The Good Fight: A Life in Liberal PoliticsWalter F. Mondale, with David Hage
Scribner, 2010 / If you are reading this magazine, chances are your life has been affected by former Vice President Walter Mondale, whose public service has been a feature of politics in this state and nation for more than four decades. His book is a readable, down-to-earth memoir of that long career. It is also an argument for a liberalism based on the values and mature perspective of a man who can say, for example, with genuine humility: "But I've been close to power, and I know the temptations a president faces." He writes, among other things, of civil rights battles, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the Iran hostage crisis, and his six-day run at the Senate in the stead of Senator Paul Wellstone, who was killed mid-campaign in a plane crash. Throughout, his focus is on achieving fairness and intelligent deliberation in the public arena; you see it especially when he writes with passion about the U.S. Senate. Mondale pulls no punches--you are clear where he stands; but he writes with grace, modesty, kindness--and refreshing candor. -MP
Vice President Mondale, B.A. '51, political science, J.D. '56, remains engaged with the University of Minnesota, especially via lectures and forums.
The Grace of Silence: A Memoir
Pantheon, 2010 / Michele Norris, the NPR news host, has written movingly of her family and how it was affected by racism post-World War II and during Jim Crow. Particularly poignant is the through-thread story of the quiet heroism of her father, falsely accused of a crime and shot by a white police officer, even as he simply "aspired to be ordinary." Norris appreciates and honors the grace with which this black family did the dance we all do with the truths of our lives--now engaging, now distancing, sometimes singing and sometimes silent--in order to survive and prepare for their children a path "uncluttered by their pain." Is it better to learn the truth? Norris thinks yes, and ends this concise and elegantly written book urging us to do just that. -MP
Norris, B.A. '05, journalism, is the host of National Public Radio's evening news program, "All Things Considered." She has earned Emmy and Peabody awards, and the University of Minnesota's Outstanding Achievement Award.
America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation
Elaine Tyler May
Basic Books, 2010 / Elaine Tyler May was only 12 years old in 1960, the year the FDA approved "the pill." But her mother was an activist who established free birth control clinics in Los Angeles. And her father, Dr. Edward Tyler, who ran clinical tests of the pill, had held up its approval because he was concerned about significant side effects that weren't being addressed by the manufacturers. Young Elaine knew more about oral contraceptives than most kids her age. Her insider knowledge enhances this very readable history of the pill and its impact--good and bad--on the lives of women, politics, and society. Its greatest effect, she argues, was to make it possible for women to have both a family and a career. -KO
May, Regents Professor of American studies and history, has served as president of both the American Studies Association and the Organization of American Historians.
Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America
Erika Lee and Judy Yung
Oxford University Press, USA, 2010 / From 1910 to 1940, more than half a million people sailed through the Golden Gate, hoping to start new lives in America. But they did not all disembark in San Francisco; most were ferried across the bay to the Angel Island Immigration Station. For many, this was the real gateway to the United States. For others, it was a prison and their final destination before being sent home. Lee and Yung uncover the stories of these surprisingly diverse immigrants through extensive new research, immigration records, oral histories, and inscriptions on the barrack walls. Readers learn of Chinese "paper sons," Japanese picture brides, Korean refugee students, South Asian political activists, Russian and Jewish refugees, Mexican families, Filipino repatriates, and many others from around the world. This first comprehensive history of the Angel Island Immigration Station not only commemorates its 100th anniversary, but also helps today's reader understand America's complicated relationship to immigration, a story that continues today. -KO
Lee is associate professor of history and Asian American studies.