We are honored to welcome popular historian and author of the newsletter Letters From An American Heather Cox Richardson and renowned journalist Katie Couric under the tent. They will discuss Heather’s new book Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America. The book is a vital narrative that explains how America, once a beacon of democracy, now teeters on the brink of autocracy — and how we can turn back.
In the midst of the impeachment crisis of 2019, Heather Cox Richardson launched a daily Facebook essay providing the historical background of the daily torrent of news. It soon turned into a newsletter and its readership ballooned to more than 2 million dedicated readers who rely on her plainspoken and informed take on the present and past in America.
In Democracy Awakening, Richardson crafts a compelling and original narrative, explaining how, over the decades, a small group of wealthy people have made war on American ideals. By weaponizing language and promoting false history they have led us into authoritarianism — creating a disaffected population and then promising to recreate an imagined past where those people could feel important again. She argues that taking our country back starts by remembering the elements of the nation’s true history that marginalized Americans have always upheld. Their dedication to the principles on which this nation was founded has enabled us to renew and expand our commitment to democracy in the past. Richardson sees this history as a roadmap for the nation’s future.
Richardson’s talent is to wrangle our giant, meandering, and confusing news feed into a coherent story that singles out what we should pay attention to, what the precedents are, and what possible paths lie ahead. In her trademark calm prose, she is realistic and optimistic about the future of democracy. Her command of history allows her to pivot effortlessly from the Founders to the abolitionists to Reconstruction to Goldwater to Mitch McConnell, highlighting the political legacies of the New Deal, the lingering fears of socialism, the death of the liberal consensus and birth of “movement conservatism.”
Many books tell us what has happened over the last five years. Democracy Awakening explains how we got to this perilous point, what our history really tells us about ourselves, and what the future of democracy can be.
ABOUT OUR SPEAKERS
Heather Cox Richardson is Professor of History at Boston College. She has written about the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, and the American West in award-winning books whose subjects stretch from the European settlement of the North American continent to the history of the Republican Party through the Trump administration. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and The Guardian, among other outlets. She is the cohost of the Vox podcast, Now & Then.
Katie Couric (@katiecouric) is an award-winning journalist and #1 New York Times best-selling author of her memoir, Going There, which was published in October 2021. She is also a co-founder of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). In 2017, she founded Katie Couric Media (KCM), which has developed a number of media projects, including a daily newsletter, a podcast, digital video series, and several documentaries. Katie was the first woman to solo anchor a network evening newscast, serving as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News from 2006 to 2011 following 15 years as co-anchor of NBC’s Today show. She also hosted a syndicated show and served as the Yahoo Global News Anchor until 2017.
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