In Ladies Of Liberty (Harper Perennial, $15.99) Cokie Roberts picks up where she left off in Founding Mothers: George Washington is dead, and the young nation is struggling to keep itself together during the transition. Luckily, our plucky heroines Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Martha Jefferson Randolph, and others are there to encourage, push, nag, and prod their husbands in the right direction. With the women’s sacrifices, our country becomes unified and strong, and while the ladies haven’t always gotten the credit they deserve, Ms. Roberts’s delightful book does a great job of giving them their due.
In The Big Sort (Mariner, $15.95) Bill Bishop paints a surprising portrait of the demographics of the United States today. While we think of ourselves as increasingly ethnically diverse, Bishop convincingly argues that we are populated more by disparate homogenous communities than at any time in our history. Large numbers of us have highly sensitive cultural antennae that inform us whether we are with “our kind.” High in the ratings that define that “kind” are lifestyle choices: where we live, where we shop, where we vacation. Yes, it’s true that customers who shop at Books-A-Million in Alexandria are different from customers who shop at Politics and Prose, and because we are so tightly contained in our clustered communities, we are more foreign to each other than ever before. Bishop’s snapshot of America is fascinating but troubling.