The staff writer Adam Serwer considers the failure of Reconstruction, drawing from historical texts such as The Dance of Freedom,by Barry A. Crouch, and The Death of Reconstruction, by Heather Cox Richardson. Serwer argues that today’s catastrophes offer the opportunity to finally remake America as a multiracial democracy. In Stakes Is High, which was excerpted in The Atlantic, Mychal Denzel Smith makes the case for sweeping reform, writing that incremental change won’t fix policing.
Some believe that the possibility for expansive reform after the pandemic may extend to other arenas as well. In The Riches of This Land, the journalist Jim Tankersley looks at what measures might help rebuild the middle class. Works such as Triumph of the City,from theeconomist Edward Glaeser, and The Race Underground, by the journalist Doug Most, provide insight into the ways that visionary responses to calamities have changed urban life before—and might change it again today.
Every Friday in the Books Briefing, we thread together Atlantic stories on books that share similar ideas.
Know other book lovers who might like this guide? Forward them this email.