Staff Pick

The Battle for Paradise is essential reading for every American. Into this nearly pocket-sized book, Naomi Klein packs a thorough account of Puerto Rico's struggle to recover after Hurricane María; her report is simultaneously deep enough for those who are familiar with the island's history and politics and accessible enough for those who aren't. Illustrating the visions and strategies of disaster capitalists as well as of grassroots Puerto Rican activists, Klein connects the reader to individuals and organizations doing work on the ground that will almost certainly shape the island's future. Expect to finish more informed, better equipped, and with a keener outlook on justice.

The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes on the Disaster Capitalists Cover Image
ISBN: 9781608463572
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Haymarket Books - June 5th, 2018

Staff Pick

Amid all the ranting and belligerence, Kakutani’s articulate, rational, and wise voice is a great relief—and a beacon of hope. Her book doesn’t just argue that facts are different from opinions, that words have meanings, that reality and truth do exist—she proves it by drawing on a wide range of historic and cultural touchstones. From the Founders and Lincoln to writers including Arendt, Orwell, Huxley, David Foster Wallace, Neil Postman, and many others, she taps expertise to trace the cultural and political roots of what gave rise to today’s resurgence of populism and demagoguery. “Trump is as much a symptom of the times as he is a dangerous catalyst,” she reminds us, and demonstrates how his disdain for facts, civility, and any perspective other than his own grew from both fascism and postmodernism. She cites chilling parallels between his use of language and Hitler’s, and shows how ideas such as cultural relativity and deconstruction—originally propounded by left-wing academics to subvert master narratives and open history to silenced voices—softened the lines between objective and subjective, and even between science and theory. This dangerous tendency to give equal weight to substance and nonsense has been abetted by technology; social media ensures that the most inflammatory stories get the widest circulation, and filter bubbles isolate people within worlds that confirm their own beliefs. Where the founders emphasized “the common good,” the very idea of consensus is now in tatters, and as community breaks down into factions, Russia has exploited and widened the divisions for its own ends, a process Kakutani dissects in detail. What can save us? Institutions such as the three branches of government, the press, and education; the courage to insist on the truth, as the Parkland students have; and books like this one.

The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525574828
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Tim Duggan Books - July 17th, 2018

Staff Pick

Adding his voice to other compelling critiques of present-day technology, Franklin Foer passionately and deftly goes after Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple for threatening our culture and individuality. He warns that these technology giants are doing nothing less than “reordering the production and consumption of knowledge” and becoming “the most powerful gatekeepers the world has ever known.” In World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech (Penguin Press, $27), Foer recounts the rise of the biggest tech players and examines how their vast efforts at data profiling and media control have come to influence much of what we do and think. To illustrate the difficulties of maintaining a cultural institution in the digital age, Foer writes as well about his own ill-fated experience at the New Republic, where he clashed with a new owner whose wealth derived from Facebook stock and who sought to turn what had been a little magazine into an engine of considerable social media traffic. Foer also offers some prescriptions, both large and small, for lessening the dangers he perceives.

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101981115
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Penguin Press - September 12th, 2017