Stony the Road (Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow) by Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a history text. The book is dry and factual; not exciting. If you want to know the various ways that Black Americans were attacked and used as the antithesis of White; this book is a top resource. Today many of us know that people believe what they want to believe, but illiterate former slaves had to deal with an array of forces working to humiliate and diminish them. White was ultimately defined as everyone with European origins viewing and working to keep Black people inferior. Doctors, scientists, journalists, etc. were all in on a conspiracy to feed White egos and marginalize Black ones. Details are a strength of this book; the election of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and his White supremacist policies, racist movies like “Birth of a Nation” (1915), Whites feeling anxious about Black troops coming back from World War I leading to the terrorist Red Summer of 1919. The book starts with Reconstruction after the Civil War and follows the hellish reality the Black Americans lived with through the 1920s. If you want to understand more about the history of White Supremacy in America put this book on your list.
If you want to read what I would call a great and imaginative mystery; try Deacon King Kong by James McBride. The author succeeds with deep social commentary, rich imagery, all weaved into a provocative story. The book is set in a late 1960s Brooklyn project where Black people have migrated north to escape the racism of the south only to discover a new version of it. The main character known as Sports Coat struggles against overwhelming odds due to family neglect almost from birth, racist abuse, poverty, and finally alcoholism. Tragedy strikes early in the book, but Sports Coat despite his flaws is a deeply spiritual man who struggles to the end to make his life meaningful. Friendship and fellowship are major elements of this satisfying book where all of the characters struggle in their lives, but possess inner strength and character. The world can be a tough place and Deacon King Kong does not hide this reality, but author James McBride does a masterful job of portraying the human spirit shining through the darkness.
“BloodLands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin” by Timothy Snyder is a story of the death and destruction wrought by two twisted criminals. Both Hitler and Stalin dealt in lies and conspiracies designed to heighten their power and bend reality to their liking. Unlike our current situation in the USA (so far) the criminals took complete control, and the result is history. Millions murdered and life cheapened for everyone was the price of allowing the truth to become flexible. Timothy Snyder tells a compelling story using historical documents, statistics, and first-hand accounts to drive home the creation of hell on earth by the two dictators. If we survive as a republic our education system will have to strengthen courses on civics, and effective history that relates the reality of humanity’s story. BloodLands is a book worth your time if you want to understand human darkness and the price of lies.
Overground Railroad by Candacy Taylor is a book well worth your time if you have interest in modern American history or Black history. The book tells the story of the Green Book guide which told African-Americans traveling from the 1930s to the 1960s where they could go with some level of safety. Targeting and degrading Black people was a legal and prominent feature of American society before the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The knowledge provided by the Green Book allowed Black travelers to maintain some dignity while protecting themselves and their families. The stories of Black entrepreneurs who started hotels, restaurants, and other businesses to serve their people are inspiring and tie directly into the Civil Rights movement and future progress. A lot of people helped to create the progress in civil rights and dignified treatment for all people that we strive for. Obviously there is a lot more to be done before we approach even reasonable equality of opportunity. Targeted aggression and degrading of Black people continues, but Ms. Taylor is a fighter who shares her plans and suggestions for achieving a better day in the book. The author brilliantly connects current events to history before concluding the book with a listing of historical Green Book sites.
Trump showed himself to be a true threat to America at Tuesday nights debate. He lies, creates threats to minority citizens and every decent person, blocks the truth, and generally attacks our republic. It seems like desperation from Trump, but he has always been high energy as he sold his lies and created an alternate reality. My question remains the same; “Who supports this guy and what do you think you will get?”. Every major figure who is respectable has announced warnings that our future as a republic is at stake in the coming election. Racists and fascists rally to Trump because they recognize he is one of them. Trump continues to attack our process of selecting leaders. He is trying to block what he believes is the will of the people; a Biden presidency. Trump’s behavior lines up with an evil fictional president in my book Centurion Crew (available at Amazon). Tell everyone you know to vote for Joe Biden to save our republic!
After a long hot summer it is good to feel cooler weather. This summer has provoked anxiety in me and the people I communicate with. Excessively hot days, ash in the air, long-time plants stressed by the heat; it has been rough. I have always loved the season of summer for swimming, vacations, and general relaxation, but this one was different. I travelled to several cities this summer and experienced ash in the air in all of them. It was scary to think that there was no where to escape the effects of massive forest fires, except for places that were hurricane watch or under lockdown restrictions anyway. Football and fall have always been positives for me so I am glad they are here. I am going to spend some time with good books (checkout my book, a thriller called Centurion Crew at Amazon) and tune out some of the politics. I will vote as soon as I can and I hope you do too!
“Begin Again” by Eddie Glaude Jr. is an excellent reflection of today’s issues surrounding race and equity, with a review of the life and times of James Baldwin. I found this book provocative because it revealed clearly that confronting white supremacy and systemic racism are not new. Black Americans have been challenging the evil known as racism on multiple levels for many years. The book examines not only the damage to Black people perpetrated by racism, but the debasement of Whites as well. Even the establishment of the White identity in the Americas is discussed as a pillar of racism. I would advise anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the modern world to read this book. For lighter but still informative and entertaining reading; check out my book “Centurion Crew” on sale at Amazon now!
At a time when chaos seems to rule our society it is easy to feel anxious and the need to escape for a bit. Widespread corruption that seems to go to the top of our government, climate change leading to incredibly hot days and forest fires, and no one intelligent seeming to be in charge. I have a remedy for you. Read my new book “Centurion Crew: A Mack Johnson Novel”. You will be taken to a world where men and women actively defend the constitution. Where bad actors run into the limits of evil doing, and the good guys make a stand using intelligence and guile. I wrote the book considering what could happen if an amoral fascistic person became president and there were persons with a mission to defend the republic. I think you will enjoy the book which is available on Amazon as an Ebook for $9.99.
The new book by John Bolton called the Room Where it Happened; A Whitehouse Memoir is not worth buying for patriotic Americans. Bolton should have testified in the impeachment hearings of Donald Trump if he thought something was wrong. He cannot appear now to tell us amazing tales of treachery and corruption after he did not do anything when it counted. Trump attempted to sell pieces of America to China, Turkey, and Ukraine in exchange for help with his reelection according to John Bolton. This is not a surprise. We all watched him ask Russia for help and get it in 2016; we still don’t know what they got for the help. Trump represents the worst of white privilege; the spectacle he is today exists because he constantly got away with crime and corruption. He rose to power by lying about a black man, he stays there by selling racism, lies, and fear. Research and vote in 2020 if you care about justice in the world, or America!
The book Stress Test (Reflections on Financial Crisis) by Timothy F. Geithner (former Secretary of Treasury) is a great source of information about the global financial system. I can say that I learned a lot by listening to the audiobook version. Mr. Geithner refers several times to the movie “Its a Wonderful Life” when people rush to pull money out of the Bailey savings and loan. That movie moment has always resonated to me as a way to understand the financial system. The system is based on trust and as Geithner says; “when trust disappears no one is safe” and that means especially the little guy. I have heard many people say that the bankers got away with murder, and the bailouts were unfair because only poor and working people were hurt. Geithner makes it clear that what he calls “Old Testament solutions” of punishment cause panic in financial systems(with lots more pain for the little guy). I would recommend anyone wanting to learn more about the financial system, the crisis of 2007-08 to read this book and “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis.