President Trump has been in office for just over six weeks, but his quick succession of executive orders, conservative appointments and outrageous statements and tweets – including the recent baseless allegations that President Obama tapped his phones – have made that short span feel like a lifetime.
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From the so-called Muslim travel ban to his reversal of an Obama-era directive on bathrooms for transgender students to his choice of a pro-settlement hardliner for ambassador to Israel, Trump’s first actions as the leader of the free world have left millions of Americans (and, let’s face it, at least some world leaders) distressed and depressed. For all those who are ready to bury their heads in the sand for the next four years, perhaps a better plan of action is to bury your noses in a good read. Outraged by Trump’s softball condemnation of anti-Semitism? There’s a book for you. Stunned that he appointed a climate-change denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency? Take comfort in a tome. Can’t believe he called the media the “enemy of the American people”? Pick up a book whose heroes are journalists. The following list offers seven good reads that are out now or coming soon to help cope with the chaos.
Outraged by: Trump’s executive order on immigration, also known as the so-called Muslim travel ban, which barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – from entering the U.S. for 90 days. (Multiple courts blocked it, and the president presented a revised version on Monday that removed Iraq from the list.)
Read: “How to Be a Muslim: An American Story,” by Haroon Moghul (out June 6)
Moghul, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Policy and a Haaretz contributor, has written a memoir about struggling to forge a Muslim American identity in a post-9/11 world. Moghul details how, since high school, his relationship with Islam has been complicated, and he offers a glimpse into his personal struggle to reconcile with his faith while coping with “The mainstream are the radicals,” he wrote in a recent column. “You can’t help but hear this hate differently, and feel it differently too.”
Outraged by: Trump’s delayed reaction to anti-Semitic attacks and waves of bomb threats against JCCs.
Read: “Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949,” by David Cesarani
There is no shortage of scholarship and new books about the Holocaust, but this 1,000-plus-page tome by the late British historian details the role of bystanders in the Jews’ annihilation and also shines a spotlight on survivor testimonies. As our reviewer wrote, “Cesarani’s own account of the ‘sprawling historical tragedy’ is illuminated precisely by the human touch that the eyewitness testimony provides. After all, it is one thing for Cesarani to report that German Jews in mid-1935 were terrified; it is much more powerful to read that one of them wrote in his diary on August 11: ‘We expect to be beaten to death at any moment.’” The book serves as an ominous reminder of the costs of ignoring extremism and racially motivated hatred before it’s too late.
Outraged by: Trump appointing Scott Pruitt, a climate-change skeptic, to head the Environmental Protection Agency
Read: “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” by Elizabeth Kolbert
Environmental activists and Americans who enjoy clean air and water and believe that climate change is not a Chinese hoax were clearly distraught by Pruitt’s confirmation. In her engaging, terrifying and deeply researched book, Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker writer Kolbert describes how five previous momentous events have decimated life on Earth, and explains that the sixth and current mass extinction – the millions of species being obliterated – is all humans’ fault. There is still hope though. As our review put it: “Despite the very bad news, the book does not induce despondency. One walks away with ample inspiration: We can change direction; the sooner the better; and if not now, when?”
Outraged by: Trump’s attacks on the press and calling the media the “enemy of the American people.”
Read: “All the President’s Men,” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
In its list of the all-time 100 best nonfiction books, Time magazine called “All the President’s Men” perhaps the most influential piece of journalism in history. The basis for the book, of course, is Woodward and Bernstein’s reporting about the Watergate scandal – reporting that won them a Pulitzer Prize and helped topple President Richard Nixon. Published a short time before Nixon’s resignation, “All the President’s Men” is a political thriller that begins with the June 1972 burglary at Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., and unpacks the devastating details of how the Watergate scandal unfolded. The book first introduced readers to the reporters’ indispensible anonymous source “Deep Throat,” and underscores how tenacious journalists help protect citizens from corruption and abuses of power at the highest levels of government.
Outraged by: Trump rescinding the Obama administration’s rules on bathrooms for transgender students in public schools.
Read: “The Secrets of My Life,” by Caitlyn Jenner (out April 25)
Prior to the U.S. presidential election, Caitlyn Jenner, a Republican, didn’t support Trump but thought he would be “very good for women’s issues.” Last month, after Trump revoked the Obama-era federal requirement that allowed transgender students to choose the school bathroom that matched their gender, identity, Jenner took to Twitter to scold the president. “Well @realDonaldTrump, from one Republican to another, this is a disaster,” Jenner tweeted. “You made a promise to protect the LGBTQ community. Call me.” In her forthcoming memoir, Jenner tells the story of how she became the most famous trans woman and the face of an entire community. Starting with her childhood as Bruce Jenner, who went on to become an Olympic gold medal–winning decathlete and marry three times, Jenner recounts her longtime struggle with gender dysphoria and the journey to her much publicized transition to womanhood.
Outraged by: David Friedman as his choice for ambassador to Israel
Read: “City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement,” by Sara Yael Hirschhorn (out May 22)
Trump tapped Orthodox Jewish bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel, despite his lack of diplomatic experience and his numerous undiplomatic remarks about liberal Jews, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Barack Obama, among other things. Friedman is a staunch supporter of the Israeli settlement movement, which this forthcoming book shows includes more than 60,000 American Jews who live beyond the Green Line. Hirschhorn, an Oxford University scholar and Haaretz contributor, has spent nearly a decade studying Jewish American settlers and Jewish American support for the settlement enterprise. In a recent piece, she wrote, “David Friedman is the product of the profound changes in American Zionism since the 1967 war.” Ahead of the 50th anniversary of that war, Hirschhorn delves into why these American Jews moved to the occupied territories. She describes how the original settlers weren’t religious zealots, but rather liberal idealists who wanted to “serve as a beacon to Jews around the globe.” Later, especially after the 1994 Hebron massacre, she explains, the settlement movement rebranded, beginning the transformation to its modern-day incarnation.
Outraged by: Trump’s anti-abortion executive order and his vow to defund Planned Parenthood
Read: “Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
President Trump has repeatedly promised to defund Planned Parenthood and one of his first executive orders reinstated a policy first instituted by Ronald Reagan in 1984. The so-called “Mexico City Policy” bans federal funding of international groups that advise women on reproductive health matters if their services include abortion (even if U.S. funds don’t directly pay for abortions) – and has far-reaching implications for women across the globe. Trump’s initiatives have reinvigorated the feminist movement and prompted more younger women to fight for their rights, reproductive and otherwise. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the author of “We Should All Be Feminists” – which explains how feminism isn’t just a woman’s issue – has just released this new book, written as a letter to a friend who asked her how to raise her daughter as a feminist. It covers everything from how to choose toys for a daughter to openly discussing sexuality to defying traditional gender roles.