During the holidays, many of us have some time to rest and relax with family. Another favorite pastime during the holidays is to curl up in one’s favorite chair with a good book. Here are five nonfiction books that are both excellent and informative in addition to being well written.
The End of Anger: A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage by Ellis Cose : Written after the election of President Obama’s election, Cose attempts to place a historical purview on the present and past generations of African Americans and their political shift in a so-called post-racial nation.
Cose’s book attempts to outline the issues that still persist. As a life long journalist, the author uses his insights and thoughtfulness of the American experience, the book tracks the diminishment of black anger and investigating the “generational shifting of the American mind.” This book provides an invaluable portrait of contemporary America that offers a view both of blacks and America.
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable: Prior to his death, Dr. Manning Marable completed his classic tractate on the life and politics of Malcolm X. Unlike the accepted Autobiography of Malcolm X, written by Alex Haley, which spends almost half of its commentary discussing Malcolm’s childhood and criminal past and reads more like literary fiction than a historical work, Marable outlines as complete a picture as ever of the man known as Malcolm X. Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention is a must-read and manages to evince what historical scholarship in the written form should reflect.
Ali and Liston: The Boy Who Would Be King and the Ugly Bear by Bob Mee: Mee gives an account of Ali’s life over a period of six years, including his exile due to refusing to be inducted into the U.S. Army on religious grounds after his fight with Sonny Liston. Covering everything from Liston’s relationship with the Mafia, to the fallen champ’s final years in Las Vegas and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Liston’s death in 1970. Mee paints a vivid picture of both Liston and Ali to present and explore a significant chapter in sporting history with fresh insight and detail.
Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate by Juan Williams: Williams uses the term “political correctness” to mean enforced ideological orthodoxy. This book explains his view that both sides have, for every issue, a set of key terms to classify the listener as being either with “us” or against “us.” All or at least most commentators today will address these issues using these hot-button terms because they know they are playing to their audience. Williams argues that his contract was terminated by NPR as part of a larger pattern of the suppression of unwelcome opinions. In nine chapters that range widely over the controversial issues of our day, Williams demonstrate how our increasingly polarized media have degraded the national discussion of these issues, drowning out rational debate and preventing reasonable compromises in politics.
The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore: This book examines and demo strates the importance of family, circumstance, opportunity, and its impact on African American male identity in urban America. Moore offers an in-depth look into the journey of two African American males who happen to share the same name, but take very different life paths. In an environment disproportionately affected by poverty, a failing educational system, fatherlessness, and the rise of drug culture, this book raises the question of what it takes to positively impact the lives of young African American males. Equipped with a resource guide in its final pages, this book is an essential read for those who champion the critical influence of adults in young people’s lives. Wes Moore is a Rhodes Scholar, former White House Fellow, combat veteran of Afghanistan and he works as an investment professional in New York City.
–torrance stephens, ph.d.