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Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America
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A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, NonfictionA New York Times Notable Book of 2015A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2015A Boston Globe Best Book of 2015A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2015An NPR Best Book of 2015Countless 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 (VRA) in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. Give Us the Ballot tells this story for the first time.

In this groundbreaking narrative history, Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA 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 with 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 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.

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Street Date:
08/04/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780374711498
ASIN:
B00S54VUDY
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APA Citation (style guide)

Ari Berman. (2015). Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Ari Berman. 2015. Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Ari Berman, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Ari Berman. Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Ari Berman is a political correspondent for The Nation and an investigative journalism Fellow at the Nation Institute. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and he is a frequent commentator on MSNBC and NPR. His first book, Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, was published in 2010. He lives in New York City.
      • name: Ari Berman
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Give Us the Ballot
fullDescription

A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, Nonfiction

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

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 (VRA) in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. Give Us the Ballot tells this story for the first time.

In this groundbreaking narrative history, Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA 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 with 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 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.

reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from May 4, 2015
        Berman (Herding Donkeys) does a superb job of making the history of the right to vote in America not only easily understandable, but riveting. After recounting the story of the civil rights movement’s success in getting President Johnson to push the Voting Rights Act in 1965, Berman traces the erosion of that legislation over the subsequent half-century. Early appearances in the narrative by John Roberts and Samuel Alito foreshadow their eventual posture when they were named to the Supreme Court. Lay readers are likely to be surprised at how much
        successful pushback has occurred against what should be the basic right of democracy. Berman also makes clear that the illegal purging of supposed felons from Florida’s voting lists for the 2000 presidential election is more likely than the “butterfly ballot” to have been responsible for George W. Bush’s victory. This is the best kind of popular history—literate, passionate, and persuasive, balancing detail with accessibility. B&w illus.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from May 1, 2015
        An incisive look at the many issues surrounding the right to vote. Berman (Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, 2010), a contributing writer for the Nation and investigative journalism fellow at the Nation Institute, tracks the struggle to gain the vote, from Reconstruction, the backlash of Jim Crow, and the 1960s, when it all seemed to come together. The 1965 march across Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge was a tipping point. Before then, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson felt voting changes would endanger the president's Great Society project. The horror and brutality of that day changed everything, and the most liberal Congress since the New Deal passed the Voting Rights Act. After Johnson signed the act in August 1965, he said that the South was lost to the Democratic Party for the next generation. He was absolutely right. What he didn't foresee was the opening of the floodgates to deny and disenfranchise voters across the South and well beyond. The author recounts how the act enabled the Department of Justice to gain ground through three generations of cases. They outlawed literacy tests and poll taxes, dismantled gerrymandered districts and at large elections, and fought for a fair share of political power. This emotional book runs the gamut from great joy at the quest accomplished in 1965 to pride at the success of the judicial system in upholding voting rights to disbelief as the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush courts shattered 50 years of work. Voter ID laws, shortened early polling days, and voter roll purges are just the latest tactics in a fight that continues. Not just a compelling history, but a cry for help in the recurring struggle to gain what is supposed to be an inalienable right.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from July 1, 2015

        Berman (contributing writer, The Nation; Herding Donkeys) has written the first book on the political and judicial career of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) since its original passage and subsequent successful litigation in the late 1960s. It covers the VRA's setbacks from conservative attacks up to the present day in the aftermath of Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, when part of the act was ruled unconstitutional. Most of the cases surround Section 5, which mandates federal approval of electoral laws in covered jurisdictions, almost all in the South, before going into effect. Berman also exposes at length that changes to electoral procedures intended to disenfranchise minority voters were not always prevented by the act--weakening majority-minority districts via racial gerrymandering, for instance, and more recent examples such as campaigns against voter fraud. In this way, Berman's text distinguishes itself from others that mainly assess the events leading up to and surrounding the act itself, such as Gary May's Bending Toward Justice. VERDICT General readers will appreciate the panoramic survey of the cases in which the VRA has been challenged and defended in federal and state courts and legislatures, and the fair inclusion of voices from both sides of the arguments. A timely and needed addition to the voting rights debate.--Jeffrey J. Dickens, Southern Connecticut State Univ. Libs., New Haven

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        June 1, 2015
        Even as the nation was recognizing the fiftieth anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march for equal rights in Selma, Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court was rolling back protections under the Voting Rights Act. The voting rights law eliminated poll taxes, literacy tests, and other efforts to disenfranchise minority voters. Berman analyzes the voting rights revolution in the South in the 1960s and the more recent counterrevolution across the nation to remove protections that conservatives see as promoting minority representation. Berman notes that since the election of the nation's first black president and the rise of the Tea Party, Republican legislators have introduced 180 bills in 41 states to restrict access to the ballot. The efforts have included tactics that on their face appear to be race-neutral (disenfranchising ex-felons, mandating government-issued ID cards, curtailing early voting) but have a disproportionately negative impact on minorities. This is a keen examination of the troubled history of challenges to the most basic right of U.S. citizenship.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, Nonfiction

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

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 (VRA) in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. Give Us the Ballot tells this story for the first time.

In this groundbreaking narrative history, Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA 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...

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awards
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      • value: National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
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subtitle
The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America
publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux