Social Sciences Book Reviews

ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES by Walidah Imarisha
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"A brave, honest search for answers regarding incarceration."
An impassioned look inside the lives of a few inmates, "flawed, damaged, and culpable, but still human." Read full book review >
BREAKTHROUGH by Nancy L. Cohen
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"In her brisk analysis, Cohen feels optimistic that the next election will cross 'a historic threshold.'"
Is America ready to elect Hillary Clinton? Read full book review >

THE BATTLE FOR ROOM 314 by Ed Boland
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"An unflinchingly honest account of one man's experiences with inner-city education."
A nonprofit executive tells the story of the year he spent as a teacher in a struggling urban high school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Read full book review >
INCARCERATION NATIONS by Baz Dreisinger
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"An eye-opening, damning indictment of the American prison system and the way its sins reverberate around the globe."
A writer and social activist chronicles her visits to prisons around the globe to gain insight into what works and doesn't work. Read full book review >
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"A usefully organized, concise history of social movements that will appeal to newer generations of activists."
Optimistic overview of the recent surge in politically directed, nonviolent mass advocacy movements, focused on historical examples and the tactical future. Read full book review >

UNTANGLED by Lisa Damour
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Expert information and counsel on helping parents raise well-rounded girls."
The director of the Laurel School's Center for Research on Girls offers parents concrete advice on how to help their teenage daughters navigate the often tumultuous teenage years. Read full book review >
LIT UP by David Denby
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An upbeat portrait of fine teachers and the students they inspire."
Teenagers encounter great books and dedicated teachers. Read full book review >
CHILDREN OF PARADISE by Laura Secor
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An insightful chronicle of bloody repression and brave defiance."
A close look at Iranian culture and politics from the 1979 revolution to the present. Read full book review >
INTEGRATION NATION by Susan E. Eaton
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"From Indiana to Georgia to Maine, these intelligent model programs should inspire others."
Pragmatic approaches to incorporating the enormous waves of immigrants arriving in the United States. Read full book review >
BLACKBALLED by Lawrence Ross
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"'Racism is icky to talk about, as everyone usually retreats to their comfortable box when dealing with it,' Ross admits, but his biting critique may fuel much-needed conversation."
An impassioned indictment of racism in predominantly white institutions of higher learning. Read full book review >
ORIGINALS by Adam Grant
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A mixed bag but of interest to readers looking to jump-start their creative powers and raise quick-witted children."
A blend of old and new—and sometimes original—informs this pop-science piece on creativity and its discontents. Read full book review >
HELL IS A VERY SMALL PLACE by Jean  Casella
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A potent cry of anguish from men and women buried way down in the hole."
The founders of a watchdog group dedicated to stopping the practice of solitary confinement gather voices from victims of this hellish punishment. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >