Staff Pick

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is here at last. To introduce itself, the long-awaited nineteenth member of the Smithsonian Institution commissioned essays from two dozen leading scholars and writers. These join nearly 280 photos of objects from the museum’s vast collection for the handsome, revelatory Dream a World Anew (Smithsonian, $40). Taking its title from a Langston Hughes poem and closing with Maya Angelou’s injunction to “lift up your hearts,” the book is truly an inspiration—one grounded in several centuries of struggle. Curated by the museum staff under the guidance of editor and deputy director Kinshasha Holman Conwill, Dream traces the experiences of African Americans from slavery to the Civil War, Reconstruction to the Great Migration, the Civil Rights movement to the cultural achievements of today. The photos include familiar faces—Harriet Tubman, Ralph Abernathy, Nina Simone—and introduce new ones—a former slave who sued for freedom and became a millionaire, a decorated World War I hero—along with objects ranging from Nat Turner’s Bible to minstrel show posters to Michael Jackson’s black fedora. The museum’s mission, as founding director Lonnie G. Bunche III states in his introduction, is to show “new audiences…the impact of black history and culture…to centralize the African American experience as a history that has shaped the identity of all Americans”; this book makes an exciting and important contribution to that end.

Dream a World Anew: The African American Experience and the Shaping of America Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9781588345684
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Smithsonian Books - September 27th, 2016

Staff Pick

The kidnapping of Patty Hearst by an obscure group of self-styled, violent revolutionaries calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army became one of the defining events of the 1970s. Unfolding live on nationwide TV, it riveted viewers for months as Hearst, a granddaughter of famed publisher William Randolph Hearst, appeared to side with her captors, posed as a machine-gun toting Tania—her nom the guerre—joined in robberies, and conspired to set off bombs. Arrested after nineteen months and charged with robbery, Hearst argued that her actions had been coerced. But she was convicted and sentenced to seven years, only to be released by Jimmy Carter after twenty-two months and ultimately pardoned by Bill Clinton. She married, wrote a memoir, and went on to lead a life of comfort and privilege. But in American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst (Doubleday, $28.95), legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin brings new information and insight to what we thought we knew about this extraordinary story and to the central question of whether Hearst was a brainwashed victim or a willing participant in the SLA’s crimes.

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst Cover Image
$28.95
ISBN: 9780385536714
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Doubleday - August 2nd, 2016

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780345803153
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - April 4th, 2017

Staff Pick

Now is the time for this book. Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (Pantheon, $35) is an in-depth look at a five-day revolt, and its aftermath, in one of the country’s most notorious prisons. To demand more humane treatment, 1,300 prisoners took charge of the entire facility, holding hostages to bolster their bargaining power. On the fifth day, the state stormed the prison with a show of brutal force, killing thirty-nine men—prisoners and hostages alike—and injuring hundreds more. Ultimately, only prisoners were tried, no state officials were held accountable, no support was given to the devastated victims and their families. This National Book Award Finalist is a report on mass incarceration, basic civil rights, and governmental abuse of power. Like I said, now is the time for this book.

Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780375423222
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Pantheon - August 23rd, 2016

Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781400078240
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Vintage - August 22nd, 2017

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