Politics And Society
Monday, November 21, 2011
Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel discusses the Obama administration, and her belief that, in the wake of the economic crisis and amidst challenges from the insurgent Tea Party movement, it will take more than one election and one person to reshape American politics. In The Change I Believe In: Fighting for Progress in the Age of Obama vanden Heuvel challenges the limits of political debate, arguing that timid incremental change and the forces of money and establishment power that debilitate American politics will be overcome only by independent organizing, strategic creativity, bold ideas, and determined idealism.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith look at politics, starting with a single assertion: Leaders do whatever keeps them in power; they don’t care about the “national interest”—or even their subjects—unless they have to. The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics shows that the difference between tyrants and democratic leaders isn’t as great as you might think.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Commentator and journalist Touré tackles what it means to be Black in America today, at a time when racial attitudes have become more complicated and nuanced than ever before. In Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What It Means to Be Black Now he examines the concept of “Post-Blackness” and tells how race and racial expectations have shaped his own life and the lives of luminaries such as Reverend Jesse Jackson, Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Malcolm Gladwell, Kara Walker, Soledad O'Brien, and Chuck D.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Sharif El-Gamal, the developer of the Park51 project, talks about the passionate national debate that was sparked last year when the Islamic Community Center and mosque was proposed. Yesterday, Park51 opened its doors.
Frontline tells the story of Sharif El-Gamal and the story of the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. “The Man Behind the Mosque” airs Tuesday, September 27, at 9 pm on PBS.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Joe McGinniss talks about his controversial investigation of Sarah Palin as an individual, politician, and cultural phenomenon. The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin is based on his on-the-ground reporting and looks into Alaska’s political and business affairs and Palin’s political, personal, and family life to explain her beliefs, attitudes, and outlook, and influence.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
In 1914, Joe Hill was convicted of murder in Utah and sentenced to death by firing squad, igniting international controversy. Many believed Hill was innocent, condemned for his association with the Industrial Workers of the World—the radical Wobblies. William M. Adler gives the first full-scale biography of Joe Hill, and presents documentary evidence that comes as close as one can to exonerating him. The Man Who Never Died is Hill's story, set between the turn of the century and World War I, when the call for industrial unionism struck a chord among workers and class warfare raged.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
The world’s largest energy project is underway in Alberta, Canada. Petroleum is being excavated from vast deposits of tar sands and a proposed pipeline would carry it to refineries in the United States. Journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, examines the ecological and economic impacts of the plan to develop the oil sands.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Edward Girardet looks at the troubled and complex relationship between Afghanistan and the West in the latter half of the 20th century. As a young foreign correspondent, Girardet arrived in Afghanistan just three months prior to the Soviet invasion in 1979. Over the next decades, he encountered key figures who have shaped the nation and its current challenges—from corruption and narcotics trafficking to selfish regional interests. His book Killing the Cranes: A Reporter’s Journey through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan provides crucial insights into why the West's current involvement has been so problematic.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Harvard professor of law Randall Kennedy looks at racial politics and the Obama presidency, and examines the complex relationship between the first black president and his African-American constituency. The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency explores the nature of racial opposition to Obama, whether Obama has a singular responsibility to African Americans, the challenges posed by the dream of a post-racial society, and cultural biases.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Journalist Steven Brill discusses the battle over public school reform. Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools looks at the people and issues involved, from President Obama’s education reform policies, to activist parents, to billionaire funders, to state capitols, to teachers and teachers unions.
Monday, July 04, 2011
Behavioral economist Dan Ariely talks about the study “Building a Better America—One Wealth Quintile at a Time,” conducted together with Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton, and what it reveals about Americans’ ideas about the distribution of wealth in this country.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Investigative journalist Christian Parenti explains how extreme weather is breeding banditry, humanitarian crisis, and failed states from Africa to Asia and Latin America. In Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence, Parenti travels along the front lines of this gathering crisis and describes how to confront the challenge of climate-driven violence with sustainable economic and development policies.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Elaine Scarry, Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University, talks about the ways modern democratic governments have undermined democracy by invoking the idea of emergency—they’ve bypassed constitutional provisions concerning presidential succession, the declaration of war, the use of torture, civilian surveillance, and the arrangements for nuclear weapons. In Thinking in an Emergency, Scarry looks at why citizens devalue thinking and ignore checks and balances on government power during emergencies, and offers rigorous, effective ways of thinking in times of crisis.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Brian Powell talks about how Americans’ definitions of family are changing and what that means for public policy. Counted Out: Same-sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family broadens the scope of previous studies of how Americans view their own families to examine the way Americans characterize the concept of family in general. Although such issues as same-sex marriage and gay adoption remain at the center of a cultural divide, Counted Out demonstrates that American definitions of family are becoming more expansive, not less.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Scholar and former foreign minister Jorge Castañeda explains some of the puzzling paradoxes of Mexico. Manana Forever? Mexico and the Mexicans is a portrait of a nation at a crossroads. He examines Mexico’s ambivalent and complicated relationship with the United States, the Mexicans tendency to resent foreigners even while they’ve made their country a popular tourist destination, and the future possibilities for Mexico.
Monday, June 20, 2011
TV talk show legend and New York Times columnist Dick Cavett talks about his return to public life and his shows with Dave Hill at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and other venues. He’ll also explain the art of interviewing, comedy, and he’ll be performing magic tricks on the air! Dick Cavett’s latest book is Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Mara Hvistendahl looks at the consequences of sex selection in China and at Western complicity with the policies. The port city Lianyungang has China's most extreme gender ratio for children under four: 163 boys for every 100 girls. In ten years, the skewed sex ratio will pose a colossal challenge—historically, eras in which there have been an excess of men have produced periods of violent conflict and instability. In Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men she shows how gender imbalance reaches far beyond Asia, affecting Georgia, Eastern Europe, and cities in the U.S. where there are significant immigrant populations, and she examines how this mismatch is likely to create profound social upheaval.
Monday, May 30, 2011
James Stewart discusses what he sees as an epidemic of perjury sweeping our country, undermining the foundation of our courts, and explains why he thinks it’s symptomatic of a broader breakdown of ethics in American life. Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff goes behind the scenes of the trials of Martha Stewart, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Barry Bonds, and Bernard Madoff, and includes interviews with prosecutors, investigators, and participants speaking for the first time. The book looks at age-old tensions between greed and justice, self-interest and public interest, loyalty and duty.