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Summary : One of the Top 10 Politics and Current Events Books of Fall 2019 (Publishers Weekly) An incisive cultural history that captures a fractious nation through the prism of television and the rattled mind of a celebrity president. Television has entertained America, television has ensorcelled America, and with the election of Donald J. Trump, television has conquered America. In Audience of One, New York Times chief television critic James Poniewozik traces the history of TV and mass media from the Reagan era to today, explaining how a volcanic, camera-hogging antihero merged with America’s most powerful medium to become our forty-fifth president. In the tradition of Neil Postman’s masterpiece Amusing Ourselves to Death, Audience of One shows how American media have shaped American society and politics, by interweaving two crucial stories. The first story follows the evolution of television from the three-network era of the 20th century, which joined millions of Americans in a shared monoculture, into today’s zillion-channel, Internet-atomized universe, which sliced and diced them into fractious, alienated subcultures. The second story is a cultural critique of Donald Trump, the chameleonic celebrity who courted fame, achieved a mind-meld with the media beast, and rode it to ultimate power. Braiding together these disparate threads, Poniewozik combines a cultural history of modern America with a revelatory portrait of the most public American who has ever lived. Reaching back to the 1940s, when Trump and commercial television were born, Poniewozik illustrates how Donald became “a character that wrote itself, a brand mascot that jumped off the cereal box and entered the world, a simulacrum that replaced the thing it represented.” Viscerally attuned to the media, Trump shape-shifted into a boastful tabloid playboy in the 1980s; a self-parodic sitcom fixture in the 1990s; a reality-TV “You’re Fired” machine in the 2000s; and finally, the biggest role of his career, a Fox News–obsessed, Twitter-mad, culture-warring demagogue in the White House. Poniewozik deconstructs the chaotic Age of Trump as the 24-hour TV production that it is, decoding an era when politics has become pop culture, and vice versa. Trenchant and often slyly hilarious, Audience of One is a penetrating and sobering review of the raucous, raging, farcical reality show—performed for the benefit of an insomniac, cable-news-junkie “audience of one”—that we all came to live in, whether we liked it or not.
Summary : In the tradition of great cultural figures like Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman, New York Times chief television critic James Poniewozik traces the history of television and mass media from the early 1980s to today, and demonstrates how a "volcanic, camera- hogging antihero" merged with America's most powerful medium to become our forty-fifth president. Beginning where Postman left off, Audience of One weaves together two compelling stories. The first charts the seismic evolution of television from a monolithic mass medium, with three mainstream networks, into today's fractious confederation of "spite-and-insult" media subcultures. The second examines Donald Trump himself, who took advantage of these historic changes to constantly reinvent himself: from boastful cartoon zillionaire; to 1990s self-parodic sitcom fixture; to The Apprentice-reality-TV star; and, finally, to Twitter-mad, culture-warring demagogue. A trenchant, often slyly hilarious, work, Audience of One provides an eye- opening history of American media and a sobering reflection of the raucous, "gorillas-are always-fighting" culture we've now become.
Summary : New York Times chief television critic James Poniewozik offers a "darkly entertaining" (Carlos Lozada, Washington Post) history of mass media from the early 1980s to today, demonstrating how a volcanic, camera-hogging antihero merged with America's most powerful medium to become our forty-fifth president. In charting the seismic evolution of television from a monolithic mass medium into today's fractious confederation of spite-and-insult media subcultures, Poniewozik reveals how Donald Trump took advantage of these historic changes by constantly reinventing himself: from a boastful cartoon zillionaire; to 1990s self-parodic sitcom fixture; to The Apprentice reality-TV star; and finally to Twitter-mad, culture-warring demagogue. Already lauded as a "brilliant and daring" (Annalisa Quinn, NPR) work that defines a generation, Audience of One emerges as a classic in cultural criticism.
Summary : In this perceptive analysis, Dana Cloud traces the replacement of social and political activism by the pursuit of personal, psychological change. She identifies the new movement as the "rhetoric of therapy", where a persuasive cultural discourse that applies concepts such as coping and adapting replaces active attempts to reform flawed systems of social and political power. Cloud focuses on the therapeutic discourse that emerged after the Vietnam War and links its rise to specific political and economic interests. Critical case studies identify the extent to which therapeutic discourses are persuasive, including: the rhetoric of "family values"; media coverage of "support groups" during the Gulf War; Gloria Steinem's Revolution from Within; the film Thelma and Louise; and literature of the New Age Movement.
Summary : "Explaining the Donald Trump phenomenon is a challenge that will occupy critical theorists of U.S. politics for years to come. Firstly, Donald Trump won the Republican primary contest and is now a contender in the U.S. Presidential Election because he is the master of media spectacle, which he has deployed to create resonant images of himself in his business career, in his effort to become a celebrity and reality-TV superstar, and now his political campaign. More disturbingly, Trump embodies Authoritarian Populism and has used racism, nationalism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and the disturbing underside of American politics to mobilize his supporters in his successful Republican primary campaign and in the hotly contested 2016 general election. The Trump phenomenon is a teachable moment that helps us understand the changes and contour of U.S. politics in the contemporary moment and the role of broadcast media, new media and social networking, and the politics of the spectacle. Trump reveals the threat of authoritarian populism, a phenomenon that is now global in scope, and the dangers of the rise to power of an individual who is highly destructive, who represents the worst of the 1 percent billionaire business class who masquerades as a “voice of the forgotten man” as he advances a political agenda that largely benefits the rich and the military, and who is a clear and present danger to U.S. democracy and global peace. The book documents how Trump’s rise to global celebrity and now political power is bound up with his use of media spectacle and how his use of authoritarian populism has created a mass movement beyond his presidency and a danger to the traditions of U.S. democracy as well as economic security and world peace."
Summary : This is the book that the leftist elites don't want you to read -- Donald Trump, Jr., exposes all the tricks that the left uses to smear conservatives and push them out of the public square, from online "shadow banning" to rampant "political correctness." In Triggered, Donald Trump, Jr. will expose all the tricks that the left uses to smear conservatives and push them out of the public square, from online "shadow banning" to fake accusations of "hate speech." No topic is spared from political correctness. This is the book that the leftist elites don't want you to read! Trump, Jr. will write about the importance of fighting back and standing up for what you believe in. From his childhood summers in Communist Czechoslovakia that began his political thought process, to working on construction sites with his father, to the major achievements of President Trump's administration, Donald Trump, Jr. spares no details and delivers a book that focuses on success and perseverance, and proves offense is the best defense.
Summary : This book answers some of the questions like, How do we recognize evil today?
Summary : Based on groundbreaking original reporting, an extensive new look at Donald Trump's relationships with women, revealing new accusations of sexual misconduct, exploring the roots of his alleged predatory behavior, and illustrating how Trump's presidency has helped catalyze the #MeToo movement and revitalize women's activism.
Summary : Teen Vogue award-winning columnist Lauren Duca shares a smart and funny guide for challenging the status quo in a much-needed reminder that young people are the ones who will change the world. A columnist at Teen Vogue, Lauren Duca has become a fresh and authoritative voice on the experience of millennials in today’s society. In these pages she explores the post-Trump political awakening and lays the groundwork for a re-democratizing moment as it might be built out of the untapped potential of young people. Duca investigates and explains the issues at the root of our ailing political system and reimagines what an equitable democracy would look like. It begins with young people getting involved. People like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress; David and Lauren Hogg, two survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting who went on to become advocates for gun control; Amanda Litman, who founded the nonprofit organization Run For Something, to assist progressive young people in down ballot elections; and many more. Called “the millennial feminist warrior queen of social media” by Ariel Levy and “a national newsmaker” by The New York Times, Dan Rather agrees “we need fresh, intelligent, and creative voices—like Lauren’s—now as much—perhaps more—than ever before.” Here, Duca combines extensive research and first-person reporting to track her generation’s shift from political alienation to political participation. Throughout, she also draws on her own story as a young woman catapulted to the front lines of the political conversation (all while figuring out how to deal with her Trump-supporting parents).
Summary : Politico Magazine’s chief political correspondent provides a rollicking insider’s look at the making of the modern Republican Party—how a decade of cultural upheaval, populist outrage, and ideological warfare made the GOP vulnerable to a hostile takeover from the unlikeliest of insurgents: Donald J. Trump. The 2016 election was a watershed for the United States. But, as Tim Alberta explains in American Carnage, to understand Trump’s victory is to view him not as the creator of this era of polarization and bruising partisanship, but rather as its most manifest consequence. American Carnage is the story of a president’s rise based on a country’s evolution and a party’s collapse. As George W. Bush left office with record-low approval ratings and Barack Obama led a Democratic takeover of Washington, Republicans faced a moment of reckoning: They had no vision, no generation of new leaders, and no energy in the party’s base. Yet Obama’s forceful pursuit of his progressive agenda, coupled with the nation’s rapidly changing cultural and demographic landscape, lit a fire under the right, returning Republicans to power and inviting a bloody struggle for the party’s identity in the post-Bush era. The factions that emerged—one led by absolutists like Jim Jordan and Ted Cruz, the other led by pragmatists like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell—engaged in a series of devastating internecine clashes and attempted coups for control. With the GOP’s internal fissures rendering it legislatively impotent, and that impotence fueling a growing resentment toward the political class and its institutions, the stage was set for an outsider to crash the party. When Trump descended a gilded escalator to announce his run in the summer of 2015, the candidate had met the moment. Only by viewing Trump as the culmination of a decade-long civil war inside the Republican Party—and of the parallel sense of cultural, socioeconomic, and technological disruption during that period—can we appreciate how he won the White House and consider the fundamental questions at the center of America’s current turmoil. How did a party obsessed with the national debt vote for trillion-dollar deficits and record-setting spending increases? How did the party of compassionate conservatism become the party of Muslim bans and walls? How did the party of family values elect a thrice-divorced philanderer? And, most important, how long can such a party survive? Loaded with exclusive reporting and based off hundreds of interviews—including with key players such as President Trump, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Jim DeMint, and Reince Priebus, and many others—American Carnage takes us behind the scenes of this tumultuous period as we’ve never seen it before and establishes Tim Alberta as the premier chronicler of this political era.
Summary : A comprehensive analysis of Donald Trump's legal history reveals his temperament, methods, character, and morality. Unlike all previous presidents who held distinguished positions in government or the military prior to entering office, Donald Trump's political worldview was molded in the courtroom. He sees law not as a system of rules to be obeyed and ethical ideals to be respected, but as a weapon to be used against his adversaries or a hurdle to be sidestepped when it gets in his way. He has weaponized the justice system throughout his career, and he has continued to use these backhanded tactics as Plaintiff in Chief. In this book, distinguished New York attorney James D. Zirin presents Trump's lengthy litigation history as an indication of his character and morality, and his findings are chilling: if you partner with Donald Trump, you will probably wind up litigating with him. If you enroll in his university or buy one of his apartments, chances are you will want your money back. If you are a woman and you get too close to him, you may need to watch your back. If you try to sue him, he's likely to defame you. If you make a deal with him, you had better get it in writing. If you are a lawyer, an architect, or even his dentist, you'd better get paid up front. If you venture an opinion that publicly criticizes him, you may be sued for libel. A window into the president's dark legal history, Plaintiff in Chief is as informative as it is disturbing.
Summary : From the acclaimed author of Listen, Liberal and What’s the Matter with Kansas, a scathing collection of his incisive commentary on our cruel times—perfect for this political moment. What does a middle-class democracy look like when it comes apart? When, after forty years of economic triumph, America’s winners persuade themselves that they owe nothing to the rest of the country? With his sharp eye for detail, Thomas Frank takes us on a wide-ranging tour through present-day America, showing us a society in the late stages of disintegration and describing the worlds of both the winners and the losers—the sprawling mansion districts as well as the lives of fast-food workers. Rendezvous with Oblivion is a collection of interlocking essays examining how inequality has manifested itself in our cities, in our jobs, in the way we travel—and of course in our politics, where in 2016, millions of anxious ordinary people rallied to the presidential campaign of a billionaire who meant them no good. These accounts of folly and exploitation are here brought together in a single volume unified by Frank’s distinctive voice, sardonic wit, and anti-orthodox perspective. They capture a society where every status signifier is hollow, where the allure of mobility is just another con game, and where rebellion too often yields nothing. For those who despair of the future of our country and of reason itself, Rendezvous with Oblivion is a booster shot of energy, reality, and moral outrage.
Summary : From the fights about the teaching of evolution to the details of sex education, it may seem like American schools are hotbeds of controversy. But as Jonathan Zimmerman and Emily Robertson show in this insightful book, it is precisely because such topics are so inflammatory outside school walls that they are so commonly avoided within them. And this, they argue, is a tremendous disservice to our students. Armed with a detailed history of the development of American educational policy and norms and a clear philosophical analysis of the value of contention in public discourse, they show that one of the best things American schools should do is face controversial topics dead on, right in their classrooms. Zimmerman and Robertson highlight an aspect of American politics that we know all too well: We are terrible at having informed, reasonable debates. We opt instead to hurl insults and accusations at one another or, worse, sit in silence and privately ridicule the other side. Wouldn’t an educational system that focuses on how to have such debates in civil and mutually respectful ways improve our public culture and help us overcome the political impasses that plague us today? To realize such a system, the authors argue that we need to not only better prepare our educators for the teaching of hot-button issues, but also provide them the professional autonomy and legal protection to do so. And we need to know exactly what constitutes a controversy, which is itself a controversial issue. The existence of climate change, for instance, should not be subject to discussion in schools: scientists overwhelmingly agree that it exists. How we prioritize it against other needs, such as economic growth, however—that is worth a debate. With clarity and common-sense wisdom, Zimmerman and Robertson show that our squeamishness over controversy in the classroom has left our students woefully underserved as future citizens. But they also show that we can fix it: if we all just agree to disagree, in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Summary : From her creation of the "Approval Matrix" in New York magazine in 2004 to her Pulitzer Prizewinning columns for The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum has argued that we've been looking at TV all wrong. In this collection, including two never-before-published essays, Nussbaum writes about her passion for television, beginning with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the show that set her on a fresh intellectual path. She explores the rise of the female screw-up, how fans warp the shows they love, the messy power of sexual violence on TV, and the year that jokes helped elect a reality-television president. There are three big profiles of TV showrunners as well as examinations of the legacies of Norman Lear and Joan Rivers. The book also includes a major new essay written during the year of #MeToo, wrestling with the question of what to do when the artist you love is a monster. More than a collection of reviews, the book makes a case for toppling the status anxiety that has long haunted the "idiot box," even as it transformed. Through it all, Nussbaum recounts her fervent search, over fifteen years, for a new kind of criticism, one that resists the false hierarchy that elevates one kind of culture (violent, dramatic, gritty) over another (joyful, funny, stylized). I Like to Watch traces her own struggle to punch through stifling notions of "prestige television," searching for a more expansive, more embracing vision of artistic ambition-one that acknowledges many types of beauty and complexity and opens to more varied voices. It's a book that celebrates television as television, even as each year warps the definition of just what that might mean.
Summary : David E. McCraw recounts his experiences as the top newsroom lawyer for the New York Times during the most turbulent era for journalism in generations. In October 2016, when Donald Trump's lawyer demanded that The New York Times retract an article focused on two women that accused Trump of touching them inappropriately, David McCraw's scathing letter of refusal went viral and he became a hero of press freedom everywhere. But as you'll see in Truth in Our Times, for the top newsroom lawyer at the paper of record, it was just another day at the office. McCraw has worked at the Times since 2002, leading the paper's fight for freedom of information, defending it against libel suits, and providing legal counsel to the reporters breaking the biggest stories of the year. In short: if you've read a controversial story in the paper since the Bush administration, it went across his desk first. From Chelsea Manning's leaks to Trump's tax returns, McCraw is at the center of the paper's decisions about what news is fit to print. In Truth in Our Times, McCraw recounts the hard legal decisions behind the most impactful stories of the last decade with candor and style. The book is simultaneously a rare peek behind the curtain of the celebrated organization, a love letter to freedom of the press, and a decisive rebuttal of Trump's fake news slur through a series of hard cases. It is an absolute must-have for any dedicated reader of The New York Times.