Hut's Place
 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

April 16, 2017

Non-Fiction Paperbacks Detail Classism, A Bizarre Kidnapping, and A Chilling Life Story

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg. The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement to today's hillbillies. They have been called names like "rubbish" and "crackers" throughout history and ignored or s nubbed by much of society. Then last year, a whole slew of them voted for Donald Trump, and suddenly everyone wanted to know why. In White Trash , Isenberg tracks the influence of the lower class over time, noting for example that poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early 19th century, and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. The poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and LBJ's Great Society, and they are stars of reality TV shows. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity. And while racism is often more widely discussed and bemoaned, the nature and effects of classism may be equally debilitating. White Trash isn't a light read, but for anyone interested in knowing more about the entrenchment of our social hierarchy and its toll on our history, it may be worth the effort.

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst
by Jeffrey Toobin. The CNN legal analyst and author of books on the Supreme Court, the Bush-Gore election debacle, and the O.J. Simpson trial now tackles the bizarre story of perhaps the most famous abduction since Lindbergh's baby. In doing so, Toobin turns this complex and multi-layered kidnapping and subsesquent trial into what the Washington Post described as "an absorbing and intelligent page-turner." For those too young to have followed the story at the time, it's a pretty amazing tale. For those who do remember, Toobin offers new depth and insight that make the revisiting worthwhile for anyone interested.
On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). The already-sensational story took the first of many incredible twists on April 3 that year when the group released a tape of Patty saying she had joined the SLA and had adopted the nom de guerre Tania. Toobin brings to life the myriad, often unbelievable events that captivated the nation, including Patty/Tania's year on the lam and the circus-like trial that dominated the headlines at the time.

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North
by Blair Braverman. This is not your average coming
-of-age memoir and Braverman is not your average young woman. By the time she was 18, she had left her home in California, moved to arctic Norway to lear n to drive sled dogs, and found work as a tour guide on a glacier in Alaska. Determined to  carve out a life as a "tough girl" - a young woman who confronts danger without apology - she slowly developed the strength and resilience the landscape demanded of her. It wasn't an easy task, and she often worried that she wasn't
cut out for life on the frontier. But the pull of the North on her was too strong to ignore, and she resolved to make it work - no matter how out of place she felt. She also experienced misogyny from a male-dominated culture , and she describes those struggles as well. Braverman takes readers on an unusual (and very cold) journey of self-discovery and independence, one fraught with danger and adventure.    
Buzz Book of the Week - Fighting Words from Elizabeth Warren
This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class by Elizabeth Warren. The senior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts gained critical praise for her last book,
A Fighting Chance , which was also a national bestseller. Given that her credentials as a leader of the progressive movement have only been burnished since Donald Trump's election, her newest book should be in high demand as well. If so, she might thank Mitch McConnell for gratuitous ly cutting her off during the Jeff Sessions confirmation hearings with his "Nevertheless, she persisted" comment. That moment only served to galvanize progressives and add to Warren's political luster.

While A Fighting Chance was more of a memoir, This Fight Is Our Fight focuses more on policy. Warren asserts, and has data to back up her pronouncements, that America's middle class had been doing pretty well since the Franklin Roosevelt era, up until 1980. She acknowledges that whites were better off than blacks, then describes how everyone took a hit when Ronald Reagan and trickle-down economics took over. She also touches on some of her Senate clashes and decries a new administration rife with billionaires and lobbyists, vowing that she will continue to fight for an increasingly beleaguered middle class population. Through it all, Warren remains focused on what she believes in and insists on looking forward to the fight ahead.  

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Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

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