Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America - Nancy MacLean

Staff Pick

In this detailed history of the libertarian movement, Nancy MacLean fully justifies the lurid image of her title. Democracy in Chains (Viking, $28) chronicles a century or more of efforts by the radical right not simply to influence “who rules” but to overturn “the rules” of American government and save the wealthy minority from the “exploitative majority.” MacLean, a Duke professor of history and public policy, starts this “utterly chilling story of the intellectual origins of the single most powerful and least understood threat to democracy today” in 1956 in Charlottesville, Virginia. At that point James McGill Buchanan, the Nobel economist at the center of her account, was establishing the Thomas Jefferson Center for Studies in Political Economy at the University of Virginia. One of a number of ostensibly academic institutes and think-tanks, most funded by libertarian billionaires, the Center discouraged any open discussion of ideas and concentrated exclusively on turning “libertarian creed into a national counterrevolution.” MacLean tracks several campaigns that, while falling short of the ultimate goal, have nonetheless eroded trust in government institutions and have changed the way politics is done. Resisting the Brown decision, for instance, the state of Virginia pressed hard for the privatization of schools; one county closed its public schools for several years rather than comply with the order to integrate. But by reframing an issue of race as an issue of freedom of choice, the right opened a wider discussion of the government’s role in schools, and MacLean shows how libertarians have employed this “stealth” strategy with increasing success through the later twentieth century and into the twenty-first. Her closely-argued and passionate study loops back to John C. Calhoun and the Gilded Age for the seeds of Buchanan’s public choice theory, then shows, with the Flint water crisis, climate change denial, Scott Walker’s anti-union measures, increasing privatization of prisons, the anti-Obamacare movement, and much more, how effectively they’ve been sown.

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America By Nancy MacLean Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101980965
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Viking - June 13th, 2017

What Happened - Hillary Rodham Clinton

Staff Pick

As Hillary Clinton’s longtime former speechwriter, I was worried about whether she could write a book with authenticity and self-reflection less than a year after her shocking defeat in the presidential election. But writing What Happened (Simon & Schuster, $30), she explains, became her therapy. The book forced her to reckon with her own mistakes as well as the external forces that contributed to one of the most bizarre and disastrous presidential campaigns in American history. It is her sixth book and in it she speaks with candor and a wry humor that the public rarely sees. Especially poignant is her masterful connecting of dots on the allegations of Russian intrusion into our electoral process. This is not self-serving; she clearly and persuasively alerts Americans to the very real dangers presented when hostile countries and political foes weaponize social media and technology to manipulate opinions and attitudes, and attempt to erode our democracy. The book is interesting, very funny, and covers really important stuff. Read it.

What Happened By Hillary Rodham Clinton Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501175565
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 12th, 2017

The Destruction of Hillary Clinton - Susan Bordo

Staff Pick

Susan Bordo makes no pretense of journalistic objectivity in this excellent political book. Instead, The Destruction of Hillary Clinton (Melville House, $24.99) makes the case that external forces were part of what undid Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Bordo, a respected feminist academic and author of a previous biography of Anne Boleyn, blogged almost daily during the presidential race and turned her real time observations into this book. Most in her crosshairs are Bernie Sanders, James Comey, and the press. For those looking for a smart defense of Hillary in 2016, this is it.