Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright knows a thing or two about what it means to be free—and what it feels like when freedom gets taken away. So who better than Secretary Albright to alert us to the perils of demagogues who assault trusted democratic institutions and show contempt for the rule of law? And who better to alert us to the risks of being complacent in response? Secretary Albright was a child when her family was twice driven from their home in Czechoslovakia, first by the Nazis, then after World War II by an aggressive Communist regime. In 1948, her family came to the United States, where she finished her schooling, raised three daughters, entered public service, and became one of the leading voices shaping U.S. foreign policy. In her sixth and latest book, Fascism—A Warning (Harper, $27.99), she draws on her personal and diplomatic experiences, and examples of despots from the last century—and now—to explain why in the Trump era we shouldn’t be lulled into a false confidence that the United States is immune to a disturbing worldwide trend. If you think it can’t happen here, think again.
Rebecca Solnit’s new collection of essays will inspire, wreck, and revitalize you. From satirical takes on Donald Trump (the stuff that has to be laughed at, or you’d cry) to somber pieces on the consequences of gentrification, police shootings, and wrongful convictions, there is an essay in Call Them By Their True Names (Haymarket, $15.95) for everyone and every mood. Instead of coming away with unadulterated rage and a sense of injustice, you genuinely think, what I do matters—and I have to do more. Notable essays include “Preaching to the Choir,” “Monument Wars,” and “In Praise of Indirect Consequences,” as they encourage us to not despair—which you can find yourself doing just by reading the news—but to appreciate the small gains for the foundation they could someday be. Find comfort in Solnit’s words, and let them rouse you to care and to action.
Pod Save the People's DeRay Mckesson begins On the Other Side of Freedom (Viking, $25) with the Ferguson protests of 2014, and keeps your adrenaline surging for the rest of the book. He writes a heartfelt and brutally honest memoir of growing up black in America, the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, and his continuing work in education, policy, and advocacy. This book is a perfectly executed balancing act: we see heart-wrenching story telling as well as powerful suggestions aimed at dismantling oppressive systems in our society. Mckesson consistently calls on his readers to challenge the legacy of racism with the hope that pressing issues, such as police brutality, can be solved within our lifetime. Brimming with emotion, intelligence, and most importantly, hope, this book is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the reality of justice in America—past and present—and the way forward.