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The Current, Episode 12: Mike Duncan

About the Book

The Storm Before the Storm

Mike Duncan

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

 

The creator of the award-winning podcast series The History of Rome and Revolutions brings to life the bloody battles, political machinations, and human drama that set the stage for the fall of the Roman Republic.

 

The Roman Republic was one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of civilization. Beginning as a small city-state in central Italy, Rome gradually expanded into a wider world filled with petty tyrants, barbarian chieftains, and despotic kings. Through the centuries, Rome's model of cooperative and participatory government remained remarkably durable and unmatched in the history of the ancient world.

 

In 146 BC, Rome finally emerged as the strongest power in the Mediterranean. But the very success of the Republic proved to be its undoing. The republican system was unable to cope with the vast empire Rome now ruled: rising economic inequality disrupted traditional ways of life, endemic social and ethnic prejudice led to clashes over citizenship and voting rights, and rampant corruption and ruthless ambition sparked violent political clashes that cracked the once indestructible foundations of the Republic.

 

Chronicling the years 146-78 BC, The Storm Before the Storm dives headlong into the first generation to face this treacherous new political environment. Abandoning the ancient principles of their forbearers, men like Marius, Sulla, and the Gracchi brothers set dangerous new precedents that would start the Republic on the road to destruction and provide a stark warning about what can happen to a civilization that has lost its way.

The Current, Episode 11: Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin

About the Book

How We Fight White Supremacy

Akiba Solomon

This celebration of Black resistance, from protests to art to sermons to joy, offers a blueprint for the fight for freedom and justice -- and ideas for how each of us can contribute

Many of us are facing unprecedented attacks on our democracy, our privacy, and our hard-won civil rights. If you're Black in the US, this is not new. As Colorlines editors Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin show, Black Americans subvert and resist life-threatening forces as a matter of course. In these pages, leading organizers, artists, journalists, comedians, and filmmakers offer wisdom on how they fight White supremacy. It's a must-read for anyone new to resistance work, and for the next generation of leaders building a better future.

Featuring contributions from:

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Tarana Burke
  • Harry Belafonte
  • adrienne maree brown
  • Alicia Garza
  • Patrisse Khan-Cullors
  • Reverend Dr. Valerie Bridgeman
  • Kiese Laymon
  • Jamilah Lemieux
  • Robin DG Kelley
  • Damon Young
  • Michael Arceneaux
  • Hanif Abdurraqib
  • Dr. Yaba Blay
  • Diamond Stingily
  • Amanda Seales
  • Imani Perry
  • Denene Millner
  • Kierna Mayo
  • John Jennings
  • Dr. Joy Harden Bradford
  • Tongo Eisen-Martin


How We Fight White Supremacy

Akiba Solomon

This celebration of Black resistance, from protests to art to sermons to joy, offers a blueprint for the fight for freedom and justice -- and ideas for how each of us can contribute

Many of us are facing unprecedented attacks on our democracy, our privacy, and our hard-won civil rights. If you're Black in the US, this is not new. As Colorlines editors Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin show, Black Americans subvert and resist life-threatening forces as a matter of course. In these pages, leading organizers, artists, journalists, comedians, and filmmakers offer wisdom on how they fight White supremacy. It's a must-read for anyone new to resistance work, and for the next generation of leaders building a better future.

Featuring contributions from:

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Tarana Burke
  • Harry Belafonte
  • adrienne maree brown
  • Alicia Garza
  • Patrisse Khan-Cullors
  • Reverend Dr. Valerie Bridgeman
  • Kiese Laymon
  • Jamilah Lemieux
  • Robin DG Kelley
  • Damon Young
  • Michael Arceneaux
  • Hanif Abdurraqib
  • Dr. Yaba Blay
  • Diamond Stingily
  • Amanda Seales
  • Imani Perry
  • Denene Millner
  • Kierna Mayo
  • John Jennings
  • Dr. Joy Harden Bradford
  • Tongo Eisen-Martin


The Current, Episode 10: Ibram X. Kendi

About the Book

Stamped from the Beginning

Ibram X. Kendi

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist, the National Book Award-winning masterwork revealing how racist ideas were created, spread, and became deeply rooted in American society.

Some Americans insist that we're living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America--it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit.

In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis.

As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial inequities.

In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.

Praise for Stamped from the Beginning:

"We often describe a wonderful book as 'mind-blowing' or 'life-changing' but I've found this rarely to actually be the case. I found both descriptions accurate for Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning... I will never look at racial discrimination again after reading this marvellous, ambitious, and clear-sighted book." - George Saunders, Financial Times, Best Books of 2017

"Ambitious, well-researched and worth the time of anyone who wants to understand racism." --Seattle Times

"A deep (and often disturbing) chronicling of how anti-black thinking has entrenched itself in the fabric of American society." --The Atlantic

  • Winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Washington Post Bestseller
  • On President Obama's Black History Month Recommended Reading List
  • Finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction
  • Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Boston Globe, Washington Post, Chicago Review of Books, The Root, Buzzfeed, Bustle, and Entropy


The Current, Episode 9: Ezekiel J. Emanuel

About the Book

Which Country Has the World's Best Health Care?

Ezekiel J. Emanuel

The preeminent doctor and bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel is repeatedly asked one question: Which country has the best healthcare? He set off to find an answer.

The US spends more than any other nation, nearly $4 trillion, on healthcare. Yet, for all that expense, the US is not ranked #1 -- not even close.

In Which Country Has the World's Best Healthcare? Ezekiel Emanuel profiles eleven of the world's healthcare systems in pursuit of the best or at least where excellence can be found. Using a unique comparative structure, the book allows healthcare professionals, patients, and policymakers alike to know which systems perform well, and why, and which face endemic problems. From Taiwan to Germany, Australia to Switzerland, the most inventive healthcare providers tackle a global set of challenges -- in pursuit of the best healthcare in the world.

The Current, Episode 8: Jennifer Palmieri

About the Book

She Proclaims

Jennifer Palmieri

Take action and shatter the glass ceiling with this empowering and optimistic feminist guide from the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of Dear Madam President.

When Jennifer Palmieri realized that everything in her life had been shaped by men, she wanted to make a change. From work behavior and use of language to wardrobe choices, she decided to follow her own convictions and reject paternalistic expectations. In an era of wage gaps, the Kavanaugh hearings, the #MeToo movement, and a domineering administration, Jennifer found a way to move beyond the bounds of patriarchy and wants to show readers a way out.

Where Dear Madam President introduced a blueprint to succeed and the tools to prosper, She Proclaims gives readers the advice they need to to step out of a man's world and into their own. Jennifer believes that every woman has "power to change the world by changing the way she behaves in it." She Proclaims celebrates the accomplishments and history of the women's movement, and it will inspire you to be subversive, courageous, and bold.
  • This book is a Declaration of Independence for women, broken into three types of sections:
  • A preamble that expresses gratitude for the lessons of a man's world
  • An assertion: The time has come for women to declare their independence from a world not created for them.
  • Each chapter begins with a "whereas" clause and includes advice for combatting the reality of living in a patriarchy.

Through personal reflections and stories of other inspirational female leaders, Jennifer shares the key lessons she's learned from her journey to success.

The Current, Episode 7: J.M. Hirsch and Michael Szczerban

Shake Strain Done

J.M. Hirsch

Revolutionize the way you drink at home with simple recipes and common ingredients--no obscure liquors or fussy techniques needed--from the editorial director of Milk Street, J.M. Hirsch.


Are you done with generic gin and tonics, mediocre Manhattans and basic martinis? You can use pantry staples and basic liquors to produce more than 200 game-changing craft cocktails worthy of a seat at the bar.

Many cocktail books call for hard-to-find ingredients and complicated techniques that can frustrate home cocktail makers. Shake Strain Done shows a better way:
  • If you can shake, strain, stir and turn on a blender, you can make great cocktails.
  • No tedious secondary recipes hidden between the lines.
  • No mysteries. You'll know what each drink will taste like before you pick up a bottle.
  • No fancy equipment needed. A shaker, strainer and spoon are as exotic as it gets.
  • The ingredients are mostly pantry and bar staples--things you already have on hand.
Every drink is rated by its characteristics--Warm, Refreshing, Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Fruity, Herbal, Creamy, Spicy, Strong and Smoky--to help expand your horizons and find more drinks to love.

These are drinks with the sophistication of a high-end speakeasy, minus the fuss, like:
  • The Sazerac 2.0 - a spice cabinet update that takes the classic back to its origins
  • A new White Russian that lightens the load with coconut water instead of cream
  • A grownup Singapore Sling that's fruity without tasting like fruit punch
  • A Scorched Margarita that uses the broiler to char those lemons and limes
  • A feisty new Gin and Tonic in which black pepper is the star ingredient
  • And plenty of originals, like the Pooh Bear. Butter, honey and bourbon? Yes, please! And Mistakes Were Made, for tiki time

The Current, Episode 6: Economics in a Post-COVID Age

Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire

Rebecca Henderson

A renowned Harvard professor debunks prevailing orthodoxy with a new intellectual foundation and a practical pathway forward for a system that has lost its moral and ethical foundation in this "powerful" book (Daron Acemoglu).

Free market capitalism is one of humanity's greatest inventions and the greatest source of prosperity the world has ever seen. But this success has been costly. Capitalism is on the verge of destroying the planet and destabilizing society as wealth rushes to the top. The time for action is running short.

Rebecca Henderson's rigorous research in economics, psychology, and organizational behavior, as well as her many years of work with companies around the world, gives us a path forward. She debunks the worldview that the only purpose of business is to make money and maximize shareholder value. She shows that we have failed to reimagine capitalism so that it is not only an engine of prosperity but also a system that is in harmony with environmental realities, striving for social justice and the demands of truly democratic institutions.

Henderson's deep understanding of how change takes place, combined with fascinating in-depth stories of companies that have made the first steps towards reimagining capitalism, provides inspiring insight into what capitalism can be. With rich discussions of how the worlds of finance, governance, and leadership must also evolve, Henderson provides the pragmatic foundation for navigating a world faced with unprecedented challenge, but also with extraordinary opportunity for those who can get it right.

The Value of Everything

Mariana Mazzucato

In this eye-opening book, a renowned economist explains how modern capitalism rewards businesses for taking value from the economy, rather than adding to it -- and why we need to build a system that works for us all.

A scathing indictment of our current global financial system, The Value of Everything rigorously scrutinizes the way in which economic value has been accounted and reveals how economic theory has failed to clearly delineate the difference between value creation and value extraction. Mariana Mazzucato argues that the increasingly blurry distinction between the two categories has allowed certain actors in the economy to portray themselves as value creators, while in reality they are just moving around existing value or, even worse, destroying it.

The book uses case studies -- from Silicon Valley to the financial sector to big pharma -- to show how the foggy notions of value create confusion between rents and profits, reward extractors and creators, and distort the measurements of growth and GDP. In the process, innovation suffers and inequality rises.

The lesson here is urgent and sobering: to rescue our economy from the next inevitable crisis and to foster long-term economic growth, we will need to rethink capitalism, rethink the role of public policy and the importance of the public sector, and redefine how we measure value in our society.

Shortlisted for the FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

The Current, Episode 5: The Social Role of Baseball

About the Book

Stealing Home

Eric Nusbaum

A story about baseball, family, the American Dream, and the fight to turn Los Angeles into a big league city.

Dodger Stadium is an American icon. But the story of how it came to be goes far beyond baseball. The hills that cradle the stadium were once home to three vibrant Mexican American communities. In the early 1950s, those communities were condemned to make way for a utopian public housing project. Then, in a remarkable turn, public housing in the city was defeated amidst a Red Scare conspiracy.

Instead of getting their homes back, the remaining residents saw the city sell their land to Walter O'Malley, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Now LA would be getting a different sort of utopian fantasy -- a glittering, ultra-modern stadium.

But before Dodger Stadium could be built, the city would have to face down the neighborhood's families -- including one, the Aréchigas, who refused to yield their home. The ensuing confrontation captivated the nation - and the divisive outcome still echoes through Los Angeles today.

The Current, Episode Four: Stephanie Land and Sarah Jaffe on Essential Workers

About the Book

Maid

Stephanie Land

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land's memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.

At 28, Stephanie Land's plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly.

She wrote the true stories that weren't being told: the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Of living on food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) coupons to eat. Of the government programs that provided her housing, but that doubled as halfway houses. The aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance while she didn't feel lucky at all. She wrote to remember the fight, to eventually cut through the deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor.

Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them. "I'd become a nameless ghost," Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients' lives-their sadness and love, too-she begins to find hope in her own path.

Her compassionate, unflinching writing as a journalist gives voice to the "servant" worker, and those pursuing the American Dream from below the poverty line. Maid is Stephanie's story, but it's not her alone. It is an inspiring testament to the strength, determination, and ultimate triumph of the human spirit.

Work Won't Love You Back

Sarah Jaffe

A deeply-reported examination of why "doing what you love" is a recipe for exploitation, creating a new tyranny of work in which we cheerily acquiesce to doing jobs that take over our lives.

You're told that if you "do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life." Whether it's working for "exposure" and "experience," or enduring poor treatment in the name of "being part of the family," all employees are pushed to make sacrifices for the privilege of being able to do what we love.

In Work Won't Love You Back, Sarah Jaffe, a preeminent voice on labor, inequality, and social movements, examines this "labor of love" myth -- the idea that certain work is not really work, and therefore should be done out of passion instead of pay. Told through the lives and experiences of workers in various industries -- from the unpaid intern, to the overworked teacher, to the nonprofit worker and even the professional athlete -- Jaffe reveals how all of us have been tricked into buying into a new tyranny of work.

As Jaffe argues, understanding the trap of the labor of love will empower us to work less and demand what our work is worth. And once freed from those binds, we can finally figure out what actually gives us joy, pleasure, and satisfaction.

The Current, Episode Three: Erika Lee and Alina Das

About the Book

America for Americans

Erika Lee

An award-winning historian reframes our continuing debate over immigration with a compelling history of xenophobia in the United States and its devastating impact

The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But it is also a nation of xenophobia. In America for Americans, Erika Lee shows that an irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a defining feature of our nation from the colonial era to the Trump era. Benjamin Franklin ridiculed Germans for their "strange and foreign ways." Americans' anxiety over Irish Catholics turned xenophobia into a national political movement. Chinese immigrants were excluded, Japanese incarcerated, and Mexicans deported. Today, Americans fear Muslims, Latinos, and the so-called browning of America.

Forcing us to confront this history, America for Americans explains how xenophobia works, why it has endured, and how it threatens America. It is a necessary corrective and spur to action for any concerned citizen.

About the Book

No Justice in the Shadows

Alina Das

This provocative account of our immigration system's long, racist history reveals how it has become the brutal machine that upends the lives of millions of immigrants today.

Each year in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people are arrested, imprisoned, and deported, trapped in what leading immigrant rights activist and lawyer Alina Das calls the "deportation machine." The bulk of the arrests target people who have a criminal record -- so-called "criminal aliens" -- the majority of whose offenses are immigration-, drug-, or traffic-related. These individuals are uprooted and banished from their homes, their families, and their communities.

Through the stories of those caught in the system, Das traces the ugly history of immigration policy to explain how the U.S. constructed the idea of the "criminal alien," effectively dividing immigrants into the categories "good" and "bad," "deserving" and "undeserving." As Das argues, we need to confront the cruelty of the machine so that we can build an inclusive immigration policy premised on human dignity and break the cycle once and for all.

The Current, Episode Two: Anya Kamenetz and Jordan Shapiro

About the Book

The New Childhood

Jordan Shapiro

A provocative look at the new, digital landscape of childhood and how to navigate it.

In The New Childhood, Jordan Shapiro provides a hopeful counterpoint to the fearful hand-wringing that has come to define our narrative around children and technology. Drawing on groundbreaking research in economics, psychology, philosophy, and education, The New Childhood shows how technology is guiding humanity toward a bright future in which our children will be able to create new, better models of global citizenship, connection, and community.

Shapiro offers concrete, practical advice on how to parent and educate children effectively in a connected world, and provides tools and techniques for using technology to engage with kids and help them learn and grow. He compares this moment in time to other great technological revolutions in humanity's past and presents entertaining micro-histories of cultural fixtures: the sandbox, finger painting, the family dinner, and more. But most importantly, The New Childhood paints a timely, inspiring and positive picture of today's children, recognizing that they are poised to create a progressive, diverse, meaningful, and hyper-connected world that today's adults can only barely imagine.

About the Book

The Art of Screen Time

Anya Kamenetz

Finally, an evidence-based, don't-panic guide to what to do about kids and screens.

 

Today's babies often make their debut on social media with the very first sonogram. They begin interacting with screens at around four months old. But is this good news or bad news? A wonderful opportunity to connect around the world? Or the first step in creating a generation of addled screen zombies?

 

Many have been quick to declare this the dawn of a neurological and emotional crisis, but solid science on the subject is surprisingly hard to come by. In The Art of Screen Time, Anya Kamenetz--an expert on education and technology, as well as a mother of two young children--takes a refreshingly practical look at the subject. Surveying hundreds of fellow parents on their practices and ideas, and cutting through a thicket of inconclusive studies and overblown claims, she hones a simple message, a riff on Michael Pollan's well-known "food rules": Enjoy Screens. Not too much. Mostly with others.

 

This brief but powerful dictum forms the backbone of a philosophy that will help parents moderate technology in their children's lives, curb their own anxiety, and create room for a happy, healthy family life with and without screens.

The Current, Episode One: Laura Spinney on the Spanish Flu and COVID-19

About the Book

Pale Rider

Laura Spinney

In 1918, the Italian-Americans of New York, the Yupik of Alaska, and the Persians of Mashed had almost nothing in common except for a virus -- one that triggered the worst pandemic of modern times and had a decisive effect on twentieth-century history.

The Spanish flu of 1918-1920 was one of the greatest human disasters of all time. It infected a third of the people on Earth -- from the poorest immigrants of New York City to the king of Spain, Franz Kafka, Mahatma Gandhi, and Woodrow Wilson. But despite a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people, it exists in our memory as an afterthought to World War I.

In this gripping narrative history, Laura Spinney traces the overlooked pandemic to reveal how the virus travelled across the globe, exposing mankind's vulnerability and putting our ingenuity to the test. As socially significant as both world wars, the Spanish flu dramatically disrupted -- and often permanently altered -- global politics, race relations and family structures, while spurring innovation in medicine, religion and the arts. It was partly responsible, Spinney argues, for pushing India to independence, South Africa to apartheid, and Switzerland to the brink of civil war. It also created the true "lost generation." Drawing on the latest research in history, virology, epidemiology, psychology and economics, Pale Rider masterfully recounts the little-known catastrophe that forever changed humanity.