Hello everyone. My weekly timeslot for this series coincided with the President’s State of the Union address, so I’m just putting up the list of this week’s notable new releases. You may also be interested in my weekly comment in the Black Kos diary today, in which I list the week’s new nonfiction and fiction for adults, teens and children of special interest to that community.
Enjoy the SOTU!
THIS WEEK’S NEW HARDCOVERS
- People vs. Donald Trump: An Inside Account, by Mark Pomerantz. Yet another book Trump tried and failed to sue into nonexistence. A fascinating inside account of the attempt to prosecute former president Donald Trump, written by one of the lawyers who worked on the case and resigned in protest when Manhattan's district attorney refused to act.
- The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism, by Martin Wolf. Around the world, powerful voices argue that capitalism is better without democracy; others argue that democracy is better without capitalism. This book is a forceful rejoinder to both views. Even as it offers a deep, lucid assessment of why this marriage has grown so strained, it makes clear why a divorce of capitalism from democracy would be a calamity for the world. They need each other even if they find it hard to life together. For all its flaws, argues Wolf, democratic capitalism remains far and away the best system for human flourishing. But something has gone seriously awry: the growth of prosperity has slowed, and the division of its fruits between the hypersuccessful few and the rest has become more unequal. The plutocrats have retreated to their bastions, where they pour scorn on government’s ability to invest in the public goods needed to foster opportunity and sustainability. But the incoming flood of autocracy will rise to overwhelm them, too, in the end. Citizenship is not just a slogan or a romantic idea; it’s the only idea that can save us, Wolf argues. Nothing has ever harmonized political and economic freedom better than a shared faith in the common good.
- Saying It Loud: 1966—The Year Black Power Challenged the Civil Rights Movement, by Mark Whitaker. In gripping, novelistic detail, Saying It Loud tells the story of how the Black Power phenomenon began to challenge the traditional civil rights movement in the turbulent year of 1966. Saying It Loud takes you inside the dramatic events in this seminal year, from Stokely Carmichael’s middle-of-the-night ouster of moderate icon John Lewis as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to Carmichael’s impassioned cry of “Black Power!” during a protest march in rural Mississippi. From Julian Bond’s humiliating and racist ouster from the Georgia state legislature because of his antiwar statements to Ronald Reagan’s election as California governor riding a “white backlash” vote against Black Power and urban unrest. From the founding of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California, to the origins of Kwanzaa, the Black Arts Movement, and the first Black studies programs. From Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ill-fated campaign to take the civil rights movement north to Chicago to the wrenching ousting of the white members of SNCC.
- On Freedom Road: Bicycle Explorations and Reckonings on the Underground Railroad, by David Goodrich. The traces of the Underground Railroad hide in plain sight: a great church in Philadelphia; a humble old house backing up to the New Jersey Turnpike; an industrial outbuilding in Ohio. Over the course of four years, climate scientist David Goodrich rode his bicycle 3,000 miles east of the Mississippi to travel the routes of the Underground Railroad and delve into the history and stories in the places where they happened.
He followed the most famous of conductors, Harriet Tubman, from where she was enslaved in Maryland, on the eastern shore, all the way to her family sanctuary at a tiny chapel in Ontario, Canada. Travelling South, he rode from New Orleans, where the enslaved were bought and sold, through Mississippi and the heart of the Delta Blues. As we pedal along with him, Goodrich brings us to the Borderland along the Ohio River, a kind of no-mans-land between North and South in the years before the Civil War. Here, slave hunters roamed both banks of the river, trying to catch people as they fled for freedom. We travel to Oberlin, Ohio, a town that staunchly defended freedom seekers, embodied in the life of Lewis Leary, who was lost in the fires of Harpers Ferry, but his spirit was reborn in the Harlem Renaissance.
- An Assassin in Utopia: The True Story of a Nineteenth-Century Sex Cult and a President's Murder, by Susan Wels. From 1848 to 1881, a small utopian colony in upstate New York—the Oneida Community—was known for its shocking sexual practices, from open marriage and free love to the sexual training of young boys by older women. And in 1881, a one-time member of the Oneida Community—Charles Julius Guiteau—assassinated President James Garfield in a brutal crime that shook America to its core. An Assassin in Utopia is the first book that weaves together these explosive stories in a tale of utopian experiments, political machinations, and murder. This deeply researched narrative—by bestselling author Susan Wels—tells the true, interlocking stories of the Oneida Community and its radical founder, John Humphrey Noyes; his idol, the eccentric newspaper publisher Horace Greeley (founder of the New Yorker and the New York Tribune); and the gloomy, indecisive President James Garfield—who was assassinated after his first six months in office. Juxtaposed to their stories is the odd tale of Garfield’s assassin, the demented Charles Julius Guiteau, who was connected to all of them in extraordinary, surprising ways.
- Holding Fire: A Reckoning with the American West, by Bryce Andrews. Andrews was raised to do no harm. The son of a pacifist and conscientious objector, he moved from Seattle to Montana to tend livestock and the land as a cowboy. For a decade, he was happy. Yet, when Andrews inherited his grandfather’s Smith & Wesson revolver, he felt the weight of the violence braided into his chosen life. Other white men who’d come before him had turned firearms like this one against wildlife, wilderness, and the Indigenous peoples who had lived in these landscapes for millennia. This was how the West was “won.” Now, the losses were all around him and a weapon was in his hand. In precise, elegiac prose, Andrews chronicles his journey to forge a new path for himself, and to reshape one handgun into a tool for good work. As waves of gun violence swept the country and wildfires burned across his beloved valley, he began asking questions—of ranchers, his Native neighbors, his family, and a blacksmith who taught him to shape steel—in search of a new way to live with the land and with one another. In laying down his arms, he transformed an inherited weapon, his ranch, and the arc of his life.
- Dinner with the President: Food, Politics, and a History of Breaking Bread at the White House, by Alex Prud'homme. Prud’homme invites readers into the White House kitchen to reveal the sometimes curious tastes of twenty-six of America’s most influential presidents, how their meals were prepared and by whom, and the ways their choices affected food policy around the world. And the White House menu grew over time— from simple eggs and black coffee for Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and celebratory turtle soup after and squirrel stew for Dwight Eisenhower, to jelly beans and enchiladas for Ronald Reagan and arugula for Barack Obama. What our leaders say about food touches on everything from our nation’s shifting diet and local politics to global trade, science, religion, war, class, gender, race, and so much more.
- The Critic's Daughter: A Memoir, by Priscilla Gilman. Growing up on the Upper West Side of New York City in the 1970s, in an apartment filled with dazzling literary and artistic characters, Priscilla Gilman worshiped her brilliant, adoring, and mercurial father, the writer, theater critic, and Yale School of Drama professor Richard Gilman. But when Priscilla was ten years old, her mother, renowned literary agent Lynn Nesbit, abruptly announced that she was ending the marriage. The resulting cascade of disturbing revelations—about her parents’ hollow marriage, her father’s double life and tortured sexual identity—fundamentally changed Priscilla’s perception of her father, as she attempted to protect him from the depression that had long shadowed him.
- Culture: The Story of Us, From Cave Art to K-Pop, by Martin Puchner. What good are the arts? Why should we care about the past? For millennia, humanity has sought to understand and transmit to future generations not just the “know-how” of life, but the “know-why”—the meaning and purpose of our existence, as expressed in art, architecture, religion, and philosophy. This crucial passing down of knowledge has required the radical integration of insights from the past and from other cultures. From Nefertiti’s lost city to the plays of Wole Soyinka; from the theaters of ancient Greece to Chinese travel journals to Arab and Aztec libraries; from a South Asian statuette found at Pompeii to a time capsule left behind on the Moon, Puchner tells the gripping story of human achievement through our collective losses and rediscoveries, power plays and heroic journeys, innovations, imitations, and appropriations. More than a work of history, Culture is an archive of humanity’s most monumental junctures and a guidebook for the future of us humans as a creative species. Witty, erudite, and full of wonder, Puchner argues that the humanities are (and always have been) essential to the transmission of knowledge that drives the efforts of human civilization.
All book links in this diary are to my online bookstore The Literate Lizard. If you already have a favorite indie bookstore, please keep supporting them. If you’re able to throw a little business my way, that would be appreciated. Use the coupon code DAILYKOS for 15% off your order, in gratitude for your support (an ever-changing smattering of new releases are already discounted 15% each week). We also partner Libro.fm for audiobooks. Libro.fm is similar to Amazon’s Audible, with a la carte audiobooks, or a $14.99 monthly membership which includes the audiobook of your choice and 20% off subsequent purchases during the month.
READERS & BOOK LOVERS SERIES SCHEDULE