Ari Berman | Ari Berman - Give us the Ballot
Give us the Ballot - a book by Ari Berman
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Give Us the Ballot

There have been countless books 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: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America tells this story for the first time.

 

In this groundbreaking narrative history, Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the Voting Rights Act and the counterrevolution that has sought to limit voting rights from 1965 to the present day. The act enfranchised millions of Americans and is widely regarded as the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement. And yet fifty years later we are still fighting heated battles over race, representation, and political power, with lawmakers devising new strategies to keep minorities out of the voting booth and the Supreme Court declaring a key part of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.

 

Berman brings the struggle over voting rights to life through meticulous archival research, in-depth interviews with key figures in the debate and incisive on-the-ground reporting. He vividly takes the reader from the demonstrations of the civil rights movement to the halls of Congress to the chambers of the Supreme Court.

 

At this important historical moment, Give Us the Ballot provides new insight into one of the most vital political and civil rights issues of our time.

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New York Times Notable Book of 2015
Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2015
Boston Globe Best Book of 2015
Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2015
An NPR Best Book of 2015

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``Ari Berman's Give us the Ballot is a must read for anyone who cares about the health of American democracy. Written with a deep respect for history, a keen journalistic sensibility, and a visceral passion for fairness, Berman's book takes us on a swift and critical journey through the last fifty years of voting in America. He begins on the Edmund Pettus bridge with the foot soldiers of Selma and concludes in the rotunda of the North Carolina statehouse with the protestors of Moral Mondays. All the critical figures of American voting rights appear in this book, but Berman allows no one story to dominate the narrative. His book is about the people, the ballot box, and our as yet unrealized ideal of fully free and fair elections. We have not yet arrived at the healthy democracy the 1965 Voting Rights Act promises is possible, but we have not given up hope. The struggle continues.``

- Melissa Harris-Perry, host of MSNBC's Melissa-Harris Perry Show and Presidential Professor of Politics and International Studies at Wake Forest University

``Ari Berman has written a powerful history of the massive struggle that has taken place since 1965 over the survival of the Voting Rights Act. Berman reveals that from the moment Congress passed the landmark bill, opponents mobilized to dismantle it. The ongoing and sustained assaults on this historic legislation finally started to find success during the 1980s when opponents directed their efforts to the courts. This is a terrific, though troubling, read about the future of American democracy.``

- Julian E. Zelizer, author of The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society

``Expertly taking us from the bloody streets of Selma to the current counterrevolution against the voting rights of black and poor Americans, Ari Berman reminds us that democracy can never be taken for granted, especially at a time when the courts are more than willing to abet efforts to limit the right to vote.``

- Eric Foner, author of Gateway to Freedom

``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.``

- Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court

``The Voting Rights Act was signed into law 50 years ago, but according to journalist Berman, the fight for equality in voting is still taking place.``

- Los Angeles Times

``Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act comes this deep dive into the legacy of the civil rights movement and why we're still fighting for the right for everyone to have a slice of the political power pie.``

- Village Voice

``An incisive look at the many issues surrounding the right to vote....This emotional book runs the gamut... Not just a compelling history, but a cry for help in the recurring struggle to gain what is supposed to be an inalienable right.``

- Kirkus Reviews

``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.``

- Publishers Weekly

``Berman convincingly shows that the fight for voting rights is far from over.``

- Boston Globe

``Berman’s reporting is expertly balanced.``

- Dallas Morning News

``An urgent, moving, deeply important history of the modern right to vote in the United States...Berman has performed a great service by providing a clear, detailed history of an issue that has become overwhelmed by sound bites and demagogy.``

- The Barnes & Noble Review

``Illuminating...Berman removes the facade of intellectual honesty — where voting-rights opponents even bothered to make an argument — and lays bare the many, many ways to game the outcome of an election.``

- Chicago Tribune

``Fifty years after the passing of the Voting Rights Act, racial minorities are still being systematically excluded from the ballot box, argues journalist Ari Berman. And in this book, he presents the data (and historical context) to prove it.``

- Time

``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.``

- The Daily Beast

``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.``

- New York Times Sunday Book Review

``A compelling and important history of the struggle for voting rights in America.``

- The National Book Review

``This engrossing narrative history of voting rights since 1965 focuses on the debate between two competing visions.``

- New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)

``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.``

- The Washington Post (Review by Congressman John Lewis)

``Ari Berman’s 'Give Us the Ballot,' a history of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, makes for an excellent extended example of the mechanisms by which race in the South becomes race in the nation.``

The New Yorker

``Give Us the Ballot`` makes a powerful case that voting rights are under assault in 21st century America...(An) important and deeply distressing book.``

- Los Angeles Times Book Review

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