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Book Cover - Mistrust
Provided: W. W. Norton & Company / Provided: W. W. Norton & Company

From the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street, and from cryptocurrency advocates to the #MeToo movement, Americans and citizens of democracies worldwide are losing confidence in what we once called the system.

This loss of faith has spread beyond government to infect a broad swath of institutions—the press, corporations, digital platforms—none of which seem capable of holding us together. The dominant theme of contemporary civic life is mistrust in institutions—governments, big business, the health care system, the press.

How should we encourage participation in public life when neither elections nor protests feel like paths to change? Drawing on work by political scientists, legal theorists, and activists in the streets, Ethan Zuckerman offers a lens for understanding civic engagement that focuses on efficacy, the power of seeing the change you make in the world.

Ethan Zuckerman is the founder of the Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and associate professor of public policy, information, and communication. From 2011–20, he led the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab. He is cofounder with Rebecca MacKinnon of the international blogging community Global Voices.

Book cover for "Monopolies Suck"
Simon & Schuster / Simon & Schuster

Something’s not right. No matter how hard you work, life seems to only get harder. In the new book, "Monopolies Suck," antitrust expert and director at the Open Markets Institute, Sally Hubbard, shows us the sways big corporations rule our lives—and what must be done to stop them.

Hubbard says the U.S. failed to protect its citizens against COVID-19, and corporate mergers led to a shortage of ventilators and critical medical supplies, while hospital monopolies underpaid vital health care workers. Small businesses are shuttering without government support, while the most powerful companies profiteer.

Hubbard says the economy is not working for the middle class, and monopolies are amplifying the systemic racism and misogyny that instigated a summer of protests and unrest.

Senator Jeff Flake
official photo

Former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake will participate in the Michael S. and Kitty Dukakis Pulblic Policy Lecture Series for the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in a virtual event.

Drawing on his nearly two decades of experience on Capitol Hill, in both the Senate and House of Representatives, Jeff Flake will share candid insights on today’s political climate.

Combining anecdotes from his time in office, lessons from his New York Times bestselling book "Conscience of a Conservative," and insights on the importance of civil leadership and bipartisanship, Flake paints a picture of our current political environment and where we can expect our nation’s democracy to go from here.

Nicholson Baker’s new book, “Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Informatio Act,” is a major new work, a hybrid of history, journalism, and memoir, about the modern Freedom of Information Act – and the horrifying, decades-old government misdeeds that it is unable to demystify.

Baker, one of America’s most celebrated writers, probes the questions of what happens to a country’s sense of itself when major governmental programs and policies are kept secret for decades?  How are we supposed to learn from our mistakes when those mistakes are steadfastly suppressed by the government agencies that made them? 

David Rohde, two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, is an executive editor of The New Yorker website and a former Reuters, New York Times, and Christian Science Monitor reporter.

Three-quarters of Americans believe that a group of unelected government and military officials secretly manipulate or direct national policy in the United States. President Trump blames the "deep state" for his impeachment. But what is the American "deep state" and does it really exist?

Richard A. Clarke served for thirty years in national security policy roles in the US Government, first in the Pentagon, then the State Department, and finally for an unprecedented decade of continuous service for three Presidents in the White House.

In the White House National Security Council for President Bush (41), Clinton, and Bush (43) he served as Special Assistant to the President for Global Affairs, National Coordinator for Security and Counter-terrorism (“Terrorism Czar’), and Special Advisor for Cyberspace (the first “Cyber Czar”).

His latest book, co-authored by Robert Knake is "The Fifth Domain: Defending Our Country, Our Companies, and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats."

Conspiracy theories are as old as politics. But conspiracists today have introduced something new—conspiracy without theory. And the new conspiracism has moved from the fringes to the heart of government with the election of Donald Trump.

In the book, "A Lot of People Are Saying," Russell Muirhead and Nancy Rosenblum show how the new conspiracism differs from classic conspiracy theory, why so few officials speak truth to conspiracy, and what needs to be done to resist it.

Russell Muirhead is the Robert Clements Professor of Democracy and Politics at Dartmouth College and the author of "The Promise of Party in a Polarized Age" and "Just Work." Nancy L. Rosenblum is the Senator Joseph Clark Research Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government at Harvard University. Her books include "Good Neighbors: The Democracy of Everyday Life in America" and "On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and Partisanship."

In “The Sky Is Falling: How Vampires, Zombies, Androids, and Superheroes Made America Great for Extremism,” cultural journalist Peter Biskind dives headlong into two decades of popular culture, from superhero franchises and series like “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” to thrillers like “Homeland” and “24,” and emerges to argue that these shows are saturated with the values that are currently animating our extreme politics.

It's safe to say that no journalist knows Donald Trump better than David Cay Johnston, who has been following him since 1988.

Johnston's new book, "It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America" goes inside the administration to show how the federal agencies that touch the lives of all Americans are being undermined.

Thomas A. Kochan, is the George M. Bunker Professor of Work and Employment Relations at MIT's Sloan School of Management and Co-Director of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research.

"Shaping the Future of Work" lays out a comprehensive strategy for changing the course the American economy and employment system have been on for the past 30 years. The goal is to create more productive businesses that also provide good jobs and careers and by doing so build a more inclusive economy and broadly shared prosperity. This will require workers to acquire new sources of bargaining power and for business, labor, government, and educators to work together to meet the challenges and opportunities facing the next generation workforce.

Joshua Green is the Senior National Correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek and author of the new bestselling book - Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency.

The shocking elevation of Bannon to head Trump’s flagging presidential campaign on August 17, 2016, hit political Washington like a thunderclap and seemed to signal the meltdown of the Republican Party.  

Any study of Trump’s rise to the presidency is unavoidably a study of Bannon. Devil’s Bargain is the telling of the remarkable confluence of circumstances that decided the election, many of them orchestrated by Bannon and his allies, who really did plot a vast, right-wing conspiracy to stop Clinton.

Nancy MacLean is the award-winning author of Behind the Mask of Chivalry and Freedom is Not Enough She is the William Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. Behind today’s headlines of billionaires taking over our government is a secretive political establishment with long, deep, and troubling roots. The capitalist radical right has been working not simply to change who rules, but to fundamentally alter the rules of democratic governance. But billionaires did not launch this movement; a white intellectual in the embattled Jim Crow South did.

Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains names its true architect: Nobel Prize-winning political economist James McGill Buchanan — and dissects the operation he and his colleagues designed over six decades to alter every branch of government to disempower the majority.

In 2005, beekeepers in the United States began observing a mysterious and disturbing phenomenon: once-healthy colonies of bees were suddenly collapsing, leaving behind empty hives full of honey and pollen. 

Vanishing Bees takes us inside the debates over widespread honeybee deaths, introducing the various groups with a stake in solving the mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), including beekeepers, entomologists, growers, agrichemical companies, and government regulators. Drawing from extensive interviews and first-hand observations, Sainath Suryanarayanan and Daniel Lee Kleinman examine how members of each group have acquired, disseminated, and evaluated knowledge about CCD.

A conservative majority on the Supreme Court is just the tip of the iceberg.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Union College political science professor Brad Hays concludes his discussion with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

  Eight years on from the biggest market meltdown since the Great Depression, the key lessons of the crisis of 2008 still remain unlearned—and our financial system is just as vulnerable as ever. Many of us know that our government failed to fix the banking system after the subprime mortgage crisis. But what few of us realize is how the misguided financial practices and philosophies that nearly toppled the global financial system have come to infiltrate ALL American businesses,  putting us on a collision course for another cataclysmic meltdown. 

Drawing on in-depth reporting and exclusive interviews at the highest rungs of Wall Street and Washington, Time assistant managing editor and economic columnist Rana Foroohar shows how the “financialization of America” - the trend by which finance and its way of thinking have come to reign supreme - is perpetuating Wall Street's reign over Main Street, widening the gap between rich and poor, and threatening the future of the American Dream. 

  Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?

The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But Jane Mayer shows in her book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.

  In his new book, The Deep State, Mike Lofgren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Party Is Over, delivers a House of Cards–style exposé of who really wields power in Washington.

Lofgren says actual power lies in the Deep State, Washington’s shadowy power elite, in the pockets of corporate interests and dependent on the moguls of Silicon Valley. Drawing on insider knowledge gleaned in his three decades on the Hill, Lofgren looks to offer a provocative wake-up call to Americans and urges them to fight to reinstate the basic premise of the Constitution.

Mike Lofgren spent twenty-eight years working in Congress, the last sixteen as a senior analyst on the House and Senate Budget committees. 

  Attorney Philip K. Howard is a leading voice for legal reform in the U.S. In 2002, he formed the nonpartisan group Common Good to advocate for an overhaul of American law and government.

Among Common Good's suggestions: specialized health care courts, which would give lower but smarter awards, and a project with the NYC Board of Education and the teachers union to change the disciplinary system in New York public schools.

His new book is The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government.

    Ray McGovern is a retired CIA officer turned political activist. He was a federal employee under seven U.S. presidents over twenty-seven years, presenting the morning intelligence briefings at the White House for many of them.

McGovern will be one of the featured speakers at the 15th Annual Kateri Tekakwitha Peace Conference this weekend.

    For years, people have been asking Ezekiel “Zeke” Emanuel, the brash, outspoken, and fiercely loyal eldest brother in the Emanuel clan, the same question: What did your mom put in the cereal? Middle brother Rahm is the mayor of Chicago, erstwhile White House chief of staff, and one of the most colorful figures in American politics. Youngest brother Ari is a Hollywood super-agent. And Zeke himself is one of the world’s leading bioethicists and oncologists, and a former special advisor for health policy in the Obama administration.

In the new memoir, Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family, Zeke tells his family's story.