Uninvited Neighbors puts black people back into the picture and dispels cherished myths about California’s racial history. Reaching from the Spanish era to the valley’s emergence as a center of the high-tech industry, this is the first comprehensive history of the African American experience in the Santa Clara Valley.
Author Herbert G. Ruffin II’s study presents the black experience in a new way, with a focus on how, despite their smaller numbers and obscure presence, African Americans in the South Bay forged communities that had a regional and national impact disproportionate to their population. As the region industrialized and spawned suburbs during and after World War II, its black citizens built institutions such as churches, social clubs, and civil rights organizations and challenged socioeconomic restrictions. Ruffin explores the quest of the area’s black people for the postwar American Dream. The book also addresses the scattering of the black community during the region’s late yet rapid urban growth after 1950, which led to the creation of several distinct black suburban communities clustered in metropolitan San Jose.
Ruffin treats people of color as agents of their own development and survival in a region that was always multiracial and where slavery and Jim Crow did not predominate, but where the white embrace of racial justice and equality was often insincere. The result offers a new view of the intersection of African American history and the history of the American West.
A New York Times Notable and Critics’ Top Book of 2016
Longlisted for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction
One of NPR's 10 Best Books Of 2016 Faced Tough Topics Head On
NPR's Book Concierge Guide To 2016’s Great Reads
San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2016: 100 recommended books
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2016
Globe & Mail 100 Best of 2016
“Formidable and truth-dealing . . . necessary.” —The New York Times
“This eye-opening investigation into our country’s entrenched social hierarchy is acutely relevant.” —O Magazine
In her groundbreaking bestselling history of the class system in America, Nancy Isenberg upends history as we know it by taking on our comforting myths about equality and uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing—if occasionally entertaining—poor white trash.
“When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win,” says Isenberg of the political climate surrounding Sarah Palin. And we recognize how right she is today. Yet the voters who boosted Trump all the way to the White House have been a permanent part of our American fabric, argues Isenberg.
The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement to today's hillbillies. They were alternately known as “waste people,” “offals,” “rubbish,” “lazy lubbers,” and “crackers.” By the 1850s, the downtrodden included so-called “clay eaters” and “sandhillers,” known for prematurely aged children distinguished by their yellowish skin, ragged clothing, and listless minds.
Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America’s supposedly class-free society––where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth century, and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. Reconstruction pitted poor white trash against newly freed slaves, which factored in the rise of eugenics–-a widely popular movement embraced by Theodore Roosevelt that targeted poor whites for sterilization. These poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and LBJ’s Great Society; they haunt us in reality TV shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity.
We acknowledge racial injustice as an ugly stain on our nation’s history. With Isenberg’s landmark book, we will have to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class as well.
As early as the 1880s, Spokane was a destination for black settlers escaping the racial oppression in the South—settlers who over the following decades built an infrastructure of churches, businesses, and social organizations to serve the black community. Drawing on oral histories, interviews, newspapers, and a rich array of other primary sources, Mack sets the stage for the years following World War II in the Inland Northwest, when an influx of black veterans would bring about a new era of racial issues. His book traces the earliest challenges faced by the NAACP and a small but sympathetic white population as Spokane became a significant part of the national civil rights struggle. International superstars such as Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong and Hazel Scott figure in this story, along with charismatic local preachers, entrepreneurs, and lawyers who stepped forward as civic leaders.
These individuals’ contributions, and the black community’s encounters with racism, offer a view of the complexity of race relations in a city and a region not recognized historically as centers of racial strife. But in matters of race—from the first migration of black settlers to Spokane, through the politics of the Cold War and the civil rights movement, to the successes of the 1970s and ’80s—Mack shows that Spokane has a story to tell, one that this book at long last incorporates into the larger history of twentieth-century America.
When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, trying to fit in at Yale, and at home on breaks.
A compelling and honest portrait of Robert’s relationships—with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends—The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It’s about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds—the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and the slums of Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It’s about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all this “fresh, compelling” (The Washington Post) story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and “a haunting American tragedy for our times” (Entertainment Weekly).
Everybody in the bar had to drop a quarter in the jukebox or be shamed by “Momo” Villarreal. It wasn’t about the money, Mary Ann Villarreal’s grandmother insisted. It was about the music—more songs for all the patrons of the Pecan Lounge in Tivoli, Texas. But for Mary Ann, whose schoolbooks those quarters bought, the money didn’t hurt.
When as an adult Villarreal began to wonder how the few recordings of women singers made their way into that jukebox, questions about the money seemed inseparable from those about the music. In Listening to Rosita, Villarreal seeks answers by pursuing the story of a small group of Tejana singers and entrepreneurs in Corpus Christi, Houston, and San Antonio—the “Texas Triangle”—during the mid-twentieth century. Ultimately she recovers a social world and cultural landscape in central south Texas where Mexican American women negotiated the shifting boundaries of race and economics to assert a public presence.
Drawing on oral history, interviews, and insights from ethnic and gender studies, Listening to Rosita provides a counternarrative to previous research on la música tejana, which has focused almost solely on musicians or musical genres. Villarreal instead chronicles women’s roles and contributions to the music industry. In spotlighting the sixty-year singing career of San Antonian Rosita Fernández, the author pulls the curtain back on all the women whose names and stories have been glaringly absent from the ethnic and economic history of Tejana music and culture.
In this oral history of the Tejana cantantes who performed and owned businesses in the Texas Triangle, Listening to Rosita shows how ethnic Mexican entrepreneurs developed a unique identity in striving for success in a society that demeaned and segregated them. In telling their story, this book supplies a critical chapter long missing from the history of the West.
Loren Miller was one of the nation’s most prominent civil rights attorneys from the 1940s through the early 1960s and successfully fought discrimination in housing and education. Alongside Thurgood Marshall, Miller argued two landmark civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, whose decisions effectively abolished racially restrictive housing covenants. One of these cases, Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), is taught in nearly every American law school today. Later, the two men played key roles in Brown v. Board of Education, which ended legal segregation in public schools. Loren Miller: Civil Rights Attorney and Journalist recovers this remarkable figure from the margins of history and for the first time fully reveals his life for what it was: an extraordinary American story and a critical chapter in the annals of racial justice.
Born to a former slave and a white midwesterner in 1903, Loren Miller lived the quintessential American success story, blazing his own path to rise from rural poverty to a position of power and influence. Author Amina Hassan reveals Miller as a fearless critic of those in power and an ardent debater whose acid wit was known to burn “holes in the toughest skin and eat right through double-talk, hypocrisy, and posturing.”
As a freshly minted member of the bar who preferred political activism and writing to the law, Miller set out for Los Angeles from Kansas in 1929. Hassan describes his early career as a fiery radical journalist, as well as his ownership of the California Eagle, one of the longest-running African American newspapers in the West. In his work with the California branch of the ACLU, Miller sought to halt the internment of West Coast Japanese American citizens, helped integrate the U.S. military and the Los Angeles Fire Department, and defended Black Muslims arrested in a deadly street battle with the LAPD. In 1964, Governor Edmund G. Brown appointed Miller as a Municipal Court justice for Los Angeles County, honoring his ceaseless commitment to improving the lives of Americans regardless of their race or ethnicity.
“Either we shall have to make democracy work for every American,” Miller declared, or “we shall not be able to preserve it for any American.” The story told here is of an American original who defied societal limitations to reshape the racial and political landscape of twentieth-century America.
The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.
Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.
Pushed out of the South as Reconstruction ended and as white landowners, employers, and “Redeemer” governments sought to reestablish the constraints of slavery, thousands of African Americans migrated west in search of better opportunities. As the first well-known all-black community on the plains, Nicodemus, Kansas, became a national exemplar of black self-improvement. But Nicodemus also embodied many of the problems facing African Americans during this time. Diverging philosophies within the community, Charlotte Hinger argues, foretold the differences that continue to divide black politicians and intellectuals today.
At the time Nicodemus was founded, politicians underestimated the power of African American voters. But three of the town’s black homesteaders—Abram Thompson Hall, Jr., Edward Preston McCabe, and John W. Niles—exerted extraordinary influence over county, state, and national politics. Hinger examines their divergent strategies for leading their community and for relating to white people, which reflected emerging black worldviews across the United States as African Americans grappled with the responsibilities accompanying their new freedom. Hall supported racial uplift, McCabe insisted on achieving equality through politics and legislation, and Niles advocated reparations for slavery. Hall and McCabe, both northerners, had distinguished educations, while Niles, a former slave, was a gifted orator. Their differing approaches to creating a new civilization on the prairie, seeking justice for blacks, and improving the situation of Nicodemus citizens roiled Kansas politics, already in turmoil over temperance and woman’s suffrage.
Nicodemus was a microcosm of all the issues facing black Americans in the late nineteenth century, and Hall, McCabe, and Niles are archetypes for powerful philosophies that have persisted into the twenty-first century. This study of their ideas and the ways they shaped Nicodemus offers a novel perspective on the most famous post–Civil War African American community in the West.
The westward migration of nearly half a million Americans in the mid-nineteenth century looms large in U.S. history. Classic images of rugged Euro-Americans traversing the plains in their prairie schooners still stir the popular imagination. But this traditional narrative, no matter how alluring, falls short of the actual—and far more complex—reality of the overland trails. Among the diverse peoples who converged on the western frontier were African American pioneers—men, women, and children. Whether enslaved or free, they too were involved in this transformative movement. Sweet Freedom’s Plains is a powerful retelling of the migration story from their perspective.
Tracing the journeys of black overlanders who traveled the Mormon, California, Oregon, and other trails, Shirley Ann Wilson Moore describes in vivid detail what they left behind, what they encountered along the way, and what they expected to find in their new, western homes. She argues that African Americans understood advancement and prosperity in ways unique to their situation as an enslaved and racially persecuted people, even as they shared many of the same hopes and dreams held by their white contemporaries. For African Americans, the journey westward marked the beginning of liberation and transformation. At the same time, black emigrants’ aspirations often came into sharp conflict with real-world conditions in the West.
Although many scholars have focused on African Americans who settled in the urban West, their early trailblazing voyages into the Oregon Country, Utah Territory, New Mexico Territory, and California deserve greater attention. Having combed censuses, maps, government documents, and white overlanders’ diaries, along with the few accounts written by black overlanders or passed down orally to their living descendants, Moore gives voice to the countless, mostly anonymous black men and women who trekked the plains and mountains.
Sweet Freedom’s Plains places African American overlanders where they belong—at the center of the western migration narrative. Their experiences and perspectives enhance our understanding of this formative period in American history.
Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job -- any job -- can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you int to live indoors.
Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity -- a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how "prosperity" looks from the bottom. You will never see anything -- from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal -- in quite the same way again.
Between 1940 and 2010, the black population of the American West grew from 710,400 to 7 million. With that explosive growth has come a burgeoning interest in the history of the African American West—an interest reflected in the remarkable range and depth of the works collected in Freedom’s Racial Frontier. Editors Herbert G. Ruffin II and Dwayne A. Mack have gathered established and emerging scholars in the field to create an anthology that links past, current, and future generations of African American West scholarship.
The volume’s sixteen chapters address the African American experience within the framework of the West as a multicultural frontier. The result is a fresh perspective on western-U.S. history, centered on the significance of African American life, culture, and social justice in almost every trans-Mississippi state. Examining and interpreting the twentieth century while mindful of events and developments since 2000, the contributors focus on community formation, cultural diversity, civil rights and black empowerment, and artistic creativity and identity. Reflecting the dynamic evolution of new approaches and new sites of knowledge in the field of western history, the authors consider its interconnections with fields such as cultural studies, literature, and sociology. Some essays deal with familiar places, while others look at understudied sites such as Albuquerque, Oahu, and Las Vegas, Nevada. By examining black suburbanization, the Information Age, and gentrification in the urban West, several authors conceive of a Third Great Migration of African Americans to and within the West.
The West revealed in Freedom’s Racial Frontier is a place where black Americans have fought—and continue to fight—to make their idea of freedom live up to their expectations of equality; a place where freedom is still a frontier for most persons of African heritage.
Texas Southern University is often said to have been “conceived in sin.” Located in Houston, the school was established in 1947 as an “emergency” state-supported university for African Americans, to prevent the integration of the University of Texas. Born to Serve is the first book to tell the full history of TSU, from its founding, through the many varied and defining challenges it faced, to its emergence as a first-rate university that counts Barbara Jordon, Mickey Leland, and Michael Strahan among its graduates.
Merline Pitre frames TSU’s history within that of higher education for African Americans in Texas, from Reconstruction to the lawsuit that gave the school its start. The case, Sweatt v. Painter, involved student Heman Marion Sweatt, who was denied entry to the University of Texas Law School because he was black. Pitre traces the tortuous measures by which Texas legislators tried to meet a provision of the state’s constitution that called for the establishment and maintenance of a “branch university for the instruction of colored youths of the State.” When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1950 that the UT Law School’s efforts to remain segregated violated the U.S. Constitution, the future of the institution that would become Texas Southern University in 1951 looked doubtful.
In its early years the university persevered in the face of state neglect and underfunding and the threat of merger. Born to Serve describes the efforts, both humble and heroic, that faculty and staff undertook to educate students and turn TSU into the thriving institution it is today: a major metropolitan university serving students of all races and ethnicities from across the country and throughout the world.
Launched during the early civil rights movement, TSU has a history unique among historically black colleges and universities, most of which were established immediately after the Civil War. Born to Serve adds a critical chapter to the history of education and integration in the United States.
From the beet fields of North Dakota to the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans. Finding that social security comes up short, often underwater on mortgages, these invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans, forming a growing community of nomads: migrant laborers who call themselves “workampers.”
On frequently traveled routes between seasonal jobs, Jessica Bruder meets people from all walks of life: a former professor, a McDonald’s vice president, a minister, a college administrator, and a motorcycle cop, among many others—including her irrepressible protagonist, a onetime cocktail waitress, Home Depot clerk, and general contractor named Linda May.
In a secondhand vehicle she christens “Van Halen,” Bruder hits the road to get to know her subjects more intimately. Accompanying Linda May and others from campground toilet cleaning to warehouse product scanning to desert reunions, then moving on to the dangerous work of beet harvesting, Bruder tells a compelling, eye-opening tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy—one that foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, she celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these quintessential Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive. Like Linda May, who dreams of finding land on which to build her own sustainable “Earthship” home, they have not given up hope.
"I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. Well, not this book, because I never imagined that the book I was waiting for would be so devastatingly smart and funny, so consistently entertaining and unflinchingly on target. In fact, I would like to have written it myself – if, that is, I had lived Linda Tirado’s life and extracted all the hard lessons she has learned. I am the author of Nickel and Dimed, which tells the story of my own brief attempt, as a semi-undercover journalist, to survive on low-wage retail and service jobs. Tirado is the real thing."
—from the foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich, New York Times bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed
We in America have certain ideas of what it means to be poor. Linda Tirado, in her signature brutally honest yet personable voice, takes all of these preconceived notions and smashes them to bits. She articulates not only what it is to be working poor in America (yes, you can be poor and live in a house and have a job, even two), but what poverty is truly like—on all levels.
Frankly and boldly, Tirado discusses openly how she went from lower-middle class, to sometimes middle class, to poor and everything in between, and in doing so reveals why “poor people don’t always behave the way middle-class America thinks they should.”
As David K. Shipler makes clear in this powerful, humane study, the invisible poor are engaged in the activity most respected in American ideology—hard, honest work. But their version of the American Dream is a nightmare: low-paying, dead-end jobs; the profound failure of government to improve upon decaying housing, health care, and education; the failure of families to break the patterns of child abuse and substance abuse. Shipler exposes the interlocking problems by taking us into the sorrowful, infuriating, courageous lives of the poor—white and black, Asian and Latino, citizens and immigrants. We encounter them every day, for they do jobs essential to the American economy.
This impassioned book not only dissects the problems, but makes pointed, informed recommendations for change. It is a book that stands to make a difference.
Women are moving around the globe as never before. But for every female executive racking up frequent flier miles, there are multitudes of women whose journeys go unnoticed. Each year, millions leave Mexico, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and other third world countries to work in the homes, nurseries, and brothels of the first world. This broad-scale transfer of labor associated with women's traditional roles results in an odd displacement. In the new global calculus, the female energy that flows to wealthy countries is subtracted from poor ones, often to the detriment of the families left behind. The migrant nanny--or cleaning woman, nursing care attendant, maid--eases a "care deficit" in rich countries, while her absence creates a "care deficit" back home.
Confronting a range of topics, from the fate of Vietnamese mail-order brides to the importation of Mexican nannies in Los Angeles and the selling of Thai girls to Japanese brothels, Global Woman offers an unprecedented look at a world shaped by mass migration and economic exchange on an ever-increasing scale. In fifteen vivid essays-- of which only four have been previously published-- by a diverse and distinguished group of writers, collected and introduced by bestselling authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, this important anthology reveals a new era in which the main resource extracted from the third world is no longer gold or silver, but love.
It is now conventional wisdom to focus on the wealth of the top 1 percent—especially the top 0.01 percent—and how the ultra-rich are concentrating income and prosperity while incomes for most other Americans are stagnant. But the most important, consequential, and widening gap in American society is between the upper middle class and everyone else.
Reeves defines the upper middle class as those whose incomes are in the top 20 percent of American society. Income is not the only way to measure a society, but in a market economy it is crucial because access to money generally determines who gets the best quality education, housing, health care, and other necessary goods and services.
As Reeves shows, the growing separation between the upper middle class and everyone else can be seen in family structure, neighborhoods, attitudes, and lifestyle. Those at the top of the income ladder are becoming more effective at passing on their status to their children, reducing overall social mobility. The result is not just an economic divide but a fracturing of American society along class lines. Upper-middle-class children become upper-middle-class adults.
These trends matter because the separation and perpetuation of the upper middle class corrode prospects for more progressive approaches to policy. Various forms of “opportunity hoarding” among the upper middle class make it harder for others to rise up to the top rung. Examples include zoning laws and schooling, occupational licensing, college application procedures, and the allocation of internships. Upper-middle-class opportunity hoarding, Reeves argues, results in a less competitive economy as well as a less open society.
Inequality is inevitable and can even be good, within limits. But Reeves argues that society can take effective action to reduce opportunity hoarding and thus promote broader opportunity. This fascinating book shows how American society has become the very class-defined society that earlier Americans rebelled against—and what can be done to restore a more equitable society.
A New York Times Editor’s Choice
Nautilus Award Winner
“A worthy and necessary addition to the contemporary canon of civil rights literature.” —New York Times
In this “thought-provoking and important” (Library Journal) analysis of state-sanctioned violence, Marc Lamont Hill carefully considers a string of high-profile deaths in America—Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and others—and incidents of gross negligence by government, such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. He digs underneath these events to uncover patterns and policies of authority that allow some citizens become disempowered, disenfranchised, poor, uneducated, exploited, vulnerable, and disposable. To help us understand the plight of vulnerable communities, he examines the effects of unfettered capitalism, mass incarceration, and political power while urging us to consider a new world in which everyone has a chance to become somebody. Heralded as an essential text for our times, Marc Lamont Hill’s galvanizing work embodies the best traditions of scholarship, journalism, and storytelling to lift unheard voices and to address the necessary question, “how did we get here?"
In Privilege, Shamus Khan returns to his alma mater to provide an inside look at an institution that has been the private realm of the elite for the past 150 years. He shows that St. Paul's students continue to learn what they always have--how to embody privilege. Yet, while students once leveraged the trappings of upper-class entitlement, family connections, and high culture, current St. Paul's students learn to succeed in a more diverse environment. To be the future leaders of a more democratic world, they must be at ease with everything from highbrow art to everyday life--from Beowulf to Jaws--and view hierarchies as ladders to scale. Through deft portrayals of the relationships among students, faculty, and staff, Khan shows how members of the new elite face the opening of society while still preserving the advantages that allow them to rule.
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST
On July 17, 2014, a forty-three-year-old black man named Eric Garner died on a Staten Island sidewalk after a police officer put him in what has been described as an illegal chokehold during an arrest for selling bootleg cigarettes. The final moments of Garner’s life were captured on video and seen by millions. His agonized last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for the nascent Black Lives Matter protest movement. A grand jury ultimately declined to indict the officer who wrestled Garner to the pavement.
Matt Taibbi’s deeply reported retelling of these events liberates Eric Garner from the abstractions of newspaper accounts and lets us see the man in full—with all his flaws and contradictions intact. A husband and father with a complicated personal history, Garner was neither villain nor victim, but a fiercely proud individual determined to do the best he could for his family, bedeviled by bad luck, and ultimately subdued by forces beyond his control.
In America, no miscarriage of justice exists in isolation, of course, and in I Can’t Breathe Taibbi also examines the conditions that made this tragedy possible. Featuring vivid vignettes of life on the street and inside our Kafkaesque court system, Taibbi’s kaleidoscopic account illuminates issues around policing, mass incarceration, the underground economy, and racial disparity in law enforcement. No one emerges unsullied, from the conservative district attorney who half-heartedly prosecutes the case to the progressive mayor caught between the demands of outraged activists and the foot-dragging of recalcitrant police officials.
A masterly narrative of urban America and a scathing indictment of the perverse incentives built into our penal system, I Can’t Breathe drills down into the particulars of one case to confront us with the human cost of our broken approach to dispensing criminal justice.
“Brilliant . . . Taibbi is unsparing is his excoriation of the system, police, and courts. . . . This is a necessary and riveting work.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A gripping story of psychological defeat and resilience” (Bob Woodward, The Washington Post)—an intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle class.
This is the story of what happens to an industrial town in the American heartland when its main factory shuts down—but it’s not the familiar tale. Most observers record the immediate shock of vanished jobs, but few stay around long enough to notice what happens next when a community with a can-do spirit tries to pick itself up.
Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Amy Goldstein spent years immersed in Janesville, Wisconsin, where the nation’s oldest operating General Motors assembly plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession. Now, with intelligence, sympathy, and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval, Goldstein shows the consequences of one of America’s biggest political issues. Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers, educators, bankers, politicians, and job re-trainers to show why it’s so hard in the twenty-first century to recreate a healthy, prosperous working class.
“Moving and magnificently well-researched...Janesville joins a growing family of books about the evisceration of the working class in the United States. What sets it apart is the sophistication of its storytelling and analysis” (Jennifer Senior, The New York Times).
“Anyone tempted to generalize about the American working class ought to meet the people in Janesville. The reporting behind this book is extraordinary and the story—a stark, heartbreaking reminder that political ideologies have real consequences—is told with rare sympathy and insight” (Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Soul of a New Machine).
"Probably America's most prominent Marxist economist."—The New York Times
Capitalism as a system has spawned deepening economic crisis alongside its bought-and-paid-for political establishment. Neither serves the needs of our society. Whether it is secure, well-paid, and meaningful jobs or a sustainable relationship with the natural environment that we depend on, our society is not delivering the results people need and deserve.
One key cause for this intolerable state of affairs is the lack of genuine democracy in our economy as well as in our politics. The solution requires the institution of genuine economic democracy, starting with workers managing their own workplaces, as the basis for a genuine political democracy.
Here Richard D. Wolff lays out a hopeful and concrete vision of how to make that possible, addressing the many people who have concluded economic inequality and politics as usual can no longer be tolerated and are looking for a concrete program of action.
Richard D. Wolff is professor of Economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is currently a visiting professor at the New School University in New York. Wolff is the author of many books, including Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It. He hosts the weekly hour-long radio program Economic Update on WBAI (Pacifica Radio) and writes regularly for The Guardian, Truthout.org, and the MRZine.
We Americans have long thought of ourselves as unburdened by class distinctions. We have no hereditary aristocracy or landed gentry, and even the poorest among us feel that they can become rich through education, hard work, or sheer gumption. And yet social class remains a powerful force in American life.
In Class Matters, a team of New York Times reporters explores the ways in which class—defined as a combination of income, education, wealth, and occupation—influences destiny in a society that likes to think of itself as a land of opportunity. We meet individuals in Kentucky and Chicago who have used education to lift themselves out of poverty and others in Virginia and Washington whose lack of education holds them back. We meet an upper-middle-class family in Georgia who moves to a different town every few years, and the newly rich in Nantucket whose mega-mansions have driven out the longstanding residents. And we see how class disparities manifest themselves at the doctor's office and at the marriage altar.
For anyone concerned about the future of the American dream, Class Matters is truly essential reading.
"Class Matters is a beautifully reported, deeply disturbing, portrait of a society bent out of shape by harsh inequalities. Read it and see how you fit into the problem or—better yet—the solution!"—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch
Naomi Klein: "This book is downright scary."
Ethan Zuckerman, MIT: "Should be required reading."
Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body: "A must-read."
Astra Taylor, author of The People's Platform: "The single most important book about technology you will read this year."
Cory Doctorow: "Indispensable."
A powerful investigative look at data-based discrimination—and how technology affects civil and human rights and economic equity
The State of Indiana denies one million applications for healthcare, foodstamps and cash benefits in three years—because a new computer system interprets any mistake as “failure to cooperate.” In Los Angeles, an algorithm calculates the comparative vulnerability of tens of thousands of homeless people in order to prioritize them for an inadequate pool of housing resources. In Pittsburgh, a child welfare agency uses a statistical model to try to predict which children might be future victims of abuse or neglect.
Since the dawn of the digital age, decision-making in finance, employment, politics, health and human services has undergone revolutionary change. Today, automated systems—rather than humans—control which neighborhoods get policed, which families attain needed resources, and who is investigated for fraud. While we all live under this new regime of data, the most invasive and punitive systems are aimed at the poor.
In Automating Inequality, Virginia Eubanks systematically investigates the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America. The book is full of heart-wrenching and eye-opening stories, from a woman in Indiana whose benefits are literally cut off as she lays dying to a family in Pennsylvania in daily fear of losing their daughter because they fit a certain statistical profile.
The U.S. has always used its most cutting-edge science and technology to contain, investigate, discipline and punish the destitute. Like the county poorhouse and scientific charity before them, digital tracking and automated decision-making hide poverty from the middle-class public and give the nation the ethical distance it needs to make inhumane choices: which families get food and which starve, who has housing and who remains homeless, and which families are broken up by the state. In the process, they weaken democracy and betray our most cherished national values.
This deeply researched and passionate book could not be more timely.
In Coming Apart, Charles Murray explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity.
Drawing on five decades of statistics and research, Coming Apart demonstrates that a new upper class and a new lower class have diverged so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship—divergence that has nothing to do with income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad.
The top and bottom of white America increasingly live in different cultures, Murray argues, with the powerful upper class living in enclaves surrounded by their own kind, ignorant about life in mainstream America, and the lower class suffering from erosions of family and community life that strike at the heart of the pursuit of happiness. That divergence puts the success of the American project at risk.
The evidence in Coming Apart is about white America. Its message is about all of America.
WINNER OF THE OHIOANA BOOK AWARDS AND FINALIST FOR THE 87TH CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARDS | NAMED A BEST/MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2017 BY: New York Post • Newsweek • The Week • Bustle • Books by the Banks Book Festival
The Wall Street Journal: "A devastating portrait...For anyone wondering why swing-state America voted against the establishment in 2016, Mr. Alexander supplies plenty of answers."
Laura Miller, Slate: "This book hunts bigger game. Reads like an odd?and oddly satisfying?fusion of George Packer’s The Unwinding and one of Michael Lewis’ real-life financial thrillers."
The New Yorker : "Does a remarkable job."
Beth Macy, author of Factory Man: "This book should be required reading for people trying to understand Trumpism, inequality, and the sad state of a needlessly wrecked rural America. I wish I had written it."
In 1947, Forbes magazine declared Lancaster, Ohio the epitome of the all-American town. Today it is damaged, discouraged, and fighting for its future. In Glass House, journalist Brian Alexander uses the story of one town to show how seeds sown 35 years ago have sprouted to give us Trumpism, inequality, and an eroding national cohesion.
The Anchor Hocking Glass Company, once the world’s largest maker of glass tableware, was the base on which Lancaster’s society was built. As Glass House unfolds, bankruptcy looms. With access to the company and its leaders, and Lancaster’s citizens, Alexander shows how financial engineering took hold in the 1980s, accelerated in the 21st Century, and wrecked the company. We follow CEO Sam Solomon, an African-American leading the nearly all-white town’s biggest private employer, as he tries to rescue the company from the New York private equity firm that hired him. Meanwhile, Alexander goes behind the scenes, entwined with the lives of residents as they wrestle with heroin, politics, high-interest lenders, low wage jobs, technology, and the new demands of American life: people like Brian Gossett, the fourth generation to work at Anchor Hocking; Joe Piccolo, first-time director of the annual music festival who discovers the town relies on him, and it, for salvation; Jason Roach, who police believed may have been Lancaster’s biggest drug dealer; and Eric Brown, a local football hero-turned-cop who comes to realize that he can never arrest Lancaster’s real problems.
Over the past decade, Americans watched in bafflement and rage as one institution after another – from Wall Street to Congress, the Catholic Church to corporate America, even Major League Baseball – imploded under the weight of corruption and incompetence. In the wake of the Fail Decade, Americans have historically low levels of trust in their institutions; the social contract between ordinary citizens and elites lies in tatters.
How did we get here? With Twilight of the Elites, Christopher Hayes offers a radically novel answer. Since the 1960s, as the meritocracy elevated a more diverse group of men and women into power, they learned to embrace the accelerating inequality that had placed them near the very top. Their ascension heightened social distance and spawned a new American elite--one more prone to failure and corruption than any that came before it.
Mixing deft political analysis, timely social commentary, and deep historical understanding, Twilight of the Elites describes how the society we have come to inhabit – utterly forgiving at the top and relentlessly punitive at the bottom – produces leaders who are out of touch with the people they have been trusted to govern. Hayes argues that the public's failure to trust the federal government, corporate America, and the media has led to a crisis of authority that threatens to engulf not just our politics but our day-to-day lives.
Upending well-worn ideological and partisan categories, Hayes entirely reorients our perspective on our times. Twilight of the Elites is the defining work of social criticism for the post-bailout age.
Shocked by the teenage violence she witnessed during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, Erin Gruwell became a teacher at a high school rampant with hostility and racial intolerance. For many of these students–whose ranks included substance abusers, gang members, the homeless, and victims of abuse–Gruwell was the first person to treat them with dignity, to believe in their potential and help them see it themselves.
Soon, their loyalty towards their teacher and burning enthusiasm to help end violence and intolerance became a force of its own. Inspired by reading The Diary of Anne Frank and meeting Zlata Filipovic (the eleven-year old girl who wrote of her life in Sarajevo during the civil war), the students began a joint diary of their inner-city upbringings.
Told through anonymous entries to protect their identities and allow for complete candor, The Freedom Writers Diary is filled with astounding vignettes from 150 students who, like civil rights activist Rosa Parks and the Freedom Riders, heard society tell them where to go–and refused to listen.
Proceeds from this book benefit the Freedom Writers Foundation, an organization set up to provide scholarships for underprivieged youth and to train teachers.
By turns tender, incendiary, and seriously funny, this book is a call to arms for fellow progressives with little real understanding of "the great beery, NASCAR-loving, church-going, gun-owning America that has never set foot in a Starbucks."
Deer Hunting with Jesus is Joe Bageant’s report on what he learned when he moved back to his hometown of Winchester, Virginia. Like countless American small towns, it is fast becoming the bedrock of a permanent underclass. Two in five of the people in his old neighborhood do not have high school diplomas or health care. Alcohol, overeating, and Jesus are the preferred avenues of escape.
He writes of:
• His childhood friends who work at factory jobs that are constantly on the verge of being outsourced
• The mortgage and credit card rackets that saddle the working poor with debt
• The ubiquitous gun culture—and why the left doesn’ t get it
• Scots Irish culture and how it played out in the young life of Lynddie England
When Michael Harrington’s masterpiece, The Other America, was first published in 1962, it was hailed as an explosive work and became a galvanizing force for the war on poverty. Harrington shed light on the lives of the poor—from farm to city—and the social forces that relegated them to their difficult situations. He was determined to make poverty in the United States visible and his observations and analyses have had a profound effect on our country, radically changing how we view the poor and the policies we employ to help them.
--Leon Trotsky, from History of the Russian Revolution
Regarded by many as among the most powerful works of history ever written, this book offers an unparalleled account of one of the most pivotal and hotly debated events in world history. This book reveals, from the perspective of one of its central actors, the Russian Revolution’s profoundly democratic, emancipatory character.
Originally published in three parts, Trotsky’s masterpiece is collected here in a single volume. It serves as the most vital and inspiring record of the Russian Revolution to date.
“[T]he greatest history of an event that I know.”
--C. L. R. James
“In Trotsky all passions were aroused, but his thought remained calm and his vision clear.... His involvement in the struggle, far from blurring his sight, sharpens it.... The History is his crowning work, both in scale and power and as the fullest expression of his ideas on revolution. As an account of a revolution, given by one of its chief actors, it stands unique in world literature.”
“Exceptional . . . thorough, and even gut-wrenching. A significant contribution.”—American Prospect
Why Americans are fleeing our broken banking system in growing numbers, and how alternatives are rushing in to do what banks once did
What do an undocumented immigrant in the South Bronx, a high-net-worth entrepreneur, and a twenty-something graduate student have in common? All three are victims of our dysfunctional mainstream bank and credit system. Nearly half of all Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, and income volatility has doubled over the past thirty years. Banks, with their high monthly fees and overdraft charges, are gouging their lower- and middle-income customers while serving only the wealthiest Americans.
Lisa Servon delivers a stunning indictment of America’s banks, together with eye-opening dispatches from inside a range of banking alternatives that have sprung up to fill the void. She works as a teller at RiteCheck, a check-cashing business in the South Bronx, and as a payday lender in Oakland. She looks closely at the workings of a tanda, an informal lending club. And she delivers engaging, hopeful portraits of the entrepreneurs reacting to the unbanking of America by designing systems to creatively serve many of us.
With a vivid sense of humanity, DeParle demonstrates that although we live in a country where anyone can make it, generation after generation some families don’t. To read American Dream is to understand why.
In this stirring and insightful analysis, activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistence of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation.
In True Wealth , economist Juliet B. Schor rejects the sacrifice message, with the insight that social innovations and new technology can simultaneously enhance our lives and protect the planet. Schor shares examples of urban farmers, DIY renovators, and others working outside the conventional market to illuminate the path away from the work-and-spend cycle and toward a new world rich in time, creativity, information, and community.
As did the national bestseller Nickel and Dimed, Mike Rose’s revelatory book demolishes the long-held notion that people who work with their hands make up a less intelligent class. He shows us waitresses making lightning-fast calculations, carpenters handling complex spatial mathematics, and hairdressers, plumbers, and electricians with their aesthetic and diagnostic acumen. Rose, an educator who is himself the son of a waitress, explores the intellectual repertory of everyday workers and the terrible social cost of undervaluing the work they do. Deftly combining research, interviews, and personal history, this is one of those rare books that has the capacity both to shape public policy and to illuminate general readers.
In recent years, the young, educated, and affluent have surged back into cities, reversing decades of suburban flight and urban decline. and yet all is not well. In The New Urban Crisis, Richard Florida, one of the first scholars to anticipate this back-to-the-city movement, demonstrates how the forces that drive urban growth also generate cities' vexing challenges, such as gentrification, segregation, and inequality. Meanwhile, many more cities still stagnate, and middle-class neighborhoods everywhere are disappearing. We must rebuild cities and suburbs by empowering them to address their challenges.
The New Urban Crisis is a bracingly original work of research and analysis that offers a compelling diagnosis of our economic ills and a bold prescription for more inclusive cities capable of ensuring prosperity for all.
An anthology of the best new masters of nonfiction storytelling, personally chosen and introduced by Ira Glass, the producer and host of the award-winning public radio program This American Life.
These pieces-on teenage white collar criminals, buying a cow, Saddam Hussein, drunken British soccer culture, and how we know everyone in our Rolodex-are meant to mesmerize and inspire.
Through the eyes of one broken family--two drug-addicted adults and their smart, vulnerable 15-year-old son, DeAndre McCollough, Simon and Burns examine the sinister realities of inner cities across the country and unflinchingly assess why law enforcement policies, moral crusades, and the welfare system have accomplished so little. This extraordinary book is a crucial look at the price of the drug culture and the poignant scenes of hope, caring, and love that astonishingly rise in the midst of a place America has abandoned.
Tim Wise is one of America's most prolific public intellectuals. His critically acclaimed books, high-profile media interviews, and year-round speaking schedule have established him as an invaluable voice in any discussion on issues of race and multicultural democracy.
In Under the Affluence, Wise discusses a related issue: economic inequality and the demonization of those in need. He reminds us that there was a time when the hardship of fellow Americans stirred feelings of sympathy, solidarity for struggling families, and support for policies and programs meant to alleviate poverty. Today, however, mainstream discourse blames people with low income for their own situation, and the notion of an intractable "culture of poverty" has pushed our country in an especially ugly direction.
Tim Wise argues that far from any culture of poverty, it is the culture of predatory affluence that deserves the blame for America's simmering economic and social crises. He documents the increasing contempt for the nation's poor, and reveals the forces at work to create and perpetuate it. With clarity, passion and eloquence, he demonstrates how America's myth of personal entitlement based on merit is inextricably linked to pernicious racial bigotry, and he points the way to greater compassion, fairness, and economic justice.
Tim Wise is the author of many books, including Dear White America and Colorblind.
"Richard Wolff's constructive and innovative ideas suggest new and promising foundations for much more authentic democracy and sustainable and equitable development, ideas that can be implemented directly and carried forward. A very valuable contribution in troubled times."—Noam Chomsky
"Richard Wolff is the leading socialist economist in the country. This book is required reading for anyone concerned about a fundamental transformation of the ailing capitalist economy!"—Cornel West
"Bold, thoughtful, transformative-a powerful and challenging vision that takes us beyond both corporate capitalism and state socialism. Richard Wolff at his best!"—Gar Alperovitz
While most mainstream commentators view the crisis that provoked the Great Recession as having passed, these essays from Richard Wolff paint a far less rosy picture. Drawing attention to the extreme downturn in most of capitalism's old centers, the unequal growth in its new centers, and the resurgence of a global speculative bubble, Wolff—in his uniquely accessible style—makes the case that the crisis should be grasped not as a passing moment, but as an evolving stage in capitalism's history.
Richard Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Visiting Professor at the New School in New York. Wolff's recent work has concentrated on analyzing the causes and alternative solutions to the global economic crisis. His groundbreaking book Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism inspired the creation of Democracy at Work, a nonprofit organization dedicated to showing how and why to make democratic workplaces real.
In today’s world, the leisure class has been replaced by a new elite. Highly educated and defined by cultural capital rather than income bracket, these individuals earnestly buy organic, carry NPR tote bags, and breast-feed their babies. They care about discreet, inconspicuous consumption—like eating free-range chicken and heirloom tomatoes, wearing organic cotton shirts and TOMS shoes, and listening to the Serial podcast. They use their purchasing power to hire nannies and housekeepers, to cultivate their children’s growth, and to practice yoga and Pilates. In The Sum of Small Things, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett dubs this segment of society “the aspirational class” and discusses how, through deft decisions about education, health, parenting, and retirement, the aspirational class reproduces wealth and upward mobility, deepening the ever-wider class divide.
Exploring the rise of the aspirational class, Currid-Halkett considers how much has changed since the 1899 publication of Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class. In that inflammatory classic, which coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption,” Veblen described upper-class frivolities: men who used walking sticks for show, and women who bought silver flatware despite the effectiveness of cheaper aluminum utensils. Now, Currid-Halkett argues, the power of material goods as symbols of social position has diminished due to their accessibility. As a result, the aspirational class has altered its consumer habits away from overt materialism to more subtle expenditures that reveal status and knowledge. And these transformations influence how we all make choices.
With a rich narrative and extensive interviews and research, The Sum of Small Things illustrates how cultural capital leads to lifestyle shifts and what this forecasts, not just for the aspirational class but for everyone.
A book as powerful and influential as Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me, her Hope in the Dark was written to counter the despair of radicals at a moment when they were focused on their losses and had turned their back to the victories behind them—and the unimaginable changes soon to come. In it, she makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable. Drawing on her decades of activism and a wide reading of environmental, cultural, and political history, Solnit argued that radicals have a long, neglected history of transformative victories, that the positive consequences of our acts are not always immediately seen, directly knowable, or even measurable, and that pessimism and despair rest on an unwarranted confidence about what is going to happen next. Now, with a moving new introduction explaining how the book came about and a new afterword that helps teach us how to hope and act in our unnerving world, she brings a new illumination to the darkness of 2016 in an unforgettable new edition of this classic book.
Writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of eighteen or so books on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and disaster, including the books Men Explain Things to Me and Hope in the Dark, both also with Haymarket; a trilogy of atlases of American cities; The Faraway Nearby; A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Wanderlust: A History of Walking; and River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). A product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school, she is a columnist at Harper's and a regular contributor to the Guardian.
For the paperback edition, Landes has written a new epilogue, in which he takes account of Asian financial crisises and the international tension between overconfidence and reality.
"In this new edition of his classic text . . . Marable can challenge a new generation to find solutions to the problems that constrain the present but not our potential to seek and define a better future."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
"[A] prescient analysis."—Michael Eric Dyson
How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America is a classic study of the intersection of racism and class in the United States. It has become a standard text for courses in American politics and history, and has been central to the education of thousands of political activists since the 1980s. This edition is prsented with a new foreword by Leith Mullings.
Award-winning journalist Jeanne Marie Laskas reveals “enlightening, entertaining, and often poignant”* profiles of America's working class—the forgotten men and women who make our country run.
Take the men of Hopedale Mining company in Cadiz, Ohio. Laskas spent several weeks with them, both below and above ground, and by the end, you will know not only about their work, but about Pap and his dying mom, Smitty and the mail-order bride who stood him up at the airport, and Scotty and his thwarted dreams of becoming a boxing champion.
That is only one hidden world. Others that she explores: an Alaskan oil rig, a migrant labor camp in Maine, the air traffic control center at LaGuardia Airport in New York, a beef ranch in Texas, a landfill in California, a long-haul trucker in Iowa, a gun shop in Arizona, and the Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleaders, mere footnotes in the moneymaking spectacle that is professional football.
“Jeanne Marie Laskas is a reporting and writing powerhouse. She doesn’t just interview the people who dig our coal and extract our oil, she goes deep into the mines and tundra with them. With beauty, wit, curiosity, and grace, she finds the hidden soul of America. Hidden America is essential reading.”—Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Sarah Jaffe leads readers into the heart of these movements, explaining what has made ordinary Americans become activists. As Jaffe argues, the financial crisis in 2008 was the spark, the moment that crystallized that something was wrong. For years, Jaffe crisscrossed the country, asking people what they were angry about, and what they were doing to take power back. She attended a people's assembly in a church gymnasium in Ferguson, Missouri; walked a picket line at an Atlanta Burger King; rode a bus from New York to Ohio with student organizers; and went door-to-door in Queens days after Hurricane Sandy.
From the successful fight for a 15 minimum wage in Seattle and New York to the halting of Shell's Arctic drilling program, Americans are discovering the effectiveness of making good, necessary trouble. Regardless of political alignment, they are boldly challenging who wields power in this country.
“The sting, the speed and marksmanship of the gimcracks his characters fire at each other . . . drips the kind of soulful, energized sarcasm that has long characterized [Letts’] work as an actor and playwright.”–Time Out Chicago
Tracy Letts, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his epic, caustic Oklahoma family drama August: Osage County, has shifted gears with this entertaining comedy set in a donut shop. A love letter to the city where he has lived for more than twenty years, Letts describes his new work as “an exploration of the Chicago storefront experience.” The play takes place in the north side neighborhood of Uptown, where Arthur Przybyszewski runs the donut shop that has been in his family for sixty years. More content to spend the day smoking weed and reminiscing about his Polish immigrant father, Arthur hires a shop assistant, the young African American Franco Wicks, who has both an unpublished novel and unpaid gambling debt. Superior Donuts premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and recently opened on Broadway—following the same path of success as Letts’ previous work.
Tracy Letts is the author of Killer Joe, Bug, Man from Nebraska (nominated for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize), and August: Osage County (awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama). He is a member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
The Meaning of Freedom articulates a bold vision of the society we need to build and the path to get there. This is her only book of speeches.
"Davis' arguments for justice are formidable. . . . The power of her historical insights and the sweetness of her dream cannot be denied."—The New York Times
"One of America's last truly fearless public intellectuals." —Cynthia McKinney, former US Congresswoman
"Angela Davis offers a cartography of engagement in oppositional social movements and unwavering commitment to justice." —Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Women's Studies, Hamilton College
"Angela Davis deserves credit, not just for the dignity and courage with which she has lived her life, but also for raising important critiques of a for-profit penitentiary system decades before those arguments gained purchase in the mainstream." —Thomas Chatterton Williams, SFGate
"Angela Davis's revolutionary spirit is still strong. Still with us, thank goodness!"
"Long before 'race/gender' became the obligatory injunction it is now, Angela Davis was developing an analytical framework that brought all of these factors into play. For readers who only see Angela Davis as a public icon . . . meet the real Angela Davis: perhaps the leading public intellectual of our era." —Robin D. G. Kelley author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
"There was a time in America when to call a person an 'abolitionist' was the ultimate epithet. It evoked scorn in the North and outrage in the South. Yet they were the harbingers of things to come. They were on the right side of history. Prof. Angela Y. Davis stands in that proud, radical tradition." —Mumia Abu-Jamal, author of Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A.
"Behold the heart and mind of Angela Davis, open, relentless, and on time!" —June Jordan
"Political activist, scholar, and author Angela Davis confronts the interconnected issues of power, race, gender, class, incarceration, conservatism, and the ongoing need for social change in the U.S. in her book, The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues." —Travis Smiley Radio
Angela Y. Davis is professor emerita at the University of California and author of numerous books. She is a much sought after public speaker and an internationally known advocate for social justice.
Robin D.G. Kelley is the author of many books and a professor at the University of Southern California.
For generations the Burdens were one of the wealthiest families in New York, thanks to the inherited fortune of Cornelius "The Commodore" Vanderbilt. By 1955, the year of Wendy's birth, the Burden's had become a clan of overfunded, quirky and brainy, steadfastly chauvinistic, and ultimately doomed bluebloods on the verge of financial and moral decline-and were rarely seen not holding a drink. In Dead End Gene Pool, Wendy invites readers to meet her tragically flawed family, including an uncle with a fondness for Hitler, a grandfather who believes you can never have enough household staff, and a remarkably flatulent grandmother.
At the heart of the story is Wendy's glamorous and aloof mother who, after her husband's suicide, travels the world in search of the perfect sea and ski tan, leaving her three children in the care of a chain- smoking Scottish nanny, Fifth Avenue grandparents, and an assorted cast of long-suffering household servants (who Wendy and her brothers love to terrorize). Rife with humor, heartbreak, family intrigue, and booze, Dead End Gene Pool offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of old money and gives truth to an old maxim: The rich are different.
In recent years, numerous studies have shown that bright, charming, seemingly confident and socially skilled teenagers from affluent, loving families are experiencing epidemic rates of depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders&—rates higher than in any other socioeconomic group of American adolescents. Materialism, pressure to achieve, perfectionism, and disconnection are combining to create a perfect storm that is devastating children of privilege and their parents alike.In this eye-opening, provocative, and essential book, clinical psychologist Madeline Levine explodes one child-rearing myth after another. With empathy and candor, she identifies toxic cultural influences and well-intentioned, but misguided, parenting practices that are detrimental to a child's healthy self-development. Her thoughtful, practical advice provides solutions that will enable parents to help their emotionally troubled "star" child cultivate an authentic sense of self.
“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall.” —President Obama, 2013 Inaugural Address In the summer of 1969, the Stonewall Inn, one of the few places where gay men could gather, was a mafia-run unlicensed bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. An unforeseen raid on the night of June 28 by federal agents ignited the now-famous five days of Stonewall riots that kindled the nation’s gay rights movement. Expertly weaving personal, eyewitness accounts of the riots, Martin Duberman’s Stonewall is an engrossing look at how six individuals, from distinctly different backgrounds, helped bring political and social awakening to the gay liberation movement.
When Singer sewing machine tycoon Edward Clark built a luxury apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the late 1800s, it was derisively dubbed “the Dakota” for being as far from the center of the downtown action as its namesake territory on the nation’s western frontier. Despite its remote location, the quirky German Renaissance–style castle, with its intricate façade, peculiar interior design, and gargoyle guardians peering down on Central Park, was an immediate hit, particularly among the city’s well-heeled intellectuals and artists.
Over the next century it would become home to an eclectic cast of celebrity residents—including Boris Karloff, Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, singer Roberta Flack (the Dakota’s first African-American resident), and John Lennon and Yoko Ono—who were charmed by its labyrinthine interior and secret passageways, its mysterious past, and its ghosts. Stephen Birmingham, author of the New York society classic “Our Crowd”, has written an engrossing history of the first hundred years of one of the most storied residential addresses in Manhattan and the legendary lives lived within its walls.
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes argues that the best way to fight income inequality is with a radically simple idea: a guaranteed income for working people, paid for by the one percent.
The first half of Chris Hughes’s life played like a movie reel right out of the “American Dream.” He grew up in a small town in North Carolina. His parents were people of modest means, but he was accepted into an elite boarding school and then Harvard, both on scholarship. There, he met Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz and became one of the co-founders of Facebook.
In telling his story, Hughes demonstrates the powerful role fortune and luck play in today’s economy. Through the rocket ship rise of Facebook, Hughes came to understand how a select few can become ultra-wealthy nearly overnight. He believes the same forces that made Facebook possible have made it harder for everyone else in America to make ends meet.
To help people who are struggling, Hughes proposes a simple, bold solution: a guaranteed income for working people, including unpaid caregivers and students, paid for by the one percent. The way Hughes sees it, a guaranteed income is the most powerful tool we have to combat poverty and stabilize America’s middle class. Money—cold hard cash with no strings attached—gives people freedom, dignity, and the ability to climb the economic ladder. A guaranteed income for working people is the big idea that's missing in the national conversation.
This book, grounded in Hughes’s personal experience, will start a frank conversation about how we earn in modern America, how we can combat income inequality, and ultimately, how we can give everyone a fair shot.
As the Big One bore down, New Orleanians rich and poor, black and white, lurched from giddy revelry to mandatory evacuation. The thousands who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave initially congratulated themselves on once again riding out the storm. But then the unimaginable happened: Within a day 80 percent of the city was under water. The rising tides chased horrified men and women into snake-filled attics and onto the roofs of their houses. Heroes in swamp boats and helicopters braved wind and storm surge to bring survivors to dry ground. Mansions and shacks alike were swept away, and then a tidal wave of lawlessness inundated the Big Easy. Screams and gunshots echoed through the blacked-out Superdome. Police threw away their badges and joined in the looting. Corpses drifted in the streets for days, and buildings marinated for weeks in a witches’ brew of toxic chemicals that, when the floodwaters finally were pumped out, had turned vast reaches of the city into a ghost town.
Horne takes readers into the private worlds and inner thoughts of storm victims from all walks of life to weave a tapestry as intricate and vivid as the city itself. Politicians, thieves, nurses, urban visionaries, grieving mothers, entrepreneurs with an eye for quick profit at public expense–all of these lives collide in a chronicle that is harrowing, angry, and often slyly ironic.
Even before stranded survivors had been plucked from their roofs, government officials embarked on a vicious blame game that further snarled the relief operation and bedeviled scientists striving to understand the massive levee failures and build New Orleans a foolproof flood defense. As Horne makes clear, this shameless politicization set the tone for the ongoing reconstruction effort, which has been haunted by racial and class tensions from the start.
Katrina was a catastrophe deeply rooted in the politics and culture of the city that care forgot and of a nation that forgot to care. In Breach of Faith, Jed Horne has created a spellbinding epic of one of the worst disasters of our time.
From the Hardcover edition.
Like Dave Eggers’s Zeitoun and Alexander Masters’s Stuart, this is a tour de force of narrative reportage.
Mohammed Ashraf studied biology, became a butcher, a tailor, and an electrician’s apprentice; now he is a homeless day laborer in the heart of old Delhi. How did he end up this way? In an astonishing debut, Aman Sethi brings him and his indelible group of friends to life through their adventures and misfortunes in the Old Delhi Railway Station, the harrowing wards of a tuberculosis hospital, an illegal bar made of cardboard and plywood, and into Beggars Court and back onto the streets.
In a time of global economic strain, this is an unforgettable evocation of persistence in the face of poverty in one of the world’s largest cities. Sethi recounts Ashraf’s surprising life story with wit, candor, and verve, and A Free Man becomes a moving story of the many ways a man can be free.