Benjamin Carter Hett’s The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic isn’t the first book I have read trying to explain how Hitler came to power, but it’s the best. Reading it as too many Americans pretend that Biden’s victory saved American democracy was particularly sobering.
Jack Kelly’s The Edge of Anarchy: the Railroad Barons, the Gilded Age, and the Greatest Labor Uprising in America tell the story of the Pullman strike of 1894. This is another of those books that shows exactly how little progress has been made in America over the last 127 years. Reading it in the context of the wealth gap increasing during a pandemic also struck a cord. Still,Kelly did a great job telling a critical story.
If you like history and/or you want to learn more about the real America, The Edge of Anarchy will not disappoint. It will upset you though.
Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States is the best book I have read about American history. While it’s not perfect, I love the way Zinn acknowledges his own biases and attempts to explain a much accurate version of American history than is almost ever shared.
More than a decade ago, a good friend recommended The Quiet Game by Greg Iles. She informed me I would enjoy the history and characters in the story.
A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for a new fiction series to begin as a break from politics. I saw The Quiet Game on a list and was reminded of my friend’s long-forgotten recommendation. Realizing The Quiet Game had become the Penn Cage series, I gave it a shot.
Less than two weeks later, I’m in the middle of the fourth book in the series.
Greg Grandin’s Fordlandia is reported to describe the rise and fall of Henry Ford’s Brazilian rubber plantation. In reality, Fordlandia is another striking example of the destruction and exploitation brought by capitalism.
Thomas Frank’s The People No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism was an easy, entertaining read.
The Price of Peace is Zachary Carter’s look at the life and ideas of economist John Maynard Keynes. While economics can often be a boring subject, I found The Price of Peace to be an important, educational read.
On January 6, 1941, FDR gave his Four Freedoms speech. While the speech would ultimately serve as the basis for the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations, the speech’s historical context tells pieces of the story regularly not discussed.
Greg Grandin’s The end of the Myth: the frontier to the border wall in the mind of /America is the best look at the rise of so-called Trumpism I have read. Still, I think the book overcomplicates what is sadly too simple a reality.
Human nature is fundamentally selfish. Sure, there are people who don’t fall into the trap of selfishness, but most people are fundamentally selfish. The policies of nations, fueled by the rich and powerful, exploit the selfish, weak tendencies of most people to create societies based on division. As is hopefully obvious to most, by far the most common, brutal divisions stoked are race-based divisions. Throughout American history, The powerful have constantly stoke racial divisions, because a united people would reject the failed societies that give much to the few while forcing the rest to struggle.
Shades of Glory: The Story of the Negro Leagues and African-American Baseball, by Lawrence D. Hogan is exactly what its title promises. If you want to learn a lot about the history of black people playing baseball in America, Shades of Glory is for you.