American History

A Little Devil in America

A Little Devil in America

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LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD - "A masterpiece" (Minneapolis Star Tribune), a "devastating" (The New York Times) meditation on Black performance in America from the bestselling author of Go Ahead in the Rain

"Gorgeous essays that reveal the resilience, heartbreak, and joy within Black performance."--Brit Bennett, author of The Vanishing Half

At the March on Washington in 1963, Josephine Baker was fifty-seven years old, well beyond her most prolific days. But in her speech she was in a mood to consider her life, her legacy, her departure from the country she was now triumphantly returning to. "I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too," she told the crowd. Inspired by these few words, Hanif Abdurraqib has written a profound and lasting reflection on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture. Each moment in every performance he examines--whether it's the twenty-seven seconds in "Gimme Shelter" in which Merry Clayton wails the words "rape, murder," a schoolyard fistfight, a dance marathon, or the instant in a game of spades right after the cards are dealt--has layers of resonance in Black and white cultures, the politics of American empire, and Abdurraqib's own personal history of love, grief, and performance.

Abdurraqib writes prose brimming with jubilation and pain, infused with the lyricism and rhythm of the musicians he loves. With care and generosity, he explains the poignancy of performances big and small, each one feeling intensely familiar and vital, both timeless and desperately urgent. Filled with sharp insight, humor, and heart, A Little Devil in America exalts the Black performance that unfolds in specific moments in time and space--from midcentury Paris to the moon, and back down again to a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio.

A Very Stable Genius

A Very Stable Genius

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The instant #1 bestseller.

"This taut and terrifying book is among the most closely observed accounts of Donald J. Trump's shambolic tenure in office to date.
- Dwight Garner, The New York Times

Washington Post

national investigative reporter Carol Leonnig and White House bureau chief Philip Rucker, both Pulitzer Prize winners, provide the definitive insider narrative of Donald Trump's unique presidency with shocking new reporting and insight into its implications.

"I alone can fix it." So went Donald J. Trump's march to the presidency on July 21, 2016, when he accepted the Republican presidential nomination in Cleveland, promising to restore what he described as a fallen nation. Yet over the subsequent years, as he has undertaken the actual work of the commander in chief, it has been hard to see beyond the daily chaos of scandal, investigation, and constant bluster. It would be all too easy to mistake Trump's first term for one of pure and uninhibited chaos, but there were patterns to his behavior and that of his associates. The universal value of the Trump administration is loyalty - not to the country, but to the president himself - and Trump's North Star has been the perpetuation of his own power, even when it meant imperiling our shaky and mistrustful democracy.

Leonnig and Rucker, with deep and unmatched sources throughout Washington, D.C., tell of rages and frenzies but also moments of courage and perseverance. Relying on scores of exclusive new interviews with some of the most senior members of the Trump administration and other firsthand witnesses, the authors reveal the forty-fifth president up close, taking readers inside Robert Mueller's Russia investigation as well as the president's own haphazard but ultimately successful legal defense. Here for the first time certain officials who have felt honor-bound not to publicly criticize a sitting president or to divulge what they witnessed in a position of trust tell the truth for the benefit of history.

This peerless and gripping narrative reveals President Trump at his most unvarnished and exposes how decision making in his administration has been driven by a reflexive logic of self-preservation and self-aggrandizement - but a logic nonetheless. This is the story of how an unparalleled president has scrambled to survive and tested the strength of America's democracy and its common heart as a nation.

A Yankee Should Never Be Black (Signed 1st edition)

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Bascom Books, NY, 1973.  Signed by author.  VG/VG

Abe

Abe

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One of the Wall Street Journal Ten Best Books of the Year

A Washington Post Notable Book

A Christian Science Monitor and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2020

A marvelous cultural biography that captures Lincoln in all his historical fullness. . . . using popular culture in this way, to fill out the context surrounding Lincoln, is what makes Mr. Reynolds's biography so different and so compelling . . . Where did the sympathy and compassion expressed in [Lincoln's] Second Inaugural--'With malice toward none; with charity for all'--come from? This big, wonderful book provides the richest cultural context to explain that, and everything else, about Lincoln. --Gordon Wood, Wall Street Journal

From one of the great historians of nineteenth-century America, a revelatory and enthralling new biography of Lincoln, many years in the making, that brings him to life within his turbulent age

David S. Reynolds, author of the Bancroft Prize-winning cultural biography of Walt Whitman and many other iconic works of nineteenth century American history, understands the currents in which Abraham Lincoln swam as well as anyone alive. His magisterial biography Abe is the product of full-body immersion into the riotous tumult of American life in the decades before the Civil War.

It was a country growing up and being pulled apart at the same time, with a democratic popular culture that reflected the country's contradictions. Lincoln's lineage was considered auspicious by Emerson, Whitman, and others who prophesied that a new man from the West would emerge to balance North and South. From New England Puritan stock on his father's side and Virginia Cavalier gentry on his mother's, Lincoln was linked by blood to the central conflict of the age. And an enduring theme of his life, Reynolds shows, was his genius for striking a balance between opposing forces. Lacking formal schooling but with an unquenchable thirst for self-improvement, Lincoln had a talent for wrestling and bawdy jokes that made him popular with his peers, even as his appetite for poetry and prodigious gifts for memorization set him apart from them through his childhood, his years as a lawyer, and his entrance into politics.

No one can transcend the limitations of their time, and Lincoln was no exception. But what emerges from Reynolds's masterful reckoning is a man who at each stage in his life managed to arrive at a broader view of things than all but his most enlightened peers. As a politician, he moved too slowly for some and too swiftly for many, but he always pushed toward justice while keeping the whole nation in mind. Abe culminates, of course, in the Civil War, the defining test of Lincoln and his beloved country. Reynolds shows us the extraordinary range of cultural knowledge Lincoln drew from as he shaped a vision of true union, transforming, in Martin Luther King Jr.'s words, the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

Abraham Lincoln did not come out of nowhere. But if he was shaped by his times, he also managed at his life's fateful hour to shape them to an extent few could have foreseen. Ultimately, this is the great drama that astonishes us still, and that Abe brings to fresh and vivid life. The measure of that life will always be part of our American education.

Afropessimism

Afropessimism

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Why does race seem to color almost every feature of our moral and political universe? Why does a perpetual cycle of slavery--in all its political, intellectual, and cultural forms--continue to define the Black experience? And why is anti-Black violence such a predominant feature not only in the United States but around the world? These are just some of the compelling questions that animate Afropessimism, Frank B. Wilderson III's seminal work on the philosophy of Blackness.

Combining precise philosophy with a torrent of memories, Wilderson presents the tenets of an increasingly prominent intellectual movement that sees Blackness through the lens of perpetual slavery. Drawing on works of philosophy, literature, film, and critical theory, he shows that the social construct of slavery, as seen through pervasive anti-Black subjugation and violence, is hardly a relic of the past but the very engine that powers our civilization, and that without this master-slave dynamic, the calculus bolstering world civilization would collapse. Unlike any other disenfranchised group, Wilderson argues, Blacks alone will remain essentially slaves in the larger Human world, where they can never be truly regarded as Human beings, where, "at every scale of abstraction, violence saturates Black life."

And while Afropessimism delivers a formidable philosophical account of being Black, it is also interwoven with dramatic set pieces, autobiographical stories that juxtapose Wilderson's seemingly idyllic upbringing in mid-century Minneapolis with the abject racism he later encounters--whether in late 1960s Berkeley or in apartheid South Africa, where he joins forces with the African National Congress. Afropessimism provides no restorative solution to the hatred that abounds; rather, Wilderson believes that acknowledging these historical and social conditions will result in personal enlightenment about the reality of our inherently racialized existence.

Radical in conception, remarkably poignant, and with soaring flights of lyrical prose, Afropessimism reverberates with wisdom and painful clarity in the fractured world we inhabit. It positions Wilderson as a paradigmatic thinker and as a twenty-first-century inheritor of many of the African American literary traditions established in centuries past.

America's Racial Karma

America's Racial Karma

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Immediate, illuminating, and hopeful: this is the key set of talks given by leading Zen Buddhist teacher Larry Ward, PhD, on breaking America's cycle of racial trauma.

I am a drop in the ocean, but I'm also the ocean. I'm a drop in America, but I'm also America. Every pain, every confusion, every good and every bad and ugly of America is in me. And as I transform myself and heal and take care of myself, I'm very conscious that I'm healing and transforming and taking care of America. I say this for American cynics, but this is also true globally. It's for real. So says Zen Buddhist teacher Dr. Larry Ward.

Shot at by the police as an 11-year-old child for playing baseball in the wrong spot, as an adult, Larry Ward experienced the trauma of having his home firebombed by racists. At Plum Village Monastery in France, the home in exile of his teacher, Vietnamese peace activist and Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, Dr. Ward found a way to heal. In these short reflective essays, he offers his insights on the effects of racial constructs and answers the question: how do we free ourselves from our repeated cycles of anger, denial, bitterness, pain, fear, violence? Larry Ward looks at the causes and conditions that have led us to our current state and finds, hidden in the crisis, a profound opportunity to reinvent what it means to be a human being. This is an invitation to transform America's racial karma.

Azadi

Azadi

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The chant of "Azadi!"--Urdu for "Freedom!"--is the slogan of the freedom struggle in Kashmir against what Kashmiris see as the Indian Occupation. Ironically, it also became the chant of millions on the streets of India against the project of Hindu Nationalism.

Even as Arundhati Roy began to ask what lay between these two calls for Freedom--a chasm or a bridge?--the streets fell silent. Not only in India, but all over the world. The coronavirus brought with it another, more terrible understanding of Azadi, making a nonsense of international borders, incarcerating whole populations, and bringing the modern world to a halt like nothing else ever could.

In this series of electrifying essays, Arundhati Roy challenges us to reflect on the meaning of freedom in a world of growing authoritarianism.

The essays include meditations on language, public as well as private, and on the role of fiction and alternative imaginations in these disturbing times.

The pandemic, she says, is a portal between one world and another. For all the illness and devastation it has left in its wake, it is an invitation to the human race, an opportunity, to imagine another world.

Backlash

Backlash

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When George Yancy penned a New York Times op-ed entitled "Dear White America" asking white Americans to confront the ways that they benefit from racism, he knew his article would be controversial. But he was unprepared for the flood of vitriol in response. The resulting blowback played out in the national media, with critics attacking Yancy in every form possible--including death threats--and supporters rallying to his side. Despite the rhetoric of a "post-race" America, Yancy quickly discovered that racism is still alive, crude, and vicious in its expression. In Backlash, Yancy expands upon the original article and chronicles the ensuing controversy as he seeks to understand what it was about the op-ed that created so much rage among so many white readers. He challenges white Americans to rise above the vitriol and to develop a new empathy for the African American experience.
Bad Feminist

Bad Feminist

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From the author of Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, the New York Times Bestseller, Best Book of the Year at NPR, the Boston Globe, Newsweek, and many more, and instant classic

A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.

"Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink--all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I'm not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue."

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better, coming from one of our most interesting and important cultural critics.

Barack Before Obama

Barack Before Obama

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A personal, intimate photographic celebration of President Barack Obama, featuring over 200 rare and never-before seen images from the years prior to his presidency, from photographer, friend, and former aide David Katz

In 2004, David Katz worked alongside then Senate-hopeful Barack Obama as a photographer and personal aide. He spent approximately six days a week alongside the future president as Obama campaigned across downstate Illinois, and the two developed a close, professional, and personal relationship. What began as a long-shot Senate run culminated with the election of America's first African American president in 2008, which Katz also photographed.

During this time, David was never without his camera, capturing quotidian scenes from the life of a man who would soon become known the world over: a dad playing with his small daughters; a young unknown politician walking the streets of New York by himself with no one noticing; a devoted husband lovingly making faces at his wife in an elevator. In 2004, after seeing the unique and touching photographs David had amassed, Annie Leibovitz gave him some advice: "Don't release these photos of Obama for at least fifteen years. They need time to age."

Now, fifteen years later, Barack Before Obama is the treasury of these photographs. Pulled from an archive of more than ninety thousand images, every photograph in this volume is like nothing that has been seen before: the ease in which David captures the spirit and essence of one of our most beloved first families is unparalleled, and it is in this affectionate familiarity that his photographs sing. Warm, engaging captions tell the stories behind the photos--the surprise meeting with Nelson Mandela, the back room conversation before the rally, the emotion after sending one of the Obamas' daughters off to school--bringing readers closer than ever to the spirit and motivation behind the extraordinary man who became our forty-fourth president.

Barack Before Obama is a unique collection of images illustrating the making of an American icon. A moving document of an historic moment, it's the perfect gift for all those who want to remember it.