Making Democracy Work

LWVCC Book Group

The League of Women Voters of Concord-Carlisle hosts a book discussion several times a year, usually on Wednesday morning in the Concord Free Public Library on Main Street. For information, contact

Enjoy lively discussions of books chosen by group members. All are welcome.

LWVCC Book Group 17-18

We will be discussing Arlie Russell Hochschild's book Strangers in Their Own Land.

Arlie Russell Hochschild's fall 2016 book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, addresses the increasingly bitter political divide in America. A finalist for the National Book Award.

From a September 20, 2016 article in the New Yorker by Benjamin Wallace-Wells

Arlie Russell Hochschild, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley, has just published a book, "Strangers in their Own Land," that tries to understand the emotional roots of the Tea Party movement and the Trump phenomenon. To do this, Hoschshild spent much of the past five years in rural parts of southern Louisiana, where the population is mostly white, poor, and, by national standards, badly educated. Hochschild noticed that Tea Party enthusiasts and traditional conservatives gave her accounts of American society that boiled down to a single "deep story." This story was that America, which was once characterized by hard work, was now characterized by cheating; the image that Hochschild chose was that of people cutting in line. For Hochschild's subjects, the line-cutters were African-Americans, promoted by affirmative action, she writes, but also "women, immigrants, refugees, public-sector workers--where will it end? Your money is running through a liberal sympathy sieve you don't control or agree with." President Obama, in this vision, was the man controlling the line, waving the line-cutters ahead--"their president, not your president." Hochschild shared this analogy in e-mails to the plumbers and insurance brokers she had met. "I live your analogy," one wrote back. "It's my story," another said. A third wrote, "You've read my mind.",

MERCHANTS OF DOUBT: How A Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues From Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway

  • Wednesday, November 8th, 10:00-11:30am, Trustees Room, Concord Library
  • Thursday, November 16th, 7:00-8:30pm, Trustees Room, Concord Library

Oreskes and Conway tell an important story about the misuse of science to mislead the public on matters ranging from the risks of smoking to the reality of global warming. Seven compelling chapters detail seven issues (acid rain, the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke, the ozone hole, global warming, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and the banning of DDT) in which a group of conservative scientists sowed seeds of public doubt on matters of settled science by casting aspersions on both the science and the scientists who produced it. This book deserves serious attention for the lessons it provides about the misuse of science for political and commercial ends.

THE TROUBLE WITH REALITY: A Rumination on Moral Panic In Our Time by Brooke Gladstone

  • Wednesday, January 10th, 10:00-11:30am, Trustees Room, Concord Library
  • Wednesday, January 24th, 7:00-8:30pm, Trustees Room, Concord Library

Every week on NPR's On the Media, award-winning journalist Brooke Gladstone analyzes the media and how it shapes our perceptions of the world. In her recent book, she shows us that reality was never what we thought it was--there is always a bubble, people are always subjective and prey to stereotypes. And that makes reality more vulnerable than we ever thought. Enter Donald J. Trump and his team of advisors. For them, as she writes, lying is the point. The more blatant the lie, the easier it is to hijack reality and assert power over the truth. Drawing on writers as diverse as Hannah Arendt, Walter Lippmann, Philip K. Dick, and Jonathan Swift, Gladstone dissects this strategy, straight out of the authoritarian playbook, and shows how the Trump team mastered it, down to the five types of tweets that Trump uses to distort our notions of what's real and what's not.

And she offers hope. There is meaningful action, a time-tested treatment for moral panic. And there is also the inevitable reckoning. History tells us we can count on it. Brief and bracing, The Trouble with Reality shows exactly why so many of us didn't see it coming, and how we can recover both our belief in reality--and our sanity.

OUR KIDS: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam

  • March dates TBD

Central to the idea of America is the principle that we are a nation of opportunity. But over the last quarter century a disturbing "opportunity gap" has emerged. Americans have always believed that those who have talent and try hard will succeed, but this seems no longer to be true for most people. In this book Putnam tells the tale of lessening opportunity through poignant life stories of rich, middle class and poor kids from cities and suburbs across the country, brilliantly blended with the latest social-science research.

AN AMERICAN SICKNESS: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back by Elisabeth Rosenthal

  • May dates TBD

In only a few decades, the medical system has been overrun by organizations seeking to exploit for profit the trust that vulnerable and sick Americans place in their healthcare. Our politicians have proven themselves either unwilling or incapable of reining in the increasingly outrageous costs faced by patients, and market-based solutions only seem to funnel larger and larger sums of our money into the hands of corporations. Breaking down this monolithic business into the individual industries--the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and drug manufacturers--that together constitute our healthcare system, Rosenthal exposes the recent evolution of American medicine.

Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal doesn't just explain the symptoms, she diagnoses and treats the disease itself. In clear and practical terms, she spells out exactly how to decode medical doublespeak, avoid the pitfalls of the pharmaceuticals racket, and get the care you and your family deserve. This is about what we can do, as individual patients, both to navigate the maze that is American healthcare and to demand far-reaching reform. An American Sickness is the frontline defense against a healthcare system that no longer has our well-being at heart.

See past book selections below.

Books We've Read

Past LWVCC Book Group Selections

A TEAM OF RIVALS by Doris Kearns Goodwin ABUNDANCE: The Future is Better Thank You Think by Peter Diamandis & Steven Kotler AMERICAN BLOOMSBURY by Susan Cheever

ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE by Barbara Kingsolver

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

BLACK WALDEN: Slavery and Its Aftermath in Concord, Massachusetts by Elise Lemire

THE BOY WHO HARNASSED THE WIND: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer

COLLAPSE: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond


DARK MONEY: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer

DESCENT INTO CHAOS: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid

DESERT QUEEN: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell by Janet Wallach

FAST FOOD NATION: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser


GUN AND THE OLIVE BRANCH: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East by David Hirst

GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

HIDDEN FIGURES: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

HOT, FLAT AND CROWDED by Thomas Friedman

INFIDEL by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

ISTANBUL: Memories and the City by Orphan Pamuk

THE LEMON TREE by Sandy Tolan


LBJ: The Passage of Power by Robert Caro

LIPSTICK JIHAD by Azadeh Moaveni

THE MAKING OF THE PRESIDENT 1960 by Theodore H. White

MIDDLE PASSAGES: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005 by James T. Campbell

THE NINE by Jeffrey Toobin

NINE PARTS OF DESIRE by Geraldine Brooks

THE OATH: The Obama White House and The Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin


OUT OF EDEN: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion by Alan Burdick

OVERTHROW by Stephen Kinzer

PARIS 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan


REIGN OF ERROR: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools by Diane Ravitch

THE RIGHT TO VOTE: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States by Alexander Keyssar

SISTERS IN LAW: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirschman

SISTERS: The Lives of America's Suffragists by Jean H. Baker

SLAVERY BY ANOTEHR NAME: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon


TERROR IN THE NAME OF GOD: Why Religious Militants Kill by Jessica Stern

THE THIRD CHIMPANZEE: THE Evolution and Future of the Human Animal by Jared Diamond

THREE CUPS OF TEA by Greg Mortenson



WHY NATIONS FAIL: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson

THE WORLD IS FLAT by Thomas Friedman

Author's Talks

PEABODY SISTERS, THE by Megan Marshall

SKATING ON THE EDGE: A Memoir and Journey Through a Metamorphosis of the CIA by Carlos Luria

TWENTY-SEVEN DOLLARS AND A DREAM: How Muhammad Yunus Changed the World and What It Cost Him by Katharine Esty