South Washoe DEMS Book Club - Next Meeting January 10, 2019

The South Washoe DEMS Book Club has been meeting monthly since September, 2013. We generally get together about once a month. The exact date for the next meeting is chosen at the end of each meeting. It is a great opportunity to be with a group of nice folks and have some lively discussions on topics of current interest and enjoy some light food & beverages.

Due to the Holiudays, we will not be meeting in December. The date of our next meeting will be on January 10, 2019 at 6:00 pm. We will be discussing the book Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall. It will be held at the home of Joyce Destefanis & David Penning. They are located in the Saddlehorn community at 14210 Powder River Court (from Thomas Creek Road, turn west onto Saddlehorn Drive and then south onto Powder River Court - see map.)


Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About
the World (Politics of Place)
by Tim Marshall

Prisoners of Geography Book CoverIn this New York Times bestseller, an award-winning journalist uses ten maps of crucial regions to explain the geo-political strategies of the world powers—“fans of geography, history, and politics (and maps) will be enthralled” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram).

Maps have a mysterious hold over us. Whether ancient, crumbling parchments or generated by Google, maps tell us things we want to know, not only about our current location or where we are going but about the world in general. And yet, when it comes to geo-politics, much of what we are told is generated by analysts and other experts who have neglected to refer to a map of the place in question.

All leaders of nations are constrained by geography. In “one of the best books about geopolitics” (The Evening Standard), now updated to include 2016 geopolitical developments, journalist Tim Marshall examines Russia, China, the US, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Japan, Korea, and Greenland and the Arctic—their weather, seas, mountains, rivers, deserts, and borders—to provide a context often missing from our political reportage: how the physical characteristics of these countries affect their strengths and vulnerabilities and the decisions made by their leaders.

Offering “a fresh way of looking at maps” (The New York Times Book Review), Marshall explains the complex geo-political strategies that shape the globe. Why is Putin so obsessed with Crimea? Why was the US destined to become a global superpower? Why does China’s power base continue to expand? Why is Tibet destined to lose its autonomy? Why will Europe never be united? The answers are geographical. “In an ever more complex, chaotic, and interlinked world, Prisoners of Geography is a concise and useful primer on geopolitics” (Newsweek) and a critical guide to one of the major determining factors in world affairs.

REVIEWS

"Quite simply, one of the best books about geopolitics you could imagine: reading it is like having a light shone on your understanding." (The Evening Standard)

"In an ever more complex,chaotic and interlinked world, Prisoners of Geography is a concise and useful primer on geo-politics." (Newsweek Europe)

"Marshall is excellent on some of the highways and byways of geopolitics." (Financial Times)

"This is not a book about environmental determinism – the geography of aregion is never presented as fatalistic; but it does send a timely reminderthat despite technological advances, geography is always there, often forcingthe hand of world leaders." (Geographical Magazine)

"Fans of geography, history and politics (and maps) will be enthralled." (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

"Lively and perceptive political and historical analyses are frequent. The chapter on China is excellent; the chapter on Africa combines geography and history in a convincing way; the chapter on Western Europe...is a brilliant narrative of European relations,particularly between France and Germany. The superb chapter on the Middle East makes for a clear indictment of the Sykes–Picot agreements and of their tracing of artificial borders. The chapter on the Arctic is precise and informative ...A very lively, sensible and informative series of country reports in which geography occupies its rightful place along with shrewd historical reminders and political judgments." (Survival: Global Politics and Strategy)

"Marshall's insistence on seeing the world through the lens of geography compels a fresh way of looking at maps—not just as objects for orientation or works of art, but as guideposts to the often thorny relations between nations." (New York Times Book Review)

"This book is especially timely...Landscapes, rugged or otherwise, and what the land holds in resources, exert their own kind of sway that no one, not even a Putin, can surmount. This book grabbed me because of its enormous relevance to our world today." (Booktrib.com)

"A convincing analysis of Russian geopoliticalthinking....Also makes clear the terrible price the world has had to paybecause European officials decided to create nation-states with borders thatcompletely ignored cultural geography." (Washington Post)

 

The book is available in hardcover, paperback and eBook formats from your local or online bookstores.


We do hope you will join us for this meeting. We will have some refreshments, a good discussion of the book and the issues it raises and, most of all, we always have a good time!

As always, please bring a list of books you would like to discuss in the future! Also, come prepared to enjoy a nice evening with your friends. We hope to see you there!

If you would like to receive our monthly SWD Book Club Reminder Email, or to let us know if you are coming, please email Joyce (jdestefanis@earthlink.net).


Previous Books Read and Discussed by the South Washoe DEMS Book Club

  • November, 2018
  • October, 2018
  • July, 2018
  • June, 2018
  • May, 2018
  • March, 2018
  • February, 2018
  • January, 2018
  • November, 2017
  • September, 2017
  • August, 2017
  • June, 2017
  • Earlier Books

Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel
by George Saunders


Lincoln in the Bardo Book CoverFebruary 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?

REVIEWS

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE

The long-awaited first novel from the author of Tenth of December: a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented

Named One of the Ten Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post, USA Today, and Maureen Corrigan, NPR • One of Time’s Ten Best Novels of the Year • A New York Times Notable Book

“A luminous feat of generosity and humanism.”—Colson Whitehead, The New York Times Book Review

“A masterpiece.”—Zadie Smith

 

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in August & September, 2018)

In the Shadow of Statues
by Mitch Landrieu


In the Shadow of Statues Book CoverThe New Orleans mayor who removed the Confederate statues confronts the racism that shapes us and argues for white America to reckon with its past. A passionate, personal, urgent book from the man who sparked a national debate.

"There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence for it." When Mitch Landrieu addressed the people of New Orleans in May 2017 about his decision to take down four Confederate monuments, including the statue of Robert E. Lee, he struck a nerve nationally, and his speech has now been heard or seen by millions across the country. In his first book, Mayor Landrieu discusses his personal journey on race as well as the path he took to making the decision to remove the monuments, tackles the broader history of slavery, race and institutional inequities that still bedevil America, and traces his personal relationship to this history. His father, as state legislator and mayor, was a huge force in the integration of New Orleans in the 1960s and 19070s. Landrieu grew up with a progressive education in one of the nation's most racially divided cities, but even he had to relearn Southern history as it really happened.

Equal parts unblinking memoir, history, and prescription for finally confronting America's most painful legacy, In the Shadow of Statues will contribute strongly to the national conversation about race in the age of Donald Trump, at a time when racism is resurgent with seemingly tacit approval from the highest levels of government and when too many Americans have a misplaced nostalgia for a time and place that never existed.

REVIEWS

One of Newsweek's "50 Coolest Books to Read This Summer"

“[Mitch Landrieu] has done something, in his speech and his book, that other politicians should emulate. He’s tried to reckon with America’s sins while offering an optimistic, big-hearted and deeply patriotic defense of cosmopolitanism as the source of American greatness.” —
The New York Times

“[A] thought-provoking piece of political writing...Uncomfortable as it might be to think of our country’s history...we have to do so, if we want to live within the truth. Landrieu has shown the way.” —
The Washington Post

"[A] compelling reconsideration of what it means to be a Southerner in contemporary America." —
Esquire.com

"Part memoir and part manifesto, the book follows Landrieu’s political path as well as the evolution of his thoughts on race and history." —
Time.com

"A powerful manifesto." —
Newsweek

"A powerful, welcome manifesto in the cause of a new and better South—and a 'better America.'" —
Kirkus Reviews

"[A] timely message of racial reconciliation." —
National Journal

"An extraordinarily powerful journey that is both political and personal...An important book for everyone in America to read."
Walter Isaacson,#1 New York Times bestselling author of Leonardo Da Vinci and Steve Jobs

Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the
Women Who Will Run the World

by Jennifer Palmieri


In the Shadow of StBook Cover#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
USA TODAY BESTSELLER

Redefine the expectations for women in leadership roles with this New York Times bestselling volume of inspiring advice by the former communications director for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Framed as an empowering letter from former Hillary Clinton Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri to the first woman president, and by extension, to all women working to succeed in any field, Dear Madam President is filled with forward-thinking, practical advice for all women who are determined to seize control of their lives-from boardroom to living room.

As a country, we haven't wrapped our heads around what it should look like for a woman to be in the job of President. Our only models are men. While wildly disappointed by the outcome of the 2016 election, Palmieri argues that our feelings-confusion, love, hate, acceptance-can now open the country up to reimagining women in leadership roles. And that is what Palmieri takes on in this book-redefining expectations for women looking to lead and creating a blueprint for women candidates and leaders to follow. Dear Madam President will turn the results of the 2016 election into something incredibly empowering for graduates, future female leaders, and independent thinkers everywhere.

REVIEWS

"My book explained what happened and where we need to go from here. Jennifer Palmieri picks up the ball and runs with it in this book. It's about being a woman, working for a woman, and telling the stories of the personal and professional ups and downs that all women need to hear as we chart our individual and collective futures." ― Hillary Rodham Clinton

"A powerful, personal, and sometimes painful book written for any woman who has ever thought of becoming a leader. I hope it inspires more women and girls because their voices and their leadership are needed now more than ever." ― Madeleine Albright

"With her searing honestly, Jennifer Palmieri writes about loss, despair, and that flicker of hope that keeps us getting up and striving day after day. America's first woman president should keep this book on her desk and read it every morning." ― Nicolle Wallace

"DEAR MADAM PRESIDENT is a book that every parent should encourage their daughters-and their sons-to read." ― Cory Booker

"Our first woman president, whomever she may be, will no doubt be wise and open enough to seek advice from the best in the business. The advice and insights Jennifer Palmieri has garnered from years on the frontlines of politics and life will make any leader better." ― Maria Shriver

The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels
by Jon Meacham


Soul of America Book CoverPulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham helps us understand the present moment in American politics and life by looking back at critical times in our history when hope overcame division and fear.

Our current climate of partisan fury is not new, and in The Soul of America Meacham shows us how what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature” have repeatedly won the day. Painting surprising portraits of Lincoln and other presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson, and illuminating the courage of such influential citizen activists as Martin Luther King, Jr., early suffragettes Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt, civil rights pioneers Rosa Parks and John Lewis, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Army-McCarthy hearings lawyer Joseph N. Welch, Meacham brings vividly to life turning points in American history. He writes about the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the birth of the Lost Cause; the backlash against immigrants in the First World War and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s; the fight for women’s rights; the demagoguery of Huey Long and Father Coughlin and the isolationist work of America First in the years before World War II; the anti-Communist witch-hunts led by Senator Joseph McCarthy; and Lyndon Johnson’s crusade against Jim Crow. Each of these dramatic hours in our national life have been shaped by the contest to lead the country to look forward rather than back, to assert hope over fear—a struggle that continues even now.

While the American story has not always—or even often—been heroic, we have been sustained by a belief in progress even in the gloomiest of times. In this inspiring book, Meacham reassures us, “The good news is that we have come through such darkness before”—as, time and again, Lincoln’s better angels have found a way to prevail.

Advance praise for The Soul of America

“Meacham has written this exceptionally fluent and stirring ‘portrait of hours in which the politics of fear were prevalent’ in America out of profound knowledge, respect, and love for the nation. . . . This engrossing, edifying, many-voiced chronicle, subtly propelled by concern over the troubled Trump administration, calls on readers to defend democracy, decency, and the common good.”—Booklist (starred review)

“This is a brilliant, fascinating, timely, and above all profoundly important book.”—Walter Isaacson

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in April, 2018)

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy
by Ta-Nehisi Coates


We Were Eight Years in Power Book CoverIn these “urgently relevant essays,” *the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me reflects on race, Barack Obama’s presidency and its jarring aftermath — including the election of Donald Trump.

"We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s “first white president.”

But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period—and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation’s old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective—the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president.

We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates’s iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including Fear of a Black President, The Case for Reparations, and The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration, along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates’s own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. We Were Eight Years in Power is a vital account of modern America, from one of the definitive voices of this historic moment.

      *Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

New York Times Bestseller • One of Time’s Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of the Year • One of USA Today’s top 10 books of the year • A New York Times Notable Book

Essential . . . Coates’s probing essays about race, politics, and history became necessary ballast for this nation’s gravity-defying moment. — The Boston Globe 

How Democracy Die
by Daniel Ziblatt & Steven Levitsky


How Democracies Die Book Cover- NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“Cool and persuasive... How Democracies Die comes at exactly the right moment. We’re already awash in public indignation—what we desperately need is a sober, dispassionate look at the current state of affairs. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, two of the most respected scholars in the field of democracy studies, offer just that.” 

—The Washington Post

Donald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we’d be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one. 

Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die—and how ours can be saved.

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
by Michael Wolf


Fire and Fury Book CoverThe first nine months of Donald Trump's term were stormy, outrageous―and absolutely mesmerizing. Now, thanks to his deep access to the West Wing, bestselling author Michael Wolff tells the riveting story of how Trump launched a tenure as volatile and fiery as the man himself.

In this explosive book, Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office. Among the revelations:

  • What President Trump's staff really thinks of him
  • What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
  • Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
  • Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn't be in the same room
  • Who is really directing the Trump administration's strategy in the wake of Bannon's firing
  • What the secret to communicating with Trump is
  • What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers

Never before has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in December, 2017)

Strangers in the Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
by Arlie Russell Hochschild


    • Strangers In Their Own Land BookcoverA 2016 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST FOR NONFICTION
    • A 2016 NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
    • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
    • A NEWSDAY TOP 10 BOOK OF THE YEAR
    • A KIRKUS BEST BOOK OF 2016

One of "6 Books to Understand Trump's Win"
   ― New York Times the day after the election

"This is a smart, respectful and compelling book."

   ― The New York Times Book Review

"Satisfying... [Hochschild's] analysis is overdue at a time when questions of policy and legislation and even fact have all but vanished from the public discourse."
   ― The New York Review of Books

"Hochschild moves beyond the truism that less affluent voters who support small government and tax cuts are voting against their own economic interest."
   ― O Magazine

In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country―a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets―among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident―people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.

Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream―and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in "red" America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: why do the people who would seem to benefit most from "liberal" government intervention abhor the very idea?

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in October, 2017)

Requiem for the American Dream:
The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power
by Noam Chomsky


Requiem for the American Dream Book CoverIn his first major book on the subject of income inequality, Noam Chomsky skewers the fundamental tenets of neoliberalism and casts a clear, cold, patient eye on the economic facts of life. What are the ten principles of concentration of wealth and power at work in America today? They're simple enough: reduce democracy, shape ideology, redesign the economy, shift the burden onto the poor and middle classes, attack the solidarity of the people, let special interests run the regulators, engineer election results, use fear and the power of the state to keep the rabble in line, manufacture consent, marginalize the population. In Requiem for the American Dream, Chomsky devotes a chapter to each of these ten principles, and adds readings from some of the core texts that have influenced his thinking to bolster his argument.

To create Requiem for the American Dream, Chomsky and his editors, the filmmakers Peter Hutchison, Kelly Nyks, and Jared P. Scott, spent countless hours together over the course of five years, from 2011 to 2016. After the release of the film version, Chomsky and the editors returned to the many hours of tape and transcript and created a document that included three times as much text as was used in the film. The book that has resulted is nonetheless arguably the most succinct and tightly woven of Chomsky's long career, a beautiful vessel--including old-fashioned ligatures in the typeface--in which to carry Chomsky's bold and uncompromising vision, his perspective on the economic reality and its impact on our political and moral well-being as a nation.

"During the Great Depression, which I'm old enough to remember, it was bad–much worse subjectively than today. But there was a sense that we'll get out of this somehow, an expectation that things were going to get better . . ." — from Requiem for the American Dream

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

by Jane Mayer


Dark Money Book CoverWhy is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?

The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But as Jane Mayer shows in this powerful, meticulously reported history, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.

The network has brought together some of the richest people on the planet. Their core beliefs—that taxes are a form of tyranny; that government oversight of business is an assault on freedom—are sincerely held. But these beliefs also advance their personal and corporate interests: Many of their companies have run afoul of federal pollution, worker safety, securities, and tax laws.

The chief figures in the network are Charles and David Koch, whose father made his fortune in part by building oil refineries in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany. The patriarch later was a founding member of the John Birch Society, whose politics were so radical it believed Dwight Eisenhower was a communist. The brothers were schooled in a political philosophy that asserted the only role of government is to provide security and to enforce property rights.

When libertarian ideas proved decidedly unpopular with voters, the Koch brothers and their allies chose another path. If they pooled their vast resources, they could fund an interlocking array of organizations that could work in tandem to influence and ultimately control academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and, they hoped, the presidency. Richard Mellon Scaife, the mercurial heir to banking and oil fortunes, had the brilliant insight that most of their political activities could be written off as tax-deductible “philanthropy.”

These organizations were given innocuous names such as Americans for Prosperity. Funding sources were hidden whenever possible. This process reached its apotheosis with the allegedly populist Tea Party movement, abetted mightily by the Citizens United decision—a case conceived of by legal advocates funded by the network.

The political operatives the network employs are disciplined, smart, and at times ruthless. Mayer documents instances in which people affiliated with these groups hired private detectives to impugn whistle-blowers, journalists, and even government investigators. And their efforts have been remarkably successful. Libertarian views on taxes and regulation, once far outside the mainstream and still rejected by most Americans, are ascendant in the majority of state governments, the Supreme Court, and Congress. Meaningful environmental, labor, finance, and tax reforms have been stymied.

Jane Mayer spent five years conducting hundreds of interviews-including with several sources within the network-and scoured public records, private papers, and court proceedings in reporting this book. In a taut and utterly convincing narrative, she traces the byzantine trail of the billions of dollars spent by the network and provides vivid portraits of the colorful figures behind the new American oligarchy.

Dark Money is a book that must be read by anyone who cares about the future of American democracy.

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in June & July, 2017)

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
by J.D. Vance


Hillbilly Edge Book CoverFrom a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.



Drawing on letters, journals, diaries, published and unpublished manuscripts, and interviews, Patricia Bell-Scott gives us the first close-up portrait of this evolving friendship and how it was sustained over time, what each gave to the other, and how their friendship changed the cause of American social justice.

The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship:
Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice
by Patricia Bell-Scott


The firebrand and the First Lady Book CoverThis groundbreaking book—two decades in the works—that tells the story of how a brilliant writer-turned-activist, granddaughter of a mulatto slave, and the first lady of the United States, whose ancestry gave her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, forged an enduring friendship that changed each of their lives and helped to alter the course of race and racism in America.

Pauli Murray first saw Eleanor Roosevelt in 1933, at the height of the Depression, at a government-sponsored, two-hundred-acre camp for unemployed women where Murray was living, something the first lady had pushed her husband to set up in her effort to do what she could for working women and the poor. The first lady appeared one day unannounced, behind the wheel of her car, her secretary and a Secret Service agent her passengers. To Murray, then aged twenty-three, Roosevelt's self-assurance was a symbol of women's independence, a symbol that endured throughout Murray's life. Five years later, Pauli Murray, a twenty-eight-year-old aspiring writer, wrote a letter to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt protesting racial segregation in the South. The president's staff forwarded Murray's letter to the federal Office of Education. The first lady wrote back.

So began a friendship between Pauli Murray (poet, intellectual rebel, principal strategist in the fight to preserve Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, cofounder of the National Organization for Women, and the first African American female Episcopal priest) and Eleanor Roosevelt (first lady of the United States, later first chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women) that would last for a quarter of a century.

Drawing on letters, journals, diaries, published and unpublished manuscripts, and interviews, Patricia Bell-Scott gives us the first close-up portrait of this evolving friendship and how it was sustained over time, what each gave to the other, and how their friendship changed the cause of American social justice.

May, 2017

Nudge Book CoverNudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
by Richard H. Thayer and Cass R. Sunstein

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in April, 2017)

March, 2017

Don't Think of an Elephant Book CoverDon't Think of an Elephant! - Know Your Values and Frame the Debate
by George Lakoff

February, 2017

Lies, Incorporated Book CoverLies, Incorporated: The World of Post-Truth Politics
by Ari Rabin-Havt

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in October, 2016 thru January, 2017)

September, 2016

Grit BookcoverGrit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
by Angela Duckworth

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in June, 2016 thru August, 2016)

May, 2016

Righteous Mind Book CoverRighteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
by Jonathan Haidt

April, 2016

Rise of the Robots Book CoverRise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future
by Martin Ford

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in October, 2015 thru March, 2016)

September, 2015

The Post American World Book CoverThe Post-American World
by Fareed Zakaria

August, 2015

Elon Musk Book CoverElon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
by Ashlee Vance

July, 2015

The Wright Brothers BookcoverThe Wright Brothers
by David McCullough

June, 2015

Is the American Century Over Book Cover Is the American Century Over?
by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.

NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in April & May, 2015

March, 2015

Islam for Dummies Book CoverIslam for Dummies
by Malcolm Clark

February, 2015

The Family Romanov Book CoverThe Family Romanov
by Candance Flemming

January, 2015

Rise and Fall of Joe McCarthy Book CoverRise and Fall of Joe McCarthy
by James Cross Giblin

NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in December, 2014

November, 2014

Truman Book CoverTruman
by David McCullough

October, 2014

The ROOSEVELTS Book CoverTHE ROOSEVELTS: An Intimate History
by cinematographer, Ken Burns

September, 2014

A Fighting Chance BookcoverA Fighting Chance
by Elizabeth Warren

 

August, 2014

Not For Profit Book CoverNot For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities
by Martha C. Nussbaum

NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in July, 2014

June, 2014

The Divide Book CoverThe Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
by Matt Taibbi

 

May, 2014

The Bomb Book CoverBomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
by Steve Sheinkin

NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in April, 2014

March, 2014

Cybersecurity & Cyberwar Book CoverCybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know®
by P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman

 

February, 2014

American Nations BookcoverAmerican Nations: A History of the Eleven
Rival Regional Cultures of North America

by Colin Woodard

January, 2014

Outliners Book CoverOutliers: The Story of Success
by Malcom Gladwell

December, 2013

The Abolsultely True Diary of a Part Time IndianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie

November, 2013

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai

October, 2013

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care
by T.R. Reid

September, 2013

How Do You Kill 11 Million People?: Why the Truth Matters More Than You Think
by Andy Andrews