Countless books have been written about the civil rights movement, but far less attention has been paid to what happened after the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. Give Us the Ballot tells this story for the first time.
Berman brings the struggle over voting rights to life through meticulous archival research, in-depth interviews with major figures in the debate, and incisive on-the-ground reporting. In vivid prose, he takes the reader from the demonstrations of the civil rights era to the halls of Congress to the chambers of the Supreme Court. At this important moment in history, Give Us the Ballot provides new insight into one of the most vital political and civil rights issues of our time.
Named one of the best books of 2015 by the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, NPR and Kirkus Reviews.
In 2008, Barack Obama's groundbreaking presidential campaign seemingly rewrote all the rules in electoral politics and heralded a new progressive era in America. What has become of the thrilling grassroots political movement that defined Obama's campaign and reshaped the electoral map? Ari Berman's Herding Donkeys answers and illuminates this vital question, mapping the evolution of modern American politics from Howard Dean to the Tea Party, and painting a vivid picture of the fight for political power in America today.
"A must-read...This book should become a primer for every American...It is the first history of the contemporary voting rights movement in the United States. It is long overdue, but Berman’s extensive reporting makes it well worth the wait."
"This engrossing narrative history of voting rights since 1965 focuses on the debate between two competing visions."
"An engrossing narrative history...Berman vividly shows that the power to define the scope of voting rights in America has shifted from Congress to the courts, a result that would have surprised the Reconstruction-era framers."
"Ari Berman has written an extremely valuable and terribly timely history of the Voting Rights Act...Berman deftly weaves together the politics, the intellectual and legal arguments, the legislative battles, the counterrevolutionary schemes, and the tragic and ironic turns in the story."
"Ari Berman's Give Us the Ballot is a fascinating, if also infuriating, chronicle of the modern era in voting rights - a time when those hard-won rights are suddenly in great jeopardy. Comprehensive, fair-minded and wise, the book tells a haunting story of rights won and rights lost."
"Berman does a superb job of making the history of the right to vote in America not only easily understandable, but riveting...This is the best kind of popular history-literate, passionate, and persuasive, balancing detail with accessibility."
“Berman approaches his subject with a measured objectivity, digging into local political divides and peculiarities with a gumshoe’s just-the-facts approach.”
“Mr. Berman, a smart young liberal journalist who writes for the Nation, isn’t merely a pundit hopping on the Obama bandwagon a bit too late. His book—about how grass-roots progressives helped to revive Democratic fortunes and make Mr. Obama president—is a well-reported tour de force that would be worth reading as a snapshot in time even if the Democrats went the way of the Whigs after November.”
“Berman’s voluminous reporting…chronicles how the Democrats’ harnessing of grass-roots activism ultimately propelled Barack Obama to the White House in 2008.”
“Superb … draws back the curtain on what has actually been happening in the door-knocking, home-entering, meaningful-conversation-having politics of the last five years.”
“In his debut, Berman gives the reader an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at how the Obama campaign built on the grassroots movement that had catapulted [Howard] Dean to prominence . . . Engaging and balanced—a stand-out book.”
“While a scoop-rich tome like John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s Game Change can tell us a lot about how campaigns are won and lost from the top down, Berman’s more thoughtful book is equally good fun in telling the story of the election from the bottom up.”
“Berman, a youthful writer for the Nation, knows his politics, and it shows.”
“Berman’s book is the Howard Zinn version [of the Democratic comeback], the story of the people who were pushed out of the frame.”
“Berman’s book is a worthwhile document of a American political revolution.”
“Lively [and] instructive, in some ways especially now.”