Down The Mean Streets of St. Louis

What makes Little Brother important and a must-read certainly for St. Louisans is its powerful account of a slice of Black life in our region, a vivid picture of the good and the beautiful and the bad and the ugly of North County, a life cordoned off from the rest of St. Louis as if it were a leper colony. Westhoff’s account of the families, the male bravado, the petty crime, the violence, the art and aesthetic of its rap culture, all of this is worth the price of the book. For what Westhoff reveals is the vast profundity buried in the absurdity of Black urban life that also reveals the inadequacy, hypocrisy, and flawed nature of White bourgeois life.

The O. J. Simpson Trial as the Rorschach Test of the Decline of American Culture

In Bailey’s version of the trial—as the subtitle of his book declares—he was the master strategist and courtroom impresario while Robert Shapiro was the bumbling and increasingly envious knucklehead who blew the preliminary hearing, believed O.J.’s best option was to seek a plea deal to manslaughter, and, when he learned that the jury had reached a verdict, made a panicked call to Alan Dershowitz to prepare the appeal.

America in the Key of Consensus

Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest and the Music That Made a Nation leans heavily on metaphors of harmony and dissonance with results that are often thought-provoking. The authors honor their subtitle by devoting sustained attention to musical statements of both patriotism and protest, and most importantly making it clear that these categories overlap. Their vision of United States history, while it values dissent, ultimately aims for a reassuring consensus as shouts of protest inevitably find their way into the great American songbook.