The Chancellors’ Lists

The Chancellors' Lists

Return to the complete list of books by faculty

James Moeser

James MoeserTeam of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This was on everybody's post-election reading list. A fascinating insight into one of the most interesting periods of American history as well as to Lincoln's leadership style.

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. The lesson from this book is that building schools would be a far more sustainable strategy for defeating the Taliban and establishing a democratic and peaceful Afghanistan than launching drone missiles and sending in troops.

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham. Jackson's battles with nullification were the precursor of the Civil War. Another book of American titans – Jackson, Calhoun and Clay.

The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam. One of my great memories as chancellor was the day that Tom Kearns ['58] brought in Pulitzer Prize-winner David Halberstam for a conversation. He told me about his magnum opus on the Korean War, which was nearly finished. Halberstam was killed in an automobile accident in California on his way to an interview about the book, just before publication.

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. The inside story of the 2008 election.

The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes by Bryan Burrough. The story of the four great Texas oil dynasties – the Hunts, Cullens, Richardsons and Murchisons. Required reading for all Texans and recovering Texans.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. I loved this book. It may help to be in the right place at the right time, but the real secret to success is hard work. (See the next entry.)

North Carolina Books:

Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court by Roy Williams '72 with Tim Crothers. I went right to the chapter where Roy talks about the transition from KU to UNC. I was the one who told Roy, "It's not immoral to love two institutions at the same time."

The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics: The Personalities, Elections and Events that Shaped Modern North Carolina by Rob Christensen. This is the best book available on North Carolina politics.

The Walter Davis Story: One Man Who Made a Difference by Ned Cline. Walter Davis was, behind the scenes, the great power of late-20th-century politics in North Carolina. He was the Godfather.

My Summer Reading List:

To Right These Wrongs: The North Carolina Fund and the Battle to End Poverty and Inequality in 1960s America by Robert Rodgers Korstad '71 and James Leloudis '77, associate professor of history. This is really the story of Terry Sanford ['39], whose North Carolina Fund became the model for LBJ's War on Poverty. It is Jim Leloudis' magnum opus. When I first came to Carolina, Bill Friday ['48 LLB] suggested that I look after two very promising young faculty members – people that Mr. Friday thought had enormous potential. These two faculty members were Holden Thorp ['86] and Jim Leloudis. He was right on both counts.

Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama.

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama. Both of these books speak for themselves. Obama may be the best writer in the White House since Jefferson.

Why Architecture Matters by Paul Goldberger. I have already started reading this book in preparation for a meeting of the Design Review Board (on which I now serve) with the Board of Trustees this summer to discuss with the trustees the importance of good architecture.


Holden Thorp '86

Holden Thorp '86The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. Sent this to deans and vice chancellors. A great reminder that a lot of what we think of as expertise is often just remembering to do everything.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. Pink clearly has his finger on the pulse of what is motivating young people in the world. This is a must-read for anyone interested in higher education, as is his earlier book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.

Nice Work by David Lodge. Levity about town-gown politics. I've now read the complete David Lodge canon on the lighter side of higher education.

The Great American University: Its Rise to Preemminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must Be Protected by Jonathan R. Cole. Cole stresses a lot of themes that I have been talking about around innovation and entrepreneurship in universities. A lot of great history of research universities gives it perspective.

What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis. A fun read. The title is self-explanatory.

Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. This book is red hot – a description of the success of Israel's high-tech economy.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis. I like anything by Michael Lewis.

To Right These Wrongs: The North Carolina Fund and the Battle to End Poverty and Inequality in 1960s America by Robert Rodgers Korstad '71 and James Leloudis '77.

The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East by Kishore Mahbubani.

The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History With the President by Taylor Branch '68.

In Spite of the Gods: The Rise of Modern India by Edward Luce.