Social Sciences Book Reviews

CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: July 22, 2016

"An elucidating, nuanced study of gender and feminist dynamics perfect for our current political moment."
A timely study of gender and media that reaches back before the present American election to earlier delineations of white manhood and presidential power. Read full book review >
THE VOYEUR'S MOTEL by Gay Talese
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 12, 2016

"Undoubtedly creepy and unnerving but also an entirely compelling slice of seamy American life."
The disturbing private world of the sleaziest motel manager since Norman Bates. Read full book review >

LIFT by Daniel Kunitz
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: July 5, 2016

"An excellent contribution to the literature of athletic performance and of interest to anyone with a penchant for self-improvement—and not just physical."
A wide-ranging history of fitness. Read full book review >
THE NORDIC THEORY OF EVERYTHING by Anu Partanen
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: June 28, 2016

"An earnest, well-written work worth heeding, especially in our current toxic political climate."
A Finnish journalist offers a surprising theory of why Americans are neither currently upwardly mobile nor free. Read full book review >
JACKSON, 1964 by Calvin Trillin
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 28, 2016

"Haunting pieces that show how our window on the past is often a mirror."
A veteran reporter collects some significant pieces about race that originally appeared in the New Yorker, his publishing home since 1963. Read full book review >

WHITE TRASH by Nancy Isenberg
HISTORY
Released: June 21, 2016

"A riveting thesis supported by staggering research."
A rigorously researched study of the entrenched system of racial classification that dispels many myths about American national identity. Read full book review >
THE WAY TO THE SPRING by Ben Ehrenreich
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: June 14, 2016

"Although Ehrenreich feels optimistic about the determination of Palestinians to resist, this visceral book, sorrowfully, portends no end to the horror."
A devastating portrait of unending turbulence in Palestine. Read full book review >
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: June 14, 2016

"Uplifting, well-written story of personal courage and political empowerment."
The moving personal stories behind the landmark Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which established the right of same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states. Read full book review >
THE BUTLER'S CHILD by Lewis M. Steel
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 14, 2016

"An articulate, emotionally moving chronicle of a life informed by racial unrest and elevated with dutiful humanitarianism."
A white man borne of privilege dedicates his life to the defense of civil rights. Read full book review >
INVISIBLE MAN, GOT THE WHOLE WORLD WATCHING by Mychal Denzel Smith
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 14, 2016

"Realizing that he has more questions than answers, Smith cautiously sketches a useful blueprint for radical and intersectional politics in a country where a black child can grow up to be president but where living while black is still dangerous."
As black men are cut down by the police and self-appointed vigilantes, an activist wrestles with competing claims—from his family and community, his historically black university, the media, and white America—on his blackness and how it is to be lived. Read full book review >
EXONEREE DIARIES by Alison Flowers
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: June 7, 2016

"A thoroughly researched, provocative book of justice gone wrong."
Chicago journalist Flowers goes deep into the cases of three innocent men and a woman serving at least a decade in prison for crimes they never committed. Read full book review >
THE LYNCHING by Laurence Leamer
HISTORY
Released: June 7, 2016

"An engrossing true-crime narrative and a pertinent reminder of the consequences of organized hatred."
A powerful account of how a Ku Klux Klan-sanctioned lynching in Mobile, Alabama, paved the way for legal victories against such hate groups. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Nancy Isenberg
author of WHITE TRASH
July 19, 2016

Poor Americans have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement. 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 400 years, in White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, Nancy 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. “A riveting thesis supported by staggering research,” our reviewer writes in a starred review. View video >