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united states

P. J. O’Rourke says we’ve worked ourselves into a state of anger and perplexity, and it’s no surprise because perplexed and angry are what Americans have been since the Roanoke Colony got lost.

His new book, "A Cry From the Far Middle," looks at the state of these United States and includes essays on everything from the political effects of social media, (“Whose Bright Idea Was It to Make Sure that Every Idiot in the World Is in Touch with Every Other Idiot?”) to a plan advanced to reform federal poverty programs (“Just Give Them the Money”); and a rant is made against the “Internet of Things” because your juicer is sending fake news to your Fitbit about what’s in your refrigerator.

P. J. O’Rourke has written nineteen books on subjects as diverse as politics and cars and etiquette and economics. He is a regular panelist on NPR's "Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me," a contributing writer for the Washington Post editorial page, and the editor in chief of the free web magazine "American Consequences."

Joe Donahue: From the prize-winning journalist Sarah Chayes, internationally recognized as an expert on government corruption throughout the world, the new book, "On Corruption in America," offers an unflinching look at how corruption has taken hold in our own country and how the corrupt operate: through sophisticated networks in which government officials, key private-sector interests, and out-and-out criminals interweave. Their main objective: not to serve the public, but to maximize returns for network members.

Bringing to bear all of her knowledge, grasp, sense of history and observation, Sarah Chayes writes in her new book, that the United States is showing signs similar to some of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Sarah Chayes’ remarkable trajectory has led her from reporting from Paris for National Public Radio, to working on the ground in Kandahar, Afghanistan in the midst of a burgeoning insurgency, to serving as special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

When the decorated Captain of a great ship descends the gangplank for the final time, a new leader, a man with a yellow feather in his hair, vows to step forward. Though he has no experience, no knowledge of nautical navigation or maritime law, and though he has often remarked he doesn’t much like boats, he solemnly swears to shake things up.

Dave Eggers’ new novel "The Captain and The Glory: An Entertainment," is a savage satire of the United States in the throes of insanity that tells the story of a noble ship, the Glory, and the loud, clownish, and foul Captain who steers it to the brink of disaster.

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."

  We’re often told that the United States is, was, and always has been a Christian nation. But in One Nation Under God, historian Kevin M. Kruse reveals that the idea of “Christian America” is an invention—and a relatively recent one at that.

As Kruse argues, the belief that America is fundamentally and formally a Christian nation originated in the 1930s when businessmen enlisted religious activists in their fight against FDR’s New Deal. Corporations from General Motors to Hilton Hotels bankrolled conservative clergymen, encouraging them to attack the New Deal as a program of “pagan statism” that perverted the central principle of Christianity: the sanctity and salvation of the individual. Their campaign for “freedom under God” culminated in the election of their close ally Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.

  What does it mean to be an illegal immigrant, or the child of immigrants, in this era of restrictive immigration laws in the United States? As lawmakers and others struggle to respond to the changing landscape of immigration, the effects of policies on people's daily lives are all too often overlooked.

In Everyday Illegal, author Joanna Dreby recounts the stories of children and parents in eighty-one families to show what happens when a immigration system emphasizes deportation over legalization.

Joanna Dreby is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University at Albany.

  In Mea Culpa: Lessons on Law and Regret from U.S. History, Steven W. Bender examines how the United States’ collective shame about its past has shaped the evolution of law and behavior.

We regret slavery and segregationist Jim Crow laws. We eventually apologize, while ignoring other oppressions, and our legal response to regret often fails to be transformative for the affected groups.