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9 New Books We Recommend This Week


THE BROKEN CONSTITUTION: Lincoln, Slavery, and the Refounding of America, by Noah Feldman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $30.) Abraham Lincoln, Feldman contends, embraced a new, “moral Constitution” by purging the country’s original sin of slavery and re-establishing the nation on a more noble foundation. A professor at Harvard Law School, Feldman is “a lucid, provocative stylist” as well as “a prolific scholar and commentator on current affairs … well equipped to assess Lincoln’s constitutional record,” Sean Wilentz writes in his review. “‘The Broken Constitution’ displays its author’s usual brilliance and boldness in his contrarianism, and a passionate engagement with the past.”

FALLEN IDOLS: Twelve Statues That Made History, by Alex von Tunzelmann. (Harper/HarperCollins, $26.99.) Von Tunzelmann’s goal in recounting the fates of 12 controversial statues (from King George V in Raj-era India to Robert E. Lee in the American South) is to link recent movements for social justice to the larger question of how we distort, correct and ultimately understand the past. “Many of these stories are fascinating,” James Fallows writes in his review, noting that von Tunzelmann’s experience as a screenwriter lends the book a characteristically “breezy tone” that “suggests rather than belabors its points, and calls on imagination and the other senses to fill in the blanks.”

STONES: Poems, by Kevin Young. (Knopf, $27.) Young’s lyrical new collection is about family, about death and about how families absorb and repurpose loss; the stones here bear names and life spans. Young is an expansive, almost relaxed writer — blistering intensity isn’t his signature. But he can throw salt in the pot when it’s needed. “Young writes in an almost harmonic register,” David Orr writes in his review. “His work can be quirky and brainy, but it’s never alienating. … He’s attentive to sound and wordplay, yet he largely sticks to the approachable free verse model that has dominated American writing for 60 years. His writing is warm, often elegiac and confidently temperate. There’s a lot to like.”

AMERICAN MADE: What Happens to People When Work Disappears, by Farah Stockman. (Random House, $28.) Stockman, a member of The New York Times’s editorial board, brings detailed, empathetic reporting to this study of industrial decline, tracing the impact on three blue-collar workers when their Indianapolis factory relocates to Mexico. Richard Davies, reviewing it, calls the book “a gripping portrait of the human costs incurred,” as well as “a stark warning to towns and countries facing similar trends, and a lesson in how much economists can miss.”

WOKE RACISM: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America, by John McWhorter. (Portfolio, $28.) McWhorter, a Black liberal who dissents from much of the left’s views on race, argues against the position that racism and white supremacy are “baked into” the structure of American society. “As in his previous books, McWhorter views it as a mistake to forge one’s identity around victimhood,” Zaid Jilani writes in his review. “He characterizes the woke racial worldview as harmful not for normalizing antiwhite prejudices or treating the social categories of race as something concrete, but because it deprives Black people of their humanity by infantilizing them.”


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