Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 Book List and Awards

Robert Jones

A happy 2011 to all the readers of this blog! I promise that 2011 will be a year of continued blogging with a slight change in direction. As many of you know, I began my new position as Redistricting Coordinator at the City of Dallas earlier this past year, where I will be guiding the redistricting of the city’s fourteen city council districts. Per the conditions of my employment with the City of Dallas (as with all city employees), I will have limited involvement in Texas politics beyond voting. After some thought I have decided that it is probably best that I refrain from blogging about anything related to redistricting and politics in Dallas and Texas until the 2011 redistricting cycle is complete in early 2012. Don’t worry Michigan political junkies; I will continue to write about politics in Michigan, and on larger urban politics and planning issues facing the Midwest.

Before I close the door on 2010, I went through my day planner and created a list of books I read over the past year (the entire list is below). I read 88 books, and 22 of these were fiction. I have no idea how many pages this amounted to, but the three Caro books alone amounted to 3,000 pages. I don’t think it is any surprise to anyone that the bulk of my reading is in history and US politics, but I also did a fair bit of fiction reading this year, which is a jump compared to 2008 and 2009. I doubt that this reading list surpasses the amount I read while in graduate school in 2002 and 2006-2008, but I must say taking public transportation to work does help.

In terms of the best work of fiction and nonfiction I read in 2010, I would say that Updike’s Rabbit pentalogy (Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich, Rabbit at Rest, and Rabbit Remembered) was excellent not only as a work of fiction, but as a social history of the United States. Harold "Rabbit" Angstrom’s world of 1960 is so different from the United States of 1999, and yet the character largely lives in a fictionalized version of Reading Pennsylvania experiencing the enormous transformation of American life over forty years. As far as nonfiction, I would select Diane Ravitch’s, Death and Life of the Great American School System. Ravitch has been involved in national education policy over the past forty years, and this book is both a helpful introduction to some of the drastic changes in policy that have occurred, as well as Ravitch’s admission that testing is not solving this nation’s educational woes. Ravitch rightfully comes back to need for raising curriculum standards, a direction that the Obama Administration is taking with the Promise Neighborhood program. Incidentally, my second favorite work of nonfiction was Paul Tough’s Whatever It Takes, which looks at Geoffrey Canada’s work with the Harlem Children’s Zone. The Harlem Children’s Zone is a systematic approach to addressing poverty that seeks to change an entire neighborhood. Conservatives love Canada for his innovative use of charter schools and the Harlem Children’s Zone’s rigorous academic standards, while liberals love the program because of the cradle to college approach and the large amounts of additional funding per student. I’m sure that Rabbit Angstrom’s great grandchildren would benefit from having a Promise Neighborhood program, whether in Harlem or in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Andrews, Busted
Ballard, Michigan’s Economic Future
Ballard, Vicksburg
Bartlett, The New American Economy
Bauman, Public Housing, Race and Renewal
Bickerstaff, Lines in the Sand
Billick, More Than a Game
Birnbaum, Showdown at Gucci Gulch
Black, Waterloo
Browne & VerBurg, Michigan Politics and Government: Facing Change in a Complex State
Brownsworth, Lost to the West
Burns & Kotlikoff, The Coming Generational Storm
Campbell, Gone to Texas
Caro, Master of the Senate (Volume III of LBJ Series)
Caro, The Path to Power (Volume I of LBJ Series)
Caro, The Power Broker
Carr, Hollowing Out the Middle
Christie, Murder on the Orient Express
Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign
Davis, When March Went Mad
Didion, Slouching to Bethlehem
Doctorow, The March
Fairbanks, For the City as a Whole
Fine, Fire in the Model City
Frazen, The Corrections
Frazen, Freedom
Freman, There Goes the Hood
Gallagher, Reimagining Detroit
Gerber, Get Out the Vote (2nd Edition)
Graff, The Dallas Myth
Grann, The Lost City of Z
Gregorrio, A Visible Darkness
Gregorrio, Critique of Criminal Reason
Gregorrio, Days of Atonement
Halberstam, The Best and Brightest
Hanlon, Once the American Dream
Hanson, Civil Culture and Urban Change: Governing Dallas
Harris, Conspirata
Harris, Imperium
Hastings, Winston’s War
Herwig, The Marne
Holt, By One Vote
Howe, What Hath God Wrought?
Iwogwski, Remains of the Day
Jackson, Moses Revisited
Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically
Jamison, Mint Condition
Karr, Cherry
Karr, The Lairs Club
Knowles, Imagining Philadelphia
Kotkin, Next Hundred Million
Lemann, The Promised Land
Luckas, Common Ground
Mahler, The Bronx is Burning
Mak, Brief History of Amsterdam
Mak, In Europe
Mantel, Wolf Hall
McDermott, Charming Billy
Owen, Green Metropolis
Pears, Instance of the Fingerpost
Pears, Stone’s Fall
Phillips, White Metropolis
Plokhy, The Price of Peace
Practicing Texas Politics
Ravitch, Death and Life of the American School System
Roach, Stiff
Rybczynski, City Living
Schrager, The Blueprint
Schutze, The Accommodation
Seabold, The Lovely Bones
Shea, Back to the Front
Shea, Fields of Blood
Shea, The Campaign Craft
Silbey, Party Over Section
Stabler, The Politics of Change in Michigan
Steinbeck, East of Eden
Taylor, Waiting on a Train
Tough, Whatever it Takes
Tuchmann, Guns of August
Updike, Rabbit at Rest
Updike, Rabbit is Rich
Updike, Rabbit Redux
Updike, Rabbit Remembered
Updike, Rabbit Run
Vidal, Julian
Weiser, The Great Tax Wars
Wilson, In Our Times
Winder, Germania
Yarbough, Race & Redistricting

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