America Today: 3 Non-Fiction Reads

Happy Fourth of July Weekend!! I have today & Monday off from work, so expect lots of posts as I go through things I've been reading on my commute. So much of this blog is fiction that I read, that I figured I would give you a snippet of some non-fiction I've enjoyed recently, themed around American politics. (You can always click on the "non-fiction" label on the left of my blog to sort posts by that).

Here are three books about the state of America today -- America & race (Coates), American Jews (Waxman), and American healthcare, childcare & education policies (Partanen) -- in order of how much I liked them. Coates is a must read, no question about that; so is Waxman if you're interested in the state of American Jewry. Partanen, while an interesting take on critiquing American healthcare and education, focuses too much on how wonderful the Nordic countries are, and how America must change to be ~*just like them~*. I'm grouping these three together because I feel like they all address a different part of American political climate today.

1. Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
A completely necessary read that looks into the story of race and America and the state of racism today. Structured as a letter from Coates to his son. I don't even know what else to say about this besides you must read it, so I will excerpt the second paragraph of the book for you:
Last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body... Specifically, the host wished to know why I felt white America's progress, or rather the progress of those Americans who believe they are white, was built on looting and violence. Hearing this, I felt an old and indistinct sadness well up in me. The answer to this question is the record of the believers themselves. The answer is American history.
Rating: ★★★★★

2. Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict Over Israel - Dov Waxman
Is it okay for American Jews to criticize Israel? Are American Jews united? Is there a consensus about Israel? Waxman does a fantastic job addressing these questions, and lays everything out very clearly. I particularly liked his table on "the Four Camps in the American Jewish Debate about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" in chapter 3, and then he goes in depth into each of these camps. He asks five questions in the table to differentiate the camps - Zionism? Who is at fault? Two-state solution? Public Jewish criticism of Israel? External pressure on Israel? - and that one chapter honestly put so coherently and clearly the differences between American Jews I would recommend the book based on that chapter alone.
Rating: ★★★★

3. The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life - Anu Partanen
And we come to our last book, addressing the faults of American child care, education, and public health policies, in comparison to Nordic countries. Partanen does a solid job at demystifying the "Nordic welfare state" in a series of essays covering a wide range of policy. Throughout the book, she comes back to something she calls "the Nordic Theory of Love," and tries to persuade her readers that America could benefit from it. I didn't love this -- I think her scope was too large, and often the examples she was using felt like they weren't painting a full picture. However, it was a really interesting insight into Nordic countries and I finished the book having a much better understanding of family and education policy.
Rating: ★★★

Happy July! (And if you're looking for something more historical, my advice would be (are you surprised?) Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow)

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