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The Forgotten Americans: An Economic Agenda for a Divided Nation

A sobering account of a disenfranchised American working class and important policy solutions to the nation's economic inequalities One of the country's leading scholars on economics and social policy, Isabel Sawhill addresses the enormous divisions in American society--economic, cultural, and political--and what might be done to bridge them. Widening inequality and the loss of jobs to trade and technology has left a significant portion of the American workforce disenfranchised and skeptical of governments and corporations alike. And yet both have a role to play in improving the country for all. Sawhill argues for a policy agenda based on mainstream values, such as family, education, and work. While many have lost faith in government programs designed to help them, there are still trusted institutions on both the local and federal level that can deliver better job opportunities and higher wages to those who have been left behind. At the same time, the private sector needs to reexamine how it trains and rewards employees. This book provides a clear-headed and middle-way path to a better-functioning society in which personal responsibility is honored and inclusive capitalism and more broadly shared growth are once more the norm.-- Summary provided by ProQuest

Can Democracy Work? A Short History of Radical Idea, from Ancient Athens to Our World

The meaning of democracy has changed dramatically throughout history.With autocratic leaders emerging in so-called democratic nations, Miller (Political Science/New School; Eminent Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche, 2011, etc.) investigates the slippery term "democracy" and the "inherently unstable" democratic project. "If both North Korea and the United States consider themselves democratic," writes the author, and if all manner of politicians claim "to embody the will of the peoplethen what, in practice, can the idea of democracy possibly mean?" In response to this vexing question, Miller offers an informative historical overview of democratic efforts, from ancient Greece to contemporary times, including revolutions in France (1792) and America (1776), 19th-century socialist uprisings in Europe, the early-20th-century revolution in Russia, and current populist movements. Although Athens has been acclaimed as the birthplace of democracy, the author counters that assumption: While a lottery system insured wide participation in government, women and slaves were excluded; moreover, throughout Greece, most cities were aristocracies or oligarchies. Many revolutions enacted to promote democracythe French Revolution, the Paris Commune, and the British Chartist movementended in defeat and bloodshed, tainting the idea of democracy as ill-advised, creating "a new kind of tyranny, a collective tyranny of the majority" who were largely uninformed and easily swayed by inflammatory rhetoric. The term became "widely associated with the danger of mob rule" and anarchy. America's Founding Fathers did not think of themselves as democrats, believing "the election of representatives to be preferable to, and a necessary check on, the unruly excesses of a purely direct democracy." Not until the presidential campaign of 1800 did Thomas Jefferson bring the term democracy into political discourse, conflating its usage with "fealty to the Constitution." Miller is hopeful that even if democracy is threatened by political propagandists disseminating lies and creating confusion, democratic ideals and liberal principles will persist as long as democracy functions "as a shared faith."A revealing examination of the successes and perils of popular participation in government. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85

Despite the double burden of racism and sexism during second-wave feminism, women of color developed a rich tradition of activism that still resonates. This book builds a scaffold of ideas that talk back to the landmark exhibition of the same name, originally organized in 2017 at the Brooklyn Museum. During 1965-85, writers, artists, cultural critics, and art historians illuminated marginalized conversations around race, gender, politics, art, and beauty. Each contribution from this deep well of voices, images, and experiences is a source of strategic inspiration. The book features republished works from individuals such as Faith Ringgold, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, bell hooks, and Mary Ann Weathers and collective narratives from the Combahee River Collective, the Third World Women's Alliance, and AfriCOBRA, creating a rare, raw, and ageless symphony. Though these stories were foreign to many then, today they breathe life into what is considered more than a response to the racism of the feminist movement and sexism of the Civil Rights Movement; theirs was a mission to carve out a permanent place of their own. The addition of black male voices creates an affirming lens into the political matrix of patriarchy. This unsurpassed collection is an excellent resource for students, educators, and enthusiastic artists. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. --Amy O. Yeboah, Howard University

No Right To Be Idle: The Invention of Disability, 1840s-1930s

This is a sweeping, engaging study of the construction of the disability category over a century. But the author does even more than that. Historian Rose (Univ. of Texas, Arlington) traces the rise of "idiot asylums" and similar reform institutions along with their leading advocates in New York, New England, and the Midwest following the Second Great Awakening and the Industrial Revolution. Industrialization and urbanization caused social changes that created a growing population of those increasingly deemed helpless and non-productive. Rose demonstrates important considerations of class, social status, and economic deprivation in the emergence of institutions intent on reducing "dependency" and establishing the goal of providing the "deserving poor" with "productive labor" as well as exploiting that labor. She tells the story through a thorough combing of institutional archives. Accessible writing and evocative case studies across seven chronologically and thematically arranged chapters reveal the well-intentioned but paternalistic operation of early disability services as they passed over time out of the hands of a generally tolerant rural family environment, itself disappearing and increasingly unable to care for family members newly defined as "disabled." Truly an impressive work in the new but growing field of disabilities scholarship. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. --Philip F. Rubio, North Carolina A&T State University

Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art

*Starred Review* Biographer Gabriel corrects long-standing misperceptions about New York's abstract-expressionism movement by telling the dramatic, often traumatic stories of the five gifted and courageous women painters at the center of that radical flowering. The foundation for this avidly researched, deeply analyzed, gorgeously written, and endlessly involving five-track mix of biography and history is the daring experiences and essential accomplishments of Lee Krasner (pragmatic, strong and serious ) and Elaine de Kooning ( siren, saint, creative tempest, a key critic as well as a painter). Both rejected gender restrictions, served as leaders in the community of cutting-edge artists, endured poverty, and supported, often with anguish, their driven husbands, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Grace Hartigan followed a more convoluted course to success, only to be quickly forgotten. Ferocious and fragile Joan Mitchell and audacious prodigy Helen Frankenthaler led the movement's second generation, facing new battles as big money entered the art scene, and women lost what little ground they gained. Gabriel not only provides vibrantly detailed accounts of these five exceptional avant-garde artists' friendships and rivalries, affairs and marriages, doubt and despair, conviction and resilience; she also establishes a richly dimensional context for their struggles and innovations, delving into the impact on the arts and on women's lives of the Great Depression, WWII, the atomic bomb, and the Cold War. Gabriel has created an incandescent, engrossing, and paradigm-altering art epic.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2018 Booklist

The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves

The human brain is only about the size of two fists, weighs a meager three pounds, and accounts for just two percent of our body weight. But beyond the humdrum stats is an organ with complexity, power, and magnificence that is truly awe-inspiring. Kandel, a psychiatrist and co-recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, shares his fascination with the structure and workings of the brain, human behavior, and consciousness. He believes brain disorders Alzheimer's disease, autism, bipolar disorder, depression, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia in some ways offer windows onto a normal, healthy brain. Emphasizing advances in the fields of genetics, brain imaging, and animal research, Kandel writes about decision-making, sense of self, emotion, mood, addiction, and gender identity. The most important chapter focuses on the mystery of consciousness (How is it born from the biology and processes of the brain?). Another intriguing chapter looks at the connection between creativity and psychiatric disorders (illustrated with artwork by schizophrenic patients). No doubt neurons will be buzzing as readers contemplate Kandel's thought-provoking book.--Tony Miksanek Copyright 2018 Booklist

The Efficiency Paradox: What Big Data Can't Do

Tenner's Why Things Bite Back (1996) talked about the way new technologies can have unexpected downsides. Here, he tackles the same theme unintended consequences from a new angle. This book, he writes, is a critique of something self-evidently desirable, even wonderful, until it isn't: efficiency. By efficiency, Tenner means, broadly, the production of goods, the business of commerce, the providing of services with a minimum of waste. But the single-minded pursuit of technological efficiency has brought with it some drastic and unexpected changes, like the 2008 recession and the gutting of the newspaper business, both of which stem, in part, from the replacement of human hands by algorithms. Efficiency, the author says, can make the world a more predictable, orderly place, but it also deprives us of the benefits of random chance. Efficiency keeps us focused on our goals, which is good, but, on the flip side, a narrow focus can make us miss things we might have seen if we weren't so lasered in on our goals. It's a complex subject, but Tenner's smart organization and user-friendly prose style make it entirely accessible to lay readers.--Pitt, David Copyright 2018 Booklist

Intercorporeality:Emerging Socialities in Interaction

In traditional accounts of the body, the body was a delivery system for the mind. The mind told the body what to do and the body did it. In opposition to this, a range of 20th-century thinkers studied the body not as a delivery system but as an agent--for instance, as the seat of emotions or how posture shapes self-image or how the shape of the body impacts the sense of time and so on. This collection pushes those studies of embodiment considerably further. It examines how the interaction of multiple bodies, coordinating their movements in reciprocal ways, structures who people are. These structures arise before language use and thought and in some sense before the individual. Subtle microcoordination is required when, for instance, two people play well together. The bodily "we" precedes the personal "I." The body, as studied here, is something "I" do and something "I" don't do alone. Including contributions from psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, and linguists (among others), this book is filled with exciting ideas that expand the sense of what it means to be human, and it reveals a dimension of self not commonly noticed. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. --Joel F Richeimer, Kenyon College

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

*Starred Review* It's hard to paint a slumlord as a sympathetic character, but Harvard professor Desmond manages to do so in this compelling look at home evictions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one of America's most segregated cities. Two landlords are profiled here: Sherrena, who owns dozens of dilapidated units on Milwaukee's infamous North Side, and Tobin, who runs a trailer park on the South Side. They're in it to make money, to be sure, but they also have a tendency to rent to those in need and to look the other way. More often than not, however, they find themselves hauling tenants to eviction court, and here we meet eight families. Among them are Arleen, a single mother dragging her two youngest sons across town in urgent search of a warm, safe place; Scott, a drug addict desperate to crawl up from rock bottom; and Larraine, who loses all of her belongings when she's evicted. Desmond's natural storytelling style easily moves from engaging narrative (at times a tad florid, particularly when describing events he was not present for) to straight reporting. He does a marvelous job telling these harrowing stories of people who find themselves in bad situations, shining a light on how eviction sets people up to fail. He also makes the case that eviction disproportionately affects women (and, worse, their children). This is essential reading for anyone interested in social justice, poverty, and feminist issues, but its narrative nonfiction style will also draw general readers.--Vnuk, Rebecca Copyright 2016 Booklist

Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America

Is there even an American middle class anymore? Examining her own hardships as an erstwhile member of the Middle Precariat, Quart (Republic of Outsiders , 2013) probes the myriad difficulties families face in a postrecession landscape. Quart's own family struggles inform this exploration, as does her work for Barbara Ehrenreich's Economic Hardship Reporting Project. Examining the forces that squeeze American workers and their families, the the book recounts stories of the debt-laden intelligentsia, the hand-to-mouth wealthy, care workers of all stripes (day-care providers, nurses, and other pink-collar professions). Quart also shares stories of ersatz solutions, such as communal housing, gig jobs such as Uber, and those struggling for an encore career after the first evaporates. Touching on coping mechanisms like bling porn on television and Instagram as well as the insidious reach of robot labor eliminating decent-paying jobs, Quart pulls together the many strands of culture that affect the families of Squeezed. First-person interviews and profiles of her peers bring a human face to the stress and suffering of families struggling to get by in a nation that formerly prided itself on a vibrant, thriving middle class. A thorough and moving profile of U.S. families in a time of crisis.--Erin Downey Howerton Copyright 2018 Booklist

Policing Black Bodies: How Black Lives are Surveilled and How to Work for Change

From Trayvon Martin to Freddie Gray, the stories of police violence against Black people are too often in the news. In Policing Black Bodies Angela J. Hattery and Earl Smith make a compelling case that the policing of Black bodies goes far beyond these individual stories of brutality. They connect the regulation of African American people in many settings, including the public education system and the criminal justice system, into a powerful narrative about the myriad ways Black bodies are policed. Policing Black Bodies goes beyond chronicling isolated incidents of injustice to look at the broader systems of inequality in our society--how they're structured, how they harm Black people, and how we can work for positive change. The book discusses the school-to-prison pipeline, mass incarceration and the prison boom, the unique ways Black women and trans people are treated, wrongful convictions and the challenges of exoneration, and more. Each chapter of the book opens with a true story, explains the history and current state of the issue, and looks toward how we can work for change. The book calls attention to the ways class, race, and gender contribute to injustice, as well as the perils of colorblind racism--that by pretending not to see race we actually strengthen, rather than dismantle, racist social structures. Policing Black Bodies is a powerful call to acknowledge injustice and work for change. Summary provided by ProQuest.

The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of the American Gun Culture

Haag, an award-winning historian and essayist, has turned a wide and deep lens to America's gun culture, focusing on it as an unexceptional commodity in our business history. We thus see it not as a matter of values of gun owners but of the makers, and triumph of nineteenth-century manufacturing and mechanical elegance. The central focus is on Oliver Winchester, who moved from shirt manufacturing before the Civil War to establishing interchangeability in mass-production lines for the self-repeating rifles of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Haag traces the business' story in the U.S. and the role of government forward into the military carnage of the twentieth century and today's civilian market. But she also develops a parallel track the effect of the vast Winchester-family wealth, provided by guns, on the conscience of Sarah, Oliver's daughter-in-law. It eventually led to massive extravagance, spiritualism, and mental imbalance. The author has smoothly brought together a huge amount of archival research, wide historical sources, and contemporary perspectives as recent as 2015. This book should attract many readers.--Meyers, Arthur Copyright 2016 Booklist

Has the Gay Movement Failed?

*Starred Review* Distinguished historian Duberman begins his deconstruction of the contemporary gay movement with a nod to its beginnings in the early 1970s and the radical Gay Liberation Front (GLF), which bravely battled the forces of oppression. With that byway of de facto context, he fast-forwards 40 years to the present and offers cogent examinations of the movements for gay marriage and the right to serve openly in the armed forces. He is dismayed, however, by the mainstream's focus on these issues to the exclusion of larger matters of social justice and socioeconomic considerations, pointing out the fact surprising to many that the majority of LGBTQ people are working-class. He then takes a deep dive into the continuing controversy over the causes of homosexuality nature or nurture? before returning to a further examination of mainstream LGBTQ organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and their attention to insular issues. In addition to addressing marriage and the military, advocacy groups, Duberman argues, are now devoting their attention almost exclusively to forms of discrimination, which are important, yes, but he believes too narrow in focus. Though not always sanguine, he finds hope in the proliferation of small radical groups that evoke the tradition of the GLF and the imperative possibilities of collaboration with other civil- and social-rights organizations of the Left. Always lucid and insightful, this is a major work that enriches LGBTQ literature and belongs in every library.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2010 Booklist

The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump

*Starred Review* A year ago Pulitzer-winning Kakutani stepped down as chief book critic for the New York Times after more than three decades; now her first book arrives. As one of the best-read individuals on the planet, Kakutani thoroughly understands the impact of language and the necessity of communication in good faith. So it's no wonder that concern over the lies and destructiveness of the Trump presidency inspired this galvanizing social critique launched by the assertion: Truth is the cornerstone of our democracy. While others, including Jon Meacham in The Soul of America (2018), have established a historical context for today's political polarization, none has so meticulously excavated the conceptual strata. Calling on such writers as Hannah Arendt, Stefan Zweig, George Orwell, Ayn Rand, and Philip Roth, Kakutani tracks the insidious influence of postmodernism, particularly the practice of deconstruction, which has reached beyond academia and art to destabilize language and enshrine subjectivity, leading to the triumph of the self over the common good, opinion over fact. With chilling specificity, Kakutani also chronicles the diabolical use of social media by overt Trump supporters and clandestine Russians to distract and exhaust us and split our democracy. Kakutani has issued an elegantly well-argued and profoundly illuminating call to protest.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2018 Booklist

Feel Free: Essays

Smith introduces her second essay collection, following Changing My Mind (2009), by noting that the pieces gathered here were written during the Obama presidency, a bygone world. Most were first published in the New York Review of Books or the New Yorker, and all are candidly personal, socially attuned, witty, rueful, intellectually radiant, and seductively anecdotal. An incisive case for supporting public libraries is followed by an intimate look at what is being lost in climate change. Smith assesses the shock of Brexit, parses the zeitgeist of Generation Facebook, and dissects the conundrums of being biracial, experiences that inform her profile of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. Her musings on autobiographical fiction include keen readings of Philip Roth and Karl Ove Knausgård, while, on the art front, she considers the work of sculptor Sarah Sze. A confessional about Joni Mitchell is followed by a highly improbable and enjoyably fruitful pairing of Justin Bieber and philosopher Martin Buber, while reflections on dance shed light on her novel, Swing Time (2016). Smith's astute, gracefully delving inquiries remind us that freedom must be cultivated and defended.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2018 Booklist

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Tera M. Henry-Merritt
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