Reading for Our Political Times | Wyatt’s World

From ongoing wars and mounting refugee crises to corrupt policies and the traumatic fight for health care, there is plenty of noise and heat in today’s politics. Well-argued and insightful nonfiction helps inform readers of these timely debates and adds much-needed perspective on the issues.

  • Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam by Mark Bowden (Atlantic Monthly).
    Bowden brings his talent for writing rigorous, vivid, eye-opening, and character-rich narrative nonfiction to this account of a pivotal moment during the Vietnam War. In addition to being a worthy contribution to history, it reminds readers, as the Afghanistan War is pushed off the front pages, of the reality of battle.
  • The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails To Prosecute Executives by Jesse Eisinger (S. & S.).
    There are plenty of American institutions in which the one percent thrive while the less privileged flounder, but the legal system is among the most insidious. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Eisinger’s exposé on corporate malfeasance probes the U.S. Department of Justice’s lack of rigor in prosecuting such wrongdoings.
  • The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea by Christopher J. Lebron (Oxford Univ.).
    Yale assistant professor Lebron (African American studies & philosophy) offers a portrait of Black Lives Matter—a key political movement of our times—in this history of both America and the movement itself, suggesting what the country must do to heal and ensure justice.
  • We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria by Wendy Pearlman (Custom House).
    From Syria, an outpouring of despair is making its way into the world. Photos of bloodied, stunned children, families lined up against wire fences attempting to escape the war zone, and victims of chemical weapons demand a few days of media attention before our local problems intrude once more. Documenting the stories of Syrians caught in the conflict, this oral history concentrates more fully on the perpetuating civil war and its human costs.
  • An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back by Elisabeth Rosenthal (Penguin).
    As concerned Americans watch with a mix of terror, disgust, and outrage as debates continue in Congress over health-care reform, Rosenthal sends up a deeply researched battle cry to fix the system across every level, relating the tools and facts needed to stop the profiteering.
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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt compiles LJ's online feature Wyatt's World and is the author of The Readers' Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers' advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader's Shelf should contact her directly at

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