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Winter Newsletter 2023 History & Politics

Prequel An American Fight Against Fascism by Rachel Maddow

Far-right disinformation campaigns. Well-funded efforts to undermine democratic institutions. Violent insurrection. These may sound like recent events, but in Prequel, Rachel Maddow recounts the sophisticated plot before World War II to steer our nation toward authoritarianism and an alliance with the Nazis. Somehow lost in the history books as an attempt by fringe players, it actually involved a large network of influential elected officials. (Déjà vu?) Maddow, who can weave a tale like no other, first traced this rise of a radical strain of authoritarianism on her podcast. Now in book form, it is an essential read that resonates in our own disquieting times.  


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Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism By Rachel Maddow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593444511
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown - October 17th, 2023

The Lumumba Plot The Secret History of the CIA and a Cold War Assassination by Stuart A. Reid

The title tells the tale of a singular assassination, but The Lumumba Plot is so much more. Stuart A. Reid, executive editor at Foreign Affairs and prolific journalist, has put together a detailed, nuanced history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Cold War politics that led to the assassination of its first democratically elected prime minister, Patrice Lumumba. With its vividly drawn characters and plot twists, this page-turner is perfect for anyone fascinated by modern history.


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The Lumumba Plot: The Secret History of the CIA and a Cold War Assassination By Stuart A. Reid Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524748814
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - October 17th, 2023

Black AF History The Un-Whitewashed Story of America by Michael Harriot

We all know history is written by the victors, but that also means we miss out on a lot. Michael Harriot aims, with great success, to set the record straight with accessibility and a whole lot of humor. You’ll see familiar faces (Harriet, Frederick, Nat), but also learn new stories (how did I not know about actual, factual cannibal colonists and Jemmy?!). I laughed, I cried, and I came away with a fuller understanding of our history.  


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Black AF History: The Un-Whitewashed Story of America By Michael Harriot Cover Image
ISBN: 9780358439165
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dey Street Books - September 19th, 2023

Glitter and Concrete A Cultural History of Drag in New York City by Elyssa Maxx Goodman

Elyssa Maxx Goodman has crafted a fascinating love letter to the history of drag as an art form. This book is painstakingly researched and broken down into clear eras that document the phases of developing queer culture in New York City. This is a history written for the drag artists and fans, as well as those who only know of Drag Race and want to learn more. A fantastic, important work!  


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Glitter and Concrete: A Cultural History of Drag in New York City By Elyssa Maxx Goodman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781335449368
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hanover Square Press - September 12th, 2023

To Free the Captives A Plea for the American Soul by Tracy K. Smith

In the difficult year of 2020, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Tracy K. Smith sought salvation from the constant threat against Black communities. How does one continue to endure against attack and denigration? How does a country continue? Smith reaches back in order to move forward, delving into her family’s roots in Sunflower, Alabama, their strength and joy amidst the hardship, her own journey to personhood, and a country’s historical reckoning between the Free and the Freed. Thoughtful, intimate, and wise, this is meaningful work.  


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To Free the Captives: A Plea for the American Soul By Tracy K. Smith Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593534762
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - November 7th, 2023

Democracy Awakening by Heather Cox Richardson

Heather Cox Richardson, professor of history at Boston University and author of the newsletter “Letters from an American,” does an excellent job in Democracy Awakening of plainly describing the role of authoritarianism in the US, tracing it back through slavery and genocide and forward past the attempted coup of 2020. She shines in her ability to build a coherent narrative, showing how perilously close we are once again to tearing down our democracy and how we can continue to instead move toward one hearty enough to include everyone. Highly recommended.  


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Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America By Heather Cox Richardson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593652961
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - September 26th, 2023

Emperor of Rome by Mary Beard

Dame Mary Beard (SPQR, Twelve Caesars), modern queen of the Western classics, is back with another trenchant exploration of Rome. For once taking (what some might see as) a more traditional route, Beard turns to Rome’s emperors—but of course with her own style, weaving a tapestry of individual personalities and reigns along with the culture, politics, and yes, history, that built the estate of emperorship, whose influence is still with us today. Another luxurious, fascinating dive for those whose preferred indulgence is yesteryear.  


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Emperor of Rome: Ruling the Ancient Roman World By Mary Beard Cover Image
ISBN: 9780871404220
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright - October 24th, 2023

Portal San Francisco’s Ferry Building and the Reinvention of American Cities by John King

San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic John King has written an engaging and approachable overview of the iconic Ferry Building in San Francisco, Like Malcolm Harris’s Palo Alto, King peppers the narrative with San Francisco mythology: the Gold Rush, Andrew Hallidie, the 1906 fire (always the fire, according to Herb Caen), the Bay and Golden Gate bridges, the Freeway Revolt, beatniks, Manhattanization, and importantly for this story, the 1989 earthquake. A book for Baghdad-by-the-Bay dads!  


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Portal: San Francisco's Ferry Building and the Reinvention of American Cities By John King Cover Image
ISBN: 9781324020325
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 7th, 2023

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