" that is one of the most comprehensive and informative books available for newcomers to the United States. Endorsed by the MultiCultural Review, the TESOL Journal, Autumn 1998 and the Maryland Office for New Americans, it provides practical information and direction to those seeking citizenship, and useful advice on how to assimilate and succeed in the United States.

Theo Lippman Jr. retired in 1995 after 30 years as a Sun editorial writer. He wrote "The Squire of Warm Springs," a biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt. His books about Roosevelt, H.L. Mencken and Spiro Agnew deal in part with their World War II years. Lippman also wrote biographies of Sens. Edmund Muskie and Edward Kennedy. Lippman served in Korea for the Navy in 1953.

I would urge new citizens to read Oscar Handlin's "The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People." Originally published in 1951, its revised editions are still in print. For people poor, alone, different and in equal parts hopeful and fearful, Handlin shows that becoming American has been done and still can be.

Dan Fesperman covered the war in Bosnia for The Sun from 1993 to 1996 while posted to the Berlin bureau. His first book, "Lie in the Dark," set in Sarajevo, is being published by Soho Press for a June release.

"Made in America," by Bill Bryson. Breezy but brilliant, this is ostensibly a book on the history and development of the American language, although far richer and funnier than that description implies. America's mythmakers and charlatans, its hucksters and oddballs, they're all here, shoulder to shoulder with the heroes and Horatio Algers (even if it's often difficult to tell one group from the other). Yet, Bryson tells his tale not with bitterness and disdain, but with a bumptious affection that is contagious.

Richard O'Mara was The Sun's foreign editor for 12 years, and its correspondent in Brazil and Britain. In April 1992, he went to Italy to cover the expanding corruption and bribery scandals in Rome and Milan. His essays and reportage have appeared in the Virginia Quarterly, the Antioch Review, the now defunct Saturday Review and other publications.

"From Here to Eternity" by James Jones, because I believe Jones was one of the most emphatically American authors of the mid-century, and this novel, which unfolds at an Army base in Hawaii early in World War II, and at the moment when the United States literally entered its period of world dominance while suffering its greatest military defeat, tells as much or more about American notions of fairness, morality and principle than any other book I can think of. Also, it's a full, engrossing story, with the best literary ingredients: war, heroism, friendship, love and sex -- lots of sex.

John Aymold last year became president of the German Society of Maryland which lists more than 500 members. Germans founded the organization in 1783 upon arriving to Baltimore and helped settle their compatriot newcomers. The organization nowadays focuses on providing scholarships and promoting the German language in schools.

My book to read would be "The Inheritance" by Samuel G. Freedman. It tells of immigrant families and their integration of mainstream, middle American life and politics. It shows that the American Dream is alive and that anyone can make a difference.

Gerald D. Guralnick is the head of social studies at Edmondson-Westside High School. He served on the committee responsible for the American government course used in the the city's public school system. He is also on the committee constructing the High School Assessment Exam for the American government course.

I would require every person coming to the United States seeking citizenship to read "Profiles in Courage" by John F. Kennedy. Our country was established on a principle that the individual and his/her accomplishments have value and importance. After reading the book, one should be able to recognize that in this country the actions of individuals have had a significant impact on the history of our wonderful nation.

Chris McCabe is Maryland state senator for Howard and Montgomery counties' District 14. He serves on the Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee.

I would recommend that new or prospective American citizens read "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine, because it provides the most persuasive words written in the cause for independence and was addressed to the inhabitants of America at the time. I believe it is important for new Americans to understand the history of our freedoms. Before the words "Give me ... " were written on the Statue of Liberty, Paine said, "O! Receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind."

Rafael Alvarez is a Sun reporter and author of the short story collection "The Fountain of Highlandtown" (Woodholme House, 1997).

"On the Road," by Jack Kerouac. I'd like newcomers to our country to know that there still exists an America beyond television, shopping malls and gated communities. I believe it can still be found with Jack's sweet map; not by the proper nouns of destination but the heart-felt adjectives of desire.

Jean Thompson is The Sun's assistant managing editor for staff development. She has been a reporter at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, the Hartford Courant and -- for 11 years -- The Sun. She collects papers and photographs about African-American history.

As a journalist, and as a descendant of immigrants, slaves and indentured servants, I am biased on this matter: It should be a book that speaks of the essence of our First Amendment rights, those freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition for which many have fought and died. For that reason I'd recommend William McFeeley's "Frederick Douglass," a compelling and thorough biography of a complex American hero, abolitionist, journalist and defender of so many of our essential freedoms.

Chris Kridler is assistant arts and entertainment editor at The Sun. Her work has appeared in the Maryland Poetry Review, the Miami Herald, Premiere and elsewhere.

Perhaps it's cheating to recommend an anthology, but "New World Metaphysics," edited by Giles Gunn, is an eye-opening collection of works by men and women whose thoughts shaped and exemplified the American character. By encompassing 17th-century Puritans and Quakers, the deists of the Enlightenment, Native American oratory, the poetry of Whitman and Dickinson, the iconoclasm of H.L. Mencken and the passion of Malcolm X, this book reveals the powerful role American beliefs have played in American history.

Harold Levy teaches American Political Thought at UMBC and has been a member of the political science faculty since 1968. Levy is author of numerous publications and scholarly papers.

The book? "The Federalist Papers." Why? This is still the best beginning for understanding much of our original Constitution and, at least as a benchmark, for understanding the changes since made to that Constitution. It is only a beginning, and it demands close attention, but it richly rewards close attention.

Pub Date: 02/14/99

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
34°