america

MacArthur Genius and Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize and the Andrew Carnegie Medal, among others.

Desmond will be at UAlbany’s Page Hall on Thursday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m. for an event sponsored by the Changing the Conversation Committee, a partnership of CatholicCharities, Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, Unity House, and the New York State Writers Institute.

The Greenwich Free Library and community co-sponsors will be having a special film screening of the PBS documentary "American Creed" in which former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Pulitzer-Prize winning historian David M. Kennedy come together from different points of view to investigate the idea of a unifying American Creed.

The screening will take place on Wednesday, October 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenwich Central School High School Auditorium. Following the film, Joe Donahue will be leading a panel and community discussion. To talk more about the event and the documentary, we welcome library director, Annie Miller.

Dan Rather in a trench coat, dark red tie, holding a pen and a reporter's notebook
Ben Baker

Dan Rather, eminent newsman and the voice of a generation, will visit the University at Albany this Friday, September 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the SEFCU Arena on the University at Albany Uptown Campus.

With a storied career that has spanned more than six decades, Dan Rather is one of the world’s best-known journalists. He has interviewed every president since Eisenhower and covered almost every important dateline around the world. Rather joined CBS News in 1962, and in 1981 he assumed the position of Anchor and Managing Editor of the" CBS Evening News," which he held for twenty-four years. His reporting helped turn "60 Minutes" into an institution, launched "48 Hours" as a newsmagazine program, and shaped countless specials and documentaries.

Upon leaving CBS, Rather created the Emmy Award–winning "Dan Rather Reports" on HDNet. He is founder, president, and CEO of News and Guts, an independent production company that specializes in high-quality nonfiction content across a range of traditional and digital channels.

Rather's recent New York Times bestseller, "What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism," offers a collection of original essays about the world we live in, what our core ideals have been and should be, and what it means to be an American.

Recent events have turned the spotlight on the issue of race in modern America, and the current cultural climate calls out for more research, education, dialogue, and understanding. "Race and Social Change: A Quest, A Study, A Call to Action" focuses on a provocative social science experiment with the potential to address these needs.

Author Max Klau explains how his own quest for insight into these matters led to the empirical study at the heart of this book, and he presents the results of years of research that integrate findings at the individual, group, and whole system levels of analysis.

"Hope and History" is a memoir and a call-to-action for the renewal of faith in democracy and America.

US Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel presents his most important public speeches and writings, compiled and presented over eight decades of adventure and public service, woven together with anecdotes of his colorful life as a second-generation American, a soldier, a lawyer, a political activist, and a diplomat.

Daniel Okrent was the first public editor of The New York Times, editor-at-large of Time, Inc., and managing editor of Life magazine. He worked in book publishing as an editor at Knopf and Viking, and was editor-in-chief of general books at Harcourt Brace. He was also a featured commentator on two Ken Burns series, and his books include Last Call, The Guarded Gate, and Great Fortune, which was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history.

His new book, "The Guarded Gate," tells the story of the scientists who argued that certain nationalities were inherently inferior, providing the intellectual justification for the harshest immigration law in American history. Brandished by the upper class Bostonians and New Yorkers, many of them progressives, who led the anti-immigration movement, the eugenic arguments helped keep hundreds of thousands of Jews, Italians, and other unwanted groups out of the US for more than 40 years.

Why has American politics fallen into such a state of horrible dysfunction? Can it ever be fixed? These are the questions that motivate Michael Tomasky’s deeply original examination into the origins of our hopelessly polarized nation.

Michael Tomasky is a columnist for the Daily Beast, a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and the editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas.

His new book is "If We Can Keep It: How the Republic Collapsed and How it Might Be Saved."

In these United States, discord has hit emergency levels. Civility isn't the reason to repair our caustic chasms. Diversity is.

Irshad Manji's book, "Don't Label Me," shows that America's founding genius is diversity of thought. Which is why social justice activists won't win by labeling those who disagree with them. At a time when minorities are fast becoming the majority, a truly new America requires a new way to tribe out.

Studded with insights from epigenetics and epistemology, layered with the lessons of Bruce Lee, Ben Franklin, and Audre Lorde, punctuated with stories about Manji's own experiences as a refugee from Africa, a Muslim immigrant to the U.S., and a professor of moral courage, "Don't Label Me" makes diversity great again.

Jonathan M. Metzl is the Frederick B. Rentschler II professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University and director of its Center for Medicine, Health, and Society. He is the author of several books and a prominent expert on gun violence and mental illness.

Earl Dotter

Renowned labor photojournalist, Earl Dotter, has photographed workers in various occupations for the last 50 years. His photos capture the humanity and nature of work in the US. He has documented the lives of coal mine workers in Appalachia, farmworkers, fishermen, nurses, 9-11 rescue workers, and some of the major events of the labor movement in U.S. history.

The exhibit "Life's Work: A Fifty Year Photographic Chronicle of Working in the U.S.A." will be shown at the LOB Concourse Level in the Legislative Office Building in Albany, New York from April 22 through the 26. 

We are joined by Earl Dotter, Northeast NY Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health Director, Matt London, and Outreach and Education Coordinator Rossana Coto-Batres. 

Stand-up comic and actor Judah Friedlander is bringing his “Future President” tour to MASS MoCA’s High Mud Comedy Festival in North Adams, Massachusetts. His recent material, including his Netflix comedy film “America Is the Greatest Country in the United States” presents a satirical take on American exceptionalism and his presidential platform should he be chosen-slash-forced  to become U.S. President.

Friedlander played Frank Rossitano on the NBC comedy series “30 Rock” and became well known for his dry delivery and trucker hats. He also had a memorable arc a "musician" named Gordy on the Netflix series “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” He is the author of “How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book by the World Champion” and "If the Raindrops United: Drawings and Cartoons."

Robert Jackson Bennett's "Vigilance" is a dark science fiction action parable from an America that has permanently surrendered to gun violence.

The United States. 2030. John McDean executive produces "Vigilance," a reality game show designed to make sure American citizens stay alert to foreign and domestic threats. Shooters are introduced into a "game environment," and the survivors get a cash prize. The TV audience is not the only one that's watching though, and McDean soon finds out what it's like to be on the other side of the camera.

Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence.

In fewer than three hundred words, Khizr Khan electrified viewers around the world when he took the stage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. And when he offered to lend Donald Trump his own much-read and dog-eared pocket Constitution, his gesture perfectly encapsulated the feelings of millions by challenging Trump's call to stop Muslims from entering the U.S.

In response, Trump questioned the Khan's motives and religion, even though they are Gold Star parents whose son was killed in Iraq. Today, Donald Trump is president and Khizr Khan is the author of a new book, "An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice" – just out in paperback. He has also written a book for young readers entitled, "This Is Our Constitution: Discover America with a Gold Star Father."

Khan was in Albany, New York to participate in New York State Writers Institute's Albany Book Festival at the University at Albany.

Jacqueline Schwab
www.jacquelineschwab.com

On Thursday, September 20 the Guilderland Public Library in Guilderland, New York will present the concert “I Lift My Lamp: Vintage Songs and Dances of Immigrant America” performed by Ken Burns’ pianist Jacqueline Schwab. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Calling ahead for reservations is advised - (518) 456-2400.

Jacqueline Schwab is noted for her evocative playing on the soundtracks of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’ “Civil War,” “Baseball,” “Mark Twain,” “Frank Lloyd Wright,” “The War” and others. She has long played for English country dancing with the Bare Necessities quartet; has released four solo recordings; and has performed concerts of vintage American music in almost every state of the Union.

Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, the leading global political risk research and consulting firm.

Those who championed globalization once promised a world of winners, one in which free trade would lift all the world's boats, and extremes of left and right would give way to universally embraced liberal values. The past few years have shattered this fantasy, as those who've paid the price for globalism's gains have turned to populist and nationalist politicians to express fury at the political, media, and corporate elites they blame for their losses.

In his new book, "Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism," Bremmer writes that globalism creates plenty of both winners and losers, and those who've missed out want to set things right.

Across the pond, Brits have scoffed that Americans are ruining the English language. Here in the U.S., Americans fawn over British accents and giggle at the preposterous syllables in gobsmacked and kerfuffle.

As an American linguist teaching in England, Professor Lynne Murphy is on the linguistic front line. In her new book, "The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English," she explores the fiction and reality of the special relationship between British and American English.

For decades now, American voters have been convinced to support public policies that only benefit those in power. But how do the powerful extract consent from citizens whose own self-interest and collective well-being are constantly denied? And why do so many Americans seem to have given up on quality public education, on safe food and safe streets, on living wages - even on democracy itself?

"Kill It to Save It" lays bare the hypocrisy of contemporary US political discourse, documenting the historical and theoretical trajectory of capitalism’s triumph over democracy.

Corey Dolgon is professor of sociology and director of community-based learning at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts.

Gregg Easterbrook is the author of ten books, two of them New York Times Notable Books. He was a national correspondent for the Atlantic, and since then has been a contributing editor. He is a former visiting fellow of the Brookings Institution and a distinguished fellow of the Fulbright Foundation.

Most people who read the news would tell you that 2017 is one of the worst years in recent memory. We're facing a series of deeply troubling, even existential problems: fascism, terrorism, environmental collapse, racial and economic inequality, and more.

Gish Jen has spent much of her literary career writing about the experiences of Chinese-Americans. Her latest book, “The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap,” makes the case for the sociological and cultural patterns that influence many aspects of identity.

From the beet fields of North Dakota to the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans. Finding that social security comes up short, often underwater on mortgages, these invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans, forming a growing community of nomads: migrant laborers who call themselves “workampers.”

On frequently traveled routes between seasonal jobs, Jessica Bruder meets people from all walks of life: a former professor, a McDonald’s vice president, a minister, a college administrator, and a motorcycle cop, among many others―including her irrepressible protagonist, a onetime cocktail waitress, Home Depot clerk, and general contractor named Linda May.

Jessica Bruder is a journalist who reports on subcultures and economic justice. Her newest book is Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Gish Jen is a beloved and prize-winning chronicler of the Chinese-American experience in fiction. Her new work, "The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap," explores stark differences between Eastern and Western ideas of the "self."

She will be in Albany, NY for two events sponsored by The New York State Writers Institute on Tuesday, January 30.

David Brooks
CNN

David Brooks has a gift for bringing audiences face-to-face with the spirit of our times with humor, insight and passion. He is an observer of the American way of life and a savvy analyst of present-day politics and foreign affairs.

He holds several positions as a commentator, including bi-weekly Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, and regular analyst on PBS "NewsHour" and NPR’s "All Things Considered."

David’s newest book, "The Road to Character," explains why selflessness leads to greater success. He tells the story of ten great lives that illustrate how character is developed, and how we can all strive to build rich inner lives, marked by humility and moral depth.

David Brooks will be at Proctors on Wednesday, January 17th at 7:30 p.m.

  When Sara Zaske moved from Oregon to Berlin with her husband and toddler, she knew the transition would be challenging, especially when she became pregnant with her second child. She was surprised to discover that German parents give their children a great deal of freedom - much more than Americans. German parents did not share her fears, and their children were thriving. Was she doing the opposite of what she intended, which was to raise capable children? Why was parenting culture so different in the States?

In her book, "Achtung Baby," Zaske shares the many unexpected parenting lessons she learned from living in Germany.

In his new book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, NYT bestselling author and co-creator of the Peabody-Award winning public radio show Studio 360, Kurt Andersen, provides a new and comprehensive understanding of our post-truth world and the American instinct in make- believe.

This interview was recorded at UAlbany as part of the New York State Writers Institute symposium: Telling the Truth in a Post-Truth World.

Dubbed by the New Yorker as "one of America's very best singer-songwriters," Dar Williams has made her career not in stadiums, but touring America's small towns. She has played their venues, composed in their coffee shops, and drunk in their bars. She has seen these communities struggle, but also seen them thrive in the face of postindustrial identity crises.

In her book, What I Found in a Thousand Towns: A Traveling Musician's Guide to Rebuilding America's Communities—One Coffee Shop, Dog Run, and Open-Mike Night at a Time, Williams muses on why some towns flourish while others fail, examining elements from the significance of history and nature to the uniting power of public spaces and food. Drawing on her own travels and the work of urban theorists, Williams offers real solutions to rebuild declining communities.

Gabriel Kahane's Instagram feed


  Gabriel Kahane’s 8980: Book of Travelers is a new collection of songs inspired by the two-week train trip he took across the United States last November. He left on his un-plugged  journey the day after the 2016 election to meet and converse with dozens of strangers.

Created in collaboration with director Daniel Fish and designer Jim Findlay, 8980: Book of Travelers is a song cycle and solo stage show that will officially premiere at The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival later this fall. Tonight, In a kind of sneak-peek, Kahane will take the stage in The Hunter Center at MASS MoCA - where he’s been working on the piece in residency for about two weeks.

Corey Dolgon is professor of sociology and director of community-based learning at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. He is the author of three other books, including the award-winning The End of the Hamptons: Scenes from the Class Struggle in America’s Paradise.

His new book, Kill It to Save It, lays bare the hypocrisy of contemporary US political discourse, documenting the historical and theoretical trajectory of capitalism’s triumph over democracy.

Mark Sundeen is the author of several books, including The Man Who Quit Money and the coauthor of North by Northwestern, which was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.

His latest, The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today's America, is a work of immersive journalism that traces the search for the simple life through the stories of these new pioneers and what inspired each of them to look for - or create - a better existence.

Why did Donald Trump follow Barack Obama into the White House? Why is America so polarized? And how does American exceptionalism explain these social changes?

In Exceptional America: What Divides Americans from the World and from Each Other, Mugambi Jouet describes why Americans are far more divided than other Westerners over basic issues, including wealth inequality, health care, climate change, evolution, gender roles, abortion, gay rights, sex, gun control, mass incarceration, the death penalty, torture, human rights, and war. Raised in Paris by a French mother and Kenyan father, Jouet then lived in the Bible Belt, Manhattan, and beyond.

While exceptionalism once was a source of strength, it may now spell decline, as unique features of U.S. history, politics, law, culture, religion, and race relations foster grave conflicts. Exceptional America dissects the American soul, in all of its peculiar, clashing, and striking manifestations.

Nancy Isenberg’s bestselling book: White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America is now in paperback with a new preface covering the 2016 election.

Nancy Isenberg said the following about the political climate years ago surrounding Sarah Palin, “When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win.” And we recognize how right she is today. Yet the voters that put Trump in the White House have always been a permanent part of our American fabric, argues Isenberg.

In White Trash, Isenberg looks to obliterate the myth of America as a land of unbounded opportunity and social mobility and makes the case that while both class and identity politics matter, neither are sufficient alone to define categories of voting behavior. Again the name of the book is: White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America. 

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