BOOK CLUB

Where politics is fun, history comes alive and
everyone learns and grows together.

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RECENT SELECTIONS
The Secrets of Mary Bowser
Lois Leveen

The best in historical fiction, this book is based on the life of Mary Bowser, a slave freed by her owner, who would go on to be educated in Philadelphia and ultimately return to the South where she lived once again as a slave and became a Union spy.  The novel brings to life Philadelphia and Richmond before and during the Civil War as author Lois Leveen introduces us to an African American heroine who worked at grave risk to do her part to insure that the Civil War would mean the end of slavery.

 

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A Declaration of Independents: How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream
Greg Orman

In 2014, Greg Orman–a successful business leader and entrepreneur–ran for U.S. Senate in Kansas as an independent.  His landmark campaign attracted national attention as he nearly beat incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts.  The Democrat in the race dropped out, recognizing that Greg had animated record numbers of voters and was in the best position. The race was very close until the very final days. The book chronicles Greg’s journey to becoming an independent and his experiences in this historic campaign. In Declaration of Independents, Greg describes the huge price we are paying as a result of the toxic partisan political culture in Washington. Greg spells out how that two-party machine works, the supporting institutions that reinforce the paradigm limiting both competition and accountability to voters. In the final section of the book, Greg lays out his vision for reinventing our political system.

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TESTIMONIALS
  • "Sustaining the Great American Experiment demands relentless learning. The Politics4thePeople book club is a powerfully inspirational vehicle for that purpose"

    Al Bell, Activist with Independent Voters for Arizona
  • "The Politics for the People Book Club is more than your average book club; it’s a dynamic forum where we get to know other independent leaders from across the country in a personal way, relating what we read to our movement. We also get to have an interactive, engaging discussion with each book’s author. I love how it motivates me to read, contemplate and write about thought-provoking books that I likely wouldn’t find time for otherwise, helping me grow as a person, and as a leader in the independent movement."

    Tiani Xochitl Coleman is a mother of five, a graduate of Cornell Law School, and president of NH Independent Voters
  • "This book club is unique because not only do we read the author's words but we actually get the opportunity to listen and speak the words of the author. What other book club gives us this opportunity? This is why I treasure this book club format."

    Ramon Pena, Independent Activist from New Jersey
  • "The Politics for the People Book Club makes reading a collective activity full of excitement and wonder to share with others in person and on the Politics for the People blog. We are activists and the book club is one of many ways we immerse ourselves in current conditions and learn about so many ongoing histories, lives, social and political movements. The authors we read are outstanding, their works fascinating, we read their work and they read our writings and reviews on the blog, then we have a conference call with them, this interaction is truly unique and everyone grows!"

    Dr. Jessie Fields is a physician practicing in Harlem, a leader in the New York City Independence Clubs, and a board member of the All Stars Project and Open Primaries
  • "I’ve never been a book club member before, but I really enjoy P4P because 1) books are selected for their unique perspectives (e.g., historical and artistic) on politics and 2) discussions almost always include the author – a rare opportunity to discover the back story on their motivations and research. It’s not about interpretation or analysis but rather sharing experiences."

    Steve Richardson is a founding member of the Virginia Independent Voters Association and serves on IndependentVoting.org’s national Election Reform Committee
  • "Writing is ultimately solitary work, and that’s why I treasure opportunities to connect with thoughtful readers. It was a real pleasure to engage with the range of questions and perspectives from Politics for the People Book Club participants. And Cathy’s moderation of the conversation was excellent, both in terms of managing the technology and keeping the conversation flowing. What a wonderful reminder of the power of literature to connect and inspire us."

    Lois Leveen, Author, The Secret Life of Mary Bowser
$2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America
Kathyrn Edin

After two decades of groundbreaking research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before — households surviving on virtually no cash income. Edin, whose deep examination of her subjects’ lives has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones), teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on surveys of the incomes of the poor.  The two made a surprising discovery: the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to one and a half million American households, including about three million children. Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? What do they do to survive? In search of answers, Edin and Shaefer traveled across the country to speak with families living in this extreme poverty. Through the book’s many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor.

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THE WAR ON ALCOHOL Prohibition and the Rise of the American State
Lisa McGirr

Prohibition has long been portrayed as a “noble experiment” that failed, a newsreel story of glamorous gangsters, flappers, and speakeasies. Lisa McGirr dismantles this cherished myth to reveal a much more significant history. Prohibition was the seedbed for a pivotal expansion of the federal government, the genesis of our contemporary penal state. Her deeply researched, eye-opening account uncovers patterns of enforcement still familiar today: the war on alcohol was waged disproportionately in African American, immigrant, and poor white communities.

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OUR DECLARATION: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality
Danielle Allen

Our Declaration is a seminal work that reinterprets the promise of American democracy through a close examination of the Declaration of Independence. Combining a personal account of teaching the Declaration with a vivid evocation of the colonial world between 1774 and 1777, Allen, a political philosopher renowned for her work on justice and citizenship reveals our nation’s founding text to be an animating force that not only changed the world more than two-hundred years ago, but also still can. Challenging conventional wisdom, she boldly makes the case that the Declaration is a document as much about political equality as about individual liberty.

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I AM ABRAHAM: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War
Jerome Charyn

Jerome Charyn has established himself as one of the most inventive and prolific literary chroniclers of the American landscape. Here in I Am Abraham, Charyn creates an unforgettable fictional portrait of Lincoln and the Civil War. Narrated in the first person, it effortlessly mixes humor with Shakespearean-like tragedy, creating an achingly human portrait of our sixteenth President. Seized by melancholy and imbued with an unfaltering sense of human worth, Lincoln comes to vibrant, three-dimensional life in a haunting portrait we have rarely seen in historical fiction.

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MARGARET FULLER: A New American Life
Megan Marshall

Pulitzer Prize winner Megan Marshall recounts the trailblazing life of Margaret Fuller: Thoreau’s first editor, Emerson’s close friend, daring war correspondent, tragic heroine. After her untimely death in a shipwreck off Fire Island, the sense and passion of her life’s work were eclipsed by scandal. Marshall’s inspired narrative brings her back to indelible life. No biography of Fuller has made her ideas so alive or her life so moving.

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EVICTED: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Matthew Desmond

From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America. Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.s varius laoreet.

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TERRIBLE VIRTUE
ELLEN FELDMAN

In the spirit of The Paris Wife and Loving Frank, the provocative and compelling fictionalized story of one of the most fascinating and influential figures of the twentieth century: Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood—an indomitable woman who, more than any other, and at great personal cost, shaped the sexual landscape we inhabit today in her fight to legalize contraception.

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