Michael Eric Dyson’s Resistance Reading

Authors pick books that bring solace and understanding in a time of rancor.

Nancy Kaszerman/ Zuma Wire


We asked a range of authors, artists, and poets to suggest the books that bring them solace or understanding in this age of political rancor. Two dozen or so responded. Here’s what the author and Georgetown University sociologist Michael Eric Dyson had to offer.

Latest book: Tears We Cannot Stop
Also known for: The Black Presidency
Recommended Reading: There are two books in particular that I look to for analysis and inspiration in these tough times. First, Richard Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style in American Politics offers bracing commentary and vibrant analysis of the fringe political movements that have defined our nation in times of crisis, paying attention to the paranoia and conspiracy that fuel reactionary outlooks. That clearly helps us to put this Trumpian epoch in illuminating context. 

I also turn time and again to Howard Thurman’s book of sermons, The Growing Edge, to offer solace and sanctuary from the presentist sensibilities that too often deprive us of the long view of history. Thurman reminds us that enslaved blacks insisted, “We cannot be prisoners” of current happenings. “We must not scale down the horizon of our hopes and our dreams and our yearnings to the level of the event of our lives.” That’s good advice for those tempted to surrender to the contemporary moment without looking at the larger, longer picture. 
______________
The complete series: Daniel Alarcón, Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, W. Kamau Bell, Ana Castillo, Jeff Chang, T Cooper, Michael Eric Dyson, Dave Eggers, Reza Farazmand, William Gibson, Mohsin Hamid, Piper Kerman, Phil Klay, Alex Kotlowitz, Bill McKibbenRabbi Jack Moline, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Peggy Orenstein, Wendy C. Ortiz, Darryl Pinckney, Joe Romm, Karen Russell, George Saunders, Tracy K. Smith, Ayelet WaldmanJesmyn Ward, and Gene Luen Yang.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.