America’s national discussion on the issues of civil rights, policing, race, and the welfare state has great potential to advance “liberty and justice for all.” But our march toward this noble goal will stall unless we acquire—and act on—a deeper shared understanding of the relevant achievements that scholars have made in the fields of history, economics, law, and political philosophy.

The wisdom and findings of these disciplines are our great ally, and we ignore them to our detriment. What Santayana said about the study of history applies equally to economics and philosophy—those who do not learn from mistakes are doomed to repeat them—in this case, mistakes that have brought us to our present moment, when America’s city streets echo with rage, when long-standing institutions face new doubts and challenges, and when people on all sides of a divided nation often see more reason for despair than for optimism.

To advance the public dialogue, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Williamson M. Evers has created one of the most exhaustive annotated reading lists ever assembled on the issues of civil rights, police reform, race relations, and the welfare state. Suitable for use by students and educators seeking material for curricula in the social sciences, criminology, and ethnic studies, the list relies heavily on exemplary but lesser-known scholarship that draws on America’s heritage of individual rights, equality under the law, free markets, and freedom of opportunity. In addition, this resource is designed to be special value for civic and business leaders, policymakers, journalists, and the general public.

As the reading list is a work in progress, the reader may wish to revisit the list periodically as new entries are added and annotated. As always, we welcome your feedback either by leaving a comment below, by sharing the list on social media, or by sending us a message.

The Reading Lists: