Following up on yesterday’s article, here are five excellent books on contemporary American politics by women. If you purchase any of these through the Amazon Affiliate links below, all the proceeds will be donated to the ACLU.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Michelle Alexander’s book has been widely recommended in the age of Black Lives Matter, and for very good reason. A well-written, compelling analysis of the ways in which our penal system routinely violates the civil rights of millions.
- $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Schaefer made a surprising discovery as they wrote this book: more than 1.5 million Americans of all races, ages and genders live with nearly no cash income. The book covers their diverse survival strategies, and the pervasive shortcomings of the welfare system.
- The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America. Naomi Murakawa’s work provides a useful complement to The New Jim Crow. She traces the roots of the contemporary penal system to WWII-era attempts to protect the rights of minorities by expanding the government’s policing capacities — powers which would later be used as tools of control over the same groups.
- Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame and the Law. Martha Nussbaum writes eloquently about the philosophical roots of attempts to regulate sexual behavior through the law. A useful analysis of “moral” arguments against queer rights.
- The Transformation of American Politics: Activist Government and the Rise of Conservatism. Paul Pierson and Theda Skocpol have edited a useful essay collection on the apparent paradox of post-1960s politics: the scope of government activities has increased steadily, even as conservative leaders have ever more vocally pronounced their commitment to small government.