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The Broken Heart Of America by Walter Johnson

Title The Broken Heart of America
Author Walter Johnson
Publisher Basic Books
Release Date 2020-04-14
Category History
Total Pages 528
ISBN 9781541646063
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, and French


Book Summary:

A searing portrait of the racial dynamics that lie inescapably at the heart of our nation, told through the turbulent history of the city of St. Louis. From Lewis and Clark's 1804 expedition to the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, American history has been made in St. Louis. And as Walter Johnson shows in this searing book, the city exemplifies how imperialism, racism, and capitalism have persistently entwined to corrupt the nation's past. St. Louis was a staging post for Indian removal and imperial expansion, and its wealth grew on the backs of its poor black residents, from slavery through redlining and urban renewal. But it was once also America's most radical city, home to anti-capitalist immigrants, the Civil War's first general emancipation, and the nation's first general strike -- a legacy of resistance that endures. A blistering history of a city's rise and decline, The Broken Heart of America will forever change how we think about the United States.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Title The Water Dancer
Author Ta-Nehisi Coates
Publisher One World
Release Date 2019-09-24
Category Fiction
Total Pages 416
ISBN 9780399590603
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, and French


Book Summary:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • From the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me, a boldly conjured debut novel about a magical gift, a devastating loss, and an underground war for freedom. “This potent book about America’s most disgraceful sin establishes [Ta-Nehisi Coates] as a first-rate novelist.”—San Francisco Chronicle NOMINATED FOR THE NAACP IMAGE AWARD • NAMED ONE OF PASTE’S BEST NOVELS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Time • NPR • The Washington Post • Chicago Tribune • Vanity Fair • Esquire • Good Housekeeping • Paste • Town & Country • The New York Public Library • Kirkus Reviews • Library Journal “Nearly every paragraph is laced through with dense, gorgeously evocative descriptions of a vanished world and steeped in its own vivid vocabulary.”—Entertainment Weekly Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known. So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures. This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children—the violent and capricious separation of families—and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. Written by one of today’s most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen. Praise for The Water Dancer “Ta-Nehisi Coates is the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race with his 2015 memoir, Between the World and Me. So naturally his debut novel comes with slightly unrealistic expectations—and then proceeds to exceed them. The Water Dancer . . . is a work of both staggering imagination and rich historical significance. . . . What’s most powerful is the way Coates enlists his notions of the fantastic, as well as his fluid prose, to probe a wound that never seems to heal. . . . Timeless and instantly canon-worthy.”—Rolling Stone

It Was All A Lie by Stuart Stevens

Title It Was All a Lie
Author Stuart Stevens
Publisher Knopf
Release Date 2020
Category HISTORY
Total Pages 256
ISBN 9780525658450
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, and French


Book Summary:

"An indictment of the Republican party from one of the most successful Republican political operative of his generation"--

Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

Title Hidden Valley Road
Author Robert Kolker
Publisher Random House Canada
Release Date 2020-04-07
Category Psychology
Total Pages 352
ISBN 9780735274464
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, and French


Book Summary:

The heartrending story of a mid-century American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science's great hope in the quest to understand--even cure--the disease. Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the dream. After World War II, Don's work with the US Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years there was an established script for a family like the Galvins--aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony--and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen in one family? What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institutes of Mental Health. Their shocking story also offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy and the premise of the schizophrenogenic mother, to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amidst profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. Unknown to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment and even the possibility of the eradication of the disease for future generations. With clarity and compassion, bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family's unforgettable legacy of suffering, love and hope.

Fragments Of The Ark by Louise Meriwether

Title Fragments of the Ark
Author Louise Meriwether
Publisher Simon and Schuster
Release Date 1995-02-01
Category Fiction
Total Pages 342
ISBN 9780671799489
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, and French


Book Summary:

A group of resolute runaway slaves attempt to steal the gunboat "Swanee" and deliver it to the Union army and are united in their fight by love and history

Intimations by Zadie Smith

Title Intimations
Author Zadie Smith
Publisher Penguin
Release Date 2020-07-28
Category Literary Collections
Total Pages 96
ISBN 9780735241190
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, and French


Book Summary:

Deeply personal and powerfully moving, a short and timely series of essays on the experience of lock down, by one of the most clear-sighted and essential writers of our time "There will be many books written about the year 2020: historical, analytic, political and comprehensive accounts. This is not any of those--the year isn't half-way done. What I've tried to do is organize some of the feelings and thoughts that events, so far, have provoked in me, in those scraps of time the year itself has allowed. These are above all personal essays: small by definition, short by necessity." Crafted with the sharp intelligence, wit, and style that have won Zadie Smith millions of fans, and suffused with a profound intimacy and tenderness in response to these unprecedented times, Intimations is a vital work of art, a gesture of connection, and an act of love--an essential book in extraordinary times.

Evil Geniuses by Kurt Andersen

Title Evil Geniuses
Author Kurt Andersen
Publisher Random House
Release Date 2020-08-11
Category History
Total Pages 464
ISBN 9781984801364
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, and French


Book Summary:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • When did America give up on fairness? The bestselling author of Fantasyland tells the epic history of how America decided that big business gets whatever it wants, only the rich get richer, and nothing should ever change—and charts a way back to the future. “The one book everyone must read as we figure out how to rebuild our country.”—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci During the twentieth century, America managed to make its economic and social systems both more and more fair and more and more prosperous. A huge, secure, and contented middle class emerged. All boats rose together. But then the New Deal gave way to the Raw Deal. Beginning in the early 1970s, by means of a long war conceived of and executed by a confederacy of big business CEOs, the superrich, and right-wing zealots, the rules and norms that made the American middle class possible were undermined and dismantled. The clock was turned back on a century of economic progress, making greed good, workers powerless, and the market all-powerful while weaponizing nostalgia, lifting up an oligarchy that served only its own interests, and leaving the huge majority of Americans with dwindling economic prospects and hope. Why and how did America take such a wrong turn? In this deeply researched and brilliantly woven cultural, economic, and political chronicle, Kurt Andersen offers a fresh, provocative, and eye-opening history of America’s undoing, naming names, showing receipts, and unsparingly assigning blame—to the radical right in economics and the law, the high priests of high finance, a complacent and complicit Establishment, and liberal “useful idiots,” among whom he includes himself. Only a writer with Andersen’s crackling energy, deep insight, and ability to connect disparate dots and see complex systems with clarity could make such a book both intellectually formidable and vastly entertaining. And only a writer of Andersen’s vision could reckon with our current high-stakes inflection point, and show the way out of this man-made disaster.

Fantasyland by Kurt Andersen

Title Fantasyland
Author Kurt Andersen
Publisher Random House
Release Date 2017-09-05
Category History
Total Pages 480
ISBN 9781588366870
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, and French


Book Summary:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The single most important explanation, and the fullest explanation, of how Donald Trump became president of the United States . . . nothing less than the most important book that I have read this year.”—Lawrence O’Donnell How did we get here? In this sweeping, eloquent history of America, Kurt Andersen shows that what’s happening in our country today—this post-factual, “fake news” moment we’re all living through—is not something new, but rather the ultimate expression of our national character. America was founded by wishful dreamers, magical thinkers, and true believers, by hucksters and their suckers. Fantasy is deeply embedded in our DNA. Over the course of five centuries—from the Salem witch trials to Scientology to the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, from P. T. Barnum to Hollywood and the anything-goes, wild-and-crazy sixties, from conspiracy theories to our fetish for guns and obsession with extraterrestrials—our love of the fantastic has made America exceptional in a way that we've never fully acknowledged. From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams and epic fantasies—every citizen was free to believe absolutely anything, or to pretend to be absolutely anybody. With the gleeful erudition and tell-it-like-it-is ferocity of a Christopher Hitchens, Andersen explores whether the great American experiment in liberty has gone off the rails. Fantasyland could not appear at a more perfect moment. If you want to understand Donald Trump and the culture of twenty-first-century America, if you want to know how the lines between reality and illusion have become dangerously blurred, you must read this book. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE “This is a blockbuster of a book. Take a deep breath and dive in.”—Tom Brokaw “[An] absorbing, must-read polemic . . . a provocative new study of America’s cultural history.”—Newsday “Compelling and totally unnerving.”—The Village Voice “A frighteningly convincing and sometimes uproarious picture of a country in steep, perhaps terminal decline that would have the founding fathers weeping into their beards.”—The Guardian “This is an important book—the indispensable book—for understanding America in the age of Trump.”—Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci

Title In the Land of Good Living
Author Kent Russell
Publisher Knopf
Release Date 2020
Category Biography & Autobiography
Total Pages 320
ISBN 9780525521389
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, and French


Book Summary:

A wickedly smart, funny, and irresistibly off-kilter account of an improbable thousand-mile journey on foot into the heart of modern Florida, the state that Russell calls "America Concentrate." In the summer of 2016, Kent Russell--broke, at loose ends, hungry for adventure--set off to walk across Florida. Mythic, superficial, soaked in contradictions, maligned by cultural elites, segregated from the South, and literally vanishing into the sea, Florida (or, as he calls it: "America Concentrate") seemed to Russell to embody America's divided soul. The journey, with two friends intent on filming the ensuing mayhem, quickly reduces the trio to filthy drifters pushing a shopping cart of camera equipment. They get waylaid by a concerned citizen bearing a rifle; buy cocaine from an ex-wrestler; visit a spiritual medium; attend a cuckold party. The narrative overflows with historical detail about how modern Florida came into being after World War II, and how it came to be a petri dish for life in a suddenly, increasingly diverse new land of minority-majority cities and of unrivaled ethnic and religious variety. Russell has taken it all in with his incomparably focused lens and delivered a book that is both an inspired travelogue and a profound rumination on the nation's soul--and his own. It is a book that is wildly vivid, encyclopedic, erudite, and ferociously irreverent--a deeply ambivalent love letter to his sprawling, brazenly varied home state.

Religion For Atheists by Alain De Botton

Title Religion for Atheists
Author Alain De Botton
Publisher Signal
Release Date 2012-03-06
Category Philosophy
Total Pages 336
ISBN 9780771025990
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, and French


Book Summary:

From the author of The Architecture of Happiness, a deeply moving meditation on how we can still benefit, without believing, from the wisdom, the beauty, and the consolatory power that religion has to offer. Alain de Botton was brought up in a committedly atheistic household, and though he was powerfully swayed by his parents' views, he underwent, in his mid-twenties, a crisis of faithlessness. His feelings of doubt about atheism had their origins in listening to Bach's cantatas, were further developed in the presence of certain Bellini Madonnas, and became overwhelming with an introduction to Zen architecture. However, it was not until his father's death -- buried under a Hebrew headstone in a Jewish cemetery because he had intriguingly omitted to make more secular arrangements -- that Alain began to face the full degree of his ambivalence regarding the views of religion that he had dutifully accepted. Why are we presented with the curious choice between either committing to peculiar concepts about immaterial deities or letting go entirely of a host of consoling, subtle and effective rituals and practices for which there is no equivalent in secular society? Why do we bristle at the mention of the word "morality"? Flee from the idea that art should be uplifting, or have an ethical purpose? Why don't we build temples? What mechanisms do we have for expressing gratitude? The challenge that de Botton addresses in his book: how to separate ideas and practices from the religious institutions that have laid claim to them. In Religion for Atheists is an argument to free our soul-related needs from the particular influence of religions, even if it is, paradoxically, the study of religion that will allow us to rediscover and rearticulate those needs. From the Hardcover edition.