Politically Inspired Book Club
Interested in human rights and social justice? Unsure as to the direction of our political, social and economic institutions?
And are you looking for fellow humans to meet and encourage learning and help inspire change?
In this book club, we encourage each other to learn more, discuss ideas, challenge each other and teach each other. Together we explore nonfiction, memoir and fiction books that we collectively choose. We may also follow up our book club meeting with a tea or a beer down the street.
June 2015 Selection: Publisher Marketing:
The provocative bestseller "She's Not There "is the winning, utterly surprising story of a person changing genders. By turns hilarious and deeply moving, Jennifer Finney Boylan explores the territory that lies between men and women, examines changing friendships, and rejoices in the redeeming power of family. Told in Boylan's fresh voice, "She's Not There" is about a person bearing and finally revealing a complex secret. As James evolves into Jennifer in scenes that are by turns tender, startling, and witty, a marvelously human perspective emerges on issues of love, sex, and the fascinating relationship between our physical and intuitive selves. Now with a new epilogue from the author and an afterword from Deirdre "Grace" Boylan, "She's Not There" shines a light on the often confounding process of accepting ourselves.
March 2015 Selection: Organized into four sections, this collection of essays is geared toward activists engaging with the dynamic questions of how to create and support effective movements for visionary systemic change. These essays and interviews present powerful lessons for transformative organizing. It offers a firsthand look at the challenges and the opportunities of antiracist work in white communities, feminist work with men, and bringing women of color feminism into the heart of social movements. Drawing on two decades of personal activist experience and case studies within these areas, Crass's essays insightfully explore ways of transforming divisions of race, class, and gender into catalysts for powerful vision, strategy, and building movements in the United States today. This collection will inspire and empower anyone who is interested in implementing change through organizing.
February 2015 Selection: Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see black youth seated together in the cafeteria. Of course, it's not just the black kids sitting together - the white, Latino, Asian Pacific and, in some regions, American Indian youth are clustered in their own groups too. The same phenomenon can be observed in college dining halls, faculty lounges and corporate cafeterias. What is going on here? Is this self-segregation a problem we should try to fix, or a coping strategy we should support? How can we get past our reluctance to talk about racial issues to even discuss it? And what about all the other questions we and our children have about race?
January 2015 Selection: In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.
Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now....
Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force
October 2014 Selection: Just over two hundred years ago, there were one billion humans on Earth.
There are now over seven billion of us.
And, sometime this century, the world population will reach at least ten billion.
Deforestation. Desertification. Species extinction. Global warming. Growing threats to food and water. The driving issues of our times are the result of one huge problem: Us.
As the population continues to grow, our problems will increase. And this means that every way we look at it, a planet of ten billion people is likely to be a nightmare.
Stephen Emmott, a scientist whose lab is at the forefront of research into complex natural systems, sounds the alarm. TEN BILLION is a snapshot of our planet, and our species, approaching a crisis, and a stark analysis of where this leaves us. TEN BILLION is not another climate book. TEN BILLION is a book about us.
September 2014 Selection:Since its publication fifty years ago, "Animal Farm" has become one of the most controversial books ever written. It has been translated into seventy languages and sold millions of copies throughout the world. This edition is being published to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of its original U.S. publication.
It features 100 full-color and halftone illustrations by world-renowned artist Ralph Steadman. As vital and relevant as it was fifty years ago, "Animal Farm" is a devastating satire of the Soviet Union by the man V. S. Pritchett called "the conscience of his generation." A fable about an uprising of farm animals against their human masters, it illustrates how new tyranny replaces old in the wake of revolutions and power corrupts even the noblest of causes.
This anniversary edition includes Orwell's proposed but unpublished preface to the original edition and his preface to the 1947 Ukranian edition. These appendices evoke the historical context in which Orwell conceived and wrote his classic novel.
August 2014 Selection: Today's economic crisis is capitalism's worst since the Great Depression. Millions have lost their jobs, homes and healthcare while those who work watch their pensions, benefits, and job security decline. As more and more are impacted by the crisis, the system continues to make the very wealthy even richer. In eye-opening interviews with prominent economist Richard Wolff, David Barsamian probes the root causes of the current economic crisis, its unjust social consequences, and what can and should be done to turn things around. While others blame corrupt bankers and unregulated speculators, the government, or even the poor who borrowed, the authors show that the causes of the crisis run much deeper. They reach back to the 1970s when the capitalist system itself shifted, ending the century-old pattern of rising wages for U.S. workers and thereby enabling the top 1% to become ultra-rich at the expense of the 99%. Since then, economic injustice has become chronic and further corrupted politics. The Occupy movement, by articulating deep indignation with the whole system, mobilizes huge numbers who seek basic change. Occupying the Economy not only clarifies and analyzes the crisis in U.S. capitalism today, it also points toward solutions that can shape a far better future for all.
July 2014 Selection: Ralph Nader has fought for over fifty years on behalf of American citizens against the reckless influence of corporations and their government patrons on our society. Now he ramps up the fight and makes a persuasive case that Americans are not powerless. In "Unstoppable," he explores the emerging political alignment of the Left and the Right against converging corporate-government tyranny.
Large segments from the progressive, conservative, and libertarian political camps find themselves aligned in opposition to the destruction of civil liberties, the economically draining corporate welfare state, the relentless perpetuation of America's wars, sovereignty-shredding trade agreements, and the unpunished crimes of Wall Street against Main Street. Nader shows how Left-Right coalitions can prevail over the corporate state and crony capitalism.
He draws on his extensive experience working with grassroots organizations in Washington and reveals the many surprising victories by united progressive and conservative forces. As a participator in, and keen observer of, these budding alliances, he breaks new ground in showing how such coalitions can overcome specific obstacles that divide them, and how they can expand their power on Capitol Hill, in the courts, and in the decisive arena of public opinion.
Americans can reclaim their right to consume safe foods and drugs, live in healthy environments, receive fair rewards for their work, resist empire, regain control of taxpayer assets, strengthen investor rights, and make bureaucrats more efficient and accountable. Nader argues it is in the interest of citizens of different political labels to join in the struggle against the corporate state that will, if left unchecked, ruin the Republic, override our constitution, and shred the basic rights of the American people.
June 2014 Selection: It is a well-established fact that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem. "The Spirit Level," based on thirty years of research, takes this truth a step further. One common factor links the healthiest and happiest societies: the degree of equality among their members. Further, more unequal societies are bad for everyone within them-the rich and middle class as well as the poor.
The remarkable data assembled in "The Spirit Level" exposes stark differences, not only among the nations of the first world but even within America's fifty states. Almost every modern social problem-poor health, violence, lack of community life, teen pregnancy, mental illness-is more likely to occur in a less-equal society.
Renowned researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett lay bare the contradictions between material success and social failure in the developed world. But they do not merely tell us what's wrong. They offer a way toward a new political outlook, shifting from self-interested consumerism to a friendlier, more sustainable society.
May 2014 Selection: Campaigning for president in 1980, Ronald Reagan told stories of Cadillac-driving "welfare queens" and "strapping young bucks" buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. In trumpeting these tales of welfare run amok, Reagan never needed to mention race, because he was blowing a dog whistle: sending a message about racial minorities inaudible on one level, but clearly heard on another. In doing so, he tapped into a long political tradition that started with George Wallace and Richard Nixon, and is more relevant than ever in the age of the Tea Party and the first black president.
In Dog Whistle Politics, Ian Haney Lopez offers a sweeping account of how politicians and plutocrats deploy veiled racial appeals to persuade white voters to support policies that favor the extremely rich yet threaten their own interests. Dog whistle appeals generate middle-class enthusiasm for political candidates who promise to crack down on crime, curb undocumented immigration, and protect the heartland against Islamic infiltration, but ultimately vote to slash taxes for the rich, give corporations regulatory control over industry and financial markets, and aggressively curtail social services. White voters, convinced by powerful interests that minorities are their true enemies, fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their lives. The tactic continues at full force, with the Republican Party using racial provocations to drum up enthusiasm for weakening unions and public pensions, defunding public schools, and opposing health care reform.
Rejecting any simple story of malevolent and obvious racism, Haney Lopez links as never before the two central themes that dominate American politics today: the decline of the middle class and the Republican Party's increasing reliance on white voters. Dog Whistle Politics will generate a lively and much-needed debate about how racial politics has destabilized the American middle class -- white and nonwhite members alike."
April 2014 Selection: Cultural Writing. CALIBAN AND THE WITCH is a history of the body in the transition to capitalism. Moving from the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages to the witch-hunts and the rise of mechanical philosophy, Federici investigates the capitalist rationalization of social reproduction. She shows how the battle against the rebel body and the conflict between body and mind are essential conditions for the development of labor power and self-ownership, two central principles of modern social organization. "It is both a passionate work of memory recovered and a hammer of humanity's agenda"--Peter Linebaugh, author of The London Hanged.
March 2014 Selection: Small Is Beautiful is Oxford-trained economist E. F. Schumacher's classic call for the end of excessive consumption. Schumacher inspired such movements as "Buy Locally" and "Fair Trade," while voicing strong opposition to "casino capitalism" and wasteful corporate behemoths. Named one of the Times Literary Supplement's 100 Most Influential Books Since World War II, Small Is Beautiful presents eminently logical arguments for building our economies around the needs of communities, not corporations.
February 2014 Selection: What's wrong with the US food system? Why is half the world starving while the other half battles obesity? Who decides our food issues, and why can't we do better with labeling, safety, or school food? These are complex questions that are hard to answer in an engaging way for a broad audience. But everybody eats, and food politics affects us all.Marion Nestle, whom Michael Pollan ranked as the #2 most powerful foodie in America (after Michelle Obama) in "Forbes," has always used cartoons in her public presentations to communicate how politics--shaped by government, corporate marketing, economics, and geography--influences food choice. Cartoons do more than entertain; the best get right to the core of complicated concepts and powerfully convey what might otherwise take pages to explain.In "Eat, Drink, Vote," Nestle teams up with The Cartoonist Group syndicate to present more than 250 of her favorite cartoons on issues ranging from dietary advice to genetic engineering to childhood obesity. Using the cartoons as illustration and commentary, she engagingly summarizes some of today's most pressing issues in food politics. While encouraging readers to vote with their forks for healthier diets, this book insists that it's also necessary to vote with votes to make it easier for everyone to make healthier dietary choices.
January 2014 Selection: Aldous Huxley's tour de force, Brave New World is a darkly satiric vision of a "utopian" future—where humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, it remains remarkably relevant to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying entertainment.
December 2013 Selection: Record unemployment and rampant corporate avarice, empty houses but homeless families, dwindling opportunities in an increasingly paralyzed nation--these are the realities of 21st-century America, land of the free and home of the new middle class poor. Award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, one of the nation's leading democratic intellectuals, co-hosts of Public Radio's "Smiley & West," now take on the "P" word--poverty."The Rich and the Rest of Us" is the next step in the journey that began with "The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience." Smiley and West's 18-city bus tour gave voice to the plight of impoverished Americans of all races, colors, and creeds. With 150 million Americans persistently poor or near poor, the highest numbers in over five decades, Smiley and West argue that now is the time to confront the underlying conditions of systemic poverty in America before it's too late.By placing the eradication of poverty in the context of the nation's greatest moments of social transformation-- such as the abolition of slavery, woman's suffrage, and the labor and civil rights movements--ending poverty is sure to emerge as America's 21st -century civil rights struggle.As the middle class disappears and the safety net is shredded, Smiley and West, building on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., ask us to confront our fear and complacency with 12 poverty changing ideas. They challenge us to re-examine our assumptions about poverty in America--what it really is and how to eliminate it now.
November 2013 Selection: "New York Times" BestsellerHow feminine values can solve our toughest problems and build a more prosperous futureAmong 64,000 people surveyed in thirteen nations, two thirds feel the world would be a better place if men thought more like women. This marks a global trend away from the winner-takes-all, masculine approach to getting things done. Drawing from interviews at innovative organizations in eighteen nations and at Fortune 500 boardrooms, the authors reveal how men and women alike are recognizing significant value in traits commonly associated with women, such as nurturing, cooperation, communication, and sharing. "The Athena Doctrine" shows why femininity is the operating system of 21st century prosperity.Advocates a new way to solve today's toughest problems in business, education, government, and moreBased on a landmark survey and results from Young & Rubicam's respected Brand Asset Valuator's global survey, as well as on-the-ground interviews in 18 countriesFrom acclaimed social theorist, consumer expert, and bestselling author, John Gerzema, and award-winning author, Michael D'AntonioBrought to life through real world examples and backed by rigorous data, "The Athena Doctrine" shows how feminine traits are ascending--and bringing success to people and organizations around the world. By nurturing, listening, collaborating and sharing, women and men are solving problems, finding profits, and redefining success in every realm.
October 2013 Selection: In the third edition of his highly acclaimed book, Bonilla-Silva continues to challenge color-blind thinking. He has now extended this challenge with a new chapter on Obama's election addressing the apparent miracle of a black man elected as the 44th President of the nation despite the fact that racial progress has stagnated since the 1980s and, in some areas, even regressed. In contrast to those who believe the election of President Obama is a watershed moment that signifies the beginning of a post-racial era in America, he suggests this development embodies the racial trends of the last 40 years including two he has addressed in this book: the rise of color-blind racism as the dominant racial ideology and the emergence of an apparently more flexible racial stratification system he characterizes as Latin America-like. Some material from previous editions, including 'Answers to Questions from Concerned Readers, ' 'What is to Be Done, ' and an Appendix detailing interview questions, is now available on the Rowman & Littlefield website through the Teaching/Learning Resources link.
August 2013 Selection: From its roots in 17th-century Britain to its modern incarnation in Enron and WorldCom, the modern corporation -- restless, autonomous, and self-perpetuating -- has gained potency. Designed to seek profit and power, the corporation has pursued both objectives with endless tenacity, steadily bending the framework of the law and incurring destruction in its path. Where did the corporation come from? How did it get so much power? What is its ultimate trajectory? Considering the importance of such questions, it is surprisingly difficult to find answers.
Using cutting-edge research from academic historians, sociologists, political scientists, and legal scholars, "Gangs of America attempts to answer these questions in a unique, riveting narrative. The book recounts the settlement of America by corporations, details the surprising impetus for the Revolutionary War, then traces the expansion of corporate rights onto the global stage -- culminating in an assessment of current struggles over such issues as media control and campaign finance reform. Part of the "BK Currents series, the book promotes positive social change.
July 2013 Selection: What explains the growing class divide between the well educated and everybody else? Noted author Brink Lindsey, a senior scholar at the Kauffman Foundation, argues that it's because economic expansion is creating an increasingly complex world in which only a minority with the right knowledge and skills--the right "human capital"--reap the majority of the economic rewards. The complexity of today's economy is not only making these lucky elites richer--it is also making them smarter. As the economy makes ever-greater demands on their minds, the successful are making ever-greater investments in education and other ways of increasing their human capital, expanding their cognitive skills and leading them to still higher levels of success. But unfortunately, even as the rich are securely riding this virtuous cycle, the poor are trapped in a vicious one, as a lack of human capital leads to family breakdown, unemployment, dysfunction, and further erosion of knowledge and skills. In this brief, clear, and forthright eBook original, Lindsey shows how economic growth is creating unprecedented levels of human capital--and suggests how the huge benefits of this development can be spread beyond those who are already enjoying its rewards.
June 2013 Selection: The definitive political biography of Rosa Parks examines her six decades of activism, challenging perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement
Presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks as the quiet seamstress who, with a single act, birthed the modern civil rights movement, Theoharis provides a revealing window into Parks's politics and years of activism. She shows readers how this civil rights movement radical sought--for more than a half a century--to expose and eradicate the American racial-caste system in jobs, schools, public services, and criminal justice.
April 2013 Selection: Selected by the "Times Literary Supplement as one of the "hundred most influential books since the war"
How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat it poses to individual freedom? In this classic book, Milton Friedman provides the definitive statement of his immensely influential economic philosophy--one in which competitive capitalism serves as both a device for achieving economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom. The result is an accessible text that has sold well over half a million copies in English, has been translated into eighteen languages, and shows every sign of becoming more and more influential as time goes on.