The 1619 Project and other Democracy Books this Week


The 1619 Project highlights the list of democracy books this week. It focuses on topics of inclusion essesntial for a democratic society. The Afro-Indigenous History of the United States also explores some of the same themes of inclusion through an examination of marginalized groups. Other books include topics such as dictators and populism. I have also included a new edited volume from Amory Gethin, Clara Martínez-Toledano, and Thomas Piketty called Political Cleavages and Social Inequalities. Of course, you probably recognize it already as the focus of this week’s podcast and book review.

The 1619 Project

The 1619 Project

In 1619 a cargo ship brought the first slaves into the British Colony of Virginia. The 1619 Project uses this moment as a point of origin for American History. the project examined topics about history, race, and inequality from fresh perspectives through a series of articles and a popular podcast series, . The book features contributions from some of the most important voices on race, justice, and poverty including Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, Matthew Desmond, and Ibram X. Kendi. However, the most entertaining part of the project was its engaging podcast series. Listen to the trailer below to learn more.

Nicole Hannah-Jones, Caitlin Roper, Irena Silverman, and Jake Silverstein (eds.), The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story


Bridling Dictators

Bridling DictatorsMany scholars associate the rule of law with democratic institutions and governance. Graeme Gill breaks from the traditional notion of dictatorship in this examination of different forms of authoritarianism. Rather than depicting dictators as rule breakers, he defines the rules peculiar to autocratic rule. Of course, he does not make this bold claim without a methodical, comparative approach. He examines authoritarianism through ten different countries, across five different regime types. Consequently, he delivers a text that challenges many of the assumptions and expectations from past research.

Graeme Gill, Bridling Dictators: Rules and Authoritarian Politics

Populism and Civil Society

Populism and Civil Society

Populism is a hot topic in political science. Indeed, it’s not difficult to rattle off a handful of specialists on the topic without much thought. So, any contribution to the literature needs to do more than offer a broad overview. Andrew Arato and Jean L. Cohen make a meaningful contribution through an analysis of the interaction between populism and civil society.  Moreover, they offer a comparative perspective with examples from Latin America, Europe, and the United States.

Andrew Arato and Jean L. Cohen, Populism and Civil Society: The Challenge to Constitutional Democracy

An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States

An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States

Some of the most innovative research in social science involves the intersection of different groups. So, Kyle Mays has written a history that will attract the attention of many scholars as well as the general public. He explores the commonalities in the struggles of African Americans and Native Americans in American History. Of course, this is not a history solely for African Americans or Native Americans. Mays strives to raise issues and events lost in traditional accounts of American history into the consciousness of the general public. Regardless, it will draw interest from those genuinely interested in history as well as the experiences of marginalized peoples.

Kyle T. Mays, An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States

Political Cleavages and Social Inequalities

Political Cleavages and Social InequalitiesThomas Piketty made an important shift in his last book Capital and Ideology. He shifted away from political economy toward a more historical and political account of inequality. This edited volume extends his insights on inequality into a comparative analysis of fifty different party systems from around the world. Moreover, it features contributions from many different scholars. Listen to Amory Gethin discuss the book on this week’s podcast. He clarifies how political cleavages and inequalities shape party systems in democracies. 

Amory Gethin, Clara Martínez-Toledano, and Thomas Piketty (eds.) Political Cleavages and Social Inequalities: A Study of Fifty Democracies, 1948–2020

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