South Washoe DEMS Book Club
Next "Meeting" - August 20, 2021

The South Washoe DEMS Book Club has been meeting since September, 2013. We generally get together about once a month or so. The exact date for the next meeting is chosen at the end of each meeting. It is a great opportunity to be with a group of nice folks and have some lively discussions on topics of current interest and enjoy some light food & beverages.

The next book we will be discussing is, Behind the Bears Ears: Exploring the Cultural and Natural Histories of a Sacred Landscape by R.E. Burrillo. Our meeting will be on August 20, 2021 at 12:00 pm at the home of Elaine & Dan Carrick, located in Arrowcreek. Please note the time change - this will be an afternoon meeting! Please contact Dan Carrick (carrick1119@gmail.com) to let him know you will be attending so he can include your name on the list at the Arrowcreek gate. Also, he can provide you with their address & directions, if you need them.

We are returning to in-person meetings however, if you are not fully vaccinated, we can "see" you via a Zoom connection. Please contact Fred or Millie May (fred.may@outlook.com) if you need Zoom access for a video call.


Behind the Bears Ears Book CoverBehind the Bears Ears: Exploring the Cultural and Natural Histories of a Sacred Landscape by R.E. Burrillo

For more than twelve thousand years, the redrock landscape of southeastern Utah has shaped the lives of everyone who calls it home.

R. E. Burrillo takes readers on a journey of discovery through the stories and controversies that make this place so unique, from traces of its earliest inhabitants through its role in shaping the study of archaeology itself—and into the modern battle over its protection. R. E. BURRILLO is an archaeologist and conservation advocate. His writing has appeared in Archaeology Southwest, Colorado Plateau Advocate, the Salt Lake Tribune, and elsewhere. He splits his time between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Flagstaff, Arizona.

Reviews:

The book is available in paperback and eBook from your local or online bookstores.


We do hope you will join us for this meeting. We will have some refreshments, a good discussion of the book and the issues it raises and, most of all, we always have a good time!

As always, please bring a list of books you would like to discuss in the future! Also, come prepared to enjoy a nice evening with your friends. We hope to see you there!

If you would like to receive our monthly SWD Book Club Reminder Email, or to let us know if you are coming, please email Fred & Millie May (fred.may@outlook.com or may5432@gmail.com).


Previous Books Read and Discussed by the South Washoe DEMS Book Club

  • July, 2021
  • May, 2021
  • April, 2021
  • February, 2021
  • January, 2021
  • November, 2020
  • October, 2020
  • August, 2020
  • July, 2020
  • May, 2020
  • April, 2020
  • February, 2020
  • Earlier Books

The Code Breaker
by Walter Isaacson


The Code Breaker Book CoverThe bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a gripping account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies.

When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.

Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, she would help to make what the book’s author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his co-discovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned ​a curiosity ​of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions.

The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.

Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What a wonderful boon that would be! And what about preventing depression? Hmmm…Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or muscles or IQ of their kids?

After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. Her story is a thrilling detective tale that involves the most profound wonders of nature, from the origins of life to the future of our species.

Reviews:

  • This year's prize is about rewriting the code of life. These genetic scissors have taken the life sciences into a new epoch. – Announcement of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

  • Isaacson's vivid account is a page-turning detective story and an indelible portrait of a revolutionary thinker who, as an adolescent in Hawai'i, was told that girls don't do science. Nevertheless, she persisted. — Oprah Magazine.com

  • Isaacson captures the scientific process well, including the role of chance. The hard graft at the bench, the flashes of inspiration, the importance of conferences as cauldrons of creativity, the rivalry, sometimes friendly, sometimes less so, and the sense of common purpose are all conveyed in his narrative. The Code Breaker describes a dance to the music of time with these things as its steps, which began with Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel and shows no sign of ending. – The Economist

  • Isaacson lays everything out with his usual lucid prose; it's brisk and compelling and even funny throughout. You'll walk away with a deeper understanding of both the science itself and how science gets done — including plenty of mischief. – The Washington Post

  • This story was always guaranteed to be a page-turner in [Isaacson's] hands. – The Guardian

  • The Code Breaker is in some respects a journal of our 2020 plague year.— The New York Times

  • Walter Isaacson is our Renaissance biographer, a writer of unusual range and depth who has plumbed lives of genius to illuminate fundamental truths about human nature. From Leonardo to Steve Jobs, from Benjamin Franklin to Albert Einstein, Isaacson has given us an unparalleled canon of work that chronicles how we have come to live the way we do. Now, in a magnificent, compelling, and wholly original book, he turns his attention to the next frontier: that of gene editing and the role science may play in reshaping the nature of life itself. This is an urgent, sober, accessible, and altogether brilliant achievement. —Jon Meacham

  • When a great biographer combines his own fascination with science and a superb narrative style, the result is magic. This important and powerful work, written in the tradition of The Double Helix, allows us not only to follow the story of a brilliant and inspired scientist as she engages in a fierce competitive race, but to experience for ourselves the wonders of nature and the joys of discovery. —Doris Kearns Goodwin


Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future
by Elizabeth Kolbert


Under a White Sky Book CoverThe Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sixth Extinction returns to humanity's transformative impact on the environment, now asking: After doing so much damage, can we change nature, this time to save it?

That man should have dominion “over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” is a prophecy that has hardened into fact. So pervasive are human impacts on the planet that it’s said we live in a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene.

In Under a White Sky, Elizabeth Kolbert takes a hard look at the new world we are creating. Along the way, she meets biologists who are trying to preserve the world’s rarest fish, which lives in a single tiny pool in the middle of the Mojave; engineers who are turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland; Australian researchers who are trying to develop a “super coral” that can survive on a hotter globe; and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth.

One way to look at human civilization, says Kolbert, is as a ten-thousand-year exercise in defying nature. In The Sixth Extinction, she explored the ways in which our capacity for destruction has reshaped the natural world. Now she examines how the very sorts of interventions that have imperiled our planet are increasingly seen as the only hope for its salvation. By turns inspiring, terrifying, and darkly comic, Under a White Sky is an utterly original examination of the challenges we face.

Reviews:

  • Important, necessary, urgent and phenomenally interesting.—Helen Macdonald, The New York Times

  • To be a well-informed citizen of Planet Earth, you need to read Elizabeth Kolbert. . . . It's a tribute to Kolbert's skills as a storyteller that she transforms the quest to deal with the climate crisis into a darkly comic tale of human hubris and imagination that could either end in flames or in a new vision of Paradise. — Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone

  • What makes Under A White Sky so valuable and such a compelling read is Kolbert tells by showing. Without beating the reader over the head, she makes it clear how far we already are from a world of undisturbed, perfectly balanced nature—and how far we must still go to find a new balance for the planet's future that still has us humans in it. — NPR

  • Brilliantly executed and urgently necessary. — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • Every paragraph of Kolbert's books has a mountain of reading and reporting behind it . . . Urgent, absolutely necessary reading as a portrait of our devastated planet. — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A tale not of magic-bullet remedies where maybe this time things will be different when we intervene in nature, but rather of deploying a panoply of strategies big and small in hopes that there is still time to make a difference and atone for our past. A sobering and realistic look at humankind's perhaps misplaced faith that technology can work with nature to produce a more livable planet. — Library Journal (starred review)

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need
by Bill Gates


How to Avoid a Climate Disaster Book CoverIn this urgent, authoritative book, Bill Gates sets out a wide-ranging, practical and accessible plan for how the world can get to zero greenhouse gas emissions in time to avoid a climate catastrophe.

Bill Gates has spent a decade investigating the causes and effects of climate change. With the help of experts in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, political science, and finance, he has focused on what must be done in order to stop the planet's slide to certain environmental disaster. In this book, he not only explains why we need to work toward net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, but also details what we need to do to achieve this profoundly important goal.

He gives us a clear-eyed description of the challenges we face. Drawing on his understanding of innovation and what it takes to get new ideas into the market, he describes the areas in which technology is already helping to reduce emissions, where and how the current technology can be made to function more effectively, where breakthrough technologies are needed, and who is working on these essential innovations. Finally, he lays out a concrete, practical plan for achieving the goal of zero emissions—suggesting not only policies that governments should adopt, but what we as individuals can do to keep our government, our employers, and ourselves accountable in this crucial enterprise.

As Bill Gates makes clear, achieving zero emissions will not be simple or easy to do, but if we follow the plan he sets out here, it is a goal firmly within our reach.

Reviews:

  • The most comprehensible explanation for what's driving our warming planet; how to measure the impact of the myriad contributions to this staggering and seemingly incalculable problem; and ultimately how to go about finding more effective approaches to each of them. It's the closest thing I've seen to a how-to guide for addressing the climate crisis. — Clinton Leaf, Fortune

  • How to Avoid a Climate Disaster presents ideas with the methodical approach of a college textbook . . . Remarkably, given the state of the world, it is an optimistic, can-do sort of book, chock-full of solutions. — Christina Binkley, The Wall Street Journal Magazine

  • The most refreshing aspect of this book is its bracing mix of cold-eyed realism and number-crunched optimism . . . Ultimately his book is a primer on how to reorganise the global economy so that innovation focuses on the world's gravest problems. It is a powerful reminder that if mankind is to get serious about tackling them, it must do more to harness the one natural resource available in infinite quantity—human ingenuity. — The Economist

  • The author's enthusiasm and curiosity about the way things work is infectious. He walks us through not just the basic science of global warming, but all the ways that our modern lives contribute to it . . . Gates seems energized by the sheer size and complexity of the challenge. That's one of the best things about the book—the can-do optimism and conviction that science in partnership with industry are up to the task. — Richard Schiffman, The Christian Science Monitor

  • With the help of experts in fields such as physics, engineering, chemistry, finance and politics, the technologist and philanthropist offers a practical and accessible plan for getting the world to zero greenhouse gas emissions and averting climate catastrophe. — Barbara VanDenburgh, USA Today

  • How to Avoid a Climate Disaster is clear, concise on a colossal subject, and intelligently holistic in its approach to the problem. Gates may not be the perfect messenger, but he has written a fine primer on how to get ourselves out of this mess. — Adama Vaughan, New Scientist

  • Bill Gates has a plan to save the world . . . While acknowledging that the challenge is daunting, and how we make things, grow things, move around, keep cool and stay warm will all need to fundamentally change, Gates argues that wholesale transformation is possible while maintaining lifestyles in high income countries and continuing to lift billions out of poverty. — Greg Williams, Wired

  • His expertise . . . is apparent in the book's lucid explanations of the scientific aspects of climate change. The solutions he outlines are pragmatic and grounded in forward-thinking economic reasoning. Although he does not avoid the hard truths we must face as our climate changes, Gates remains optimistic and believes that we have the ability to avoid a total climate disaster. — Miriam R. Aczel, Science

Kill Switch, The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy
by Adam Jentleson


Kill Switch Book CoverEvery major decision governing our diverse, majority-female, and increasingly liberal country bears the stamp of the United States Senate, an institution controlled by people who are almost exclusively white, overwhelmingly male, and disproportionately conservative. Although they do not represent a majority of Americans―and will not for the foreseeable future―today’s Republican senators possess the power to block most legislation. Once known as “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” the Senate has become one of the greatest threats to our democracy. How did this happen?

In Kill Switch, Senate insider Adam Jentleson contends that far from reflecting the Framers’ vision, the Senate has been transformed over the decades by a tenacious minority of white conservatives. From John Calhoun in the mid-1800s to Mitch McConnell in the 2010s, their primary weapon has been the filibuster, or the requirement that most legislation secure the support of a supermajority of senators. Yet, as Jentleson reveals, the filibuster was not a feature of the original Senate and, in allowing a determined minority to gridlock the federal government, runs utterly counter to the Framers’ intent.

For much of its history, the filibuster was used primarily to prevent civil rights legislation from becoming law. But more recently, Republicans have refined it into a tool for imposing their will on all issues, wielding it to thwart an increasingly progressive American majority represented by Barack Obama’s agenda and appointees. Under Donald Trump, McConnell merged the filibuster with rigid leadership structures initially forged by Lyndon Johnson, in the process surrendering the Senate’s independence and centrality, as infamously shown by its acquiescence in Trump’s impeachment trial. The result is a failed institution and a crippled democracy.

Taking us into the Capitol Hill backrooms where the institution’s decline is most evident, Jentleson shows that many of the greatest challenges of our era―partisan polarization, dark money, a media culture built on manufactured outrage―converge within the Senate. Even as he charts the larger forces that have shaped the institution where he served, Jentleson offers incisive portraits of the powerful senators who laid the foundation for the modern Senate, from Calhoun to McConnell to LBJ’s mentor, Richard Russell, to the unapologetic racist Jesse Helms.

An essential, revelatory investigation, Kill Switch ultimately makes clear that unless we immediately and drastically reform the Senate’s rules and practices―starting with reforming the filibuster―we face the prospect of permanent minority rule in America.

Reviews:

  • An impeccably timed book. . . . In Kill Switch, Jentleson explains how 'the world's greatest deliberative body' has come to carry out its work without much greatness or even deliberation, serving instead as a place where ambitious legislation goes to die. . . . [Jentleson's] intimacy with the Senate turns out to be his book's greatest strength. Jentleson understands the inner workings of the institution, down to the most granular details, showing precisely how arcane procedural rules can be leveraged to dramatic effect. ― Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

  • Informative and timely... A startling read that will provoke tough questions about governance, this is highly recommended to all interested in government reform.
    ― Library Journal, starred review


  • Engrossing... Jentleson skillfully clarifies many arcane legislative procedures and brings a wide range of historical episodes to vivid life. Readers will be galvanized to make the issue of Senate reform a priority. ― Publishers Weekly, starred review

  • "Adam Jentleson is a creature of the Senate and no one understands it better than he does. This iconic American institution has been severely damaged by feckless Republican senators who kowtow to every erratic action of Donald Trump. Jentleson understands restoring the Senate to the Framer's vision as an exceptionally strong deliberative body is essential to restoring our democracy.
    ― Harry Reid, former U.S. Senator and Senate Majority Leader

  • The Senate is now profoundly rigged, with rules that make it easy to pass tax cuts for the rich and to pack the courts for the powerful, but allow the minority party to block bills to assist ordinary families. The Senate is now the graveyard for bills to improve health care, housing, education, worker rights, or to tackle issues like criminal justice, immigration, gun safety, or climate chaos. The biggest culprit of this corrupted, paralyzed Senate is the filibuster, which was born out of the determination of white, wealthy, privileged interests to block civil rights for minority Americans. If you want to understand the Senate's descent, and its potential path back to relevance, and how vital that path is to restoring a government 'of, by, and for the people,' then this book is essential reading.
    ― Senator Jeff Merkley

A Promised Land
by Barack Obama


A Promised Land Book CoverA riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making—from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.

This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

The Emperor's New Road: China and the Project of the Century Hardcover
by Jonathan E Hillman


The Emperor's New Road BookcoverWritten by a prominent authority on China’s Belt and Road Initiative reveals the global risks lurking within Beijing’s project of the century.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is the world’s most ambitious and misunderstood geoeconomic vision. To carry out President Xi Jinping’s flagship foreign-policy effort, China promises to spend over one trillion dollars for new ports, railways, fiber-optic cables, power plants, and other connections. The plan touches more than one hundred and thirty countries and has expanded into the Arctic, cyberspace, and even outer space. Beijing says that it is promoting global development, but Washington warns that it is charting a path to global dominance.

Taking readers on a journey to China’s projects in Asia, Europe, and Africa, Jonathan E. Hillman reveals how this grand vision is unfolding. As China pushes beyond its borders and deep into dangerous territory, it is repeating the mistakes of the great powers that came before it, Hillman argues. If China succeeds, it will remake the world and place itself at the center of everything. But Xi may be overreaching: all roads do not yet lead to Beijing.

REVIEWS

  • "Jonathan Hillman's new book offers a reality check on Beijing's global infrastructure project . . . No mere desk-bound theoretician, he provides personal accounts of visits to key projects across Africa and Asia, struggles with bureaucracy and mutual suspicion at China's borders, bringing all their logistics to life." — Peter Neville-Hadley, South China Morning Post

  • "Hillman takes us on a wonderfully engaging journey along China's Belt and Road. He weaves together fresh insights from on-the-ground interviews across the Eurasian continent with fascinating historical references to provide the definitive account of this grand-scale initiative that challenges our understanding of traditional geopolitical and strategic boundaries." — Elizabeth C. Economy, author of The Third Revolution

  • "The Emperor's New Road is a small book that shows the industriousness of a big one: a complex blend of travel, history, politics, and economics about the greatest long-running geopolitical story of our time, China's new Silk Road. It shows the big picture as well as the vital, ground-level details."
    — Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Return of Marco Polo's World and The Revenge of Geography

  • "China's Belt and Road is reshaping the world's economic and strategic landscape, and in this sweeping and thought-provoking tour, Jonathan Hillman reveals the gaps between Beijing's grand rhetoric and ground reality. Required reading for the C-Suite and the Situation Room." — Stephen J. Hadley, former U.S. National Security Advisor

  • "An outstanding book by one of the most interesting and original thinkers about the rise of China, the Belt and Road Initiative, and what both mean for the rest of the world. Filled with insights into the changing world of the twenty-first century—essential reading." — Peter Frankopan, author of the international bestseller The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

  • "Jonathan Hillman offers an insightful contribution that helps cut through the noise on one of the most important projects of China's foreign policy." — Graham Allison, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel
by Amor Towles


A Gentleman in Moscow Book CoverIn 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count's endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

REVIEWS

  • "The novel buzzes with the energy of numerous adventures, love affairs, [and] twists of fate." —The Wall Street Journal

  • "If you're looking for a summer novel, this is it. Beautifully written, a story of a Russian aristocrat trapped in Moscow during the tumult of the 1930s. It brims with intelligence, erudition, and insight, an old-fashioned novel in the best sense of the term." —Fareed Zakaria, "Global Public Square," CNN

  • "Fun, clever, and surprisingly upbeat . . . A Gentleman in Moscow is an amazing story because it manages to be a little bit of everything. There's fantastical romance, politics, espionage, parenthood and poetry. The book is technically historical fiction, but you would be just as accurate calling it a thriller or a love story." —Bill Gates

  • "The book is like a salve. I think the world feels disordered right now. The count's refinement and genteel nature are exactly what we're longing for." —Ann Patchett

  • "How delightful that in an era as crude as ours this finely composed novel stretches out with old-World elegance." —The Washington Post

  • "Marvelous." —Chicago Tribune

  • "The novel buzzes with the energy of numerous adventures, love affairs, twists of fate and silly antics." —The Wall Street Journal

  • "A winning, stylish novel." —NPR.org

  • "Enjoyable, elegant." —Seattle Times

  • "The perfect book to curl up with while the world goes by outside your window." —Refinery29

  • "Who will save Rostov from the intrusions of state if not the seamstresses, chefs, bartenders and doormen? In the end, Towles's greatest narrative effect is not the moments of wonder and synchronicity but the generous transformation of these peripheral workers, over the course of decades, into confidants, equals and, finally, friends. With them around, a life sentence in these gilded halls might make Rostov the luckiest man in Russia." —The New York Times Book Review

  • "This is an old fashioned sort of romance, filled with delicious detail. Save this precious book for times you really, really want to escape reality." —Louise Erdrich

  • "Towles gets good mileage from the considerable charm of his protagonist and the peculiar world he inhabits." —The New Yorker

  • "Irresistible . . . In his second elegant period piece, Towles continues to explore the question of how a person can lead an authentic life in a time when mere survival is a feat in itself . . . Towles's tale, as lavishly filigreed as a Fabergé egg, gleams with nostalgia for the golden age of Tolstoy and Turgenev." —O, The Oprah Magazine

  • 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' and 'Eloise' meets all the Bond villains." —TheSkimm

  • "And the intrigue! . . . [A Gentleman in Moscow] is laced with sparkling threads (they will tie up) and tokens (they will matter): special keys, secret compartments, gold coins, vials of coveted liquid, old-fashioned pistols, duels and scars, hidden assignations (discreet and smoky), stolen passports, a ruby necklace, mysterious letters on elegant hotel stationery . . . a luscious stage set, backdrop for a downright Casablanca-like drama." —The San Francisco Chronicle

  • "The same gorgeous, layered richness that marked Towles' debut, Rules of Civility, shapes [A Gentleman in Moscow]." —Entertainment Weekly

In the Shadow of the Valley: A Memoir
by Bobi Conn


In the Show of the Valley Book CoverA clear-eyed and compassionate memoir of the Appalachian experience by a woman who embraced its astonishing beauty, narrowly escaped its violence, and struggles to call it home.

Bobi Conn was raised in a remote Kentucky holler in 1980s Appalachia. She remembers her tin-roofed house tucked away in a vast forest paradise; the sparkling creeks, with their frogs and crawdads; the sweet blackberries growing along the road to her granny’s; and her abusive father, an underemployed alcoholic whose untethered rage and violence against Bobi and her mother were frighteningly typical of a community marginalized, desperate, and ignored. Bobi’s rule of survival: always be vigilant but endure it silently.

Slipping away from home, Bobi went to college and got a white-collar job. Mistrusted by her family for her progress and condescended to by peers for her accent and her history, she was followed by the markers of her class. Though she carried her childhood self everywhere, Bobi also finally found her voice.

An elegiac account of survival despite being born poor, female, and cloistered, Bobi’s testament is one of hope for all vulnerable populations, particularly women and girls caught in the cycle of poverty and abuse. On a continual path to worth, autonomy, and reinvention, Conn proves here that “the storyteller is the one with power.”

REVIEWS

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month: Biographies & Memoirs

  • "An Appalachian memoir from a woman who escaped a cycle of violence, substance abuse, and self-loathing in order to find her voice…the author is to be commended for her courage and determination to change her life circumstances…an inspiration for those attempting to come to terms with abuse." —Kirkus Reviews

  • "This memoir, although at times achingly sad, provides an uplifting tale of a woman who decided that she would prevail over the hand that life dealt her…An engaging read that will connect with fans of Tara Westover's Educated and those interested in the ability of the human spirit to overcome adversity." —Library Journal

  • "In sobering detail and with open palms, Bobi Conn mines the depths of her desperation to earn love from a sadistically cruel father and an abused mother, from the boys and men who darken her path, from friends who betray her, and from a God who seems to have turned away from her. Conn's honesty is heroic and heartbreaking as she shares her story of enduring the stigma of poverty and abuse, claiming her self-worth, and discovering the limits of forgiveness. A necessary and timely read." —Susan Bernhard, author of Winter Loon

  • "This important and necessary debut memoir explores the rich beauty and disturbing tragedy of Appalachia, how the people, like the land, have been exploited by corporate greed. Bobi Conn is a masterful storyteller weaving a tale of extreme poverty; an abusive, drug-addicted father; and a devoted grandmother's love into the wider tapestry of an entire at-risk population's lives. In the Shadow of the Valley is like the hollers that pockmark the land; the beautiful and haunting words will echo in your heart and mind long after the final page." —William Dameron, author of The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing & Coming Out

  • "From the first sentence, I smiled in recognition of a natural storyteller, one 'born and bound to this land,' who is a keen observer and a loving inhabitant of the land of which she writes. This book is a wonder—a dark, tragic Appalachian ballad come to full, lush life." —Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne, author of Holding On To Nothing

  • "In her memoir, In the Shadow of the Valley, Bobi Conn recounts the nesting doll of her life, from growing up in a Kentucky holler to eventually becoming a mother of two. But before the promised land, the route there is labyrinthine, complete with moving walls and trapdoors. Even so corralled in these pages, it's clear that Conn's aptitude for survival is enviable. Yet, her strength is that writing has become, for her, a kind of performance art. She wields her own experiences without romanticization or adding shock value for effect, which makes her voice accessible whether she's speaking of exposure to trauma at an early age or grappling with the implications of her upbringing as an adult. In that sense, she has crafted a relatable memoir where she reaches the reader wherever they are and reminds us, 'The hero of the story is always the storyteller. The storyteller is the one with power.'" —Bianca Spriggs, Affrilachian poet and author of We're Still Big Banging

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in June, 2020)

Killers of the Flower Moon
by David Grann


Killers of the Flower Moon Book CoverFrom New Yorker staff writer David Grann, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of Z, a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances.

In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes like Al Spencer, the “Phantom Terror,” roamed—many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll climbed to more than twenty-four, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled the case. In desperation, the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau. The agents infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest techniques of detection.  Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.

In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly compelling, but also emotionally devastating.

REVIEWS

Named a best book of the year by Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, GQ, Time, Newsday, Entertainment Weekly, Time Magazine, NPR's Maureen Corrigan, NPR's "On Point," Vogue, Smithsonian, Cosmopolitan, Seattle Times, Bloomberg, Lit Hub's "Ultimate Best Books," Library Journal, Paste, Kirkus, Slate.com and Book Browse

  • The Amazon Editors' Pick for the Best Book of 2017: In the 1920s, the Osage found themselves in a unique position among Native Americans tribes. As other tribal lands were parceled out in an effort by the government to encourage dissolution and assimilation of both lands and culture, the Osage negotiated to maintain the mineral rights for their corner of Oklahoma, creating a kind of "underground reservation." It proved a savvy move; soon countless oil rigs punctured the dusty landscape, making the Osage very rich. And that's when they started dying. You'd think the Osage Indian Reservation murders would have been a bigger story, one as familiar as the Lindbergh kidnapping or Bonnie and Clyde. It has everything, but at scale: Execution-style shootings, poisonings, and exploding houses drove the body count to over two dozen, while private eyes and undercover operatives scoured the territory for clues. Even as legendary and infamous oil barons vied for the most lucrative leases, J. Edgar Hoover's investigation – which he would leverage to enhance both the prestige and power of his fledgling FBI - began to overtake even the town's most respected leaders. Exhuming the massive amount of detail is no mean feat, and it's even harder to make it entertaining. But journalist David Grann knows what he's doing. With the same obsessive attention to fact - in service to storytelling - as The Lost City of Z, Killers of the Flower Moon reads like narrative-nonfiction as written by James M. Cain (there are, after all, insurance policies involved): smart, taut, and pacey. Most sobering, though, is how the tale is at once unsurprising and unbelievable, full of the arrogance, audacity, and inhumanity that continues to reverberate through today's headlines. — Jon Foro, The Amazon Book Review

  • In 1920s Oklahoma, many members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation were dying untimely and suspicious deaths. The widespread crimes against the Osage and the inability to identify those responsible led to the establishment of what is now known as the FBI. Grann, author of the best-selling The Lost City of Z, makes a complex web of violence and deception easy to follow by keeping the focus on one Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, whose family members were murdered one by one. This gripping title uncovers a baffling level of corruption. The author points his investigative lens at the perpetrators of the murders, reveals cover-ups by authorities all the way up to the national level, and illustrates that the deception continued almost a century later. There are plenty of curriculum connections: Native American and Osage tribal history, economics, law enforcement, and journalism. A varied selection of photographs help to set the scene for readers. End pages include comprehensive source notes, citations, and a bibliography. VERDICT This thoroughly researched, suspenseful exposé will appeal to followers of true crime programs such as the podcast Serial and the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, as well as to fans of Louise Erdrich's The Round House. — Tara Kehoe, formerly at New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, Trenton

  • "The best book of the year so far." —Entertainment Weekly

  • "A marvel of detective-like research and narrative verve." —Financial Times

  • "A shocking whodunit…What more could fans of true-crime thrillers ask?" —USA Today

  • "A master of the detective form…Killers is something rather deep and not easily forgotten." —Wall St. Journal

  • "Extraordinary" —Time Magazine

The Lost City of the Monkey God
by Douglas Preston


The Lost Cith of the Monkey God Book CoverThe #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, named one of the best books of the year by The Boston Globe and National Geographic: acclaimed journalist Douglas Preston takes readers on a true adventure deep into the Honduran rainforest in this riveting narrative about the discovery of a lost civilization -- culminating in a stunning medical mystery.

Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location.

Three quarters of a century later, bestselling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization.

Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But it wasn't until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal-and incurable-disease.

Suspenseful and shocking, filled with colorful history, hair-raising adventure, and dramatic twists of fortune, THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD is the absolutely true, eyewitness account of one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century.

REVIEWS

  • "Preston builds a compelling case for the scientific significance of what the expedition unearthed....The year may still be young, but I would wager a small fortune that Douglas Preston has already written the best snake-decapitation scene of 2017....The book's most affecting moments [center] on the otherworldly nature of the jungle itself....Memoirs of jungle adventures too often devolve into lurid catalogs of hardships [but] Preston proves too thoughtful an observer and too skilled a storyteller to settle for churning out danger porn. He has instead created something nuanced and sublime: a warm and geeky paean to the revelatory power of archaeology....Few other writers possess such heartfelt appreciation for the ways in which artifacts can yield the stories of who we are."―The New York Times Book Review

    "A well-documented and engaging read...The author's narrative is rife with jungle derring-do and the myriad dangers of the chase."―USA Today

    "Deadly snakes, flesh-eating parasites, and some of the most forbidding jungle terrain on earth were not enough to deter Douglas Preston from a great story."―The Boston Globe

    "Breezy, colloquial and sometimes very funny...A very entertaining book."―The Wall Street Journal

    "This modern-day archeological adventure and medical mystery reads as rapidly as a well-paced novel, but is a heart-pounding true story."―Shelf Awareness, Starred Review

    "A captivating real-life adventure tale... Preston deftly explains the science behind this work and makes it exciting."―Science News

    "Be prepared to turn the pages furiously as the heart of every adventurer is opened wide by the thrilling journey outlined in THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD."―The Bookreporter

    "A swift and often hair-raising account... Preston pushes "The Lost City of the Monkey God" well beyond the standard adventure narrative."―The Chicago Tribune

    "Packed with the power of realism and history unfolding."―The Star Ledger

    "Admirers of David Grann's The Lost City of Z will find their thirst for armchair jungle adventuring quenched here... Irresistibly gripping."―Publishers Weekly, starred review

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in March, 2020)

Why We're Polarized
by Erza Klein


Why We Are Polorized Book CoverDiscover how American politics became a toxic system, why we participate in it, and what it means for our future--from journalist, political commentator, and cofounder of Vox, Ezra Klein.

After Election Day 2016, both supporters and opponents of the soon-to-be president hailed his victory as a historically unprecedented event. Most Americans could agree that no candidate like Donald Trump had ever been elected President before. But political journalist Ezra Klein makes the case that the 2016 election wasn't surprising at all. In fact, Trump's electoral victory followed the exact same template as previous elections, by capturing a nearly identical percentage of voter demographics as previous Republican candidates.

Over the past 50 years in America, our partisan identities have merged with our racial, religious, geographic, ideological, and cultural identities. Those merged identities have attained a weight that is breaking much in our politics and tearing at the bonds that hold this country together.

In this groundbreaking book, Klein shows how and why American politics polarized around identity in the 20th century, and what that polarization did to the way we see the world and each other. And he traces the feedback loops between our polarized political identities and our polarized political institutions that are driving our political system towards crisis.

Neither a polemic nor a lament, Klein offers a clear framework for understanding everything from Trump's rise to the Democratic Party's leftward shift to the politicization of everyday culture. A revelatory book that will change how you look at politics, and perhaps at yourself.

REVIEWS

  • "The story of this impeachment is the story of American politics today: polarization. It affects almost every aspect of American political life and has been studied by scholars from many different angles, with dozens of good historical and experimental approaches. Wouldn't it be great if someone would digest all these studies, synthesize them and produce a readable book that makes sense of it all? Ezra Klein has done just that with his compelling new work, Why We're Polarized. It is likely to become the political book of the year. . . . Powerful [and] intelligent." —Fareed Zakaria, CNN

  • "Few books are as well-matched to the moment of their publication as Ezra Klein's Why We're Polarized. . . . Klein's careful book explains how different groups of Americans can see politics through such different lenses, examining how various psychological mechanisms allow committed partisans to rationalize almost anything their party does. . . . This book fully displays the attributes that have made Klein's journalism so successful." —Dan Hopkins, Washington Post

  • "Why We're Polarized delivers. . . . What Klein adds especially to [is] our understanding of how we got here—why Trump is more a vessel for our division than the cause, and why his departure will not provide any magical cure. . . . A thoughtful, clear and persuasive analysis." —Norman Ornstein, New York Times Book Review

  • "Superbly researched and written . . . Why We're Polarized provides a highly useful guide to this most central of political puzzles, digesting mountains of social science research and presenting it in an engaging form. . . . An overall outstanding volume." —Francis Fukuyama, The Washington Post "Brilliant and wide-ranging. A book about what just might be our central, perhaps fatal problem. This is the kind of book you find yourself arguing with out loud as you read it and will stick in your head long after you've finished. Absolutely crucial for understanding this perilous moment." —Chris Hayes, host of "All In with Chris Hayes"

  • "Eye-opening . . . Klein's brilliant diagnosis and prescription provide a path to understanding—and healing." —O Magazine

A History of the World in 6 Glasses
by Tom Standage


A History of the World in 6 Glasses Book CoverFrom beer to Coca-Cola, the six drinks that have helped shape human history.

Throughout human history, certain drinks have done much more than just quench thirst. As Tom Standage relates with authority and charm, six of them have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the course of history, becoming the defining drink during a pivotal historical period.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Beer was first made in the Fertile Crescent and by 3000 B.C.E. was so important to Mesopotamia and Egypt that it was used to pay wages. In ancient Greece wine became the main export of her vast seaborne trade, helping spread Greek culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying seamen on long voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Although coffee originated in the Arab world, it stoked revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of intellectual exchange. And hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it became especially popular in Britain, with far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Finally, though carbonated drinks were invented in 18th-century Europe they became a 20th-century phenomenon, and Coca-Cola in particular is the leading symbol of globalization.

For Tom Standage, each drink is a kind of technology, a catalyst for advancing culture by which he demonstrates the intricate interplay of different civilizations. You may never look at your favorite drink the same way again.

NOTES

  • New York Times bestseller

  • "[A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 6 GLASSES] is loaded with the kind of data that get talked about at the figurative water cooler...Incisive, illuminating and swift." ―Janet Maslin, The New York Times

  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom Standage is technology editor at The Economist magazine and the author of four history books, "A History of the World in Six Glasses" (2005), "The Turk" (2002), "The Neptune File" (2000) and "The Victorian Internet" (1998). He holds a degree in engineering and computer science from Oxford University, and is the least musical member of a musical family. He is married and lives in Greenwich, London, with his wife and daughter.

January, 2020

Unsheltered Book CoverUnsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver


(NOTE: The Book Clkub did not meet in December, 2020)

November, 2019

Upheaval Book CoverUpheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis by Jared Diamond


(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in October, 2019)

September, 2019

The Pioneers Book CoverThe Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by David McCullough

August, 2019

Factfullness Book CoverFactfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World - and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in June & July, 2019)

May, 2019

Leadership In Turbulent Times Book CoverLeadership: In Turbulent Times
by Doris Kearns Goodwin

(Note: Book Club did not meet in April, 2019)

March, 2019

The Fifth Risk Book CoverThe Fifth Risk
by Michael Lewis

February, 2019

The Doctor's Prescription for What's Ailing America BookcoverThe Doctor's Prescription for What's Ailing America
by Vance Alm, MD

January 2019

Prisoners of Geography Book CoverPrisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World
(Politics of Place)
by Tim Marshall

(Note: The Book Club did not meet in December, 2018)

November, 2018

Lincoln in the Bardo Book CoverLincoln in the Bardo: A Novel
by George Saunders

October, 2018

In the Shadow of Statues Book CoverIn the Shadow of Statues
by Mitch Landrieu

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in August & September, 2018)

July, 2018

Dear Madam President Book CoverDear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World
by Jennifer Palmieri

June, 2018

The Soual of America Book CoverThe Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels
by Jon Meacham

May, 2018

We Were Eight Years in Power Book CoverWe Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy
by Ta-Nehisi Coates

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in April, 2018)

March , 2018

How Democracies DieHow Democracies Die
by Daniel Ziblatt & Steven Levitsky

February, 2018

Fire and Fury Book CoverFire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
by Michael Wolf

January, 2018

Strangers In Their Own Land Book CoverStrangers in the Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in December, 2017)

November, 2017

Requiem for the American Dream Book CoverRequiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power by Noam Chomsky

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in October, 2017)

September, 2017

Dark Money Book CoverDark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
by Jane Mayer

August, 2017

Hillbilly Elegy Book CoverHillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
by J.D. Vance

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in July, 2017)

June, 2017

The Firebrnd and the First Lady Book CoverThe Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice by Patricia Bell-Scott

May, 2017

Nudge Book CoverNudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
by Richard H. Thayer and Cass R. Sunstein

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in April, 2017)

March, 2017

Don't Think of an Elephant Book CoverDon't Think of an Elephant! - Know Your Values and Frame the Debate
by George Lakoff

February, 2017

Lies, Incorporated Book CoverLies, Incorporated: The World of Post-Truth Politics
by Ari Rabin-Havt

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in October, 2016 thru January, 2017)

September, 2016

Grit BookcoverGrit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
by Angela Duckworth

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in June, 2016 thru August, 2016)

May, 2016

Righteous Mind Book CoverRighteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
by Jonathan Haidt

April, 2016

Rise of the Robots Book CoverRise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future
by Martin Ford

(NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in October, 2015 thru March, 2016)

September, 2015

The Post American World Book CoverThe Post-American World
by Fareed Zakaria

August, 2015

Elon Musk Book CoverElon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
by Ashlee Vance

July, 2015

The Wright Brothers BookcoverThe Wright Brothers
by David McCullough

June, 2015

Is the American Century Over Book Cover Is the American Century Over?
by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.

NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in April & May, 2015

March, 2015

Islam for Dummies Book CoverIslam for Dummies
by Malcolm Clark

February, 2015

The Family Romanov Book CoverThe Family Romanov
by Candance Flemming

January, 2015

Rise and Fall of Joe McCarthy Book CoverRise and Fall of Joe McCarthy
by James Cross Giblin

NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in December, 2014

November, 2014

Truman Book CoverTruman
by David McCullough

October, 2014

The ROOSEVELTS Book CoverTHE ROOSEVELTS: An Intimate History
by cinematographer, Ken Burns

September, 2014

A Fighting Chance BookcoverA Fighting Chance
by Elizabeth Warren

 

August, 2014

Not For Profit Book CoverNot For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities
by Martha C. Nussbaum

NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in July, 2014

June, 2014

The Divide Book CoverThe Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
by Matt Taibbi

 

May, 2014

The Bomb Book CoverBomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
by Steve Sheinkin

NOTE: The Book Club did not meet in April, 2014

March, 2014

Cybersecurity & Cyberwar Book CoverCybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know®
by P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman

 

February, 2014

American Nations BookcoverAmerican Nations: A History of the Eleven
Rival Regional Cultures of North America

by Colin Woodard

January, 2014

Outliners Book CoverOutliers: The Story of Success
by Malcom Gladwell

December, 2013

The Abolsultely True Diary of a Part Time IndianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie

November, 2013

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai

October, 2013

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care
by T.R. Reid

September, 2013

How Do You Kill 11 Million People?: Why the Truth Matters More Than You Think
by Andy Andrews