Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts

Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,993 Ratings  ·  356 Reviews
Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge download or read it online for free
Another Day in the Death of America
by Gary Younge
On an average day in America, seven children and teens will be shot dead. In Another Day in the Death of America, award-winning journalist Gary Younge tells the stories of the lives lost during one such day. It could have been any day, but he chose November 23, 2013. Black, white, and Latino, aged nine to nineteen, they fell at sleepovers, on street corners, in stairwells, and on their own doorsteps. From the rural Midwest to the barrios of Texas, the narrative crisscrosses the country over a period of twenty-four hours to reveal the full human stories behind the gun-violence statistics and the brief mentions in local papers of lives lost.

This powerful and moving work puts a human face—a child’s face—on the “collateral damage” of gun deaths across the country. This is not a book about gun control, but about what happens in a country where it does not exist. What emerges in these pages is a searing and urgent portrait of youth, family, and firearms in America today.

“Take a bunch of teenage boys from the whitest, safest suburb in America and plunk them down in a place where their friends are murdered and they are constantly attacked and threatened, "writes Leovy in Ghettoside. "Signal that no one cares, and fail to solve murders. Limit their options for escape. Then see what happens.”

“But they can explain a great deal. The circumstances into which people are born and the range of opportunities to which they are exposed shape both the choices available to them and the process by which they make those choices even if they, ultimately, still make the choice. I have yet to meet anyone who denies that individuals have free will. But I also have yet to meet anyone who makes a convincing argument that circumstances don’t shape what you can do with that will.”


Heartbreaking book of an ordinary day in America where 10 young men are killed by guns...

Gary Younge picked November 23, 2013 as the random day to track and report on the children and teens in America who were killed by gunfire. On this day the victims numbered ten, in comparison to an average day of seven. The victims were all male, from across the United States and between the ages of 9 and 19. The circumstances varied from opening the door to an angry father to playing with a gun with a friend. Each of the TEN stories was powerful and sad.

Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives was a 2016 GRCA finalist in the non-fiction category. It is a disturbing, but riveting read that invokes questions of how and why we accept these tragic deaths of children as ordinary instead of taking immediate action to stop the killing.

“So long as you have a society with a lot of guns- and America has more guns per capita than any other county in the world- children will be at risk of being shot. The questions are how much risk, and what, if anything, is being done to minimize it? If one thinks of various ways in which commonplace items, from car seats to medicine bottle tops, have been childproofed, it's clear that society's general desire has been to eliminate as many potential dangers from children as possible, even when the number of those who might be harmed is relatively small. If one child's death is preventable, then the proper question isn't "Why should we do this" but rather "Why shouldn't we?" It would be strange for that principle to apple to everything but guns.”
Having finished this book I am left with the overwhelming impression that it was a book that needed to be written. Author Gary Younge is a journalist who spent many years living in the States. Although living in America, he is British and as a black man he was very aware of both the differences and similarities between cultures. One of the most obvious differences is the number of guns that are readily available in the States. I don’t think most Americans understand how shocked us Brits are to visit a supermarket in America and find guns openly on sale. Younge himself was shocked, after snow thawed in the spring and a gun was found near his house and another near his children’s school.

Every day in America, on average, ten children are killed by guns. That is not including suicides, just murders. In fact, gunshot fatalities are so common that they are often not reported. The murder of a child does not even merit a mention on the news, or a paragraph in a newspaper – especially if the child in question is poor or black. The author’s idea was a simple one and incredibly moving. He took an ‘average’ day – Saturday 23rd November, 2013. On this day, ten children were killed (possibly more in fact, but these are those that he could find). The youngest was nine years old and the eldest nineteen. You may say that nineteen is not a child. My eldest child is nineteen and he is currently at university – possibly straddling the difficult age between childhood and adulthood. One of the teenagers killed, eighteen year old Gustin Hinnant, listed his favourite movies as, “Toy Story,” and “Happy Feet.” Despite any bravado or teenage posturing, these are children…

In this book, Younge tells the stories of these children. As also befits the ‘average’ statistics around such shootings, all of these were boys. One was white, two Hispanic and seven were black. They were all from poor backgrounds, meaning that most lived the areas that experience the most crime. These boys were all individuals though and so were their stories and their deaths. These shootings range from gang related killings to an unsupervised boy shooting his friend in a town where hunting seems to be the main preoccupation and loaded weapons available and accessible.

Much of this book is depressing, dispiriting and tragic. Along with the boys stories, Younge weaves the history of gun related crimes into the text. There is the terrible statistic that between 20 and 30 percent of Chicago children in public schools have witnessed a shooting, the fact that poorer parents often do shift work and thus cannot both be at home and earning a living – leaving their children in areas they know are unsafe and, perhaps most depressing, is the fact that parents of these children are often blamed by both the media and their own community. Alongside the fact that the community is unable to face the fact that society has a role in these horrifying statistics, there is the accompanying fact that most of those interviewed seemed to accept without question the presence of guns in their country. Those who own guns can claim that it is personal responsibility and teaching safety that is important, but until America really faces the facts that they have more gun deaths than any country that is not at war, and does something about it, then nothing will change. The names below represent ten of those unlived lives that represent the sad statistics. Ten children killed by guns – every day, including today.

Jaiden Dixon
Kenneth Mills-Tucker
Stanley Taylor
Pedro Cortez
Tyler Dunn
Edwin Rajo
Samuel Brightmon
Tyshon Anderson
Gary Anderson
Gustin Hinnant

This was a very well written, intelligent and thoughtful read. I was very impressed by Gary Younge as both an author and a journalist and I certainly want to explore more of his work.
Another Day in the Death of America is an interesting and stark look at the effects of gun violence in the United States. 
Gary Young is a UK born journalist who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He decided to take a random day in 2013 and look at all of the deaths of children caused by guns that day. His definition of children is fairly expansive, but he looks in some detail at the deaths of 10 children, ranging in age from 7 years old to 19 years -- which is close to the daily average of 7 deaths. Each chapter is about one child and the circumstances of his death -- they are all boys. Some deaths are accidents and some are intentional. Most kids are black or Hispanic, and live in difficult economic and family circumstances -- but not all of them. And most of them have close ties with their mothers, siblings, friends and teachers who give a human face to what have often been short lived and brief news stories. Young's premise is that while these deaths are often tied the challenging circumstances in which each child lives, the frequency and commonality of these deaths is due to the prevalence of guns in the US and the lack of gun control. Interspersed amongst the narratives about each child, Younge presents statistics, historical information and analysis in support of his argument. Coming from Canada where guns are far less common and much more tightly controlled, it wasn't hard for Younge to convince me. But I still found this an interesting, sad and scary read -- and from the sidelines it strikes me as a very timely topic for the US and an original approach to tackling it.
The idea of this book is simple – take a random day (Saturday, 23 November 2013) and write an account of all the kids who were shot and killed in that 24 hour period in the USA. There were ten. (Note – suicides are omitted because they are never reported. So the figure is probably higher than ten.)

The author Gary Younge (a black British journalist) quickly makes clear : this is not a book about the need for gun control, although to a British reader, it may appear that it is. Gary Younge is writing about the whole difficult Gordian knot of intractable problems which has led the USA into the horrendous levels of violence it now suffers.

We do have to mention some comparative figures.

In the USA (population 323 million) in 2014 there were 15, 872 homicides, of which 11,008 were homicide by firearm

In the UK which has a population of 65 million there were 573 homicides in 2016 in total of which 51 were by firearms

There are cities in America which have more murders than the whole of the UK. Such as Chicago (population around 3 million) – 762 in 2016.


Here are the basic details of the cases in this book.

Jaiden Dixon. Grove City, Ohio. Aged 9. Killed by his mother’s deranged ex-boyfriend.
Moral of this story : sometimes there’s nothing you can do.

Kenneth Mills-Tucker, Indianapolis. Aged 19. Shot on the street, no one arrested, no motive discovered.
Moral of this story : don’t walk around at night.

Stanley Taylor, Charlotte NC. Aged 17. Shot by a 27 year old guy at a gas station. No motive discovered. No arrest.
Moral of this story : Don’t drive a car.

Pedro Cortez, San Jose, California. Aged 18. Drive by gang murder. No arrest.
Moral of this story : don’t be in a gang or know anyone in a gang or know anyone who’s in a gang which you’re not aware of.

Tyler Dunn, Marlette, Michegan. Aged 11. Accidentally shot by best friend aged 12.
Moral of this story : don’t have a friend who lives in a house full of unlocked loaded guns.

Edwin Rajo, Houston. Aged 16. Accidentally shot by his female best friend.
Moral of this story : if you’re going to buy a gun for self-protection against all the gangbangers in the neighbourhood, learn how to use it.

Samuel Brightmon, Dallas. Aged 16. Random street shooting. No arrest made.
Moral of this story : if you’re young and black, don’t leave the house.

Tyshon Anderson, Chicago. Aged 18. Gang murder. No arrest made.
Moral of this story : this was the only acknowledged gangbanger of the ten victims. So, I guess, the moral is you reap what you sow. But the other nine victims never reaped what they sowed. So that moral is just not true.

Gary Anderson, Newark NJ. Aged 18. Shot in a drive-by, everyone agreed it was mistaken identity. No arrest.
Moral of this story : don’t look like anyone else.

Gustin Hinnant, Goldsboro NC. Aged 18. Everyone agrees, shot by accident. They were aiming at the other guy in the car. No arrest.
Moral of this story : don’t leave the house, don’t have any friends


This book is a companion piece to another wrenching piece of journalism, Ghettoside by Jill Leovy, which I also recommend. Both books cover the same ground in different ways. But heck, there are so many others too. This is not uncharted territory. Great tv shows like Homicide and The Wire have charted all this stuff already. But it seems every time we get reminded of it, we then forget.

What Gary Younge does is lament the invisibility of these kids’ deaths (they barely register in the media, after 24 hours they’re gone and forgotten) and link them to various immense trends in American society. He interviews the families where he can (some refuse to speak); he transcribes 911 calls; he creates portraits of these kids as far as he’s able. As you can see from the summary, in seven of the ten cases no murderer was ever discovered, no arrests were made.

This book takes a snapshot of a society in which these deaths are uniquely possible and that has a political culture apparently uniquely incapable of creating a world in which they might be prevented

We get pages on the collapse of manufacturing, the implosion of the black family, the failure of politics, the corrosive segregation of the American city –He throws out various insights. Regarding the famous school/workplace/mass shootings, he remarks

They disturb America’s self-image and provoke its conscience in a way that the daily torrent of gun deaths does not

And he ploughs on to the next sad case. Okay, you may be thinking this is not a very cheerful or hopeful book. You’d be right. “Researching this book has made me want to scream” he says in the Afterword. That may be your reaction too.
5★ (Read and reviewed February 18, 2017)

I considered a lower rating, but Younge makes the subject so compelling and the people so familiar, I don't know how he could have done it any better.

WARNING: if you have lost someone through sudden violence, especially a child, this book, and possibly my review, is going to be even more disturbing than it is for someone like me, who has lived a pretty sheltered life. And he lets us into these families’ lives so well, that I’m still afraid for them all.

Author Gary Younge is in a unique position to look at the American way of life and death, and I think he’s done an admirable job.

“I was raised black and poor (though in England, where race and class interact differently), and I have two black American children.”

He says when he moved to Chicago, his son’s day care centre had a meeting on traffic awareness. The teacher recommended that parents travel the same route to school so that kids might have some sense of where they are. Then the teacher explained the routes the centre uses to take kids on outings.

“One of the parents asked whether they would continue to pass the site by the subway where there had been a recent shoot-out. The teacher smiled. ‘I knew that would come up,’ he sighed. ‘It’s a good point, and we are really going to have to get on top of it. We must talk to the children about how to handle situations like that, because the big problem in those moments is that they panic.’

I thought this was odd. Panic in the presence of gunfire seems a perfectly rational response, whether you’re four or forty-four. The problem, it seemed to me, wasn’t the panic but the shooting.”

Un-bloody-believable! He says in England, sometimes the culture feels more violent (fights and such) but less deadly.

He mentions that the first child who died on Saturday, November 23, 2013, was actually shot on November 22, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F Kennedy. But he said he just chose a Saturday, because “it’s over the weekend, when school is out and parties are on, that the young are most likely to be shot.”

He also explains, “it is not a book about gun control; it is a book made possible by the absence of gun control.”

He pulls no punches for his readers, rather he tells these stories with great care and concern and with affection for some of the victims and families he came to know. They are the ones left with the empty chair at the table, the bedroom with clothes strewn around, posters on the wall. It’s impossible not to share the sudden, violent and unexpected loss of their kids.

I'll mention only a couple of stories, but there is a chapter devoted to each child and their family. How it happened that the kid was where they were, whether someone should have known better, or whether it could have been prevented. One little boy was shot point-blank when he opened the door at breakfast time to his mother’s violent, crazy ex who was the father of one of his older brothers.

The father’s own son remembered his dad had said he might opt for “suicide by cop” (to escape his troubles) but never thought to find out what that meant. The father was, indeed, gunned down, but that didn’t save the little boy.

I grew up in America a long time ago and was never aware of guns, except for hunting. It was more like the movie “Grease” where parents worried about their kid joining a gang and getting beaten up or maybe stabbed with a switchblade (flick knife). How times change.

The father of one victim said “Back in the day, when we grew up, you get in a fight, somebody might jump you, you know, but the next day you speak to the person and you keep going. But now you get in an argument with somebody, they come back and shoot you.”

These days:
“Many young people in certain areas are gang members in the same way that Soviet citizens were members of the Communist Party . . . – there was precious little choice.”

California is divided between north and south at Bakersfield: Noreños and Sureños, with special dot tattoos. They wear blue or red (nothing political!), and one grandmother said she always took away her grandson’s red shirts, in case it made him a target. It didn’t save him.

I’ve lived in Australia since the late 60s, and nobody really ever talked about or heard much about guns, except for farmers and hunters and The Mob (or whatever we called them then), until the Port Arthur Massacre led to gun law changes (see below).

“Five years after his retirement from the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Warren Burger, a conservative appointed by Nixon, insisted that the Second Amendment ‘has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word 'fraud' – on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

Younge explains, the New York Times did some investigations in 2013 and reported:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention produced findings and reports on how to limit gun deaths in the same way that they produce reports on healthy eating and how to prevent sudden infant death syndrome. They found, among other things, that the presence of guns in the home increased the likelihood of death rather than reduced it. The National Rifle Association was not pleased with this particular conclusion or the research in general.

Our concern is not with legitimate medical science,’ Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, told The New York Times. ‘Our concern is they were promoting the idea that gun ownership was a disease that needed to be eradicated.’ So the NRA used their immense lobbying power to effectively put a stop to the government’s finding out how to make people safer around guns.”

No. They were promoting the idea that one of the biggest risks to the health of children in America was the lack of safety around guns. One kid in this book came home from school to show demonstrate the gun safety lesson they'd had. He too the gun out of the cupboard, loaded it, went to put it back and it discharged, killing his friend. He understood the safety lesson . . . but not well enough to have a gun where he could get it.

Researching and writing this book has made me want to scream . . . I’ve wanted to scream at journalists and police to treat these deaths as though the lives mattered.

But more than its making me want to scream at anyone in particular, it has mostly made me want to just howl at the moon. A long, doleful, piercing cry for a wealthy country that could and should do better for its youth and children—for my children—but that appears to have settled, legislatively at least, on a pain threshold that is morally unacceptable.”

Our family sold back the only newly illegal repeating shotgun from our farm and kept the rifles and shotguns that were still okay. When we quit farming, we sold the guns, lock, stock and barrel to another farmer, along with the heavy steel cabinet that bolts to the floor.
"Brilliantly reported, quietly indignant, and utterly gripping. A book to be read through tears."-NAOMI KLEIN

I don't know who Naomi Klein is, but she is spot on with that quote. Gary Younge, an accomplished journalist, a Briton, and a black man, searches for understanding of these daily senseless killings and their anonymous victims. Like Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, this book haunts me with it's powerful message about a heartbreaking trend in the America that I don't see or even hear about. This book is so important. I'd like to quote the entire Afterward here but instead I will encourage everyone to read this book. Something has to give. 5 stars

    Researching and writing this book has made me want to scream. But more than its making me want to scream at anyone in particular, it has mostly made me want to just howl at the moon. A long, doleful, piercing cry for a wealthy country that could and should do better for the youth and children – for my children – but that appears to have settled, legislatively at least, on a pain threshold that is morally unacceptable.
    I want to bay toward the heavens, because while kids like those featured in this book keep dying, the political class refuses to do not only everything in its power but anything at all to minimize the risks for the kids who will be shot dead today or tomorrow. 

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate - Al Franken

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  11,067 Ratings  ·  1,926 Reviews
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken download or read it online for free here
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate
by Al Franken
From Senator Al Franken - #1 bestselling author and beloved SNL alum - comes the story of an award-winning comedian who decided to run for office and then discovered why award-winning comedians tend not to do that.This is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, which is pretty funny in retrospect.
It's a book about what happens when the nation's foremost progressive satirist gets a chance to serve in the United States Senate and, defying the low expectations of the pundit class, actually turns out to be good at it.
It's a book about our deeply polarized, frequently depressing, occasionally inspiring political culture, written from inside the belly of the beast.
In this candid personal memoir, the honorable gentleman from Minnesota takes his army of loyal fans along with him from Saturday Night Live to the campaign trail, inside the halls of Congress, and behind the scenes of some of the most dramatic and/or hilarious moments of his new career in politics.

Has Al Franken become a true Giant of the Senate? Franken asks readers to decide for themselves.


I would almost consider moving to Minnesota in order for Al Franken to be my senator.
At last, here is a book which answers the burning question: why is Al Franken not funny anymore?

The short answer, of course: he’s a senator, and senators aren’t supposed to be funny. The long answer—the central idea of this thoughtful (and funny) autobiographical narrative—is that he’s still very funny, very funny indeed, but, for most of the last ten years, has tried his very best not to be. His fellow Minnesotans, like most regular Americans, want elected officials who keep their heads down and work hard, not needy jokesters who keeping calling attention to themselves. And Franken—who is just as serious about being a senator as he once was about being a creator of comedy—has labored for a decade to be a workhorse not a showhorse, doing whatever he can to make life better for the people of his home state.

Franken puts it better himself: “[this book is] the story of how, after spending a lifetime learning how to be funny, I learned how not to be funny.”

But the book is, of course, about other things too: his mentor Paul Wellstone, what a political campaign is like, the policy issues (health care, gun control, campaign financing) Franken cares deeply about, his incremental legislative victories, how the senate changes your sense of how Washington works, and how “you must work hard to make sure that it doesn’t change who you are.”

I finished this book in the days following the congressional baseball shooting, and I was heartened to read of Al’s friendships with Republican senators: writing country songs with Orrin Hatch, listening to “Bob and Ray” tapes with Pat Roberts, trading amiable quips with Jeff Sessions (Jeff’s wife Mary—friends with Al’s wife Franni—knitted Al’s grandson Joe his favorite baby-blanket.) In fact, Al seems to have good things to say about most of his Republican colleagues. (Except for Senator Ted Cruz. One must have standards, of course.)

The best thing about this book, at least for me, is that Franken, after all these years, has finally become comfortable enough with himself to be both funny and serious at the same time. He can follow an exposition of public policy with a devastating witticism (or a dumb joke) and both seem equally appropriate expressions of a complex, interesting man. Franken takes pleasure in publicly uniting the comedian and the senator, and his obvious pleasure in this process makes the book more serious—and much funnier too.
Al Franken: Giant of the Senate is a 2017 Twelve publication.

It’s always a slippery slope when reviewing a non-fiction politically based book. However, in the states, the current political polarization makes it even more of a challenge.

But, never fear, this review will not be a political commentary. Franken's views fall within party lines, and if you are a democrat you will agree with him on most issues, and if not, you do know going in what his values are and what his political opinions will be, so I won't delve into those here.

‘They tell you in this country that you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. And we all believe that. But, first you’ve got to have the boots”

Al Franken wasn’t really on my radar, politically, until after the 2016 election. I watched all the confirmation hearings, and of course anyone following politics will know Franken asked some pretty tough questions and caused quite a stir by asking what on the surface were pretty innocuous questions. He had done his homework, which is more than I could say about most participating in those proceedings. And...

I loved it!!

I knew Franken had been a writer for Saturday Night Live and had been elected to the senate, representing the state of Minnesota. But, since he does not represent my state, I never heard much about him or how he was doing in his job as senator.

But, once I saw him in action, I was very impressed and couldn’t wait to read more about his life.

Franken is naturally funny. He doesn’t have to work at it at all, coming up with hilarious quips right off the top of his head. However, in Washington, these folks are not exactly known for their sense of humor. Therefore, Al has had to tone down his humor in order to be taken seriously, to appease other members of his party, and of course to keep himself from saying something that might get him in hot water.

He does a great job of balancing his gregarious personality with the seriousness of his job, and frankly, it’s too bad, other members of Congress worry so much about making jokes or laughing at the absurdity of politics, or at their own party.

But, Franken is able to release a bit of his pent -up humor in this book, which detailed his very interesting journey into politics, the messiness of campaigning, raising money, mistakes he made, the challenges he faced, and his hopes for the future.

I was impressed by his sharpness, his work ethic, and how he plays the political game. It is obvious he and his wife have a strong relationship, and he enjoys his family, which was very refreshing.

Al will surprise you with how prepared he is, how serious he takes his responsibilities, his willingness to work with those on the other side of the aisle, his openness, and sense of fair play.

Al is a democrat through and through, but even if you are not, you have to love the dedication, the sincerity he exudes and believe me, with only one notable, (and spot on), exception, Al gets along, and is respectful to his Republican counterparts, working side by side with them to actually see results.

I thoroughly enjoyed Al’s humor, the glimpse into his personal life, looking back on some memorable SNL skits and personalities, and reading about Al’s tenuous political beginnings. His journey has been very interesting! Al has a larger than life persona and I believe his state is lucky to have them on their side.

This book also has some marvelous personal photographs, and his grandchildren are simply adorable!!
I'm sure I'm not the only non American who has become obsessed with American politics over the last year or so. At first it was close to a prurient interest. As time goes by, it feels increasingly like what's happening in the US is relevant to my children's future environmental, economic and physical well being, so the interest feels more real and more personal. And I know I'm not alone...

So it's some comfort learn more about Al Franken -- to know that there are dedicated people willing to serve in public office with reason, compassion, common sense and the long view.

I listened to the audio, and it held my interest from beginning to end. I'm not sure there's any particular organizing principle to Franken's memoir. It is part personal history, part gossipy anecdote, part random thoughts about politics and life, and part pointed thoughts about politics and the future. It's not funny, but there's a lot of humour sprinkled throughout.

It left me thinking that Franken is someone worth watching. It left me thinking about the importance and meaning of public service. It left me thinking that it's important not to give in to an overwhelming sense of cynicism when thinking about contemporary politics. It reminded me to speak positively to my kids about the importance of political engagement.

I'm sure Franken has some flaws, but as you can see the audio of his book hit all the right notes for me and made me a true fan.
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken is a book I was so ready to read and it did not disappoint. 
He started the book by going all the way back to his beginnings in comedy then on up to being a Senator. The reason for this was to show how hard it was to run for office after being a comedian and having every joke thrown in his face by both parties. This was an excellent book about how the inside of politics work and doesn't work. The inside of how corrupt some of these guys are. It told of Franken's tough times and his good times. You laugh with him and laugh at him. You laugh at the goofy politicians that think they are better than everyone else. The best chapter in the whole book is the one on Ted Cruz. Oh my gosh! Loved it. During the election, my family called Cruz the 'pedophile' because he looks like what we imagine a pedophile would look like. In Franken's book, he calls Cruz the 'pedophile' and I laughed so hard. Definitely worth the money and the time. Love his books anyway but this is just awesome.
In the current political climate with congressional hearings, a special prosecutor, and a chief executive who demands fealty as if he were a "godfather" it was good to read a political manifesto in the form of biography that with drips with sarcasm and humor. 
When one thinks of Al Franken, Saturday Night Live (SNL) comes to mind, and the “serious” laughter his writings, i.e., RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A BIG FAT IDIOT, and appearances produced. His new autobiography is in the same vein as he uses his life story as a clarion call for a progressive agenda and a fight against alternative news and/or reality and the lies that are perpetrated regularly by certain politicians and supposed news outlets.

AL FRANKEN: GIANT OF THE SENATE describes the evolution of a belief system that began at an early age, particularly as a young teen reacting to Lyndon Johnson’s work to get the 1964 Civil Rights Act signed into law. From that point on we witness Franken’s intellectual growth using his comedic sense through high school, college, a career on SNL, and a second career in the United States Senate. As Franken matures emotionally and politically his commitment to a progressive agenda for the American people (as well as Minnesota!) emerges. But make no mistake for Franken to be successful he had to suppress his public humor to avoid political pitfalls

The key event in his career was the death of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone; his mentor, teacher, and intellectual role model. For Wellstone “politics was about improving people’s lives.” Franken presents a wonderful chapter encompassing Wellstone’s life’s work and positive goals for the American people. Franken explains the type of person he was and how he was influenced by his progressive agenda. Once Wellstone and his family are killed in a plane crash he was replaced in the Senate by Republican Norm Coleman who stated “I am a 99% improvement over Paul Wellstone.” For Al Franken it was “game on.” Franken believed in Wellstone’s core, that “we all do better, when we all do better,” a mantra that Franken has worked for since his time in the Senate.

Franken explores in detail his campaign against Norm Coleman. Faced with Republican obfuscation, distortion, and outright lies Franken was welcomed to the wonderful world of what he calls the “Dehumorizer,” or how his opponent would do or say anything about his opponent’s past and present be it fact or fiction, in the 2008 campaign, mostly fiction. Franken would defeat Coleman by 312 votes, but it took over eight months to finally join his Senate colleagues as Coleman’s team dragged the results through the courts and in the end never really conceded. Fast forward, eight years later Franken was elected by a 10% margin. It is interesting how the Obama people did little to assist Franken, no matter what he did even Democrats could not wrap their heads around a former SNL comic becoming a serious politician.

The most interesting aspects of Franken’s story rests on the legislative process which is bound in hyprocracy by both major parties, though perhaps a bit more by Republicans. He cites a number of examples dealing with the 2009 Stimulus package which finally passed despite Republican opposition which led to a slower recovery than was necessary. This allowed Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell to blame the slow recovery on President Obama. This is the same Senator who stated once Obama was elected in 2009 that it was his primary purpose to make sure that the new president would not achieve any successes. It is also fascinating that certain congresspersons who voted against the stimulus took credit for it when it created benefits for their own districts.

Franken takes the reader behind the scenes as the Senate votes on legislation. In particular a “disclosure bill” designed to offset the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. The cavalier attitude of a number of Republicans is offered in their own words, of course funded by the Koch Brothers and their “Federalist agenda.” Franken goes on to eviscerate Texas Senator Ted Cruz in a chapter entitled “Sophistry.” Franken is proud of the fact that he hates a colleague who in two short months managed to turn almost his entire party against him. As is Franken’s methodology throughout the book his comments are sardonic, humorous, and sarcastic, but below the surface the Senator from Minnesota is seething.

A major theme of the book is a clarion call for Democrats to turn out and remove Republicans from power. If it is not done soon, Franken argues President Trump will continue to dismantle the achievements that Obama was able to attain. Franken tries to be upbeat throughout as he rests on his comedic talent. But, after watching the Senate Intelligence Hearings and Trump’s response congressional hearings televised on what seems to be a daily basis, a special prosecutor, and a chief executive who demands fealty as if he was “the godfather” it was good to read an uplifting political manifesto in the form of a biography that the past few days we all must be careful because what we are witnessing cannot be good for our country, which seems to be what motivates Franken each day-what is good for our country.
"I can't tell you I'll always get it right. But I'll tell you this: I'm going to keep fighting as hard as I can in the coming months and years to protect our children, our values and our future from Donald Trump." - Al Franken, from Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken.

This is absolutely the book America needs to read right now. I want to just acquire a crate full of copies of this book and pass it out to people. Franken manages to be both hopeful, realistic and funny all at the same time when writing about the inner-workings of the US government. It's amazing.

It is difficult for me to write an unbiased review of anything Franken has written - he has been a major influence in my life. Growing up, I watched Saturday Night Live reruns with my parents. I saw a lot of classic SNL - Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Jon Belushi, Steve Martin, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Molly Shannon, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon, Will Farrell, Tina, I just started naming SNL people off the top of my head and just kept going, there. But yes, and, of course, Al Franken.

I can't even begin to describe how much of an influence Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them was on my political development. I borrowed the book from my dad because a) it looked funny and it was by a guy I knew to be funny and b) the title. Seriously, how could you not read a book called Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them? As I made my way through the book it was like a veil was being ripped away from my eyes. I suddenly became interested in the political. I suddenly started watching the news and actually paying attention to what they were saying. I started reading the newspaper and Newsweek - the actual content, not just looking at the pictures and reading movie reviews. I got really into this TV series called The Daily Show. I started noticing the every day hypocrisies in my rural hometown. I started questioning the official narratives we were fed every day. I started questioning the narrative I was fed in Lies, and started fact-checking the claims within the book myself. This, incidentally, is how librarians are created, children.

Lies woke me up and shoved me into politics. My terrible hometown, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Dan Rather and my local library did the rest.

Al Franken: he's good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like him! Especially me.

I was naught but a wee little teenage girl in one of the reddest counties of my traditionally blue state. In 2004, there was not much I could do politically, except go to a Kerry rally and then be sad when he lost. And be horrified at how happy my oblivious classmates were that Bush had been reelected. Really, guys?

Anyway! This brings me, finally, to Al Franken: Giant of the Senate.

When I heard Franken was running for Senate in Minnesota I thought "hell yeah!" And then proceeded to stop caring because a) college and b) I do not now, nor have I ever, lived in Minnesota. I was too busy paying attention to local news, getting kicked out of my room by my evil freshman roommates, and worrying about whether or not the economy was going to get so bad that my parents would lose their jobs and I'd have to withdraw from college and go straight to work. And, if that happened, would there even be any jobs left for me? Ah, 2008. What a crap year. Anyway, I squeaked through 2008 and didn't have to leave school, and next I heard, Al Franken won! Yes! Awesome! I immediately stopped paying attention. Then I heard there was a recount? Oh no, how dare they try and steal Al's victory from him! ...and then I stopped paying attention because school. I was glad when I finally heard that Al got his seat in the senate, but I didn't pay too much attention because a) not from Minnesota and b) college. What does this have to do with the book? Well, the book covers pretty much everything that I missed - why he decided to run for senate, what the campaign was like, and just how difficult it is for a comedian to adjust from being a professional funnyman to a superserious political-type. No eye rolling during terrible speeches. No snarky comments during a hearing.

This book is for everyone - it's for anyone who is frustrated at the gridlock in Washington, who is sick of partisan malarkey, or who have lost faith in our democratic process. It is for anyone who watched the disaster that was 2016 unfold with tears in their eyes. It's for anyone who has ceased to see their representatives as human beings and more like soulless ghouls who feed on campaign donations.

The best thing about this book is how Franken portrays his colleagues across the aisle not as demons, but as people making decisions he disagrees with (and think are evil). The sight of certain Republicans makes my blood boil, but Giant of the Senate reminded me that, as much as I dislike them, they're still people, and we need to work together if we're going to help everyone. At the same time, though, he fights for truth in politics:

"[I]f we don't start caring about whether people tell the truth or not, it's going to be literally impossible to restore anything approaching a reasonable political discourse. Politicians have always shaded the truth. But if you can say something that is provably false, and no one cares, then you can't have a real debate about anything."

Amen, Al.

Thank you, Al Franken. Don't ever stop fighting for the people, for our country and don't ever stop being funny, even if you have to wait five years and put it all in book form. And don't ever stop telling stories about how awful Ted Cruz is, I could read those all day. Like, in book form. Nudge nudge.
I thought Al Franken was funny on Saturday Night Live (“When you point your finger at someone else, you point three fingers back at yourself. And your thumb at God, I guess”), but as far as I’m concerned his work as a pundit is where he’s really distinguished himself—both as host of his own radio show on Air America and as the author of Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, and The Truth (With Jokes) (all of which are excellent and worth your time). Reading and/or listening to Franken for any length of time makes it pretty obvious that he’s a person who values honesty and accuracy, and he’s clearly carried this quality into his work as a senator.

Franken is a very good, very funny writer, and you could absolutely do worse than getting your facts from him. (Back when Republicans wanted to privatize Social Security to “keep it from going bankrupt,” for instance, it was Al Franken who did the math that convinced me that Social Security was in fact in no danger of going bankrupt, and I’m quite comfortable having him as my source.) Giant of the Senate is more of a straightforward memoir than any of his previous books, and all of it was interesting—the parts about his childhood, the chapters about SNL, etc.—but nothing was more fascinating than when he decided to enter politics. The chapters recounting his first campaign, the recount, and his time in the Senate were completely riveting to me, in addition to providing a lot of valuable info about how Washington actually works. In this age of Trump, a lot of us are spending at least a little time trying to influence our elected officials, and if you’re looking for an overview of the whole situation, again, you could do much worse than reading Al Franken.

A lot of politicians “write books” while they’re in office, or running for office, and these are mainly just boring PR tools ghostwritten by someone else, but that’s not the case with Giant of the Senate. For one thing, Al Franken wrote this himself, as he’s done with all of his books. For another, this book is totally honest, contains a fair amount of cursing, and pulls no punches when it comes to Trump or (most hilariously and informatively, in my opinion) Ted Cruz. The book also talks a lot about the art of and necessity for compromise. Franken is realistic about this as well—he knows that compromise is sometimes frustrating, but he also knows it’s the only way to make things happen. He quotes Barney Frank: “The only person I’ve ever voted for who I’ve agreed with one hundred percent is myself. The first time.” But ultimately Franken’s stories of reaching across the aisle are more encouraging than dispiriting. I’ve heard he doesn’t plan to run again in 2020, so here’s hoping he goes for broke in the time he has left in office. We need more elected officials like him.
I wish all politicians had the same dedication and loyalty to their constituents as Senator Al Franken. I've always liked him, whether on SNL in the 70s or more recently grilling Trump's unorthodox cabinet nominees. He is not supposed to be funny or swear now that he is in the Senate, but I would say he just can't help it. So many examples given of what he was aching to say at certain times, things he was sure would have just killed. He restrained himself then, but shared the lost opportunities in the book. Laugh out loud funny.

He is what he is. Since he joined the Senate rather late in life, he isn't a career politician and actually cares more for the people who elected him than he does about the politics. He cares more about providing people with health care than about getting re-elected or any sidestepping agendas like keeping the Koch brothers happy. And most of all he cares about the truth -- you lie and he'll call you out, show the evidence of it being a lie, and will probably write a book about what a lying liar you are (I'm talking to you, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly). And to our Liar in Chief, to whom the last chapters were devoted. (Al's worried but also optimistic. I'm just worried.)

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

 4.31  ·  Rating details ·  10281 Ratings  · 776  Reviews
What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton download or read it online for free here
What Happened
by Hillary Rodham Clinton
“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down.” —Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the introduction of What Happened

For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.

The election of 2016 was unprecedented and historic. What Happened is the story of that campaign and its aftermath—both a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale for the nation.


  • Thank you Hillary Rodham Clinton, history will be kind to you and we the majority of knows the truth. Highly recommended, and I at 67 years young my grandchildren will know I voted for you, and believed in our values to keep our children world safe from dictatorships, and pollution of propaganda. Have my hard copy, and audio version. HRC your mother, father, daughter, brothers, husband, are so fortunate to be in her company. Your grandchildren, will do great things for others no doubt.

  • Candid, reflective, funny. I assume writing it wasn't easy, but oh boy, what an absolute joy to read! The chapter about Women in Politics should be read by every woman out there.

  • I have just finished reading. I purchased both Audiobook and hardcover. Audiobook is read entirely by Hillary and it was really great.

I attended many political events including Trump and Sanders during the 2016 presidential election, and I wrote many articles about it for several Japanese media including Newsweek Japan. What Hillary wrote in WHAT HAPPENED was exactly what I saw and reported. I thought many American media was very unfair to her (and also to Kasich, but in a different way) and wrote about it. However, I was attacked viciously by not only Trump supporters but also from left leaning activists. By reading Hillary's memoire, these bad memories came back in full force.

I know many people who says "I just don't like Hillary" for no particular reason. I hope they will read this memoir without any prejudice as I listened to many GOP candidates without prejudice. I found Kasich likable and capable even though I didn't agree with some of his positions. I would've been so depressed if Kasich was the President instead of Trump.

  • I've been really depressed since November and I have not watched TV since that fateful night. But, I can't just be that way. As Hillary says in the end of the book, There was only one answer: "Keep going."

I just started the Sisterhood Chapter. I am gripped and cannot put this book down. It's bold, it's raw, and it's riveting.

Guess what else? I'm not the only one who has a thing for Goldfish Crackers!

Don't be scared of the book. You won't be re-living the election. Rather, you will be finding out for the first time what HRC was really thinking at certain times during the campaign.

This book is EPIC and will go down in history as What Happened in 2016.

  • At first I felt all the negative reviews of this book was just right right-wing hate speech. I'm over half way through the book and it is almost laughable to the point that part of me thinks it's satire. 
Hillary Clinton is either a marketing genius who knows that people will buy this book just to get angry or (more likely) she is a completely oblivious person to reality and to how the average American perceives her. I don't like Bernie Sanders but after everything he had to endure with the DNC email scandal for Hillary to attack him and have the attuide that he should genuflect at the Clinton alter is just offensive. Her attacks on the press in this book are out of line as well. No rational person who followed this election can honestly say with a straight face that the mainstream media wasn't clearly pulling for her. Respect is earned not given, until Hillary Clinton learns that lesson she will never be a leader, at least not a effective one.

  • Try again.
I put a review on this site yesterday. It was a negative review, not nasty, but negative, and I bought the book from Amazon-----it was deleted.

This is a very poorly written book and nothing but a Trump bashing. She lost and needs to come to grips with that. Writing negative books and Amazon deleting negative reviews is not going to get her elected. The whole concept of democracy is evidently lost on Hillary and Amazon-I ran therefore I should win is not how it works. Simply because her last name is Clinton does not give her the right to be president. A lot of people have lost presidential races, you don't see anyone whining in books about it. In this book she has shown she is not mature enough to be president.

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

All the Single Ladies
by Rebecca Traister
A nuanced investigation into the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of women in America. In a provocative, groundbreaking work, National Magazine Award finalist Rebecca Traister, “the most brilliant voice on feminism in the country” (Anne Lamott), traces the history of unmarried and late-married women in America who, through social, political, and economic means, have radically shaped our nation.

In 2009, the award-winning journalist Rebecca Traister started All the Single Ladies—a book she thought would be a work of contemporary journalism—about the twenty-first century phenomenon of the American single woman. It was the year the proportion of American women who were married dropped below fifty percent; and the median age of first marriages, which had remained between twenty and twenty-two years old for nearly a century (1890–1980), had risen dramatically to twenty-seven.

But over the course of her vast research and more than a hundred interviews with academics and social scientists and prominent single women, Traister discovered a startling truth: the phenomenon of the single woman in America is not a new one. And historically, when women were given options beyond early heterosexual marriage, the results were massive social change—temperance, abolition, secondary education, and more.

Today, only twenty percent of Americans are wed by age twenty-nine, compared to nearly sixty percent in 1960. The Population Reference Bureau calls it a “dramatic reversal.” All the Single Ladies is a remarkable portrait of contemporary American life and how we got here, through the lens of the single American woman. Covering class, race, sexual orientation, and filled with vivid anecdotes from fascinating contemporary and historical figures, All the Single Ladies is destined to be a classic work of social history and journalism. Exhaustively researched, brilliantly balanced, and told with Traister’s signature wit and insight, this book should be shelved alongside Gail Collins’s When Everything Changed.


  • Before picking this book up, I read a lot of articles about it and interviews with the author. When perusing the comments sections of these articles, the criticisms that I've read of unmarried young women tend to fall into one of three camps: they are selfish leaches (the assumption here being that they're all single mothers on welfare); they're narcissistic and immature; or they’re man-hating feminists out to destroy the fabric of society.

These assumptions about single women are so frustrating and often off-the-mark, yet they remain deeply ingrained in many parts of our culture. But it cannot be denied that more women over the age of 18 are choosing to delay marriage or to forgo it entirely than ever before. Traister's goal here is to examine the reasons for this trend, as well as how the trend affects not just women – economically, socially, psychologically – but also men and society as a whole. It's fascinating, well-researched, and broad. It was so wonderfully validating to me, even (and maybe especially) as a 31 year-old woman who only recently got married. I seriously can't remember the last time that I marked up a book so much. It's the book I was looking for last year when I picked up Spinster.
This is a topic that I have lots of capital-F Feelings about. I’ve talked about this around here before, but the best advice I’ve ever received in my life was when my mother told me to wait until I was 30 to get married. She told me to live on my own first and make sure I did the things I wanted to do before settling down. I didn’t consciously decide to wait until I was 30, life just kind of worked out that way, but it was absolutely the right thing for me and I am so glad it worked out that way.

Until I was 25, I thought I was going to marry the guy I’d been dating since high school. We broke up for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest was that I moved away for grad school and it gradually became obvious that it would not be easy to bring our visions for our lives together in a way that made sense. I was also realizing that I wasn’t experiencing life as fully as I wanted to because I was trying to make that relationship work. I’d never been in another relationship, I was just taking for granted that this one was the right one for me. It didn’t make sense to sacrifice so much for something I was just assuming was right.

By the time I did get married, I’d been around the block enough times to realize that could say with a great deal of certainty that, yes, my husband does actually have all the qualities that I want and need in a husband. I also believe that our relationship is significantly healthier because I took some time to focus on myself. I wasn’t always happy when I was single and I wasn’t always secure, but I learned how to embrace the things I liked about myself and make them shine, how to distinguish between balance and sacrifice, and how to function without feeling like I was dependent on someone else. Those are all things that make me a better person and a better wife, but I never would have learned them if I had stayed in that one relationship.

So I could probably write a review as long as this book itself sharing my many (many, many, many) thoughts on the topic of marriage in America, but to keep this from spiraling out of control, let me just say that the thing that frustrates me the most about those comment section criticisms is that they almost always throw the burden onto the women’s shoulders. Women are narcissistic or selfish if they don’t want to get married, but you rarely hear the same said of men. They just haven’t found a good woman yet. Single mothers are labelled morally deficient sluts setting bad examples for their children, but that ignores the roles that the absent fathers play in the women’s single status—it’s not always the woman’s decision to be a single mother, for any number of reasons, and, when it is her decision, it might be the better alternative to staying with an abusive or unreliable guy (and if you’re going to argue that they shouldn’t have gotten pregnant by an abusive or unreliable guy in the first place, let’s have a conversation about access to birth control). Finally, and perhaps most frustrating: women are the ones accused of destroying society when they’re not married. Not only does this imply that women are supposed to be the moral shepherds for men, it suggests that marriage is the only way to be moral or the only way to contribute to society.
There’s a quote in this book from Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, in which he expressed his concern for women who were putting off marriage and motherhood until their late thirties or forties, saying that they were going to “miss so much of life.” Which made me want to find a time machine just to punch that man in the face. Why is it so hard to wrap the conservative Christian brain around the idea that A) there’s more to life for some women than just marriage and motherhood, B) waiting to pursue those things means that you get the chance to experience the other stuff first, and C) experiencing those other things might actually make you a better partner and a better parent in the end? I'm sorry, Mitt, but if I'd gotten married to that guy I would have ultimately spent the rest of my life in the same small town and never experienced a zillion different things that I got to do instead. I wouldn't have traveled, found a career path outside of random office drone, or met people who are different from the same white, small-town Protestants that populated my high school. I probably wouldn't have learned how to better manage my budget or fix a broken showerhead or take care of myself when I am sick.

Personal growth isn't selfish. Learning to take care of yourself on your own isn't selfish. It's healthy and it's important and it's wonderful. And it's all stuff that I learned to do because I was single. I genuinely don't think I'd have gotten there if I was still focusing on that relationship.

There’s another side to the conversation here, which Traister does address to some extent: marriage among lower income women is declining, and it’s doing so for different reasons than among middle- or upper-class women. Ironically, it’s low-income women who would perhaps benefit the most, economically speaking, from a marriage that provides two incomes. I do think that this book might have benefited from even more examination of that subject and how the concept of marriage can be adjusted to make it a little more favorable towards women in poverty. Traister also spends some time looking at trends among women of color but in general, I do feel like she puts most of her emphasis on middle-class white women. (She seems to assume that many of single millennials felt primarily inspired by Sex and the City, an assumption that bothers me a bit as I was never a fan of the series. I almost wish she’d looked a little more at the representations of marriage-vs-singledom and feminism in other media outlets, too)

This book isn’t necessarily a judgement on the institution of marriage. Traister isn’t arguing in favor of not getting married—she’s actually married, though she did so later in life. She’s filled her book with anecdotes from women from many walks of life who have different approaches to marriage and how it may or may not fit into their lives. This may not provide a lot of new material for women who’ve read up on the many trend pieces and articles written on this topic over the last decade, but this is among the first books to cohesively and comprehensively tie all those trend pieces together in one place. Reading it was a great experience.

  • 4 high stars. I started listening to non fiction audiobooks about two years ago, and I continue to be blown away by the high quality of so many books. All the Single Ladies falls into that camp. A mixture of history, sociology, interviews and autobiography, All the Single Ladies makes an argument for the positive aspects of women postponing marriage or not marrying at all. In the end, Traister argues that there should not be one model for women to follow in their life trajectory. And there should be more support for those who don't follow conventional paths. While this may seem like a truism, what makes All the Single Ladies interesting are all the disparate strands of information and insight that Traister pulls together.

Oddly, while I don't fit her topic particularly well, the message really spoke to me. My husband and I married relatively young and before we had any idea what our work lives held in store. But I could still relate to what Traister had to say because what I did feel was compelled to avoid some of society's expectations about how our relationship and family life were meant to work. This has worked for us, but I recognize that I'm lucky. I've seen many female friends and colleagues over the years who have borne the brunt of achieving "work-life" balance while their male partners advanced unimpeded in their careers and unfrazzled in their home life.

This is a pretty big digression. But I think it would be hard for most women to read All the Single Ladies without reflecting on their own lives, and the lives of their friends, mothers, sisters and daughters. A powerful and interesting read. Thank you to Goodreads friend Julie for recommending this one when I asked her for suggestions for contemporary feminist writings. Highly recommend for anyone on a similar quest.

  • This is my favorite nonfiction book I read in 2016. It's just fantastic. It has tremendous breadth and depth of historical and social research, and I also liked how Rebecca Traister included examples from both pop culture and the personal experiences of her and her friends.

I listened to this on audio, but I loved this book so much I want to get my own copy and mark my favorite quotes. Highly recommended to anyone interested in the history of the women's movement, or those wanting to read more about modern social changes.

Favorite Quote
"The vast increase in the number of single women is to be celebrated not because singleness is in and of itself a better or more desirable state than coupledom. The revolution is in the expansion of options, the lifting of the imperative that for centuries hustled nearly all (non-enslaved) women, regardless of their individual desires, ambitions, circumstances, or the quality of available matches, down a single highway toward heterosexual marriage and motherhood. There are now an infinite number of alternative routes open; they wind around combinations of love, sex, partnership, parenthood, work, and friendship, at different speeds. Single female life is not prescription, but its opposite: liberation."

  • I have so many splendid female friends, and quite a few of them have felt incomplete without a boyfriend. Despite their immense amounts of compassion, intelligence, and ambition, society floods them with the message that they are incomplete without a male romantic partner in their lives. Thus, I loved Rebecca Traister's All the Single Ladies because she drives home the point that many women live without male partners and achieve long-lasting success and happiness. 
Using a compelling mixture of statistics, interviews, and critical analysis, she shows how single women have changed the United States for the better by pioneering social change in the realms of reproductive justice, workplace gender equality, and much more. With a warm and intelligent writing style, she conveys that women are so much more than their relationships with men, and that by staying single or marrying later, they can help create a more just world as well as higher-quality relationships with their friends, family members, romantic partners, communities, and themselves. One of the many quotes I enjoyed that articulates how society often conceptualizes single women:

"When people call single women selfish for the act of tending to themselves, it's important to remember that the very acknowledgement that women have selves that exist independently of others, and especially independent of husbands and children, is revolutionary. A true age of female selfishness, in which women recognized and prioritized their own drives to the same degree to which they have always been trained to tend to the needs of all others might, in fact, be an enlightened corrective to centuries of self-sacrifice."

I appreciate that Traister wrote this book, as single women endure so much stigma in society because we assume that they want a male partner or we think less of them when they do not have a man. Traister raises several incisive points to combat these ignorant and outdated notions, such as how many people in romantic relationships and marriages actually feel unhappy, but we assume the opposite because of how society glorifies romance. Furthermore, the increasing amount of single women reflects their rising economic and political power, as they can create fulfilling lives for themselves instead of depending on men as the patriarchy once forced them to. Traister also does a solid job of framing her commentary in an intersectional way, by highlighting how black women and poor women suffer even more from institutions that only value women who have male partners. One quote that captures how white people benefit from the exploitation of women of color:

"The nation's history has included many iterations of the privileged white co-option of black, and often poor, habits and behaviors, which, when performed by white populations, have drawn different kinds of attention. When white flappers danced to black jazz beats, they were culture-shifting rebels; when, in the mid-sixties, white women busted out of their domestic sarcophagi and marched back into workforces in which poor and black women had never stopped toiling, when Betty Friedan echoed Sadie Alexander by suggesting that work would be beneficial for both women and their families, that was when the revolution of Second Wave feminism was upon us. It has long been the replicative behaviors or perspectives of white women - and not the original shifts pioneered by poor women and women of color - that make people sit up and take notice and that sometimes become discernible as liberation."

Overall, a fantastic book and the best work of nonfiction I have read in 2017 so far. I would love to read a follow-up book about how men's emotional constipation contributes to the rise of single women and how men can learn to get in touch with their emotions, so that they can provide nurturing and caring, essential components of any relationship. Perhaps I will write this book myself, as Trainer and other amazing female authors have women covered. I would recommend All the Single Ladies to those who want to learn about the joys and revolutions experienced and created by unmarried women, an important demographic in contemporary society.