Nicholas Lemann is a Professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and a staff writer at The New Yorker. His books include The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy and The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America. (November 2016)
This year’s election is not about economics. The paramount question is whether a person exhibiting no qualification for the office—neither experience, nor preparation, nor personal character—is nonetheless to become president. Yet economics is at the heart of the matter.
Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century
by Daniel Oppenheimer
The Limousine Liberal: How an Incendiary Image United the Right and Fractured America
by Steve Fraser
As a reviewer of political books, I get a lot of them unbidden in the mail. I remember vividly, one day in 2003, opening a package from a publisher, finding Arianna Huffington’s anticorporate screed Pigs at the Trough, and thinking: finally, after all these years, somebody has moved from right …
Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency
by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
by Jacob Weisberg
The Republican presidential candidate debates, which have shown non-Republicans just how factionalized the party is and how many possible meanings of the term “conservative” there are, have produced one point of general agreement among the many contenders: Ronald Reagan was a great president. For a committed Republican audience, Reagan stands …
Robert Putnam is convinced that today relative mobility, as well as absolute mobility, is declining alarmingly—that most Americans are more firmly destined to remain where they started out than they were when he was young. His passion about the need to change this situation overwhelms his social scientist’s epistemological caution.
Lines of Descent: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Emergence of Identity
by Kwame Anthony Appiah
W.E.B. Du Bois’s very long life coincided almost exactly with the period in African-American history between slavery and citizenship. Du Bois was born, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, five years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and, as he liked to point out, almost exactly coincident with the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, which …
Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time
by Ira Katznelson
The New Deal, the apogee of liberal political power in American history and a story with a relatively happy ending—the Great Depression vanquished, World War II won—has usually had its history presented, except by conservatives who disapprove of the expansion of central government and taxation in the 1930s and 1940s, as an uplifting, inspiring one. That is not how Ira Katznelson presents it.