With just 15 days before the midterm elections, these books will help you sharpen your understanding of our current political moment.

 

How to Read a Protest: The Art of Organizing and Resistance
by L.A. Kauffman

What exactly do protests do, and how do they help movements win? From longtime organizer and movement journalist L.A. Kauffman, this eye-opening and eloquent account delves into the history of America’s major demonstrations to reveal how, when, and why protests matter.

Using the signs that demonstrators carry as clues to how protests are organized, Kauffman explores the nuanced relationship between the way movements are made and the impact they have. How to Read a Protest sheds new light on the catalytic power of collective action and the decentralized, bottom-up, women-led model for organizing that has transformed what movements look like and what they can accomplish.

How to Read a Protest argues that the women’s marches of 2017 didn’t just help shape and fuel a moment—they actually created one.”—Masha Gessen, The New Yorker

Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century
by Barbara Ransby

Award-winning historian and longtime activist Barbara Ransby outlines the scope and genealogy of the Black Lives Matter movement, documenting its roots in Black feminist politics and situating it squarely in a Black radical tradition, one that is anticapitalist, internationalist, and focused on some of the most marginalized members of the Black community.

Employing a range of creative tactics and embracing group-centered leadership models, these visionary young organizers, many of them women, and many of them queer, are not only calling for an end to police violence, but demanding racial justice, gender justice, and systemic change.

 

“A powerful — and personal — account of the movement and its players.”—The Washington Post

They Said No to Nixon: Republicans Who Stood Up to the President’s Abuses of Power
by Michael Koncewicz

While many are familiar with the Republicans who turned against Nixon during the final stages of the Watergate saga, They Said No to Nixon uncovers for the first time those within the administration—including Nixon’s own appointees—who opposed the White House early on, quietly blocking the president’s attacks on the IRS, the Justice Department, and other sectors of the federal government.

Culling from previously unpublished excerpts from the Nixon tapes, Michael Koncewicz reveals how Republican party members remained loyal civil servants in the face of Nixon’s attempts to expand the imperial presidency.

 

“This is a bracing reminder of the threat to constitutional order posed by a president who wields power without self-restraint.”—Ken Hughes, author of Fatal Politics

Threshold: Emergency Responders on the US-Mexico Border
by Ieva Jusionyte

Emergency responders on the US-Mexico border operate at the edges of two states. They rush patients to hospitals across country lines, tend to the broken bones of migrants who jump over the wall, and put out fires that know no national boundaries. Paramedics and firefighters on both sides of the border are tasked with saving lives and preventing disasters in the harsh terrain at the center of divisive national debates.

Through beautiful ethnography and a uniquely personal perspective, Threshold provides a new way to understand politicized issues ranging from border security and undocumented migration to public access to healthcare today.

“Jusionyte explores the sister towns bisected by the border from many angles in this illuminating and poignant exploration of a place and situation that are little discussed yet have significant implications for larger political discourse.”—Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review

Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Guide to Gender Variability
by Jack Halberstam

In the last decade, public discussions of transgender issues have increased exponentially. However, with this increased visibility has come not just power, but regulation, both in favor of and against trans people. What was once regarded as an unusual or even unfortunate disorder has become an accepted articulation of gendered embodiment as well as a new site for political activism and political recognition. What happened in the last few decades to prompt such an extensive rethinking of our understanding of gendered embodiment? How did a stigmatized identity become so central to U.S. and European articulations of self? And how have people responded to the new definitions and understanding of sex and the gendered body? In Trans*, Jack Halberstam explores these recent shifts in the meaning of the gendered body and representation, and explores the possibilities of a nongendered, gender-optional, or gender-queer future.

“This lively and smart book cracks open a future, resisting transphobia and ushering in a new horizon for anybody struggling with the norms they oppose and the forms of life they desire and deserve to live.”—Judith Butler, author of Gender Trouble

The Birth of the Anthropocene
by Jeremy Davies (Author)

The world faces an environmental crisis unprecedented in human history. Carbon dioxide levels have reached heights not seen for three million years, and the greatest mass extinction since the time of the dinosaurs appears to be underway. Such far-reaching changes suggest something remarkable: the beginning of a new geological epoch. It has been called the Anthropocene. The Birth of the Anthropocene shows how this epochal transformation puts the deep history of the planet at the heart of contemporary environmental politics. By opening a window onto geological time, the idea of the Anthropocene changes our understanding of present-day environmental destruction and injustice. Linking new developments in earth science to the insights of world historians, Jeremy Davies shows that as the Anthropocene epoch begins, politics and geology have become inextricably entwined.

“Elegant and concise . . . alert to the new relationship that needs to be forged between culture and climate change.”—Times Literary Supplement

Race and America’s Long War
by Nikhil Pal Singh

Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency produced shock and disbelief for liberals, progressives, and leftists globally. It placed control of the government in the hands of the most racially homogenous, far-right political party in the Western world. Yet most of the immediate analysis neglects longer-term accounting of how the United States arrived here. Race and America’s Long War examines the relationship between war, politics, police power, and the changing contours of race and racism in the contemporary United States.

Spanning the course of U.S. history, these crucial essays show how the return of racism and war as seemingly permanent features of American public and political life is at the heart of our present crisis and collective disorientation.

“In this sweeping, erudite, and much-needed book, Nikhil Singh obliterates any myth of American peace, revealing instead that the thread tying America’s past and present is long and continuous war—hot, vicious, global, and racial.”—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Africa Speaks, America Answers 

How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump
by Laura Briggs

Today all politics are reproductive politics, argues esteemed feminist critic Laura Briggs. From longer work hours to the election of Donald Trump, our current political crisis is above all about reproduction. Households are where we face our economic realities as social safety nets get cut and wages decline. Briggs brilliantly outlines how politicians’ racist accounts of reproduction—stories of Black “welfare queens” and Latina “breeding machines”—were the leading wedge in the government and business disinvestment in families. With decreasing wages, rising McJobs, and no resources for family care, our households have grown ever more precarious over the past forty years in sharply race-and class-stratified ways. This crisis, argues Briggs, fuels all others—from immigration to gay marriage, anti-feminism to the rise of the Tea Party.

“This engaging book covers feminist theory and how it views a divergence of issues since the 1970s. Excellent for collections on feminism, current affairs, and American politics.”—Choice

Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary
by Ronald Rael

Borderwall as Architecture is an artistic and intellectual hand grenade of a book, and a timely re-examination of what the physical barrier that divides the United States of America from the United Mexican States is and could be. It is both a protest against the wall and a projection about its future. Coupled with real-life accounts of people who, on both sides of the border, transform the wall, are counterproposals for the wall, created by Ronald Rael’s studio. These counterproposals reimagine, hyperbolize, or question the wall and its construction, cost, performance, and meaning. Rael proposes that despite the intended use of the wall, which is to keep people out and away, the wall is instead an attractor, engaging both sides in a common dialogue.

 

“…in raising questions that not many others are asking about the relationship between two countries that share 2,000 miles of border, his book serves an important purpose.”—The Daily Beast

Trans Kids: Being Gendered in the Twenty-First Century
by Tey Meadow

Trans Kids is a trenchant ethnographic and interview-based study of the first generation of families affirming and facilitating gender nonconformity in children. Earlier generations of parents sent such children for psychiatric treatment aimed at a cure, but today, many parents agree to call their children new names, allow them to wear whatever clothing they choose, and approach the state to alter the gender designation on their passports and birth certificates.

Drawing from sociology, philosophy, psychology, and sexuality studies, sociologist Tey Meadow depicts the intricate social processes that shape gender acquisition. Where once atypical gender expression was considered a failure of gender, now it is a form of gender. Engaging and rigorously argued, Trans Kids underscores the centrality of ever more particular configurations of gender in both our physical and psychological lives, and the increasing embeddedness of personal identities in social institutions.

“A major, clear-eyed, and beautifully written contribution to thinking intelligently and empathetically about gender today.”—Don Kulick, author of Travesti

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