Reader's Review--Fall 2010

Posted by: heather

I recently read several books that you might find interesting:

  1. A Nation of Strangers: Prejudice, Politics and the Populating of America by Ellis Cose. Though written in 1992, Cose provides a thorough review of immigration debates and policies from the founding of the US up to the time of publication. In some ways, reading an 18 year-old account helped frame questions for our current debate without having to wade through today’s polemics. What emerges is a story of a country in a debate with itself:

    Is the US the land of freedom and promise for everyone or just those in favor at the moment? Should the path to citizenship be relatively unencumbered or steep? Why? How can the US hold open the door to all people but keep out those who aren’t white? How does US foreign policy and domestic economic policy influence the composition of immigrant populations and immigration policy? What do we gain or lose with immigration? What prejudices influence the answers? This was a provocative and informative read.
  2. The Stieg Larsson Trilogy—The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Girl Who Played with Fire; The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
    I devoured these books, not just because they were great plot-driven vacation reading but because they were the best exposition of systems of inequity that I’ve read in a long time. In addition to discussing violence against women, they also show the ways people can fight back, the role of the media/journalism, finance, corporate leadership and practices, foreign policy, organized crime, and more. How great that the interlocking systems that make up society are revealed and critiqued in such an entertaining and compelling way. These books renew faith in the power of novels not just to distract but to teach.
  3. Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Leader’s Guide to Getting Results by Alison Green and Jerry Hauser.
    Beginning with the premise that the manager’s job is to get results through other people, the authors make the case that for nonprofits, there is a strong moral imperative for effective management because the work of the sector is so important. Moreover, they distinguish between the “supportive” manager who is “nice” to people and the “effective” manager who has impact through people, often by being “nice” but not always. The book is organized in sections on managing the work, the people, and oneself and includes topics such as delegation, culture, systems, hiring, retention, letting people go, and exercising authority. Beyond recognizable scenarios from the world of social change, the authors provide step-by-step guides, samples and suggestions for further reading. This is a useful companion for new and established managers and the people who want to support them.