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The Problem of Democracy

The Presidents Adams Confront the Cult of Personality

by Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein

Hardcover, 543 pages

"How the father and son presidents foresaw the rise of the cult of personality and fought those who sought to abuse the weaknesses inherent in our democracy. Until now, no one has properly dissected the intertwined lives of the second and sixth (father and son) presidents. John and John Quincy Adams were brilliant, prickly politicians and arguably the most independently minded among leaders of the founding generation. Distrustful of blind allegiance to a political party, they brought a healthy skepticismof a brand-new system of government to the country's first 50 years. They were unpopular for their fears of the potential for demagoguery lurking in democracy, and—in a twist that predicted the turn of twenty-first century politics—they warned against,but were unable to stop, the seductive appeal of political celebrities Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. In a bold recasting of the Adamses' historical roles, The Problem of Democracy is a major critique of the ways in which their prophetic warnings have been systematically ignored over the centuries. It's also an intimate family drama that brings out the torment and personal hurt caused by the gritty conduct of early American politics. Burstein and Isenberg make sense of the presidents' somewhat iconoclastic, highly creative engagement with America's political and social realities. By taking the temperature of American democracy, from its heated origins through multiple upheavals, the authors reveal the dangers and weaknesses that have been present since the beginning. They provide a clear-eyed look at a decoy democracy that masks the reality of elite rule while remaining open, since the days of George Washington, to a very undemocratic result in the formation of a cult surrounding the person of an elected leader"—

Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault

Essays from the Grown-Up Years

by Cathy Guisewite

Hardcover, 323 pages

"From the iconic creator of the "Cathy" comic strip comes a collection of funny, warm, and wise essays in the style of Nora Ephron and Erma Bombeck, centered around the particular challenge of caring for aging parents and growing children, all while trying not to lose oneself in the process. As the creator of the "Cathy" comic strip, Cathy Guisewite found her way into the hearts of readers over 40 years ago, and has been there ever since. Her deeply funny and relatable look at the life of a frazzled career woman became a cultural touchstone for women everywhere, and now, in her debut essay collection, Guisewite returns with her signature self-deprecating wit and warmth, this time taking a look at her own life. The autobiographical essays that make up Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault offer a disarming, hilarious, and wise look at the lives of "the sandwich generation," which Guisewite calls "the panini generation." In this collection, Guisewite turns her uniquely wry and funny gaze to her own day-to-day life, with topics ranging from the mundane—teaching her parents to use TiVo, organizing four decades of photos, attempting to meditate—to the more profound—her struggle to find a purpose post-retirement, helping her parents downsize their lives, andher personal definitions of feminism. Humorous, warm, and poignant, Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault is ideal reading for mothers, daughters, and everyone who is caught somewhere in between, and on the threshold of "What Happens Next.""—