Non-fiction Reading Group Sept. 2

There is a non-fiction reading group that meets monthly (mostly) on the first Monday of each month.

for September 2 based on the responses received, we have chosen “Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from within on Modern Democracy” by Thomas M. Nichols

A contrarian yet highly engaging account of the spread of illiberal and anti-democratic sentiment throughout our culture that places responsibility on the citizens themselves.

Over the past three decades, citizens of democracies who claim to value freedom, tolerance, and the rule of law have increasingly embraced illiberal politicians and platforms. Democracy is in trouble–but who is really to blame?

In Our Own Worst Enemy, Tom Nichols challenges the current depictions of the rise of illiberal and anti-democratic movements in the United States and elsewhere as the result of the deprivations of globalization or the malign decisions of elites. Rather, he places the blame for the rise of

illiberalism on the people themselves. Nichols traces the illiberalism of the 21st century to the growth of unchecked narcissism, rising standards of living, global peace, and a resistance to change. Ordinary citizens, laden with grievances, have joined forces with political entrepreneurs who thrive

on the creation of rage rather than on the encouragement of civic virtue and democratic cooperation. While it will be difficult, Nichols argues that we need to defend democracy by resurrecting the virtues of altruism, compromise, stoicism, and cooperation–and by recognizing how good we’ve actually had it in the modern world.

Trenchant, contrarian, and highly engaging, Our Own Worst Enemy reframes the debate about how democracies have ended up in this dire state of affairs and what to do about it.

272 pages, Hardcover First published August 1, 2021

In the past, the group has read a wide variety of non-fiction titles, ranging from science (Brief answers to the Big Questions by Steven Hawking), the natural world (What It’s Like to Be a Bird by David Allen Sibley, An Elephant in my Kitchen by Francoise Malby-Anthony), memoirs (Educated by Tara Westover, Becoming by Michelle Obama), and social issues (Caste, the Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, and This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein).

If you are interested in joining the group, contact craigmonroe@comcast.net and we will add you to the distribution list for voting and the Zoom link for the meeting.  All are welcome. 

Those involved in the group are sent a list of books with descriptions for consideration in future discussions.  We have multiple votes that can be used all for one book or spread out among several.  The book with the highest number of votes is chosen. 

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