Longform Book Reviews – Nonfiction

Leading from the Roots: Nature-Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World

Leading from the Roots: Nature-Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World is a transformative book in the field of organizational leadership. In the Introduction and the following eleven chapters, Dr. Kathleen E. Allen delineates how leaders in the 21st century can shift their perspectives, attitudes, and practices from a traditional, mechanistic, and top-down organizational system to…

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Nature Based Leadership: Living, Learning, Serving, and Leading

Stephen B. Jones offers a way of “being in” the natural world that connects us to the higher goals of insight, purpose, and action. In his book Nature Based Leadership: Living, Learning, Serving, and Leading, published in December 2016, Jones engages all the human portals—mind, heart, body, soul, and sprit—to focus our attention on nature as we experience it on Earth.

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The View From Lazy Point

The View From Lazy Point: A Natural Year In An Unnatural World by Carl Safina is a book about love. It is not your typical story about a romance in the works or one that goes south. But it is a love story, nonetheless. Love that envelops both humanity and the Earth and everything that lives…

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The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin was first published in 1963 during the emerging Civil Rights Movement and was an instant best seller. A brilliant social critic, public intellectual, and interpreter of racial myths and beliefs, Baldwin captured the zeitgeist of a country riven by race. Without prejudice or fear, he deconstructed the institution of racism in America.

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Arte of Now: Practice of Immediacy in the Arts

The beauty of Nicolee McMahon’s Arte of Now: Practice of Immediacy in the Arts lies in the wisdom of creativity itself, a wisdom demonstrated 30,000 to 40,000 years ago when Homo sapiens painted prehistoric rock art (parietal art) on the walls of caves. Realistic and extinct animals, handprints, abstract dot paintings, and geometric shapes graced the cave walls, evidence that our ancestors had evolved a brain capacity that began at least 200,000 years ago. Neuroscience shows that humans are “wired to create” and use their whole brain to do so.

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The Longest War

Consider 9/11 and the Arab Spring of 2011 as opposing bookends to a decade of repression, fear, and fetishized violence. 9/11—the worst terrorist attack on United States soil—killed nearly 3,000 people, and the United States faced unprecedented vigilance against further terrorist threats. The Arab Spring was sparked in Tunisia after a fruit vendor set himself…

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My Beloved World

You would be remiss if you didn’t ask how Justice Sotomayor transcended the adversity of her childhood: dangerous neighborhoods, chronic poverty, an alcoholic father, an unhappy mother. Yet My Beloved World is a memoir suffused with gratitude, generosity, and love.

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A Singular Woman

For many, Ann Dunham is known as the mother of the 44th U.S. president who happened to be white, and that’s just about all they know about her. In A Singular Woman, Janny Scott retrieves Dunham from the bin of misrepresentation and presents an accomplished woman.

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Reading Obama

It has been said that President Barack Obama is like a Rorschach test—people project onto him their interpretations and feelings and beliefs. From the perspective of the left, he is a cool pragmatist. From the right, he is a socialist. When debates about health care reform heated up during the summer of 2009, the left…

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Alfred Maurer

Art historian Daphne Deeds’ essay Alfred Maurer: The First American Modern educates the reader about modernism and connects in a style that is both erudite and accessible.

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The New Jim Crow

Why has an academic book with a title that includes this mix—“Jim Crow,” “mass incarceration,” and “colorblindness”— resonated with the public? Clearly, Alexander has hit a nerve. Something profound is happening in American society.

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How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

In his recently published book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, Paul Tough posits that character goes hand in hand with success. As he defines and describes it, character is not a moralizing agent tied to moral laws, but rather a composite of individual strengths that can be taught, learned, and practiced.…

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Winner Take All Politics

According to Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, co-authors of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, economic inequality in the United States is not in the eye of the beholder. It is real, most apparently in the “real economy,” and it is present, most conspicuously, in the…

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Cinderella Ate My Daughter

In “Cinderella,” as told in the Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1974) first published in Germany in 1817 as “Aschenputtel,” Cinderella’s mother dies, her father remarries, and her two new stepsisters—“beautiful but black of heart”—make her give up her pretty clothes and put on an old grey bedgown and wooden shoes, and they force her to work all…

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Cleopatra: A Life

Who was Cleopatra? The erotic queen of Egypt? “The wanton seductress” who consorted with the two most powerful Romans of her time—Julius Caesar and Mark Antony? The “insatiable, treacherous, blood-thirsty, power-crazed” destroyer of men, a woman who “hailed from the intoxicating land of sex and excess”—“the occult, alchemical East?” From the writings of Cicero, Augustus…

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No Way Down

When you think about a life worth living, what comes to mind? Helping others in need? Giving your children your love and attention and rearing them to become generous and loving human beings as adults? Being productive at your job and striving to do the very best you can? Living every day in harmony with…

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