Books That Answer, "How Did We Get Here?"

In light of current events, patrons may be looking for answers to the question: "How did we get here?" We round up books that offer insight into American politics, from the founding of the country to the present day.

In light of current events, patrons may be looking for answers to the question: "How did we get here?" We round up books that offer insight into American politics, from the founding of the country to the present day. Specifically, we include resources relating to authoritarianism, fascism, and populism.


Twilight of DemocracyApplebaum, Anne. Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. Doubleday. Jul. 2020. ISBN 9780385545808. $25.
Pulitzer Prize–winning author Applebaum issues a clarion call about the current state of democracies. She sees threats that can transform democracy into authoritarianism, and shows how they emerge over time. The currency of this work is both engrossing and petrifying.

Ben-Ghiat, Ruth. Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present. Norton. Nov. 2020. ISBN 9781324001546. $28.95.
Ben-Ghiat creates a sobering picture of how strong-willed menBenito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Augusto Pinochet, Muammar Gaddafi, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trumphave been able to establish themselves as populists, while undermining the very democratic structure within which they thrived.

Short Life and Curious Death of Free Speech in AmericaCose, Ellis. The Short Life and Curious Death of Free Speech in America. Amistad. Sept. 2020. ISBN 9780062999719. $23.99.
Cose explains that the question we should be mindful of in a world full of easily transmitted speech is: "What is the purpose of free speech—and at what price, and with what limits, do we protect it?" An essential book warning that one of our most basic rights is under more serious attack than ever.

Gessen, Masha. Surviving Autocracy. Riverhead Jun. 2020. ISBN 9780593188934. $26.
National Book Award-winning Gessen considers the damage that Donald Trump has done to key institutions in the United States by waging a war on truth and facts, and how rapidly the national identity of the country has changed in just a few years.

Hiding in Plain SightKendzior, Sarah. Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America. Flatiron. Apr. 2020. 9781250210715. $27.99.
A scholar of authoritarian regimes, Kendzior writes a chilling account of how the media, government, and public have failed to hold Trump accountable, and how this has significantly impacted U.S. democracy.

Macwilliams, Matthew C. On Fascism: 12 Lessons from American History. St. Martin's Griffin. Sept. 2020. ISBN 9781250752697. pap. $12.99.
Focusing on 12 events, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Trail of Tears, and the internment of Japanese Americans, MacWilliams exposes divisive rhetoric, violent othering, and authoritarian attitudes throughout American history.

American RuleSexton, Jared Yates. American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World But Failed Its People. Dutton. Sept. 2020. ISBN 9781524745714. $29.
Sexton challenges the idea of American exceptionalism and a government of the people by showing U.S. democracy as a broken system built by and for white elites. For anyone seeking a better understanding of the question on which the book is framed: "How did we get here?"

Stanley, Jason. How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them. Random. Sept. 2018. ISBN 9780525511830. $26.
Alarmed by the pervasive rise of fascist tactics both in the United States and around the globe, philosopher Stanley focuses on the structures that unite them, laying out and analyzing the ten pillars of fascist politics--the language and beliefs that separate people into an "us" and a "them."

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Donna Larson

I find it disturbing that an organization claiming to be supportive of all views and free speech is only featuring books in the category "How did we get here?" that are anti-Conservative and which promote the false idea that our current President is fascist, racist, authoritarian, etc. It is exactly because of this narrow and false narrative that populism and Conservative support are at an all-time high throughout the USA. We in the "fly over" zone are not as gullible as you believe. We really do know when anti-American views are attempting to be shoved down our throats and we see the devastating results of the socialist agenda that's being promoted. It's disheartening that the library world is encouraging one-sided journalism, employing Godwin's law in its readers' advisory, and has joined the ranks of those who can no longer be relied upon for impartiality and the true expression of ideas contrary to what you think is correct. Shame on you.

Posted : Oct 07, 2020 05:00



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