Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment


Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - 2018
    From Daniel Boone and Jesse James to the NRA and Seal Team 6, gun culture has colored the lore, shaped the law, and protected the market that arms the nation. In Loaded, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz peels away the myths of gun culture to expose the true historical origins of the Second Amendment, exposing the racial undercurrents connecting the earliest Anglo setters with contemporary gun proliferation, modern-day policing, and the consolidation of influence of armed white nationalists. From the enslavement of Blacks and the conquest of Native America, to the arsenal of institutions that constitute the "gun lobby," Loaded presents "a people's history of the Second Amendment" as seen through the lens of those who have been most targeted by guns: people of color. Meticulously researched and thought-provoking throughout, this is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the historical connections between racism and gun violence in the United States.

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces


Radley Balko - 2013
    As a result, our country has generally worked to keep the military out of law enforcement. But according to investigative reporter Radley Balko, over the last several decades, America’s cops have increasingly come to resemble ground troops. The consequences have been dire: the home is no longer a place of sanctuary, the Fourth Amendment has been gutted, and police today have been conditioned to see the citizens they serve as an other—an enemy.Today’s armored-up policemen are a far cry from the constables of early America. The unrest of the 1960s brought about the invention of the SWAT unit—which in turn led to the debut of military tactics in the ranks of police officers. Nixon’s War on Drugs, Reagan’s War on Poverty, Clinton’s COPS program, the post–9/11 security state under Bush and Obama: by degrees, each of these innovations expanded and empowered police forces, always at the expense of civil liberties. And these are just four among a slew of reckless programs.In Rise of the Warrior Cop, Balko shows how politicians’ ill-considered policies and relentless declarations of war against vague enemies like crime, drugs, and terror have blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. His fascinating, frightening narrative shows how over a generation, a creeping battlefield mentality has isolated and alienated American police officers and put them on a collision course with the values of a free society.

United States of Jihad: Investigating America's Homegrown Terrorists


Peter L. Bergen - 2015
    Some have taken the fight abroad: Americans were among those who planned the attacks in Mumbai, and more recently a dozen US citizens have sought to join ISIS. Others have acted entirely on American soil. What motivates them, how are they trained, and what do we sacrifice in our aggressive efforts to track them?Paced like a detective story, United States of Jihad will tell the entwined stories of the key actors on the American front. Among the perpetrators are Anwar al-Awlaki, the New Mexico-born radical cleric who became the first American citizen killed by a CIA drone and who mentored the Charlie Hebdo shooters; Samir Khan, whose Inspire webzine has rallied terrorists around the world, including the Tsarnaev brothers; and Omar Hammami, an Alabama native and hip hop fan who became a fixture in al Shabaab's propaganda videos until fatally displeasing his superiors. Drawing on his extensive network of intelligence contacts, from the National Counterterrorism Center and the FBI to the NYPD, Peter Bergen also offers an inside look at the sometimes controversial tactics of the agencies tracking potential terrorists--from infiltrating mosques to massive surveillance; at the bias experienced by innocent observant Muslims at the hands of law enforcement; at the critics and defenders of US policies on terrorism; and more. Lucid, rigorously researched, and packed with fascinating new details, United States of Jihad is the definitive account of the Americans who have embraced militant Islam both here and abroad.

America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States


Erika Lee - 2019
    Kendi, New York Times-bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist).The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But it is also a nation of xenophobia. In America for Americans, Erika Lee shows that an irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a defining feature of our nation from the colonial era to the Trump era. Benjamin Franklin ridiculed Germans for their "strange and foreign ways." Americans' anxiety over Irish Catholics turned xenophobia into a national political movement. Chinese immigrants were excluded, Japanese incarcerated, and Mexicans deported.Today, Americans fear Muslims, Latinos, and the so-called browning of America. Forcing us to confront this history, Lee explains how xenophobia works, why it has endured, and how it threatens America. Now updated with an afterword reflecting on how the coronavirus pandemic turbocharged xenophobia, America for Americans is an urgent spur to action for any concerned citizen.

A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the "Mexican Drug War"


Carmen Boullosa - 2015
    Through them we learn of economic disaster, mass migration of families fleeing violence, and the chaos that has ensued as direct results of this disastrous policy promulgated by the U.S. Government. Before the attack on a supposedly rampant drug “problem,” Mexico had one of the lowest crime rates and lowest addiction rates in Latin America. Now, it may be the most crime-ridden, drug-infested country on the planet.

The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition


Linda Gordon - 2017
    Unknown to most Americans today, this "second Klan" largely flourished above the Mason-Dixon Line—its army of four-to-six-million members spanning the continent from New Jersey to Oregon, its ideology of intolerance shaping the course of mainstream national politics throughout the twentieth century.As prize-winning historian Linda Gordon demonstrates, the second Klan’s enemies included Catholics and Jews as well as African Americans. Its bigotry differed in intensity but not in kind from that of millions of other WASP Americans. Its membership, limited to white Protestant native-born citizens, was entirely respectable, drawn from small businesspeople, farmers, craftsmen, and professionals, and including about 1.5 million women. For many Klanspeople, membership simultaneously reflected a protest against an increasingly urban society and provided an entrée into the new middle class.Never secret, this Klan recruited openly, through newspaper ads, in churches, and through extravagant mass "Americanism" pageants, often held on Independence Day. These "Klonvocations" drew tens of thousands and featured fireworks, airplane stunts, children’s games, and women’s bake-offs—and, of course, cross-burnings. The Klan even controlled about one hundred and fifty newspapers, as well as the Cavalier Motion Picture Company, dedicated to countering Hollywood’s "immoral"—and Jewish—influence. The Klan became a major political force, electing thousands to state offices and over one hundred to national offices, while successfully lobbying for the anti-immigration Reed-Johnson Act of 1924.As Gordon shows, the themes of 1920s Klan ideology were not aberrant, but an indelible part of American history: its "100% Americanism" and fake news, broadcast by charismatic speakers, preachers, and columnists, became part of the national fabric. Its spokespeople vilified big-city liberals, "money-grubbing Jews," "Pope-worshipping Irish," and intellectuals for promoting jazz, drinking, and cars (because they provided the young with sexual privacy).The Klan’s collapse in 1926 was no less flamboyant, done in by its leaders’ financial and sexual corruption, culminating in the conviction of Grand Dragon David Stephenson for raping and murdering his secretary, and chewing up parts of her body. Yet the Klan’s brilliant melding of Christian values with racial bigotry lasted long after the organization’s decline, intensifying a fear of diversity that has long been a dominant undercurrent of American history.Documenting what became the largest social movement of the first half of the twentieth century, The Second Coming of the Ku Klux Klan exposes the ancestry and helps explain the dangerous appeal of today’s welter of intolerance.

Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations


Amy Chua - 2018
    We need to belong to groups. In many parts of the world, the group identities that matter most - the ones that people will kill and die for - are ethnic, religious, sectarian, or clan-based. But because America tends to see the world in terms of nation-states engaged in great ideological battles - Capitalism vs. Communism, Democracy vs. Authoritarianism, the "Free World" vs. the "Axis of Evil" - we are often spectacularly blind to the power of tribal politics. Time and again this blindness has undermined American foreign policy.In the Vietnam War, viewing the conflict through Cold War blinders, we never saw that most of Vietnam's "capitalists" were members of the hated Chinese minority. Every pro-free-market move we made helped turn the Vietnamese people against us. In Iraq, we were stunningly dismissive of the hatred between that country's Sunnis and Shias. If we want to get our foreign policy right - so as to not be perpetually caught off guard and fighting unwinnable wars - the United States has to come to grips with political tribalism abroad.Just as Washington's foreign policy establishment has been blind to the power of tribal politics outside the country, so too have American political elites been oblivious to the group identities that matter most to ordinary Americans - and that are tearing the United States apart. As the stunning rise of Donald Trump laid bare, identity politics have seized both the American left and right in an especially dangerous, racially inflected way. In America today, every group feels threatened: whites and blacks, Latinos and Asians, men and women, liberals and conservatives, and so on. There is a pervasive sense of collective persecution and discrimination. On the left, this has given rise to increasingly radical and exclusionary rhetoric of privilege and cultural appropriation. On the right, it has fueled a disturbing rise in xenophobia and white nationalism.In characteristically persuasive style, Amy Chua argues that America must rediscover a national identity that transcends our political tribes. Enough false slogans of unity, which are just another form of divisiveness. It is time for a more difficult unity that acknowledges the reality of group differences and fights the deep inequities that divide us.

The Skeptic's Guide to American History


Mark A. Stoler - 2013
    And in this bold 24-lecture series, you can do just that.

Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence


Bryan Burrough - 2015
    The FBI combated these & other groups as nodes of a single revolutionary underground dedicated to the violent overthrow of the USA. Burrough's Days of Rage recreates an atmosphere almost unbelievable decades later, conjuring a time of native-born radicals, often nice middle-class kids, smuggling bombs into skyscrapers & detonating them inside the Pentagon & the Capitol, at a Boston courthouse & a Wall Street restaurant. The FBI’s response included the formation of a secret task force, Squad 47, dedicated to hunting the groups down. But Squad 47 itself broke laws in its attempts to bring the revolutionaries to justice. Its efforts ended in fiasco. Drawing on interviews about their experiences with members of the underground & the FBI, Days of Rage is a look into the hearts & minds of homegrown terrorists & federal agents alike, weaving their stories into a secret history of the '70s.

Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America


Elliot Jaspin - 2007
    The call heralded not a tornado or a hurricane, but a very unnatural disaster--a manmade wave of racial cleansing that purged black populations from counties across the nation. We have long known about horrific episodes of lynching in the South, but the story of widespread racial cleansingabove and below the Mason-Dixon line--has remained almost entirely unknown. Time after time, in the period between Reconstruction and the 1920s, whites banded together to drive out the blacks in their midst. They burned and killed indiscriminately and drove thousands from their homes, sweeping entire counties clear of blacks to make them racially "pure." The expulsions were swift-in many cases, it took no more than twenty-four hours to eliminate an entire African-American population. Shockingly, these areas remain virtually all-white to this day. Based on nearly a decade of painstaking research in archives and census records, Buried in the Bitter Waters provides irrefutable evidence that racial cleansing occurred again and again on American soil, and fundamentally reshaped the geography of race. In this groundbreaking book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Elliot Jaspin has rewritten American history as we know it.

The Year of Dangerous Days: Race, Riots and Refugees in Miami 1980


Nicholas Griffin - 2020
    But few people have any idea how this unofficial capital of Latin American came to be. Miami 1980 is a fascinating chronicle of a pivotal but forgotten year in American history. With a cast that includes iconic characters such as Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, and Janet Reno, this slice of history is brought to vibrant life through intertwining personal stories. At the core, there's Edna Buchanan, a reporter for the Miami Herald who breaks the story on the wrongful murder of a black man, and the shocking police cover-up; Captain Marshall Frank, the hardboiled homicide detective tasked with investigating the murder; and Mayor Maurice Ferre, the charismatic politician who watches the case, and the city, fall apart. A roller coaster of national politics and international diplomacy, these three figures cross paths and socio-economic lines as their city explodes in one of the worst race riots in American history--as over 120,000 Cuban refugees land on the Miami coast, and as drug cartels flood the city with cocaine and infiltrate all levels of law enforcement and government. In a battle of wills, Buchanan has to keep up with the 150% murder rate increase; Captain Frank has to scrub and rebuild his police department; and Mayor Ferre must find a way to reconstruct his smoldering city. Against all odds, they persevere, and a stronger, more vibrant Miami is born. But the new Miami--literally built on corruption and drug money--will have severe ramifications for the rest of the country. Deeply researched and covering many timely issues including police brutality, immigration, and the drug crisis, Miami 1980 is both a clarion call and a creation story of one of America's most iconic cities.

The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties


Christopher Caldwell - 2020
    Even the reforms that Americans love best have come with costs that are staggeringly high—in wealth, freedom, and social stability—and that have been spread unevenly among classes and generations. Caldwell reveals the real political turning points of the past half century, taking readers on a roller-coaster ride through Playboy magazine, affirmative action, CB radio, leveraged buyouts, iPhones, Oxycontin, Black Lives Matter, and internet cookies. In doing so, he shows that attempts to redress the injustices of the past have left Americans living under two different ideas of what it means to play by the rules. Essential, timely, hard to put down, The Age of Entitlement is a brilliant and ambitious argument about how the reforms of the past fifty years gave the country two incompatible political systems—and drove it toward conflict.

Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America


Patrick Phillips - 2016
    Many black residents were poor sharecroppers, but others owned their own farms and the land on which they’d founded the county’s thriving black churches.But then in September of 1912, three young black laborers were accused of raping and murdering a white girl. One man was dragged from a jail cell and lynched on the town square, two teenagers were hung after a one-day trial, and soon bands of white “night riders” launched a coordinated campaign of arson and terror, driving all 1,098 black citizens out of the county. In the wake of the expulsions, whites harvested the crops and took over the livestock of their former neighbors, and quietly laid claim to “abandoned” land. The charred ruins of homes and churches disappeared into the weeds, until the people and places of black Forsyth were forgotten.National Book Award finalist Patrick Phillips tells Forsyth’s tragic story in vivid detail and traces its long history of racial violence all the way back to antebellum Georgia. Recalling his own childhood in the 1970s and ’80s, Phillips sheds light on the communal crimes of his hometown and the violent means by which locals kept Forsyth “all white” well into the 1990s.Blood at the Root is a sweeping American tale that spans the Cherokee removals of the 1830s, the hope and promise of Reconstruction, and the crushing injustice of Forsyth’s racial cleansing. With bold storytelling and lyrical prose, Phillips breaks a century-long silence and uncovers a history of racial terrorism that continues to shape America in the twenty-first century.

Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream


Leonard Zeskind - 2009
    Leonard Zeskind draws heavily upon court documents, racist publications, and first-person reports, along with his own personal observations. An internationally recognized expert on the subject who received a MacArthur Fellowship for his work, Zeskind ties together seemingly disparate strands—from neo-Nazi skinheads, to Holocaust deniers, to Christian Identity churches, to David Duke, to the militia and beyond. Among these elements, two political strategies—mainstreaming and vanguardism—vie for dominance. Mainstreamers believe that a majority of white Christians will eventually support their cause. Vanguardists build small organizations made up of a highly dedicated cadre and plan a naked seizure of power. Zeskind shows how these factions have evolved into a normative social movement that looks like a demographic slice of white America, mostly blue-collar and working middle class, with lawyers and Ph.D.s among its leaders. When the Cold War ended, traditional conservatives helped birth a new white nationalism, most evident now among anti-immigrant organizations. With the dawn of a new millennium, they are fixated on predictions that white people will lose their majority status and become one minority among many. The book concludes with a look to the future, elucidating the growing threat these groups will pose to coming generations.

Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform


John F. Pfaff - 2017
    Yet today, though the US is home to only about 5 percent of the world's population, we hold nearly one quarter of its prisoners. Mass incarceration is now widely considered one of the biggest social and political crises of our age. How did we get to this point?Locked In is a revelatory investigation into the root causes of mass incarceration by one of the most exciting scholars in the country. Having spent fifteen years studying the data on imprisonment, John Pfaff takes apart the reigning consensus created by Michelle Alexander and other reformers, revealing that the most widely accepted explanations - the failed War on Drugs, draconian sentencing laws, an increasing reliance on private prisons - tell us much less than we think. Pfaff urges us to look at other factors instead, including a major shift in prosecutor behavior that occurred in the mid-1990s, when prosecutors began bringing felony charges against arrestees about twice as often as they had before. He describes a fractured criminal justice system, in which counties don't pay for the people they send to state prisons, and in which white suburbs set law and order agendas for more-heavily minority cities. And he shows that if we hope to significantly reduce prison populations, we have no choice but to think differently about how to deal with people convicted of violent crimes - and why some people are violent in the first place.An authoritative, clear-eyed account of a national catastrophe, Locked In transforms our understanding of what ails the American system of punishment and ultimately forces us to reconsider how we can build a more equitable and humane society.