The State of the Union

Article by Danielle

Let’s face it: things have been a bit turbulent in America lately. No matter how you feel about the many issues of the day, one of the best things about being part of a democracy is that we’re able to engage in constructive debates. We encourage you to take a look at our current events and politics sections for some of the best books available on every facet of our changing cultural climate. Here are some of our favorites to get you started. -Danielle

The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World Cover Image
ISBN: 9781610390330
Availability: Backordered
Published: PublicAffairs - February 5th, 2013

Although Mahbubani’s latest is not specifically about the United States, it contains a powerful optimistic message for a West that has begun to despair of its changing position on the world stage. Mahbubani, a former UN ambassador, believes that we have every reason to be excited for the future, especially if we can begin to repair diplomatic and economic rifts that have developed between Asia and the West. In addition to its optimistic message, this book offers practical solutions to some of our greatest problems on the global stage.

Simpler: The Future of Government Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476726595
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 9th, 2013

Cass R. Sunstein is the ‘administrator of the most powerful White House office you’ve never heard of’, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. His job, in a nutshell, is to clear away the mess that government bureaucracy can create, streamlining rules and regulations while preventing waste and mismanagement. While Sunstein acknowledges that our government is far from perfect, his approach, which blends behavioral economics and good old common sense, could be just the thing to help us solve our country’s most pressing problems with a minimum of cost and fuss.

The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812993561
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Spiegel & Grau - April 9th, 2013

Graeber, an anthropology professor lauded by the Occupy Wall Street movement, presents a rousing call for a renewed, reconfigured form of popular democracy that truly empowers all people. Graeber reexamines key moments from the history of democracy in both the United States and abroad as he builds a case for why our democracy has become dysfunctional and what we, as ordinary Americans, can do to change it.

The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385536479
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Doubleday Books - April 16th, 2013

Nasr worked in the State Department during the first Obama administration and came away from the experience frustrated with powers that be for what he saw as a series of devastating fumbles in their treatment of foreign policy. We’re taken behind the scenes to see exactly how the administration was thwarted in their efforts to encourage democracy and development in the Middle East and Asia, mostly because of a fear of terrorism and political reprisal at home.

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The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374102418
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - May 21st, 2013

Packer’s nonfiction masterpiece is a deeply troubling, pessimistic look at the direction American society has taken over the last several decades. Unlike the other books on this list, Packer’s book is written in an innovative narrative style that waves several stories of Americans struggling to get by and get ahead with biographies of notable cultural figures, headlines, song lyrics, and ad copy for a kaleidoscopic look at our culture today. Packer offers no easy solutions to the problems we face; his genius is in diagnosing the our societal ills with laser precision.

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