100 Books for America: First Class Citizenship

With 89 days until the election, let us continue looking at the 100 books every American should read. These write-ups will be short and not incredibly comprehensive looks at some books and novels that will help you become a better citizen. Check out all of the books that have been picked.

With the possible exception of Babe Ruth, no Major League Baseball player is more idolized and lionized than Jack Roosevelt Robinson.

Robinson, who shattered baseball’s color barrier in 1947, is justifiably the subject of myriad biographies, films and documentaries.

The problem Robinson’s legacy faces is similar to Dr. Martin Luther King’s: the meaning of his work is often neutered by hagiography. He becomes a marble statue, with no imperfections. Some of his most controversial words and actions are hidden from view.

In “First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson,” Michael G. Long, puts the reader inside the mind of Robinson.

It includes correspondence with the likes of Dr. King, Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower, and others.

We see Robinson for who he is, at times fiery, at times deliberative.

It’s interesting to see Robinson respond to fan mail from a young Dr. King, or see him struggle over his friendship with Richard Nixon.

Robinson was a herald of the emerging civil rights movement. Seeing him grapple with that responsibility helps you appreciate him more completely than most of the great biographies about him.


Previously, we looked at the Founding generation: Up next, all American propaganda.

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