Dear America | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Sept. 2018

Anderson, Carol. One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy. Bloomsbury USA. Sept. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9781635571370. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781635571387. POLITICAL SCIENCE
In White Rage, a New York Times best seller that won the National Book Critics Circle Award, Emory professor Anderson chronicled efforts since 1865 to block the advancement of African Americans. Here she concentrates on efforts to curtail the African American vote since the 2013 Shelby ruling gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Anderson considers both consequences—e.g., photo ID requirements, poll closures—and means of redress.

Beard, Mary. How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization. Liveright: Norton. Sept. 2018. 240p. ISBN 9781631494406. $24.95. ART HISTORY
In a glittering tome meant as an accompaniment to the “How Do We Look” and “The Eye of Faith” portions of BBC/PBS’s Civilisations, celebrated classicist Beard offers a wide-angled look at history through art. Part 1 focuses on Mesoamerica’s Olmec heads, the massive statues of pharaoh Amenhotep III, and classical Greece’s nudes, while Part 2 considers religious imagery from Angkor Wat to Islamic calligraphy to Venice. It’s really about how we look at ourselves.

Brennan-Jobs, Lisa. Small Fry. Grove. Sept. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780802128232. $26. MEMOIR
Like many children, Brennan-Jobs grew up caught between two parents. Unlike others, those parents were artist Chrisann Brennan and Apple-of-the-world’s-eye Steve Jobs, barely there until he decided to swoop in show her the wealthy world of private schools and big vacations. But it wasn’t easy. A singular life and California in the Seventies and Eighties.

Fountain, Ben. Beautiful Country Burn Again: An Election, a Rebellion, and the Next American Revolution. Ecco. Sept. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9780062688842. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062688767. lrg. prnt. POLITICAL SCIENCE/ESSAYS
During the Civil War and the Great Depression, argues Fountain, America had to cast aside the established order of things and wholly remake itself. Now we’re there again. Best known for his fiction, e.g., the National Book Critics’ Circle Award–winning Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Fountain reflects on a tumultuous year in politics, expanding on the well-regarded series of essays on the 2016 U.S. presidential election for the Guardian.

Saslow, Eli. Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist. Doubleday. Sept. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780385542869. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385542876. CD/downloadable. POLITICAL SCIENCE
Son of Don Black, founder of the huge racist Internet community Stormfront, and godson of KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, Derek Black had his own white nationalist radio show at age 19, which he broadcast secretly while attending liberal New College in Florida. Students vociferously challenged him when his cover was blown, while others reached out—an Orthodox Jew invited him to Shabbat dinners—all of which compelled Black to question his beliefs and face the damage entailed. From a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist.

Tyson, Neil deGrasse & Avis Lang. Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military. Norton. Sept. 2018. 448p. ISBN 9780393064445. $27.95. SCIENCE
The Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium and everybody’s favorite astrophysicist, Tyson considers how his field has been used to serve warfare—and not just in our time. He starts out with celestial navigation by the ancients, then moves up to multi-spectral detection, ranging, tracking, imaging, high ground, nuclear fusion, access to space, and more. As he and coauthor Lang conclude, “The overlap is strong, and it’s a two- way street.”

Vargas, Jose Antonio. Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen. Dey Street: HarperCollins. Sept. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9780062851352. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062851369. lrg. prnt. MEMOIR
Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, filmmaker, and founder and CEO of the nonprofit media advocacy organization Define American, Vargas is also likely the best-known undocumented immigrant in America, having come here illegally at age 12 from the Philippines. Since he riskily acknowledged his status, he has advocated for the human rights of immigrants and migrants worldwide; here, he also considers what it really means to be American and how it feels when your home considers you alien. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.

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