On page 102 of The Center Holds, former Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter’s account of the 2012 election (and his second book about the presidency of Barack Obama), we learn that the president was facing a problem as his 2012 “reelect” approached: Liberals didn’t particularly care what happened
Mark Leibovich points out in his book Our Town that Republicans started advocating an anything-goes approach to stopping the Affordable Care Act long before this week. In 2009, Tom Coburn ominously declared on the Senate floor that "what the American people ought to pray for is that somebody can't make it to the vote." And while Leibovich didn't predict this week's shutdown, the shutdown does emphasize one of Our Town's central points—that success in D.C. does not put a premium on moral self-awareness
Sheri Fink's new book is a harrowing chronicle of what happened at a New Orleans hospital immediately following Hurricane Katrina. The water rose and then stagnated. The power went out. Doctors and nurses were forced to make life-or-death decisions, and many patients died. If you had been there, what would you do? Don't answer. This book is not an ethical puzzle. What's important, it slowly emerges, is that despite Fink's painstaking re-creation, we weren't there. We cannot know.
In Front Porch Politics, Michael Scott Foley trains his gaze on lesser-known community-organizing endeavors that surged in the '70s and '80s. These campaigns, he writes, "demolish the myth that Americans retreated from activism" after the '60s, and "demonstrate how little it matters whether Americans identify as conservative or liberal when the question before them is the safety and security of their families, their homes, and their dreams."
Political theorist Pierre Rosanvallon takes fresh stock of the ideal of equality in his new book. It's an ambitious bid to revive egalitarian thought in the current global economy, which no longer recognizes any moral or political legitimacy in schemes to redistribute wealth—let alone in more modest efforts to expand access to basic social goods.
Columbia professor Sudhir Venkatesh has written Off the Books, a tour of Chicago's extralegal underground economy, and the best-selling Gang Leader for a Day. For his latest book about vice in New York, he spent extensive time not only with drug dealers and immigrant sex workers but also with their well-heeled customers. He has, in the past decade, created a field of his own: the sociology of "hanging out."
Denmark scarcely resisted the German invasion in April 1940, but Danes soon seized an opportunity to prove their courage. In 1943, the Danish government stopped cooperating with the Germans. Citizens of Denmark declared strikes, sabotaged Nazi equipment, and evacuated 7,742 Danish Jews to safe territory.
From the beginning of the South Asian crisis that culminated in the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, argues Gary J. Bass in this impressively researched book about a “forgotten genocide,” the major responsibility for what happened falls on two men—Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. While the
"In my doctor's office I hold up a worksheet and ask him how many I have to fill out before I feel better," the author and artist Leanne Shapton writes in her 2012 memoir, Swimming Studies, recalling a visit to her therapist. A former competitive swimmer who twice made Olympic trials, Shapton feels
"James Wolcott and I have often written about the same subjects, from punk to TV," writes Tom Carson. "If any book could stir up my moldering competitive instincts, Critical Mass is the one. And after all these years, it just blows to finally acknowledge there's no contest. Never was. Back in those long-gone Village Voice days, not a few of us cockily fancied that we were—or were going to be—pretty good. Wolcott was better."