Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. - Danielle Allen

Staff Pick

Michael Allen was arrested at age 15, tried as an adult at 16 for attempted carjacking, sentenced to 13 years in prison, paroled after 11, and killed in a shooting two years later. Danielle Allen’s heartbreaking, enraging Cuz (Liveright, $24.99), the story of the cousin eight years her junior, is at one level a story about numbers—one of the nightmares from the nation’s mass incarceration. But it’s crucial to see it first as a story about lives and individual choices—about one family’s struggle to surmount those overwhelming numbers. Why did Michael die so young, and why do so many other African-American men meet the same end? It could have made a difference if Michael hadn’t been sentenced as an adult. If he hadn’t been caught in the early zeal for “three strikes you’re out” laws. If he’d been paroled where he could have pursued the firefighting he’d shown an aptitude for. But rules determined these things and they didn’t consider the individual’s best interests. Or what if Michael hadn’t fallen in love with someone violent? If his stepfather hadn’t been abusive? If his family had better understood his needs? If Michael hadn’t kept secrets? Allen relentlessly traces every strand of Michael’s fate, struggling to see how his life could have gone otherwise. There are glimpses of hope, and though she conveys Michael as bright, engaging, and no more or less fallible than anyone else, he’s ultimately crushed between the War on Drugs and the equally unforgiving “parastate” of the world’s largest illegal drug consumer. What’s the answer? Decriminalize drugs. Get rid of the invisibility that permits gangs to flourish and guns to pour into the streets. That keeps parents from knowing what their children fall prey to. Allen’s powerful book, as moving and compassionate as it is angry, reasoned, and courageous, makes it all a little more visible.

Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. By Danielle Allen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631493119
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Liveright - September 5th, 2017

A Colony in a Nation - Chris Hayes

Staff Pick

Chris Hayes’s popular first book five years ago, Twilight of the Elites, took America’s meritocracy to task for a failure of leadership that has resulted in our institutional dysfunction and crisis of authority. That argument seems more relevant today than ever. In A Colony in a Nation (W.W. Norton, $26.95), Hayes, host of a news and opinion show on MSNBC, expands the discussion of America’s widening inequality gap begun in his earlier work. He focuses this time on law and order, making a persuasive case that our criminal justice system treats whites and blacks very differently. With characteristic passion and intelligence, Hayes delivers a timely appeal for much greater social justice. “An eye-opening look,” said one online reviewer. “Scholarly yet engrossing,” said another. “A book for our time,” said a third.

A Colony in a Nation By Chris Hayes Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393254228
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - March 21st, 2017

Tears We Cannot Stop - Michael Eric Dyson

Staff Pick

"Beloved, racism and bigotry are ugly, uncomfortable issues to grapple with." Tears We Cannot Stop is a heartbreaking, deeply personal and very current look at what it means to grow up black in America. Mr. Dyson writes about racism, white privilege, the mistrust of the police by the black community as well as black-on-black violence, the hypocrisy of "light privilege" in the black community, and other moral failings. There is a lot to grapple with here. This is undoubtedly the most honest book on race in America you are likely to read, and if everyone can read it with blinders off, they may learn and understand much.

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America By Michael Eric Dyson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250135995
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: St. Martin's Press - January 17th, 2017