Books Behind the Headlines

Dive deeper into this week's top stories.


Explore this week's top stories in greater depth—from Donald Trump's presidential bid to a Miss America scandal—by doing some additional reading.

“NBC Has Officially Cut Ties with Donald Trump” from BuzzFeed

Donald Trump’s current bid for the Republican presidential nomination isn’t looking so great. In a speech he delivered on the day of his candidacy announcement, Mr. Trump took some time to broach the topic of immigration and, understandably, offended many when he cited that Mexico is “sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists.” In an unsurprising turn of events, people were insulted — as were corporations like Univision and NBC, both of whom had previously worked with Trump. Just this week, NBC, following in the footsteps of Univision, officially broke ties with Trump, releasing the following statement: “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values. Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”

Further Reading: How to Win an Election: An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians, by Quintus Cicero (Princeton University Press)

Though Cicero’s work is centuries old, his words and sentiments remain as pertinent as ever. How to Win an Election offers political wisdom and nononsense strategies for anyone interested in politics and elections, both past and present. Translated vividly and humorously by Philip Freeman, Cicero’s work reminds us that politics hasn’t changed too much since his time. Maybe wisdom from Rome’s greatest orator is just what Trump needs to advance his political aspirations.


“Chris Christie Becomes a Candidate” from ABC News

And then there were 14. Chris Christie is the most recent (though certainly not the last) Republican to announce that he too will be vying for the Republican candidacy when the 2016 presidential election rolls around. Though 48 percent of Americans appear to view him unfavorably, the New Jersey governor seems to be attempting to capitalize off of his “too blunt” and “too direct” personality that many believe makes him simply “unlikable.” Unfortunately for Christie, the only person less popular than him in the GOP field at the moment is Mr. Donald Trump.

Further Reading: 2016 and Beyond: How Republicans Can Elect a President in the New America, by Whit Ayres (Resurgent Republic)

Looking to understand the dos and don’ts of a Republican candidate in 2016? Whit Ayre’s analysis of the present state of American politics provides readers with a strong comprehension of what it takes to be a formidable Republican candidate in the upcoming presidential election. The increasingly progressive state of the country has created a new terrain for politicians, one that must be navigated carefully by Republican hopefuls. In a smart analysis, Ayres attempts to advise how to do just that.


“A Former Baltimore Police Officer Took to Twitter to Expose Police Corruption” from BuzzFeed News

Michael A. Wood, a former Baltimore police sergeant, took to Twitter this week to reveal some of his experiences on the force. After the death of Baltimore’s Freddie Gray, the subsequent riots that ensued and the national coverage of police brutality, Wood’s statements are not only revealing but extremely topical. In his tweets, Wood notes that while he was on the force, he had witnessed such atrocities as the “punting [of] a handcuffed, face down, suspect in the fact, after a foot chase” and the “targeting [of] 16-24 year old black males essentially because we arrest them more, perpetrating the circle of arresting them more.” The tweets have unsurprisingly stirred up a great deal of conversation and controversy, and at the current moment, there are talks of an Internal Affairs investigation of the Baltimore police force.

Further Reading: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander (The New Press)

Alexander’s work delves deeply into the relationship between the United States’s criminal justice system and race, as well as the pervasiveness of racism in a time when many have assumed that Obama’s election meant the beginning of colorblindness and an end to racial prejudice. By pointing out the flaws in our justice system, Alexander, a well-versed legal scholar, educates as simultaneously she demands a call for change.


“Mexico Won’t Send Representative to Miss Universe Pageant After Televisa Pulls Out” from Fox News Latino

Though he may be able to afford it, Donald Trump’s offensive and defamatory remarks about people of Mexican descent has cost him a great deal of supporters. First Univision and NBC distanced themselves from the curmudgeonly mogul, and now Mexico has announced that they won’t be sending a contestant from their country to the Miss Universe Pageant, which is owned by both NBCUniversal and Trump. Former Miss Universe Lupita Jones announced via Twitter that “It’s a shame that because of [Trump’s] racist comments we lose what the competition has promoted and represented for so many years in an atmosphere of harmony and peace among nations; therefore, and in accordance to the statement by Televisa, we will not participate in Miss Universe.”

Further Reading: This Is Mexico: Tales of Culture and Other Complications, by Carol M. Merchasin (She Writes Press)

Merchasin’s collection of essays include detailed stories of Mexico’s history, its culture, and its people. Poignant, heartwarming, and humorous, This Is Mexico is an essential read for anyone who desires to better understand the country, its rich history and culture, and the people who call it home.


“Misty Copeland Named First Black Female Principal at ABT” from Yahoo News

The American Ballet Theatre revealed on Tuesday that professional dancer and current pop-culture icon Misty Copeland has been officially made a principal dancer for the company. Such a move has made Copeland the first-ever black female principal dancer in the studio’s history. Just prior to the announcement, Copeland began her first performances as the lead in the studio’s Swan Lake, a widely coveted role for professional ballerinas. With her public popularity and now immense professional success, Copeland seems to be on a surefire path to superstardom.

Further Reading: Life in Motion, by Misty Copeland (Touchstone)

Markova was a different dancer in a different time, but both she and Copeland rose to immense success despite some difficult odds. Forced to overcome poverty, jealousy, anti-Semitism as a young Jewish girl in the 20th century, Markova persevered and became the greatest classical ballerina of her generation — and one of the most celebrated, self-reliant, and adventurous, too. Think of Markova’s biography as a prequel of sorts to the story of another courageous, trailblazing star.


“U.S. and Cuba to Announce Embassy Openings” from CNN

It was announced on Wednesday that the United States and Cuba have planned to officially renew diplomatic ties with one another after years of tumultuous relations. For the first time in more than half of a century, the two countries will be reopening embassies in each other’s capitals. The reestablishing of embassies in both Washington, D.C., and Havana appears to be the final step in what had been an ongoing initiative of Obama’s to improve relations between the United States and Cuba.

Further Reading:, Ay, Cuba!, by Andrei Codrescu (Open Road Media)

If you’re looking to delve deeper into Cuba’s intricate past and rich culture, Codrescu’s “rare and intimate glimpse at life in Cuba” is a great place to start. Ay, Cuba! works to break down the stereotypes and misconceptions of the nation through stories of its residents and local life. With the United States resuming relations with Cuba for the first time in decades, Ay, Cuba! is more relevant now than ever before.


Recreational Pot Use Is Now Legal in Oregon” from CNN

Here’s some potentially dope news: On Wednesday, Oregon became the most recent state to legalize recreational marijuana use. The terms of use state that anyone 21 and older may use and possess up to eight ounces of marijuana, as well as grow up to four plants outside of public view. It is still illegal, however, to smoke in public, as is selling or buying marijuana before licensed retail shops open — which won’t be for about another year. Until then, Oregon residents may keep it legal by “sharing” or “giving away” the drug. Presently, 20 states have legalized medical marijuana, while a decent few have legalized recreational use. It’s predicted that Ohio may be next in line.

Further Reading: The Marijuana Chronicles, by Jonathan Santlofer (Open Road Media)

The Marijuana Chronicles compiles the work of some of literature’s finest authors and their varying relationships and experiences with the controversial contraband. The writers in Santlofer’s anthology don’t shy away from the drug’s diversity and drama as they craft stories, poems, and pictures surrounding it. Whether you celebrate it or hate it, The Marijuana Chronicles is as utterly captivating as it is presently pertinent.


“Egypt’s Sinai Rocked by Wave of Deadly Attacks” from BBC News

A streak of attacks has been launched by Islamic State militants this past week, wreaking havoc on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and killing at least 50 soldiers. It was reported that clashes are continuing in the area, as ISIS militants invade the streets of Sheikh Zuweid and beyond. Just two days prior to the present attacks, Hisham Barakat, Egypt’s public prosecutor, had been assassinated in Cairo.

Further Reading: ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan (Regan Arts)

In ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, American journalist Michael Weiss and Syrian analyst Hassan Hassan take a detailed, in-depth look at the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Informative and revealing, Weiss and Hassan’s work provides readers with hard-hitting and serious truths about the organization.


Another Black Church Burns in the South, the 8th in 10 Days” from TIME

Late Tuesday night, Mount Zion Episcopal Church caught fire in Greeleyville, South Carolina. Mount Zion, a prominent African American church, is the eighth of its kind to catch fire in the past 10 days. The burnings also follow the recent fatalities at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in which a racist white teen killed nine black parishioners. Also of note is the fact that Mount Zion had been burned down back in 1995, when members of the KKK participated in a spree of arson in black churches. Though not all the causes of the recent churches fires have been identified, it appears that at least some of them were deliberate arson. As of now, the investigation continues.

Further Reading: The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin (Vintage)

Now may be the perfect time to revisit Baldwin’s classic, The Fire Next Time, which takes a close at racial injustice and its consequences. Though it was written during the Civil Rights Movement, Baldwin’s work speaks to our nation’s present state with a power resonance. An essential read, The New York Times Book Review has deemed it a “sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle … all presented in searing, brilliant prose.”