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A sensuous woman with an inquiring mind interacts with a turbulent century.

Unlike Ping, the Chinese fishing duck, I’ve always managed to catch the boats and planes that punctuated my life. But unlike Ferdinand the Bull, who preferred to smell flowers than fight in the arena, I preferred insecurity to safety. The fact that both these early heroes were males probably explains why my weaknesses are invariably denied – by men.

A fourteen year-old Jewish-American girl who identifies with her family’s Eastern European origins, feels at right at home boarding with a French family in post-war Paris, sharing daily restrictions and navigating an unfamiliar curriculum in a foreign language. Early marriage interrupts her formal education, however she is rescued by an Italian lover who introduces her to Stendhal’s ‘liking love’, a hedonism that she later sees involving complicity, confidence and consideration.

Rome initiates a life-long love of the Mediterranean. At the French News Agency she develops an interest in international events while writing about the Golden Age of Italian cinema. Federico Fellini hires her as press officer on the set of the film 8 1/2, giving her the opportunity to chronicle the shooting day by day. But instead of building on the publication of her first book, ‘The Two Hundred Days of 8 1/2′, she uses the money to change the course of her life. Suspecting the Western press of not reporting objectively on Cuba following the Missile Crisis, she travels to the island that is off-limits to Americans using the French passport acquired through marriage.

She meets several times with Fidel Castro for a portrait published by European weeklies. Ten days after the Kennedy assassination, she returns to Cuba and gets Castro’s assessment of the tragedy, remaining for another year to find out whether the barbudos were communists before the revolution or whether Washington’s reaction pushed them toward Moscow. ‘Cuba 1964: When the Revolution was Young’ provides the definitive answer to that question: Fidel, Raul, Che, Celia Sanchez and the other members of the 1964 government tell in their own words why they made the revolution, eventually embracing communism.

Meanwhile, the birth of a child by a Polish economist working in Cuba takes her via Poland to Hungary, land of a beloved grandmother, where she lives the life of a wife and mother under socialism. Her second child motivates a return to the United States, where, after studying systems theory, she argues with Cyrus Vance’s advisor for Soviet Affairs in the Carter State Department, while the bureaucracy works to deny her clearance.

Reagan’s election confirms her worst fears for America and she returns to France with her children, writing and doing free lance translating. When Germans oppose America’s plan to install Pershing missiles on their territory and France fails to support them, she points out that Western Europe is one of several regional entities balancing the Soviet Union. When Hungary opens its border with Austria, she realizes that the division of Europe is over. A small academic house delivers the first copies of ‘Une autre Europe, un autre Monde’ on the day the Berlin Wall falls.

Returning at century’s end to Philadelphia to care for her aging mother, the author discovers the childhood back story that took her abroad and realizes that Americans are largely ignorant of their international image. 9/11 sparks curiosity about the role of religion in attitudes toward death, leading to the discovery of commonalities between Eastern philosophy and modern science. In ‘A Taoist Politics: The Case for Sacredness’ they validate the direct democracy espoused by the Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring.

This book makes judicious use of letters, diaries, an all-knowing infant voice and excerpts from other works and is illustrated by dozens of photographs from the author’s personal collection and from her Cuban archive at Duke University. (Amazon)

Like the Rockefellers and the Kennedys, the Kochs are one of the most influential dynasties of the modern age, but they have never been the subject of a major biography… until now.

Not long after the death of his father, Charles Koch, then in his early 30s, discovered a letter the family patriarch had written to his sons. “You will receive what now seems to be a large sum of money,” Fred Koch cautioned. “It may either be a blessing or a curse.”

Fred’s legacy would become a blessing and a curse to his four sons-Frederick, Charles, and fraternal twins David and Bill-who in the ensuing decades fought bitterly over their birthright, the oil and cattle-ranching empire their father left behind in 1967. Against a backdrop of scorched-earth legal skirmishes, Charles and David built Koch Industries into one of the largest private corporations in the world-bigger than Boeing and Disney-and they rose to become two of the wealthiest men on the planet.

Influenced by the sentiments of their father, who was present at the birth of the John Birch Society, Charles and David have spent decades trying to remake the American political landscape and mainline their libertarian views into the national bloodstream. They now control a machine that is a center of gravity within the Republican Party. To their supporters, they are liberating America from the scourge of Big Government. To their detractors, they are political “contract killers,” as David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s chief strategist, put it during the 2012 campaign.

Bill, meanwhile, built a multi-billion dollar energy empire all his own, and earned notoriety as an America’s Cup-winning yachtsman, a flamboyant playboy, and as a litigious collector of fine wine and Western memorabilia. Frederick lived an intensely private life as an arts patron, refurbishing a series of historic homes and estates.

SONS OF WICHITA traces the complicated lives and legacies of these four tycoons, as well as their business, social, and political ambitions. No matter where you fall on the ideological spectrum, the Kochs are one of the most influential dynasties of our era, but so little is publicly known about this family, their origins, how they make their money, and how they live their lives. Based on hundreds of interviews with friends, relatives, business associates, and many others, SONS OF WICHITA is the first major biography about this wealthy and powerful family-warts and all.

Daniel Schulman is a senior editor in the Washington bureau of Mother Jones, and a founding member of the magazine’s investigative journalism team. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, Psychology Today, Village Voice, and many other publications. He splits his time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Washington, DC. (Hachette Book Group)

FDL Book Salon: The Dandelion Insurrection – love and revolution (novel)

Author: Rivera Sun
Saturday, August 9, 2014 2:00 pm Pacific time

In a time that looms around the corner of today, under a gathering storm of tyranny, Zadie Byrd Gray whirls into the life of small town reporter Charlie Rider and asks him to become the voice of the Dandelion Insurrection. With the rallying cry of life, liberty, and love, Zadie and Charlie fly across America leaving a wake of revolution in their path. Passion erupts. Danger abounds. The lives of millions hang by a thin thread of courage. Betrayal and intrigue abound, but in the midst of the madness, the golden soul of humanity blossoms . . . and miracles start to unfold! Author Rivera Sun creates mythic characters from everyday people. She infuses the story of our times with practical solutions and visionary perspectives, drawing the reader into a world both terrifying and inspiring . . . a world that could be our own!

Rivera Sun lives in an earthship in the high desert of New Mexico. She gets up before dawn (and the lizards) and starts her day by drinking pu’erh tea and baking bread in her outdoor adobe clay oven. Rivera has written eight theatrical plays, published two novels and two books of inspirational poetry, and written/performed many dance theater productions. Her work has received standing ovations from coast to coast and touched the hearts and souls of many. Rivera believes in being an embodiment of love-in-action in all that she does. A passionate participant in creating a just, sustainable, and peaceful world, she takes the responsibility of life seriously . . . and with a good dose of humor. Her novels focus on the social issues of our times, positing creative solutions as well as muckraking through the causes of suffering. “Life is the ultimate adventure!” Rivera says. Indeed, for Rivera Sun, it has been a non-stop wild ride from birth onward. She is a twin, grew up on an organic farm on the Canadian border of Maine, attended Bennington College in Vermont, headed to the west coast to pursue dance and theater, toured nationally with solo performance works, and now lives and writes in the desert of New Mexico. Rivera is easy to connect with on Facebook and Twitter, or through the Rising Sun Dance Theater website. She encourages her readers to reach out, write reviews, and share their favorite quotes with others. (Rising Sun Press)

Book Salon: Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

Author: Erica Chenoweth, Maria J. Stephan
Sunday, August 10, 2014 2:00 pm Pacific time

For more than a century, from 1900 to 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts in achieving their stated goals. By attracting impressive support from citizens, whose activism takes the form of protests, boycotts, civil disobedience, and other forms of nonviolent noncooperation, these efforts help separate regimes from their main sources of power and produce remarkable results, even in Iran, Burma, the Philippines, and the Palestinian Territories.

Combining statistical analysis with case studies of specific countries and territories, Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan detail the factors enabling such campaigns to succeed and, sometimes, causing them to fail. They find that nonviolent resistance presents fewer obstacles to moral and physical involvement and commitment, and that higher levels of participation contribute to enhanced resilience, greater opportunities for tactical innovation and civic disruption (and therefore less incentive for a regime to maintain its status quo), and shifts in loyalty among opponents’ erstwhile supporters, including members of the military establishment.

Chenoweth and Stephan conclude that successful nonviolent resistance ushers in more durable and internally peaceful democracies, which are less likely to regress into civil war. Presenting a rich, evidentiary argument, they originally and systematically compare violent and nonviolent outcomes in different historical periods and geographical contexts, debunking the myth that violence occurs because of structural and environmental factors and that it is necessary to achieve certain political goals. Instead, the authors discover, violent insurgency is rarely justifiable on strategic grounds.

Erica Chenoweth is an assistant professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and an Associate Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. Previously she taught at Wesleyan University and held fellowships at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of California at Berkeley.

Maria J. Stephan is a strategic planner with the U.S. Department of State. Formerly she served as director of policy and research at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) and as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and American University. She has also been a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. (Columbia University Press)

FDL Book Salon: A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States

Author: Ilan Stavans
Saturday, August 16, 2014 2:00 pm Pacific time

From the author-illustrator team behind the acclaimed Latino USA, an exuberant, irreverent survey of the American experience—a cartoon history of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Enough with the dead white men! Forget what you learned in school! Ever since Columbus—who was probably a converted Jew—”discovered” the New World, the powerful and privileged have usurped American history. The true story of the United States lies not with the founding fathers or robber barons, but with the country’s most overlooked and marginalized peoples: the workers, immigrants, housewives, and slaves who built America from the ground up and made this country what it is today.

In A Most Imperfect Union, cultural critic Ilan Stavans and award-winning cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz present a vibrant alternative history of America, giving full voice to the country’s unsung but exceptional people. From African royals to accused witches, from Puerto Rican radicals to Arab immigrants, Stavans and Alcaraz use sardonic humor and irreverent illustrations to introduce some of the most fascinating characters in American history—and to recount travesties and triumphs that mainstream accounts all too often ignore. What emerges is a colorful group portrait of these United States, one that champions America’s progress while also acknowledging its missteps.

Sweeping and cinematic, stretching from the nation’s prehistory to the post-9/11 era, A Most Imperfect Union is a joyous, outrageous celebration of the complex, sometimes unruly individuals and forces that have shaped our ever-changing land.

Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. (Basic Books)

FDL Book Salon: The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan

Author: Rick Perlstein
Sunday, August 17, 2014 2:00 pm Pacific time

From the bestselling author of Nixonland: a dazzling portrait of America on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the tumultuous political and economic times of the 1970s.

In January of 1973 Richard Nixon announced the end of the Vietnam War and prepared for a triumphant second term—until televised Watergate hearings revealed his White House as little better than a mafia den. The next president declared upon Nixon’s resignation “our long national nightmare is over”—but then congressional investigators exposed the CIA for assassinating foreign leaders. The collapse of the South Vietnamese government rendered moot the sacrifice of some 58,000 American lives. The economy was in tatters. And as Americans began thinking about their nation in a new way—as one more nation among nations, no more providential than any other—the pundits declared that from now on successful politicians would be the ones who honored this chastened new national mood.

Ronald Reagan never got the message. Which was why, when he announced his intention to challenge President Ford for the 1976 Republican nomination, those same pundits dismissed him—until, amazingly, it started to look like he just might win. He was inventing the new conservative political culture we know now, in which a vision of patriotism rooted in a sense of American limits was derailed in America’s Bicentennial year by the rise of the smiling politician from Hollywood. Against a backdrop of melodramas from the Arab oil embargo to Patty Hearst to the near-bankruptcy of America’s greatest city, The Invisible Bridge asks the question: what does it mean to believe in America? To wave a flag—or to reject the glibness of the flag wavers?

Rick Perlstein is the author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, a New York Times bestseller picked as one of the best nonfiction books of the year by over a dozen publications; Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, which won the 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Award for history and appeared on the best books of the year lists of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. His essays and book reviews have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Village Voice, and Slate, among others. He has received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for independent scholars. (Simon and Schuster)

FDL Book Salon: Imagine: Living In A Socialist USA

Author: Frances Goldin, Debby Smith, Michael Steven Smith
Sunday, August 31, 2014 2:00 pm Pacific time

The polar ice caps are melting, hurricanes and droughts ravish the planet, and the earth’s population is threatened by catastrophic climate change. Millions of American jobs have been sent overseas and aren’t coming back. Young African-American men make up the majority of America’s prison population. Half of the American population are poor or near poor, living precariously on the brink, while the top one percent own as much as the bottom eighty. Government police-state spying on its citizens is pervasive. Consequently, as former President Jimmy Carter has said, “we have no functioning democracy.”

Imagine: Living In a Socialist U.S.A., edited by Francis Goldin, Debby Smith, and Michael Steven Smith, is at once an indictment of American capitalism as the root cause of our spreading dystopia and a cri de coeur for what life could be like in the United States if we had economic as well as a real political democracy. This anthology features essays by revolutionary thinkers, activists, and artists—including Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, civil rights activist Angela Davis, incarcerated journalist Mumia Abu Jamal, and economist Rick Wolff— addressing various aspects of a new society and, crucially, how to get from where we are now to where we want to be, living in a society that is truly fair and just.

Frances Goldin heard the word “socialist” when she was 18 and met her husband-to-be, Morris Goldin.  It sounded like a great idea! She got married at 20, her activism started, and it hasn’t stopped yet, at age 89.  She founded a literary agency almost 40 years ago, and it’s still going strong, favoring books that help change the world.  She is not just a living legend, but an American institution.

Debbie Smith has worked full-time for the anti-Vietman War movement, the Kent State Legal Defense Fund, and in the feminist, union, and socialist movements.  She participates in the anti-capitalist and pro-democracy movements that are growing so rapidly in the United States and worldwide.

Michael Steven Smith is a New York City attorney and author.  His most recent book, written with Michael Ratner, is Who Killed Che? How The CIA Got Away With Murder. He cohosts the radio show, “Law and Disorder” on WBIA-FM with Michael Ratner and Heidi Hoghosian.  He lives with his wife, Debby, and talking parrot, Charlie Parker. (Harper Perennial Books)

 

FDL Book Salon: The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East

Author: Juan Cole
Sunday, September 7, 2014 2:00 pm Pacific time

The renowned blogger and Middle East expert Juan Cole illuminates the role of today’s Arab youth—who they are, what they want, and how they will affect world politics.

Beginning in January 2011, the revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests, riots, and civil wars that comprised what many call “the Arab Spring” shook the world. These upheavals were spearheaded by youth movements, and yet the crucial role they played is relatively unknown. Middle East expert Juan Cole is here to share their stories.

For three decades, Cole has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. In The New Arabs he outlines the history that led to the dramatic changes in the region, and explores how a new generation of men and women are using innovative notions of personal rights to challenge the authoritarianism, corruption, and stagnation that had afflicted their societies.

Not all big cohorts of teenagers and twenty-somethings necessarily produce movements centered on their identity as youth, with a generational set of organizations, symbols, and demands rooted at least partially in the distinctive problems besetting people of their age. The Arab Millennials did. And, in a provocative and optimistic argument about the future of the Arab world, The New Arabs shows just how they did it.

Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He is author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon’s Egypt. He has been a regular guest on PBS’s News Hour and has also appeared on ABC Nightly News, Nightline, the TODAY show, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper 360, Rachel Maddow, the Colbert Report, Democracy Now! Aljazeera America and many others. He has commented extensively on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Iraq, the politics of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Syria, and Iranian domestic struggles and foreign affairs. He has a regular column on the TruthDig.com. Visit JuanCole.com.  (Simon and Schuster)

FDL Book Salon: Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics

Author: Terry Golway
Saturday, September 13, 2014 2:00 pm Pacific time

A major, surprising new history of New York’s most famous political machine—Tammany Hall—revealing, beyond the vice and corruption, a birthplace of progressive urban politics.

For decades, history has considered Tammany Hall, New York’s famous political machine, shorthand for the worst of urban politics: graft, crime, and patronage personified by notoriously corrupt characters. Infamous crooks like William “Boss” Tweed dominate traditional histories of Tammany, distorting our understanding of a critical chapter of American political history. In Machine Made, historian and New York City journalist Terry Golway convincingly dismantles these stereotypes; Tammany’s corruption was real, but so was its heretofore forgotten role in protecting marginalized and maligned immigrants in desperate need of a political voice.

Irish immigrants arriving in New York during the nineteenth century faced an unrelenting onslaught of hyperbolic, nativist propaganda. They were voiceless in a city that proved, time and again, that real power remained in the hands of the mercantile elite, not with a crush of ragged newcomers flooding its streets. Haunted by fresh memories of the horrific Irish potato famine in the old country, Irish immigrants had already learned an indelible lesson about the dire consequences of political helplessness. Tammany Hall emerged as a distinct force to support the city’s Catholic newcomers, courting their votes while acting as a powerful intermediary between them and the Anglo-Saxon Protestant ruling class. In a city that had yet to develop the social services we now expect, Tammany often functioned as a rudimentary public welfare system and a champion of crucial social reforms benefiting its constituency, including workers’ compensation, prohibitions against child labor, and public pensions for widows with children. Tammany figures also fought against attempts to limit immigration and to strip the poor of the only power they had—the vote.

While rescuing Tammany from its maligned legacy, Golway hardly ignores Tammany’s ugly underbelly, from its constituents’ participation in the bloody Draft Riots of 1863 to its rampant cronyism. However, even under occasionally notorious leadership, Tammany played a profound and long-ignored role in laying the groundwork for social reform, and nurtured the careers of two of New York’s greatest political figures, Al Smith and Robert Wagner. Despite devastating electoral defeats and countless scandals, Tammany nonetheless created a formidable political coalition, one that eventually made its way into the echelons of FDR’s Democratic Party and progressive New Deal agenda.

Tracing the events of a tumultuous century, Golway shows how mainstream American government began to embrace both Tammany’s constituents and its ideals. Machine Made is a revelatory work of revisionist history, and a rich, multifaceted portrait of roiling New York City politics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Terry Golway
was a journalist for thirty years, writing for the New York Observer, the New York Times, and other venues. He holds a PhD in American history from Rutgers University and is currently the director of the Kean University Center for History, Politics, and Policy in New Jersey. (WW Norton)

FDL Book Salon: Private Equity at Work: When Wall Street Manages Main Street

Author: Eileen Appelbaum, Rosemary Batt
Sunday, September 14, 2014 2:00 pm Pacific time

Private equity firms have long been at the center of public debates on the impact of the financial sector on Main Street companies. Are these firms financial innovators that save failing businesses or financial predators that bankrupt otherwise healthy companies and destroy jobs? The first comprehensive examination of this topic, Private Equity at Work provides a detailed yet accessible guide to this controversial business model. Economist Eileen Appelbaum and Professor Rosemary Batt carefully evaluate the evidence—including original case studies and interviews, legal documents, bankruptcy proceedings, media coverage, and existing academic scholarship—to demonstrate the effects of private equity on American businesses and workers. They document that while private equity firms have had positive effects on the operations and growth of small and mid-sized companies and in turning around failing companies, the interventions of private equity more often than not lead to significant negative consequences for many businesses and workers.

Prior research on private equity has focused almost exclusively on the financial performance of private equity funds and the returns to their investors. Private Equity at Work provides a new roadmap to the largely hidden internal operations of these firms, showing how their business strategies disproportionately benefit the partners in private equity firms at the expense of other stakeholders and taxpayers. In the 1980s, leveraged buyouts by private equity firms saw high returns and were widely considered the solution to corporate wastefulness and mismanagement. And since 2000, nearly 11,500 companies—representing almost 8 million employees—have been purchased by private equity firms. As their role in the economy has increased, they have come under fire from labor unions and community advocates who argue that the proliferation of leveraged buyouts destroys jobs, causes wages to stagnate, saddles otherwise healthy companies with debt, and leads to subsidies from taxpayers.

Appelbaum and Batt show that private equity firms’ financial strategies are designed to extract maximum value from the companies they buy and sell, often to the detriment of those companies and their employees and suppliers. Their risky decisions include buying companies and extracting dividends by loading them with high levels of debt and selling assets. These actions often lead to financial distress and a disproportionate focus on cost-cutting, outsourcing, and wage and benefit losses for workers, especially if they are unionized.

Because the law views private equity firms as investors rather than employers, private equity owners are not held accountable for their actions in ways that public corporations are. And their actions are not transparent because private equity owned companies are not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Thus, any debts or costs of bankruptcy incurred fall on businesses owned by private equity and their workers, not the private equity firms that govern them. For employees this often means loss of jobs, health and pension benefits, and retirement income. Appelbaum and Batt conclude with a set of policy recommendations intended to curb the negative effects of private equity while preserving its constructive role in the economy. These include policies to improve transparency and accountability, as well as changes that would reduce the excessive use of financial engineering strategies by firms.

A groundbreaking analysis of a hotly contested business model, Private Equity at Work provides an unprecedented analysis of the little-understood inner workings of private equity and of the effects of leveraged buyouts on American companies and workers. This important new work will be a valuable resource for scholars, policymakers, and the informed public alike.

EILEEN APPELBAUM is senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington, D.C. and Visiting Professor in the Management Department, University of Leicester, UK. ROSEMARY BATT is the Alice Hanson Cook Professor of Women and Work at the Industrial and Labor Relations School, Cornell University.  (Russell Sage Foundation)

FDL Book Salon: Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison

Author: Nell Bernstein
Sunday, September 21, 2014 2:00 pm Pacific time

When teenagers scuffle during a basketball game, they are typically benched. But when Will got into it on the court, he and his rival were sprayed in the face at close range by a chemical similar to Mace, denied a shower for twenty-four hours, and then locked in solitary confinement for a month.

One in three American children will be arrested by the time they are twenty-three, and many will spend time locked inside horrific detention centers that defy everything we know about how to rehabilitate young offenders. In a clear-eyed indictment of the juvenile justice system run amok, award-winning journalist Nell Bernstein shows that there is no right way to lock up a child. The very act of isolation denies delinquent children the thing that is most essential to their growth and rehabilitation: positive relationships with caring adults.

Bernstein introduces us to youth across the nation who have suffered violence and psychological torture at the hands of the state. She presents these youths all as fully realized people, not victims. As they describe in their own voices their fight to maintain their humanity and protect their individuality in environments that would deny both, these young people offer a hopeful alternative to the doomed effort to reform a system that should only be dismantled.

Burning Down the House is a clarion call to shut down our nation’s brutal and counterproductive juvenile prisons and bring our children home.

Nell Bernstein is a former Soros Justice Media Fellow and a winner of a White House Champion of Change award. Her articles have appeared in Newsday, Salon, Mother Jones, and the Washington Post, among other publications. (The New Press)

FDL Book Salon: The Case Against the Supreme Court

Author: Erwin Chemerinsky
Sunday, September 28, 2014 2:00 pm Pacific time

A preeminent constitutional scholar offers a hard-hitting analysis of the Supreme Court over the last two hundred years

Most Americans share the perception that the Supreme Court is objective, but Erwin Chemerinsky, one of the country’s leading constitutional lawyers, shows that this is nonsense and always has been. The Court is made up of fallible individuals who base decisions on their own biases. Today, the Roberts Court is promoting a conservative agenda under the guise of following a neutral methodology, but notorious decisions, such as Bush vs. Gore and United Citizens, are hardly recent exceptions. This devastating book details, case by case, how the Court has largely failed throughout American history at its most important tasks and at the most important times.

Only someone of Chemerinsky’s stature and breadth of knowledge could take on this controversial topic. Powerfully arguing for term limits for justices and a reassessment of the institution as a whole, The Case Against the Supreme Court is a timely and important book that will be widely read and cited for decades to come.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Erwin Chemerinsky is the founding dean and distinguished professor of law and the Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, with a joint appointment in political science.

FDL Book Salon: #Newsfail: Climate Change, Feminism, Gun Control, and Other Fun Stuff We Talk About Because Nobody Else Will

Author: Jamie Kilstein, Allison Kilkenny
Saturday, October 18, 2014 2:00 pm Pacific time

A hilarious and informative primer on the most urgent issues of our day, from the creators and co-hosts of Citizen Radio, a 100% listener-supported show whose slogan is “independent radio that won’t lead you to war.”

#Newsfail is not your grandmother’s comedic-memoir-slash-political-manifesto. From page one (in a preface titled, “In Which the Authors Interview Ralph Nader in the Bathtub”), comedian Jamie Kilstein and journalist Allison Kilkenny pledge to give you the news like you’ve never gotten it before.

On issues ranging from feminism to gun control, climate change to class war, foreign policy to net neutrality, they tell you how the mainstream media gets it left, right, and utterly, unforgivably, irresponsibly wrong—think Noam Chomsky as channeled by Fred and Carrie from “Portlandia.” #Newsfail is all this, plus the story of Allison and Jamie’s own DIY foray into independent media via their podcast, Citizen Radio, which has featured guests such as Jeremy Scahill, Sarah Silverman, Glenn Greenwald, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and been downloaded millions of times by people all over the world.

Their mission is truth-telling above brainwashing. All you have to do is listen.

Jamie Kilstein is a stand-up comedian, who has been featured on The Conan O’Brien Show, Showtime, Up With Chris, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and NPR’s Weekend Edition. One time, Glenn Beck called him a doofus, which is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to him.

Allison Kilkenny
has previously reported for The Nation and has appeared on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show and Up With Chris, and Democracy Now. One time, G. Gordon Liddy told Allison that her writing “makes him want to vomit,” which is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to her. (Simon and Schuster)

FDL Book Salon: The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It

Author: John W. Dean
Saturday, November 8, 2014 2:00 pm Pacific time

Based on Nixon’s overlooked recordings, New York Times bestselling author John W. Dean connects the dots between what we’ve come to believe about Watergate and what actually happened

Watergate forever changed American politics, and in light of the revelations about the NSA’s widespread surveillance program, the scandal has taken on new significance. Yet remarkably, four decades after Nixon was forced to resign, no one has told the full story of his involvement in Watergate.

In The Nixon Defense, former White House Counsel John W. Dean, one of the last major surviving figures of Watergate, draws on his own transcripts of almost a thousand conversations, a wealth of Nixon’s secretly recorded information, and more than 150,000 pages of documents in the National Archives and the Nixon Library to provide the definitive answer to the question: What did President
Nixon know and when did he know it?

Through narrative and contemporaneous dialogue, Dean connects dots that have never been connected, including revealing how and why the Watergate break-in occurred, what was on the mysterious 18 1/2 minute gap in Nixon’s recorded conversations, and more.

In what will stand as the most authoritative account of one of America’s worst political scandals, The Nixon Defense shows how the disastrous mistakes of Watergate could have been avoided and offers a cautionary tale for our own time.

John W. Dean was legal counsel to president Nixon during the Watergate scandal, and his Senate testimony helped lead to Nixon’s resignation. In 2006, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating George W. Bush’s NSA warrantless wiretap program. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Blind Ambition, Broken Government, Conservatives Without Conscience, and Worse Than Watergate. (Viking Adult / Penguin)

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