Pragmatic, optimistic proposals for an informed and active electorate. Will anyone listen?

BEYOND THE MESSY TRUTH

HOW WE CAME APART, HOW WE COME TOGETHER

An outspoken political analyst offers concrete suggestions to revive democracy, heal culture wars, and prevent a Trump victory in 2020.

CNN political contributor Jones (Rebuild the Dream, 2012, etc.), founder of the social justice organization the Dream Corps, laments the dissension and polarization blighting politics today. Both Democrats and Republicans, he asserts, “have been letting down the American people for a long time,” even before “an erratic egomaniac” came to power. “Since both parties are responsible,” he writes, “both parties need to look within.” Searching for a way forward, Jones aims “to reach out and build some bridges” between liberals like himself and conservatives, whose views he respects. Part manifesto, part manual for activism, the book is enlivened by case histories and personal anecdotes that serve as support for the author’s assertions. He believes that the progressive movement, having lost connection to mainstream Americans, “needs to reignite the fight for cross-racial unity among working people.” Trump’s rhetoric fomented bigotry, causing what Jones terms a “whitelash” against changing demographics and particularly against a black president. But although he recognizes racism within Trump’s coalition, Jones does not believe that alone led to his election. He faults Democrats, as well, for Hillary Clinton’s defeat, calling for “a pro-democracy movement that can inspire” and not merely critique. The author proposes common projects that may bring opposing sides together: fixing the justice system, ending the opioid addiction crisis, opening up the technology sector to all, and transitioning to a greener economy. In two appendices, Jones offers suggestions of books and videos that can serve as bridge-building resources and a long list of political organizations to help people get involved in change. Although most are liberal and progressive—e.g., Black Lives Matter, Center for Community Change, Planned Parenthood—Jones does include conservative groups, such as the American Enterprise Institute and Compilation: Conservative and Libertarian News Sources. “I am interested in the moral center, not the political center,” he writes.

Pragmatic, optimistic proposals for an informed and active electorate. Will anyone listen?

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-18002-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 18

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more