Category Archives: Author Essays

Violence, Justice & Imagination: A Visionary Paradigm

9780807091913By Michael Bronski and Kay Whitlock, authors of Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics (Beacon Press, January 2015).

Terrible things happen all the time. Everybody knows that. They happen to all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes, as in the deaths of Trayvon Martin or Matthew Shepard, or the murder of nine parishioners in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina, society has come up with a special classification to explain—and punish—some acts. We call them “hate crimes” because they are seen as being caused by the “hate” of the people who commit them. But are they caused only by “hate?” Or are they symptoms of deeper, widespread, or even commonplace forms of violence? Continue reading

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Yale History Professor Timothy Snyder Brings the Holocaust Under New Scrutiny

9781101903452By Timothy Snyder, author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (Tim Duggan Books, September 2015).

Many of us want, need, or are simply required to teach the history of the Holocaust. But how should we do so? One problem, at least on American campuses, is that the Holocaust, in its very intensity and horror, seems too intense to be history, eluding context and thus understanding. Students can be left with images and memories, but with no clear sense as to how such an event took place. I wrote Black Earth in the hope that the Holocaust could be understood as part of global history, and that students interested in the wider world of the past could read the book as part of that journey. Continue reading

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Fighting the Stigma of Sex Work: Burlesque, Beyonce, and sex-positive feminism

9780807061237By Melinda Chateauvert, author of Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to SlutWalk (Beacon Press, March 2015)

My mother kind of freaked out when I told her about the proposal for Sex Workers Unite! I never thought of her as a prude. When I was growing up, she rarely seemed embarrassed about sexuality matters, and her several non-traditional relationships definitely influenced my critique of the whole white picket fence family idea. But for her daughter to write about prostitutes’ rights threw her for a loop. Continue reading

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The Psychological Forces That Undermine Our Criminal Justice System

9780770437763by Adam Benforado, author of Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Justice (Crown, June 2015)

The death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, and his killer’s subsequent acquittal, led many to condemn our criminal justice system as fundamentally broken. And in the wake of high-profile cases in New York, Cleveland, and Ferguson, questions about how the law reflects—and exacerbates—racial and economic disparities have continued to dominate the national conversation. As a society, we are desperately trying to make sense of rampant gun violence, police brutality, overcrowded prisons, and widening inequality. Continue reading

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Re-defining God with the New Science of “Emergence”

9780807073391by Nancy Ellen Abrams, author of A God That Could Be Real:  Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet (Beacon Press, March 2015)

We are living at the dawn of a new picture of the universe. We now know that everything visible with our best telescopes is less than one percent of what’s really out there. Our universe is made almost entirely of “dark matter” and “dark energy” – two invisible, dynamic presences whose 13.8 billion year competition with each other has spun the galaxies into being and thus created the only possible homes for evolution and life. This must change how we think about God. Continue reading

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Prevailing Treatments for Addiction Just Don’t Work

9780807033159By Lance Dodes and Zachary Dodes, authors of The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry (Beacon Press, 2015)

The major current interventions for alcoholism and other addictions are based on some terribly flawed science, and have startlingly poor success rates. These are the key findings within our 2014 book, The Sober Truth.

My co-author and I reviewed every major scientific study examining outcomes for AA and 12-step-based rehabilitation programs, and found that the most likely success rate for these programs falls somewhere between 5% and 10%. This wasn’t our finding alone; an exhaustive scientific review by the prestigious Cochrane Collection which examined all AA studies over 40 years came to an even more damning conclusion, disclosing that “No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA” at all. Continue reading

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America’s Indispensable Diplomat: Abraham Lincoln on the World Stage

9780307887214By Kevin Peraino, author of Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power (Broadway Books, October 2014)

I came to Abraham Lincoln in a roundabout way. I had been working as a correspondent in the Middle East, reporting from countries like Syria and Libya and Yemen—where I was exposed to foreign affairs in a very high-intensity, granular way. I found myself searching for—almost craving—a wider, more thoughtful perspective on the events I was witnessing up close. I began poring through works about the historic traditions of American foreign policy in an attempt to make better sense of what I was seeing first hand on the ground. Continue reading

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