Earlier this week I finished the audio version of Heather Cox Richardson’s new book, “Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America.” Like her Substack newsletter, “Letters from an American,” “Democracy Awakening” is well-written, civil, and dedicated to engendering some optimism during the dark time we’re living through. Bonus: Richardson narrates the book herself.
Richardson is more optimistic than I am about the future of the country, but, as she reminds us over and over again, we’ve been here before — in the 1850s, when the slaveholding minority captured all the levers of government power (let’s hope we can avoid a civil war this time); in the 1930s, when Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal were threatened by a homegrown fascist movement; and at several points in between.
Reviewing an audio book is always difficult since it’s not really possible to take notes, but this review in The Guardian by Charles Kaiser will give you a taste:
Richardson’s latest book shares all the intelligence of her newsletter. It doesn’t have the news value of her internet contributions but it is an excellent primer for anyone who needs the important facts of the last 150 years of American history — and how they got us to the sorry place we inhabit today.
“Democracy Awakening,” thankfully, is no marathon. At a brisk eight and a half hours, you can listen to it on a few long walks or drives. If you’re a fan of “Letters from an American,” the most popular newsletter on Substack, then no doubt you’ll be inspired by “Democracy Awakening” as well.