WRC 2020: Tied to Current Events

Unbecoming: A Memoir by Anuradha Kristina Bhagwati – A memoir from a former U.S. Marine captain discusses her experiences facing misogyny, racism and injustice and subsequent fight to bring historic change to the military, including the lifting of the ban on women in combat roles.

American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the U.S. tragedy in Afghanistan by Matt Farwell – Draws on years of exclusive reporting and dozens of military, government and family sources in a narrative account of the life, captivity and trial of the Taliban-abducted soldier whose story has become a symbol of America’s foundering war in Afghanistan.

The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal by William J. Burns – America’s highest-ranking Foreign Service career ambassador and president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace presents a memoir of his career in service while outlining an impassioned case for diplomacy in today’s increasingly volatile world.

Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement, My Story of Transformation and Hope by Albert Woodfox – Chronicles the author’s extraordinary achievements as an activist during and after spending 40 years in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit, describing how he has committed his post-exoneration life to prison reform.

Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States by Samantha Allen – A transgender reporter for the Daily Beast visits Red States in America’s “flyover country” and tells the stories of extraordinary LGBT people who decided to stay, rather than leave for the more liberal coasts, and describes their work for change.

An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago by Alex Kotlowitz – Examines the humanity and brutality of Chicago’s most turbulent neighborhoods through a series of intimate profiles that illuminate the firsthand realities of gun violence in contemporary America.

Nervous States: Democracy and the Decline of Reason by William Davies – In this age of intense political conflict, we sense objective fact is growing less important. Experts are attacked as partisan, statistics and scientific findings are decried as propaganda, and public debate devolves into personal assaults. How did we get here, and what can we do about it? (From publisher description.)

Notes on a Shipwreck: A Story of Refugees, Borders, and Hope by Davide Enia – A moving firsthand account of migrant landings on the island of Lampedusa that gives voice to refugees, locals, and volunteers while also exploring a deeply personal father-son relationship. On the island of Lampedusa, the southernmost part of Italy, between Africa and Europe, Davide Enia looks in the faces of those who arrive and those who wait, and tells the story of an individual and collective shipwreck. (From publisher descrption.)

Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse by Timothy Carney – Conservative journalist and commentator Timothy P. Carney continues the conversation begun with Hillbilly Elegy and the classic Bowling Alone in this hard-hitting analysis that identifies the true factor behind the decline of the American dream: it is not purely the result of economics as the left claims, but the collapse of the institutions that made us successful, including marriage, church, and civic life. (From publisher description.)

The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America edited by Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman – A U.S. follow-up to the best-selling U.K. edition collects urgent essays by first- and second-generation immigrant writers on the realities of immigration, multiculturalism and marginalization in today’s increasingly divided America. Contributors include Chigozie Obioma, Jenny Zhang, Fatimah Asghar and Alexander Chee, among others.

The Empire and the Five Kings: America’s Abdication and the Fate of the World by Bernard-Henri Lévy – The Empire and the Five Kings is a cri de coeur that draws upon lessons from history and the eternal touchstones of human culture to reveal the stakes facing the West as America retreats from its leadership role, a process that did not begin with Donald Trump’s presidency and is not likely to end with him. The crisis is one whose roots can be found as far back as antiquity and whose resolution will require the West to find a new way forward if its principles and values are to survive.

Long Shot: The Inside Story of the Snipers Who Broke ISIS by Azad Cudi – A gripping narrative by an Iran-born Kurdish journalist who joined the ranks of the Kurdish army as a sniper in the fight against ISIS.

Antisemitism: Here and Now by Deborah E. Lipstadt – The award-winning author of “The Eichmann Trial” shares a provocative analysis of the persistence of antisemitism in today’s world, identifying its overt practices by both the political right and left while sharing recommendations for what can be done.

If We Can Keep It: How the Republic Collapsed and How It Might Be Saved by Michael Tomasky – The Daily Beast columnist and editor of “Democracy: A Journal of Ideas” assesses the origins of political polarization in America that outlines ambitious recommendations in the areas of ranked-choice voting, at-large congressional elections and civics education.

Downhill From Here: Retirement Insecurity in the Age of Inequality by Katherine S. Newman – A sharp examination of today’s troubled state of retirement in America shares sobering insights into how the real estate crash and limited social security are preventing retirement and inducing widespread poverty in aging Baby Boomers.

All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change by Michael T. Llare – An eye-opening examination of climate change from the perspective of the U.S. military. The Pentagon, unsentimental and politically conservative, might not seem likely to be worried about climate change – still linked, for many people, with polar bears and coral reefs. Yet of all the major institutions in American society, none takes climate change as seriously as the U.S. military.