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Book cover for "Break it Up" by Richard Kreitner
Little Brown and Company / www.littlebrown.com

The United States has never lived up to its name—and never will. The disunionist impulse may have found its greatest expression in the Civil War, but as "Break It Up" by Richard Kreitner shows, the seduction of secession wasn’t limited to the South or the nineteenth century. It was there at our founding and has never gone away.

Kreitner is a contributing writer to The Nation. He is the author of "Booked: A Traveler’s Guide to Literary Locations Around the World."

In the new book, “Beyond Contempt,” Erica Etelson shows us how to communicate respectfully, passionately, and effectively across the political divide without soft-pedaling our beliefs.

Using Non-Defensive Communication skill sets, she says we can express ourselves in ways that inspire open-minded consideration instead of triggering defensive reaction.

“Beyond Contempt” looks to foster productive dialogue that can defuse hostility, build trust, and open hearts and minds in unexpected ways. Erica Etelson is a writer, community activist, and certified Powerful Non-Defensive Communication facilitator.

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."

Phil Roeder/Flickr

New York Congressional representatives are praising efforts in the House to pass a bill focused on strengthening local workforce training programs. The bill that would allow federal dollars to enhance existing programs passed with wide bi-partisan support. 

In a 415-6 vote, Congress recently passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

A version in the Senate was also approved 95-3, and the bill is headed to the president’s desk.