The Death of Truth - Michiko Kakutani

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 By Michiko Kakutani Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525574828
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Crown - July 17th, 2018

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech - Franklin Foer

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 By Franklin Foer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101981115
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Penguin Press - September 12th, 2017

The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000-Mile Journey Through a New America - Sarah Van Gelder

Staff Pick

Have you been in a funk since November? Can't look at the news without having a full-on panic attack? Well, this The Revolution Where You Live might not soothe all your nerves but it will provide for some much-needed optimism. Journalist Sarah van Gelder transversed the country in her pickup truck, allowing us to reap the fruit of her labor—conversations with activists, leaders, creatives and all-around outside-the-box thinkers on how they're working hard to change their communities for the better. From ranchers in Montana to urban farmers in Chicago, from artists in Appalachia to the new activist mayor of Newark, van Gelder's many inspiring profiles show how a revolution where one lives can, in fact, change the world.

The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000-Mile Journey Through a New America By Sarah Van Gelder, Danny Glover (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Sarah Van Gelder, Danny Glover (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781626567658
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Berrett-Koehler Publishers - January 9th, 2017