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Carol Anderson recommends 3 books that illustrate how American institutions are failing us

The author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide appeared on a bonus episode of The Ezra Klein Show.

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Congress. Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Carol Anderson is a brilliant author, academic, and historian — and still, she has no words for how she felt during the 2016 election. Or she does, but she catches herself before she says them out loud on a bonus episode of The Ezra Klein Show.

Anderson’s book White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide was published a few months before Election Day but remains vitally relevant more than a year into the Trump presidency. In it, Anderson discusses how anger in black communities is hyper-visible, while “white rage manages to be almost invisible [...which] distorts our understanding of the reality of race relations in this country.”

Buy White Rage here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In this conversation, recorded before a controversial Sam Harris interview on the same show and similar in theme, Ezra asks Anderson about the points she makes in the book, as well as her thoughts on identity politics, “political correctness” on college campuses, and whether things are really as apocalyptic as they feel. The conversation is alternately funny and sobering as Anderson discusses her views on everything from dog-whistle politics and Cold War history to the impact of Archie Bunker.

The books she recommends at the end of the podcast support her sentiment that America has never lived up to its lofty aspirations. They show how our institutions, both public and private, are failing the citizens they’re supposed to serve.

Anderson says of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, “that book breaks my heart.” Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book profiles poor families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep their housing. In Evicted, Desmond emphasizes the importance of the home to American life and offers actionable solutions to break the eviction cycle that disproportionately punishes impoverished mothers.

Buy Evicted here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy includes a blurb from Anderson calling it apowerful, chilling tale.” On the podcast, Anderson describes it as a look at “how [for-profit colleges] prey on the aspirations of those who are seeking a college education in order to have a better life.” Through interviews with former students and employees, McMillan Cottom links the for-profit college industry to larger trends in race, class, and gender inequality.

Buy Lower Ed here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism was written in 2012 and revised in 2016. The book’s authors, Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, track the rise of extremism in American politics that seems to be getting worse every day. Anderson says It’s Even Worse Than It Looks “gave [her] an insight into where we are right now with the Republican Party, understanding how [it] moved from a governing party to a party of opposition ... which then didn’t provide any kind of space for moderate Republicans.”

Buy It’s Even Worse Than It Looks here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

You can listen to Carol Anderson on The Ezra Klein Show by subscribing on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts, or by streaming the episode here:

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