Growing up in Metro Detroit, attending public schools, it is quite hard to imagine growing up like Tara Westover. Tara having not attended school as a child, with a father who believes the "Feds" are always after them, a mother who does not believe in medicine, and an abusive brother, she was not setup for success. A birth certificate did not even exist for Tara until nine years old. With all of her adversity, she becomes very successful in her adult life, obtaining bachelor, masters, and doctorate degrees.
The author has ten tenets of creating a vibrant, walkable city. His favorite, and my favorite also, is trees. Planting trees along a road has many pros, including beautification and reducing stormwater runoff. He discusses how making a street feel smaller, slows traffic and creates a more friendly environment for all. When people are walking, businesses are thriving. When cars are more careful, folks walk.
Barack Obama's memoir A Promised Land is a detailed account of his time as President and his adventure to the oval office. The audio book has the added bonus of it being narrated by the President himself.
It is intriguing to hear how Obama thought about different problems he had to solve. There is always more than one way to go about an issue. There is always a complex set of relationships. Working with people can sometimes be complicated, and he gives insight into how he did so.
If you read The New Jim Crow, you should follow it up with this book. The author takes the opposing view of Michelle Alexander on many fronts, and also presents the County Prosecutor as the most "powerful" position in the criminal justice system. If you are someone looking to learn about the prison system in the United States, this is a must-read. If you are someone looking to work on reform, this is a must-read. Overall, the book is great to get an understanding of how the prison works, and how it could work.
Sly James was Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, from 2011 to 2019. There are not many books on municipal government, so this was an interesting read. Sly was mayor in a strong-mayor system. His position was full-time, meaning that he was the leader of the Executive branch of government, while the City Council, which would have a President, ran the Legislative branch. Sly has an every-other-chapter strategy, with one chapter being his personal story, and the next being about politics. Personally, I felt like his take on municipal government was quite refreshing, but had a cynical view on partisan politics. He had a plan he called the Four E Agenda: Education, Employment, Efficiency, and Enforcement. He was a lawyer before becoming Mayor, and a Marine during the Vietnam Era prior to that. He's a passionate individual, and the residents of Kansas City were lucky to have him as the City's leader for eight years.
This book is eye-opening. There is really no other way to put it. A lot of people end up spending little time with the justice system over the course of their life, but it is important to know how that system affects your life (and of course those unjustly caught up in the system). There is a lot of injustice baked into our justice system. This book breaks down why prosecutors are the most powerful folks in the law enforcement arena, and how their actions amplify the already biased policing system. The book takes you briefly back to slavery, and then how Jim Crow laws affected our country. The book suggests that it is socially unacceptable to discriminate openly on race in modern times, but explains how so many other factors (unconscious and conscious) contribute to unequal justice between white and black/brown people, even after the eras of slavery and Jim Crow. This is a must-read for anyone interested in racial justice, and one of the first books I will now recommend to others for reading.