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

February 14, 1999

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.

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