THE LAST NIGHT AT TREMORE BEACH by Mikel Santiago

April 23, 2017

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Peter Harper, a well known and awarded composer, is experiencing what could be devastating writer’s block. Brought on in part by his recent divorce. Given everything, a vacation is definitely in order, and an isolated beach house on the coast of Ireland seems to be the perfect thing.

And it is, until Peter is struck by lightning one summer night. From that moment on, Peter suffers painful headaches and terrible nightmares. But these aren’t ordinary nightmares by any stretch. Peter experiences them as if they’re real, waking abruptly to find himself acting out the very actions he’s been dreaming. Peter knows something is very wrong, but his greatest fear is that the dreams are more than just dreams and that he could become a danger to the people he cares about.

Mikel Santiago’s debut is fabulous. Perfectly atmospheric and excellently chilling.

In Peter Harper, Santiago has built a character who is on the verge of a meltdown already. He’s separated from his family, and he’s unable to pen any new music worth anything. Music is his livelihood and his family is his everything.

Things are looking up regarding the latter, however. Peter’s kids are set to visit him at his rental soon and it’s a visit he’s been looking forward to with great anticipation. Even getting struck by lightening doesn’t put a damper on that. At least not until the dreams begin.

The dreams are threatening, at the very least, his sanity. Even those who know him best are worried. And from the moment his kids arrive, all of Peter’s energy is spent ensuring their safety. His greatest fear is that he’ll be some sort of threat to his own kids and that makes him an incredibly easy character to sympathize with.

As we root for Peter, in hopes he’ll find answers and that all will be ok, the mystery behind the dreams drives the story to an almost frenetic pacing. The result is an irresistible page-turner of a tale – the kind I’d recommend carving out enough time to read in one sitting.

Highly recommended – I can’t wait to see more from this author.

4/17 Becky LeJeune

THE LAST NIGHT AT TREMORE BEACH by Mikel Santiago. Atria Books (February 14, 2017).  ISBN 978-1501102240.  320p.

KINDLE


MARRYING WINTERBORNE by Lisa Kleypas

April 22, 2017

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The Ravenels, Book 2

This book put me in mind of the PBS series, Mr. Selfridge, about the American who built the glamorous department store in Great Britain at the turn of the last century. Rhys Winterborne is a self made Welshman, son of a grocer, who has built the world’s largest department store in London.

Winterborne may be one of the richest men in England, but he is still considered working class. So when he meets Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to have her. As wealthy as he is, he knows the only way into the gentry is to marry into it.

The become betrothed, but when he kisses her she gets scared. Helen is shy, virginal and beyond naive, and she ends up crying in her room. Her sister-in-law goes to Winterborne and breaks off the engagement, but when Helen finds out she is determined to get him back. She sneaks out on her own and barges into his office, telling him she wants him back. But he knows her guardian will not be pleased with this turn of events, so he makes her a deal – if she’ll sleep with him, thoroughly ruining her reputation, that will force her guardian to allow them to marry and convince Rhys that she is serious. She agrees.

They make their plans but as we well know, the best laid plans often go awry, and they do here. Helen finds out there is a big family secret about her parentage, and she is convinced that Rhys will not want to marry her once he finds out.

As always, Kleypas creates engaging, well drawn characters and an interesting storyline, fraught with the great pitfalls of romance. But fear not, there is, of course, a happy ending. If only life could come with the same guarantees. Another terrific read from one of my favorite authors.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MARRYING WINTERBORNE by Lisa Kleypas. Avon (May 31, 2016). ISBN 978-0062371850. 416p.

KINDLE


DINNER by Melissa Clark

April 21, 2017

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Changing the Game

Eric Wolfinger, Photographer

As promised (in my review of Sheet Pan) here is a review of Melissa Clark’s latest. No thanks to Clarkson Potter, who failed me on this one, but thanks to my library, who did not. Got it!

FYI, if you are not familiar, Melissa Clark is a food columnist (“A Good Appetite”) for the New York Times. She contributes lots of recipes, too, many of which I’ve made. (See her recipes here.) She is a working mom and apparently understands that not all of us want to come home from work and spend hours in the kitchen to get dinner on the table. Nor do we want take out every night. So here she offers us a terrific compromise – easy dinners, often in one pan. I like it!

This is a big, heavy book with over 200 recipes but it is also a beautiful book with lovely photos. The heft is from high quality paper, and when you are cooking out of a cookbook in the kitchen, shit sometimes goes flying and lands on said book. It’s always nice to know that if that happens, the book will still be usable, albeit a little less pretty.  (No worries, library lovers – I don’t drag library books into the kitchen, I know how messy I am.) The chapters:

Introduction & Ingredients to Keep on Hand
Chicken
Meat: Pork, Beef, Veal, Lamb, Duck & Turkey
The Grind
Fish & Seafood
Eggs
Pasta & Noodles
Tofu (& a Touch of Seitan)
Beans, Legumes & Vegetable Dinners
Rice, Farro, Quinoa & Other Grains
Pizzas & Pies
Soups
Salads That Mean It
Dips, Spreads & Go-Withs

I don’t know about you but the first thing I noticed after perusing the table of contents was that there was no desserts chapter. Which is fine. I never make dessert on a weeknight. Fresh fruit is always available and sugar-free Fudgsicles is as fancy as it gets at my house.

The ubiquitous pantry list is available in “Ingredients to Keep on Hand” and it is a practical list. Included are the usual suspects, olive oil, garlic, various vinegars, mustard, and so forth, plus a bunch of things I rarely have like Sichuan peppercorns, pomegranate molasses, preserved  lemons and Indian pickles. On the other hand I was delighted to see za’atar included. Za’Atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend. This was a recent acquisition for me that I got for a Passover recipe and I was wondering where else I would use it. The only recipe I could find in the index was for Za’Atar Chicken with Lemon Yogurt, so guess I’ll be making that soon. And she also tells you how to make it yourself if you don’t want to buy it. Also I’m wondering why she considers it a pantry staple if it’s only used in one recipe out of 200. Or maybe it’s just a crappy index?

So to chicken. There is a two page spread on how to roast a chicken and it’s got some great advice, like choosing a good bird, preferably organic and air chilled, whatever that is. She also explains how to spatchcock or splay a bird. These instructions are followed by several roast chicken recipes. One of the nice things about roasting a whole chicken is that it’s usually quick prep and then just hanging out waiting for dinner. Plus the delicious smell fills the kitchen and gets everyone hungry. Except my husband, who hates chicken. There are lots of other chicken recipes besides the whole roast chicken, so no worries if you have boneless breasts you’re wanting to cook up or some thighs. Melissa’s got you covered.

There are a variety of meat recipes, some of which give you the option of selecting the cut you want, like Peachy Pork or Veal, you decide. The Grind refers to ground meat, like Chorizo Pork Burgers, Kibbe-Style Lamb Meatballs with Herbed Yogurt and Thai Lettuce Wraps. There are some interesting fish recipes, like Vietnamese Caramel Salmon (sweet and spicy, always a fave,) a really good recipe for Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage, Jalapeno, and Lime Slaw, and a Shrimp Banh Mi that you make in your food processor, which works for me.

Eggs gets its own chapter including the basics of frying, boiling, scrambling, poaching, etc. including how to poach an egg in the microwave. If you haven’t turned your family on to “breakfast for dinner” you should. Super easy and my family loves it. Try Spanish Tortilla with Serrano Ham (or sub whatever ham you like.) I love that while the instructions call for two pans, she explains how one pan will work just fine. The Asparagus Frittata with Ricotta and Chives is delicious, just add some good bread and maybe a salad and dinner is done. I’m dying to try the Herbed Parmesan Dutch Baby, after Passover ends I guess – how can I resist, “a giant gougère-style cheese puff meets Yorkshire pudding, with a crisp outer crust and a soft, cheesy, custardy interior.” I can’t.

The pasta chapter has some good recipes like Cacio e Pepe with Asparagus and Peas, Fettucine with Spicy Anchovy Bread Crumbs and Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Almonds, although I subbed some purple broccoli I had gotten from my CSA. I’ve never cooked with tofu (yes, I admit it) but I am determined to learn. My son’s girlfriend is mostly vegetarian and I’d like to make something besides pasta and veggies when they visit. Sweet and Sour Tofu with Corn (and cherry tomatoes, it is beautiful) may be my first attempt. Or Crispy Tofu with Ginger and Spicy Greens – crispy means deep fried and deep fried generally means delicious. There are some interesting legume and veggie recipes as well, like Smashed White Bean Toasts with Roasted Asparagus and Sumac, Asparagus Carbonara and more delicious fried goodies like Fried Halloumi with Spicy Brussels Sprouts.

There are lots more recipes, I haven’t even touched on soups, pizza, salads, etc. (although I can tell you Rustic Shrimp Bisque is going to make an appearance the next cool day we have.) I like this cookbook a lot. I have made many of Melissa’s recipes over the years and she has become a go to for me. Highly recommended.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DINNER by Melissa Clark. Clarkson Potter (March 7, 2017). ISBN 978-0553448238. 400p.


THE ENGLISH DUKE by Karen Ranney

April 19, 2017

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The Dukes, Book 2

This was my first book from Karen Ranney, and I will be reading more. The first book in this new series is The Scottish Duke, the one following is The Texan Duke, and I’m not sure how many more there will be but this one was really good. These books are not related like most series with overlapping characters, the only thing they have in common are the titles. The Texan Duke was originally supposed to be called the American Duke, so maybe there will be more stories set in America? Just a guess.

The English Duke in question is Jordan Hamilton, the new Duke of Roth. He is an unusual duke as he is a second son so shouldn’t have inherited the title, except his older brother died. Jordan was in the Navy and then with the War Office, AKA British Intelligence, and is a scientist and an inventor who is working on torpedoes. He has been corresponding with Matthew York, an acclaimed inventor and they have enormous respect for one another.

When Matthew dies, he leaves all his notes and models from his inventions to Jordan. Matthew’s daughter Martha has been assisting her father for years, and they worked very closely together. So she is familiar with the correspondence between her father and Jordan, and is surprised that when her father asked for him to come, he ignored the letters. A year after Matthew’s death, Jordan still hasn’t responded to her letters regarding the bequest so Martha decides to deliver it to Jordan personally.

Martha, her half sister Josephine and their grandmother set off for Sedgewick, the Duke’s estate. Martha plans to deliver the materials, stay overnight at a nearby inn, and return home the next day. However her grandmother becomes quite ill, forcing the Duke to put them up in his home and when the doctor says she needs several days rest, they are all forced together. Josephine is a conniving little wretch, sure of her beauty and her ability to manipulate men. She decides she will be the next Duchess and plots and schemes to get her way.

The reason the Duke hadn’t answered any of the letters or visited the Yorks was that he suffered a horrific fall, shattering several bones. He walks with a severe limp and is often in terrible pain. Josephine thinks him “lame” and tells him so, but she is not interested in dancing with him, just in acquiring the title and the home.

Martha is a wonderful heroine. She’s smart and independent, and not looking to get married to anyone. She just wants to continue her father’s work. The Duke is a loner, happiest when tinkering in his workshop. Since they are stuck together, they end up working together and both soon realize they are meant for each other. But Josephine has other ideas.

This was a torturous read for me as the horrible Josephine almost gets away with her plot, and it isn’t resolved until the very end. I wanted to throttle Josephine, to use a term of the day, but the requisite happy ending was finally, finally reached. That said, I did end up enjoying the book, and found the torpedo plot line really interesting. One of the things I like best about historical romances, the really good ones anyway, is that I learn something about the time period and this was a good example. In fact, the author includes notes at the back of the book about her research. Highly recommended.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE ENGLISH DUKE by Karen Ranney. Avon (March 28, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062466891. 384p.


MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY by Fredrik Backman

April 17, 2017

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Backman surfaced in America as the author of the word-of-mouth-runaway-bestseller-turned-into-an-Oscar-nominated-film, A Man Called Ove. It’s been on the bestseller lists for a couple of years now with no sign of letup. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry joined it well over a year ago.

If you haven’t read this Swedish author, let me start by saying if the only Swedish author you are familiar with is Steig Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.) just put that out of your mind. Larsson may have been Sweden’s biggest selling author but Backman is pushing him off the list. Backman is the yin to Larsson’s yang, the lightness to his darkness, and I, for one, most welcome this new voice.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is written from the point of view of the granddaughter, Elsa. She’s seven years old and beyond precocious, and her grandmother is her best friend. They share a secret language, stories about the Land-of-Almost-Awake and all the kingdoms within. Elsa doesn’t really have any other friends, her grandmother is her world. She basically puts up with her mother. 

When her grandmother passes away, Elsa is devastated. Then she learns her grandmother has left her a sort of scavenger hunt, a series of letters that she wants Elsa to deliver for her. Letters of apology.

This is a hard book to describe. The plot doesn’t really matter; suffice it to say there are some people who don’t like the fact that the narrator is a child. Get over it – it’s so worth it. All the people who live in apartments in the house with Elsa’s family are unique individuals, to say the least. And eventually it all makes sense.

Backman has a unique voice and I think you either love it, and then you will love all his books no matter the subject or protagonist, or you don’t. And I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t (at least not yet).

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY by Fredrik Backman. Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (April 5, 2016).  ISBN 978-1501115073.  372p.

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TOGETHER IS BETTER by Simon Sinek

April 15, 2017

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A Little Book of Inspiration

I don’t generally read inspirational books, and I rarely read business books but I make an exception for Simon Sinek.

Sinek was the closing speaker at a conference I attended a few years ago and he just blew me away. Since then, I’ve watched his TED talks and occasionally check in at his YouTube page. Whatever he has to say, I’m willing to listen. He has several books as well, and this is his latest.

It’s a tiny little book, cleverly illustrated in the style of classic children’s literature that was reminiscent of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel or Caps for Sale. The theme of togetherness is one that is predominant in business today, and the idea that teamwork is best that has been scientifically proven (check out Margaret Hefferman’s TED talk, Forget the Pecking Order at Work – fascinating stuff.)

Sinek offers lots of pithy thoughts, some with further explanations at the back of the book. My favorites:

Bad teams work in the same place. Good teams work together.

Leaders give us the chance to try and fail, then give us another chance to try and succeed.

Always plan for the fact that no plan ever goes according to plan (a variation of the oldie but goodie, “man plans and God laughs.”)

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.

This is probably not going to change your life but it may give you fresh perspective on a day you really need it. Enjoy!

Bonus: Simon Sinek (public speaker and author of START WITH WHY: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action) dissects the United Airlines controversy.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TOGETHER IS BETTER by Simon Sinek. Portfolio (September 13, 2016). ISBN 978-1591847854. 160p.


ONE PERFECT LIE by Lisa Scottoline

April 14, 2017

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It’s always a happy day in my house when a new Lisa Scottoline book appears on my doorstep. While my heart truly belongs to her series (Rosato & Associates which turns into Rosato & DiNunzio) I also enjoy the nonfiction books she writes with her daughter, Francesca Serritella, which are collections of the columns they write for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Then a few years ago (probably more than a few at this point) Lisa started writing standalones, sort of ripped from the headlines thrillers and family dramas that are most reminiscent of Jodi Picoult books. This one is a real suburban thriller, so if you like Harlan Coben or Jodi Picoult, add Scottoline to your reading list.

One Perfect Lie starts out one way and then takes a sudden, shocking turn. Set in a small, Pennsylvania town, Chris Brennan applies for a teaching position, taking over for a teacher out on leave. He also applies to be the assistant coach of the baseball team, and through the application process and then his starting days at the high school, he comes across as creepy and evil.

The story really focuses on some of the kids on the baseball team. One of them is suspected of stealing fertilizer that is used for explosions. And this is just days before the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. There’s Raz, who lost his father earlier that year and whose mother is having trouble adjusting. Jordan’s mom is a struggling single mother, but he never knew his father. And Evan is the golden child, son of a surgeon and a mom who lives for Facebook, posting one perfect family picture after another.

The teachers, students and their families all accept Chris and for the first time in his life – a life that seems to have been very difficult – he feels a sense of being at home. But it may all blow up – literally and figuratively.

Scottoline excels at character development and they propel the story along. And the ending was exceptionally gripping. This was a one night read for me and I really enjoyed it. Another winner from one of my favorites.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ONE PERFECT LIE by Lisa Scottoline. St. Martin’s Press (April 11, 2017). ISBN 978-1250099563. 368p.

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HIS COWBOY HEART by Jennifer Ryan

April 12, 2017

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Montana Men series, Book 7

This is a modern day cowboy romance with a significant twist.

Ford Kendrick and Jamie Keller have been sweethearts forever, dreaming of moving away from their small Montana town and starting their own ranch somewhere. But when Ford’s family runs into some financial problems and his grandfather’s health is precarious, he knows all his savings have to go into the family business and that he’ll have to stick around to help out.

Ford pushes Jamie away, telling her she needs to go and make her own way somewhere else without telling her why. Heartbroken, she heads to Georgia and ends up enlisting in the army.

Jamie returns home to Montana with severe PTSD – and this was quite an unusual twist. I’ve read romances where the men have come home from war with issues but this was a first for me. Jamie is in a very bad way. She’s got serious physical issues and scars, but it’s her mental problems that are really crippling.

At lunch with her mother, a woman who is completely devoid of empathy, Jamie loses it and causes a scene. Ford is at the same restaurant, and sees her. Determined to help, he shows up at her house and she almost kills him, blasting gunfire through the front door in a drunken, drugged haze. This just makes him more determined to find their happy ending, but that’s only half the story.

The other half of the story is what happened to Jamie. She knows she was burned and shot, and that one of the men in her group saved her life. But they were the only two survivors and she lost the rest of her friends that day. Understandingly, she has completely blocked out her memories of that day. Getting psychiatric help from the Army via Skype, she is not making much progress with her memory of that fateful day.

I must admit this was not that big a mystery, even I figured out what had happened pretty early on. But this deep dive into PTSD and the repercussions after soldiers return home felt brutally honest – especially in light of this article I had read about it in the New York Times Magazine a while back. Well, that article just won the Pulitzer Prize and I highly recommend reading it, and this book.

For more information on PTSD, read this Pulitzer Prize winning piece from the New York Times: The Fighter

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HIS COWBOY HEART by Jennifer Ryan. Avon (February 21, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062435408. 416p.

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REVOLUTION FOR DUMMIES by Bassem Youssef

April 10, 2017

Laughing through the Arab Spring

If a book has a blurb from Jon Stewart , and the author is known as the “The Jon Stewart of the Arabic World” I have no choice but to read the book. So I did.

I first learned about Bassem Youssef while watching Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. And I was intrigued. A few weeks later, I stumbled across the book at my library and grabbed it.

I like learning about different cultures, and I don’t know a whole lot about Egypt. I did have a co-worker from Egypt (who has since been promoted and moved to another branch of the library) and we talked on occasion about her family and her life in Egypt and here, so I have some understanding, at least of how her family lives. But she is no revolutionary, and Youssef is. So I was happy to read a very interesting point of view from a very funny Egyptian voice.

While I appreciate his humor, the Egyptian government did not. He was threatened and arrested but eventually fled Egypt and landed in California. Youssef is not just a comedian; his first career was as a heart surgeon. Besides not knowing much about life in Egypt, I know even less about their politics. Comedy is not especially welcome by an oppressive regime, and that was not a surprise. But Youssef’s life has been extraordinary so far, brutal at times, sad for sure, but his writing style, his satire, is laugh out loud funny.

 

From the publisher:

“Hilarious and Heartbreaking. Comedy shouldn’t take courage, but it made an exception for Bassem.” –Jon Stewart

“The Jon Stewart of the Arabic World”—the creator of The Program, the most popular television show in Egypt’s history—chronicles his transformation from heart surgeon to political satirist, and offers crucial insight into the Arab Spring, the Egyptian Revolution, and the turmoil roiling the modern Middle East, all of which inspired the documentary about his life, Tickling Giants.

Bassem Youssef’s incendiary satirical news program, Al-Bernameg (The Program), chronicled the events of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, and the rise of Mubarak’s successor, Mohamed Morsi. Youssef not only captured his nation’s dissent but stamped it with his own brand of humorous political criticism, in which the Egyptian government became the prime laughing stock.

So potent were Youssef’s skits, jokes, and commentary, the authoritarian government accused him of insulting the Egyptian presidency and Islam. After a six-hour long police interrogation, Youssef was released. While his case was eventually dismissed, his television show was terminated, and Youssef, fearful for his safety, fled his homeland.

In Revolution for Dummies, Youssef recounts his life and offers hysterical riffs on the hypocrisy, instability, and corruption that has long animated Egyptian politics. From the attempted cover-up of the violent clashes in Tahrir Square to the government’s announcement that it had created the world’s first “AIDS cure” machine, to the conviction of officials that Youssef was a CIA operative—recruited by Jon Stewart—to bring down the country through sarcasm. There’s much more—and it’s all insanely true.

Interweaving the dramatic and inspiring stories of the development of his popular television show and his rise as the most contentious funny-man in Egypt, Youssef’s humorous, fast-paced takes on dictatorship, revolution, and the unforeseeable destiny of democracy in the Modern Middle East offers much needed hope and more than a few healing laughs. A documentary about his life, Tickling Giants, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and is now scheduled for major release.

Something to look forward to.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

REVOLUTION FOR DUMMIES by Bassem Youssef. Dey Street Books (March 21, 2017). ISBN 978-0062446893. 304p.


A COLONY IN A NATION by Chris Hayes

April 6, 2017

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I don’t read a lot of political books. I do watch a lot (too much) TV news, and I read a lot of newspapers; usually the “fake” kind like MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and other Pulitzer Prize winners. And I listen to podcasts like Pod Save America from the hilariously named “Crooked Media,” and I watch the late night shows that help me laugh about what’s going on in this country and keep me from leaping off the ledge. (Feel free to comment as you like, the comments have to be approved. By me.)

So, Chris Hayes. I love him on MSNBC, he’s smart and quick and rarely loses his cool, something I truly admire (and wish I was better at.) So when I heard he wrote a book, I was “all in.”

This is a book about racism in America and yes, a white guy can write about it. And he does a really good job. The title refers to what Hayes considers the racial divide in this country, specifically in our criminal justice system. He believes that white Americans are treated as citizens, with civil rights and respect, while minorities are treated as colonists, where their civil rights are nonexistent and they basically live in a police state. He makes his point by tracing American history from the 1960’s civil rights era through today, and while it is disturbing, Hayes writes well, making his point clearly and succinctly. I found this book very upsetting, but I knew that going in.

From the publisher:

New York Times best-selling author and Emmy Award–winning news anchor Chris Hayes argues that there are really two Americas: a Colony and a Nation.

America likes to tell itself that it inhabits a postracial world, yet nearly every empirical measure—wealth, unemployment, incarceration, school segregation—reveals that racial inequality has barely improved since 1968, when Richard Nixon became our first “law and order” president. With the clarity and originality that distinguished his prescient bestseller, Twilight of the Elites, Chris Hayes upends our national conversation on policing and democracy in a book of wide-ranging historical, social, and political analysis.

Hayes contends our country has fractured in two: the Colony and the Nation. In the Nation, we venerate the law. In the Colony, we obsess over order, fear trumps civil rights, and aggressive policing resembles occupation. A Colony in a Nation explains how a country founded on justice now looks like something uncomfortably close to a police state. How and why did Americans build a system where conditions in Ferguson and West Baltimore mirror those that sparked the American Revolution?

A Colony in a Nation examines the surge in crime that began in the 1960s and peaked in the 1990s, and the unprecedented decline that followed. Drawing on close-hand reporting at flashpoints of racial conflict, as well as deeply personal experiences with policing, Hayes explores cultural touchstones, from the influential “broken windows” theory to the “squeegee men” of late-1980s Manhattan, to show how fear causes us to make dangerous and unfortunate choices, both in our society and at the personal level. With great empathy, he seeks to understand the challenges of policing communities haunted by the omnipresent threat of guns. Most important, he shows that a more democratic and sympathetic justice system already exists—in a place we least suspect.

A Colony in a Nation is an essential book—searing and insightful—that will reframe our thinking about law and order in the years to come.

If you care about making America great “again,” or just care about how American citizens are treated in our criminal justice system, pick up this book. It is a most worthwhile read.

4/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A COLONY IN A NATION by Chris Hayes. W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (March 21, 2017). ISBN 978-0393254228. 256p.