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Recommended Reading for the 2016 Election Cycle

Election 2016
Photo credit: DonkeyHotey

Throughout this election cycle, we’ve seen the rise of the radical right reminiscent of the pull of ultraconservative organizations from the past; increasing calls to prevent new immigrants from entering our country; increased calls to improve gun control legislation; a resurging wave of religious intolerance against Muslim Americans; and nationwide protests imploring racial justice and economic progress. These issues and others that have made headlines in the news have become focal points in this year’s presidential debates. To help inform the conversation about these topics, we’re recommending a list of titles from our catalogue.


The Third ReconstructionThe Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove: The Third Reconstruction

The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II is one of our modern-day civil rights champions and the twenty-first century’s most effective grassroots organizer. Over the summer of 2013, he led the largest state government-focused civil disobedience campaign in American history in North Carolina to protest restrictions to voting access and an extreme makeover of state government. These protests became known as Moral Mondays, an embryonic Third Reconstruction in America. This has grown into a coalition uniting people across race, class, sexual orientation, and creed. His memoir, The Third Reconstruction, written with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, tells the stirring story of how he helped start a movement to bridge America’s racial divide and provides a blueprint for movement building.


Faith EdLinda K. Wertheimer’s Faith Ed.

Courts long ago banned school teachers from preaching of any kind. But how much should schools teach about the world’s religions? In Faith Ed., veteran education journalist Linda K. Wertheimer takes us across the country to hear the voices on all sides of the new debate over religion that has pitted schools against their communities. Her fascinating investigation, which includes a return to her rural Ohio school that once ran weekly Christian Bible classes, reveals a public education system struggling to find the right path forward and offers a promising roadmap for raising a new generation of religiously literate Americans.


Guns Don't Kill PeopleDennis A. Henigan’s “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People”

Is it true that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns? Is it true that gun control doesn’t work because criminals don’t follow the law? Is an armed society really a polite society? For decades, the gun lobby has succeeded in blocking lifesaving gun legislation by framing the gun control debate with this bumper-sticker logic. Gun law advocate Dennis A. Henigan shoots down the myths and misguided notions at the core of these pro-gun slogans in “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People.” By debunking these fallacies with the most compelling current research, Henigan hopes to end the American nightmare of gun violence.


What We're Fighting For Now Is Each OtherWen Stephenson’s What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other

There is no denying that catastrophic climate change, by any humane definition, is upon us. The fossil-fuel industry, unfortunately, has doubled down on business as usual. The scale and urgency of the catastrophe has roused journalist Wen Stephenson to confront what he calls “the spiritual crisis at the heart of the climate crisis.” He walked away from his career in mainstream media and became an activist, joining those working to build a transformative movement for climate justice in America. What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other is Stephenson’s on-the-ground look at some of the “new American radicals” who are laying everything on the line to build a stronger climate justice movement—a movement he argues is more like the great human-rights and social-justice struggles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and less like environmentalism.


Sacred GroundEboo Patel’s Sacred Ground

In the decade following the attacks of 9/11, suspicion and animosity toward American Muslims has grown rather than subsided, stoking the Islamophobic rhetoric that has now become frighteningly mainstream. In Sacred Ground, interfaith leader Eboo Patel says this prejudice is not just harmful to Muslims but also detrimental to the very idea of America. Pluralism, he argues, has been at the heart of the American project. Time and again it has defeated the forces of prejudice. In fact, leaders such as George Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr. were “interfaith leaders.” Now it’s up to the new generation to confront the anti-Muslim prejudice of our era.


Dispatches from the Abortion WarsCarole Joffe’s Dispatches from the Abortion Wars

After thirty years embedded in reproductive-health research, sociologist Carole Joffe brings together surprising and compelling firsthand accounts from doctors, health-care workers, and patients who struggle against the persistent cultural, political, and economic hurdles to access to abortion provision. Abortion has been legal for over thirty-five years in America, yet in Dispatches from the Abortion Wars, Joffe shows how the stigma still upholds barriers to access post-Roe v. Wade.  Along with these portraits, Joffe’s book also offers hope for change, pointing the way to a more compassionate standard of women’s health care that responds to the needs of the individual and trusts women to make their own moral choices.


Wrapped in the FlagClaire Conner’s Wrapped in the Flag

Long before the rise of the Tea Party movement and the prominence of today’s religious Right, the John Birch Society, established in 1958, championed many of the same radical causes touted by ultraconservatives today. The daughter of one of the society’s first members and a national spokesperson about the society, Claire Conner grew up surrounded by dedicated Birchers and was expected to abide by and espouse Birch ideals. Forced to join at age thirteen, she became the youngest member of the society. It would take momentous changes in her own life before Conner finally freed herself of the legacy in which she was raised. Wrapped in the Flag is her intimate account of one of the most radical right-wing movements in our history and its lasting effects on our political discourse today.


Enabling ActsLennard Davis’s Enabling Acts

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the widest-ranging and most comprehensive piece of civil rights legislation ever passed in the United States, yet the surprising story of how it came to be is little known. Acclaimed disability scholar Lennard Davis has written the first significant book on the history and the impact of ADA. Far from a dry account of bills and speeches, Enabling Acts recreates the dramatic tension of a story filled with indefatigable disability groups, advocates, and political heavyweights on the front lines of bringing about a truly bipartisan bill. This behind-the-scenes and on-the-ground narrative will make readers realize why the ADA has become the model for disability-based laws around the world.


They Take Our JobsAviva Chomsky’s “They Take Our Jobs!” and 20 Other Myths About Immigration

“Immigrants take Americans’ jobs, are a drain on the American economy, contribute to poverty and inequality, destroy the social fabric.” History professor Aviva Chomsky dismantles these common assumptions and others in “They Take Our Jobs!” and 20 Other Myths about Immigration. By debunking these myths, Chomsky shows how the parameters and presumptions of today’s immigration debate distort how we think and have been thinking about immigration. The notion that non-citizens are created equal is absent from the public discussion. This myth-busting book argues that the dividing line is citizenship.


Rescuing JesusDeborah Jian Lee’s Rescuing Jesus

Frustrated by its conservative politics and its culture wars, journalist Deborah Jian Lee left the evangelical world. She, however, has stayed close to those in the movement over the years and came to find that a new generation of evangelicals—LGBTQ and straight; white, black, Asian, Hispanic, and indigenous—are reclaiming the movement by pushing it in a more progressive direction. Women are rising in the ranks despite familiar sermons about female submission. Today’s young evangelicals are more likely than their elders to accept same-sex marriage. Lee’s Rescuing Jesus unpacks the diverse and complex strands of this movement, and argues how important it is for the future of evangelicalism and for the future of our country.


Hunting SeasonMirta Ojito’s Hunting Season

Latinos, primarily men and not all of them immigrants, have become the target of hate crimes in recent years as the nation wrestles with swelling numbers of undocumented immigrants and the prevalence of anti-immigrant rhetoric. Marcelo Lucero, a thirty-seven-year-old undocumented Ecuadorean immigrant who worked at a dry cleaner’s, was one of the victims, murdered by a group of Long Island teenagers in the village of Patchogue. In Hunting Season, journalist Mirta Ojito draws from firsthand interviews and on-the-ground reporting to provide and unflinching and invaluable look at one of our most pressing issues.