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Phil Klay’s Resistance Reading

Mother Jones

Courtesy of Phil Klay

We asked a range of authors, artists, and poets to name books that bring solace or understanding in this age of rancor. Two dozen or so responded. Here are picks from author Phil Klay, who served in Iraq prior to landing on the New York Times bestseller list for his riveting fictional stories of war and the experience of coming home.

Latest book: Redeployment
Reading recommendations: I’ve been reading A. Scott Berg’s anthology World War I and America, a fascinating collection of essays, articles, diary entries, and speeches from 1914 to 1921. Among the riches there are several articles by W.E.B. Du Bois and James Wheldon Johnson, showing first-rate minds grappling with which political course to advocate in a world gripped by a massive war abroad while black Americans routinely faced horrific acts of domestic terrorism.

I’ve also been thinking increasingly about Teddy Roosevelt’s 1883 speechThe Duties of American Citizenship.” Though some of his positions are dated—”the ideal citizen must be the father of many healthy children”—so much of it holds up as solid, practical advice in how to go about creating political change. Roosevelt continually stresses the hard work of building up organizations and institutions as the key component of American political life. “A great many of our men in business,” he says, “rather plume themselves upon being good citizens if they even vote; yet voting is the very least of their duties.” (Sadly, he has little to say on the possibility of tweeting your way to a greater democracy.)

Few things make me happier than reading Sandra Boynton’s Muu, Bee, Así Fue to my 14-month-old son. I don’t know if there’s any direct link between that book, which is mostly an excuse to make animal noises, and our current moment of political rancor, but I’d like to believe that the process of reading to my child is slowly teaching me to be a kinder person.
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So far in this series: Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, W. Kamau Bell, Jeff Chang, T Cooper, Dave Eggers, Reza Farazmand, Piper Kerman, Phil Klay, Bill McKibben, Rabbi Jack Moline, Karen Russell, Tracy K. Smith, Gene Luen Yang. (New posts daily.)

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Phil Klay’s Resistance Reading

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Jeff Chang’s Resistance Reading

Mother Jones

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We recently asked a range of authors, artists, and poets to suggest the books that bring them solace or understanding in this age of political rancor. Two dozen or so responded. Here’s what the acclaimed hip-hop writer and cultural critic Jeff Chang brought to the table.

Latest book: We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation
Also known for: Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
Recommended Reading: Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit’s essential collection of essays, written at the darkest moment of our despair amid the Iraq War, was republished last year when it seemed we needed it most—again. Solnit is our angel of hope, always pointing us through the haze of fear and confusion toward faith and trust in our own collective possibility. Every time I read her I’m reminded that “the unimaginable is ordinary.” Then there’s The Next American Revolution, by Grace Lee Boggs with Scott Kurashige. Steve Bannon and the racist right hope to pull the nation into a final, inexorable “clash of the civilizations”—between white Christian Americans and the rest of the world. Working from within the ruins of Detroit, Boggs reframes revolution as not a bloody, destructive process but a set of soulful, creative acts that grow community and consciousness. Her vision of hope, freedom, and sustainability guides us now as we bring together justice movements and build the resistance.
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So far in this series: Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, W. Kamau Bell, Jeff Chang, T Cooper, Dave Eggers, Reza Farazmand, Piper Kerman, Tracy K. Smith. (New posts daily.)

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Jeff Chang’s Resistance Reading

Posted in FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment