The ReadDown

25 Books to Help You Understand America in 2016

Election season is in full swing. Educate yourself on the United States, our politics, culture, and topics of discussion with these mindful books.
  1. Making Our Democracy Work Book Cover Picture
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    Making Our Democracy Work

    Stephen Breyer’s book explores the role of the Supreme Court in creating a functioning society, even when that society questions its rulings, legitimacy, and relevance. It precedes  Breyer’s The Court and the World, just released, which probes the role of the Supreme Court in a world where laws no longer effectively end at a country’s border, where everyone in the world can be immediately connected.

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  2. Rights at Risk Book Cover Picture
    2

    Rights at Risk

    Rights at Risk is an enlightening investigation that explores the violations of the constitution and principles that preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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  3. Between the World and Me Book Cover Picture
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    Between the World and Me

    Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book is a letter written to his son, exploring race in the context of America’s history, and how the ways we’ve constructed race in the past continue to affect our society today.

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  4. A Climate of Crisis Book Cover Picture
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    A Climate of Crisis

    A Climate of Crisis provides historical context to America’s fears about climate change and the growth of the environmentalist movement, while attempting to maintain an objective focus on the facts of environmental politics. Allitt aims to show that while environmental issues are serious they are not hopeless.

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  5. Taking on Diversity Book Cover Picture
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    Taking on Diversity

    In a fascinating book by Rupert Nacoste, Taking on Diversity,explores college students’ anxieties with handling environments outside their own comfort zones, with the end goal of achieving a mutual understanding and respect for everyone in their community.

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  6. New American Stories Book Cover Picture
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    New American Stories

    Edited by Ben Marcus, New American Stories, is an anthology that brings together stories from every dimension of American writing; it is a collection as diverse as the American people.

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  7. We Should All Be Feminists Book Cover Picture
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    We Should All Be Feminists

    In a personal and eloquently-argued essay adapted from her powerful TEDtalk, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses feminism, its definition and how its portrayed.

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  8. Undocumented Book Cover Picture
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    Undocumented

    The true story of an immigrant’s journey from a New York City homeless shelter to the top of his Princeton class.

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  9. The Fire Next Time Book Cover Picture
    9

    The Fire Next Time

    James Baldwin’s tells the story of his life in Harlem and the powerful examination of  the consequences of racial injustice. This book was cited by Ta-Nehisi Coates as an influence for Between the World and me.

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  10. Black Flags Book Cover Picture
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    Black Flags

    Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Joby Warrick, traces the origin of ISIS to a remote Jordanian prison and discovers how it grew with the aid of American presidents in this thrilling, dramatic narrative.

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  11. Objective Troy Book Cover Picture
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    Objective Troy

    Objective Troy, is the harrowing and unsettling story of Anwar al-Awlaki, the once-celebrated American imam who called for moderation after 9/11.

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  12. The Book of Unknown Americans Book Cover Picture
    12

    The Book of Unknown Americans

    Cristina Henríquez writes a beautifully woven tale of immigration from Latin America. Maribel Rivera, a fifteen-year-old Mexican girl, sustains a terrible injury and must immigrate to the United States to find the healthcare she needs.

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  13. Confederates in the Attic Book Cover Picture
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    Confederates in the Attic

    A look into the Civil War, the modern echoes of the Confederacy provides contemporary and historical context to the debate over the flag.

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  14. The Warmth of Other Suns Book Cover Picture
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    The Warmth of Other Suns

    The Warmth of Other Suns illuminates America’s complicated racial history through the account of a mass migration of black Americans from the South to the North during the 20th century, which helped shape the country’s demographics

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  15. Carbon Democracy Book Cover Picture
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    Carbon Democracy

    If you want to learn about energy production’s influence on capitalism and democracy, Carbon Democracy investigates the connections it has with global politics from the past decades to the present.

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  16. Savage Inequalities Book Cover Picture
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    Savage Inequalities

    Jonathan Kozol’s book investigates the state of America’s public school system through school visits and interviews with faculty, staff, and students across the country; though released over 20 years ago it is still every bit as relevant today.

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  17. The Shame of the Nation Book Cover Picture
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    The Shame of the Nation

    Another work by Jonathan Kozol’s takes on modern segregation within schools, decades after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. It explores how America’s public school system is failing children in these inner-city systems by shedding light on the cruel practices used to discipline students.

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  18. America's Bitter Pill Book Cover Picture
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    America’s Bitter Pill

    Steven Brill began writing this book and explained everything he thought he knew about healthcare. Almost finished with the book, he needed emergency open heart surgery, thus changing his perspective from a hospital gurney with a stunning revelation of how we can fix a broken system.

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  19. Disaster Capitalism Book Cover Picture
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    Disaster Capitalism

    Antony Loewenstein travels the world to compile information on and bear witness to the realities of corporations that profit off detention centers and privatized prison systems.

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  20. Household Workers Unite Book Cover Picture
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    Household Workers Unite

    Premilla Nadasen’s book reveals a forgotten account of how African American women domestic-workers became activists and organizers in the name of race, labor, and gender equality, and how this movement set a precedent for an activist movement that still exists today.

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  21. Ally Book Cover Picture
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    Ally

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  22. Beginners Book Cover Picture
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    Beginners

    Carver is widely known to be a voice of and for the American working class; his stories realistically portray American life in all its beauty and squalor. This new release is the original manuscript of his popular collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

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  23. All the Truth Is Out Book Cover Picture
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    All the Truth Is Out

    Matt Bai portrays the way American politics work at the highest level, how we elect our presidents and how the bedrock of American values has shifted under our feet.

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  24. The Brothers Book Cover Picture
    24

    The Brothers

    Masha Gessen investigates the Tsarnaev brothers’ before and after the harrowing and tragic event where they bombed the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon.

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  25. The Twilight War Book Cover Picture
    25

    The Twilight War

    In The Twilight War, the history behind America’s 30-year war with Iran will reveal any questions about the recent Iran nuclear deal.

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