Quick reminder -we will not be meeting in June, which means you have two months to enjoy our July Pick by Birmingham native Condi:
Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom by Condoleeza Rice
In this book, Rice explains what these epochal events teach us about democracy. At a time when people around the world are wondering whether democracy is in decline, Rice shares insights from her experiences as a policymaker, scholar, and citizen, in order to put democracy’s challenges into perspective.
When the United States was founded, it was the only attempt at self-government in the world. Today more than half of all countries qualify as democracies, and in the long run that number will continue to grow. Yet nothing worthwhile ever comes easily. Using America’s long struggle as a template, Rice draws lessons for democracy around the world — from Russia, Poland, and Ukraine, to Kenya, Colombia, and the Middle East. She finds that no transitions to democracy are the same because every country starts in a different place. Pathways diverge and sometimes circle backward. Time frames for success vary dramatically, and countries often suffer false starts before getting it right. But, Rice argues, that does not mean they should not try. While the ideal conditions for democracy are well known in academia, they never exist in the real world. The question is not how to create perfect circumstances but how to move forward under difficult ones.
These same insights apply in overcoming the challenges faced by governments today. The pursuit of democracy is a continuing struggle shared by people around the world, whether they are opposing authoritarian regimes, establishing new democratic institutions, or reforming mature democracies to better live up to their ideals. The work of securing it is never finished.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.This book showed up on, I believe, every suggested reading list I saw,From Amazon:New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.
An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.
For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.
The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.The Awakening by Kate ChopinThis is not a new book. I suggested it once before several years ago and it wasn’t selected. I am suggesting it as an option again because when Kimsey applied to take AP English a few weeks ago she had to write an essay. The topic was one of Kate Chopin’s short stories. So, I was reminded of this book and thought I would add it to the list.From Amazon:The Awakening, originally titled A Solitary Soul, is a novel by Kate Chopin, first published in 1899. Set in New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast at the end of the nineteenth century, the plot centers on Edna Pontellier and her struggle to reconcile her increasingly unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century American South. It is one of the earliest American novels that focuses on women’s issues without condescension. It is also widely seen as a landmark work of early feminism, generating mixed reaction from contemporary readers and criticism. The novel’s blend of realistic narrative, incisive social commentary, and psychological complexity makes The Awakening a precursor of American modernist literature; it prefigures the works of American novelists such as William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway and echoes the works of contemporaries such as Edith Wharton and Henry James. It can also be considered among the first Southern works in a tradition that would culminate with the modern masterpieces of Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Katherine Anne Porter, and Tennessee Williams.