Recent Books

  • Big Test

    Price: $22.95

    This brilliant book shows us for the first time the ideas, the people, and the politics behind a fifty-year-old utopian social experiment that changed modern America. The idea was to use the new science of intelligence testing to assess and sort American students in order to create a truly democratic elite that would lead postwar America to progress, strength, and prosperity. No writer before Nicholas Lemann has understood the significance of this extraordinary drama, and in this remarkable synthesis of vibrant storytelling, vivid portraiture, and thematic analysis, he reveals it for the first time. Predictably, the utopian experiment did not turn out as planned. It created a new elite, but it generated conflict and tension. Lemann shows that this new American meritocracy, however well-educated and privileged, is neither natural nor inevitable, nor does it apportion opportunity fairly. He concludes with his own keen assessment of what the future may and should hold.

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  • Beyond the River

    Price: $25.00

    The decades preceding the Civil War were rife with fierce sectarian violence along the borders between slave and free states. The Ohio River was one such border. Here in the river towns of Ohio and Kentucky, abolitionists and slave chasers confronted each other during the “war before the war.” Slave masters and bounty hunters chased runaway slaves from Kentucky into Ohio, hoping to catch their quarry before the slaves disappeared on the underground path to freedom. In the river town of Ripley, the slave hunters inevitably confronted John Rankin and his determined, courageous colleagues. One of the early abolitionist leaders, Rankin began his career when he wrote a series of letters denouncing his brother’s recent purchase of a slave in Virginia. The letters were collected and published as Letters on American Slavery and influenced William Lloyd Garrison, among others. Rankin, a Presbyterian minister and a farmer, bought property on a high hilltop overlooking Ripley and the Ohio River. His house was visible for miles into Kentucky,...

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  • American Moderns

    Price: $24.95

    A brilliant account of the legendary American bohemians, hailed as “the best book ever written about this era, these people, and the ways they shook up our national culture for good” (Michael Kazin) In the early years of the twentieth century, an exuberant band of talented individualists living in a shabby neighborhood called Greenwich Village set out to change the world. Committed to free speech, free love, and politically engaged art, they swept away sexual prudery, stodgy bourgeois art, and political conservatism as they clamorously declared the birth of the new. Christine Stansell offers the first comprehensive history of this legendary period. She takes us deep into the downtown bohemia, which brought together creative dissenters from all walks of life: hoboes and Harvard men, society matrons and immigrant Jews, Wobblies and New Women, poets and anarchists. And she depicts their lyrical hopes for the century they felt they were sponsoring — a radiant vision of modernity, both egalitarian and artful,...

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  • Richard Wright

    Price: $18.00

    “Writing,” Richard Wright once said, “is my way of being a free man.” In this engaging biography, Hazel Rowley chronicles Wright’s extraordinary journey from a sharecropper’s shack in Mississippi to international renown as a writer, fiercely independent thinker, and outspoken critic of racism. Skillfully interweaving quotations from Wright’s writings, Rowley portrays a man who transcended the times in which he lived and sought to reconcile opposing cultures in his work. She draws on recently discovered material to shed new light on Wright’s relationships with Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, and others, and on his self-imposed exile in France (widely blamed for his so-called decline as a writer). In this lively, finely crafted narrative, Wright – passionate, complex, courageous, and flawed – comes vibrantly to life.

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  • W.E.B. Du Bois

    Price: $14.95

    The second volume of the Pulitzer Prize–winning biography that The Washington Post hailed as “an engrossing masterpiece” Charismatic, singularly determined, and controversial, W.E.B. Du Bois was a historian, novelist, editor, sociologist, founder of the NAACP, advocate of women’s rights, and the premier architect of the Civil Rights movement. His hypnotic voice thunders out of David Levering Lewis’s monumental biography like a locomotive under full steam. This second volume of what is already a classic work begins with the triumphal return from WWI of African American veterans to the shattering reality of racism and lynching even as America discovers the New Negro of literature and art. In stunning detail, Lewis chronicles the little-known political agenda behind the Harlem Renaissance and Du Bois’s relentless fight for equality and justice, including his steadfast refusal to allow whites to interpret the aspirations of black America. Seared by the rejection of terrified liberals and the black bourgeoisie during the Communist witch-hunts, Du Bois ended his days in uncompromising exile in newly independent Ghana....

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  • What Wild Ecstasy

    Price: $26.00

    John Heidenry, a former editor at Penthouse Forum, has lived on the frontlines of the sexual revolution and knows whereof he writes in What Wild Ecstasy: The Rise and Fall of the Sexual Revolution. Despite its bodice-ripper title, the book is a serious look at modern sexual mores and issues. Heidenry is unabashedly pro-sex, but responsibly so. As he chronicles the coming of age of sexology, the growth of pop-culture pornography in Screw magazine or the film “Deep Throat,” and the legal battles fought by gays and lesbians, he is as forthcoming about the idiocies his subjects often fall into as he is about their heroics. He gives equally scathing treatment to people he views as crass opportunists (the porn-star John Holmes, for example) and anti-sex moralists on the right. Heidenry is particularly sympathetic toward those who occupy the margins of mainstream sexuality – the bisexuals, transsexuals, and homosexuals, the prostitutes and pornographers. In these cases, he focuses on shared qualities: a need for love,...

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