In 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, a moment many Americans believed would bring suffrage to all. But, as this book depicts, the Act signaled both heroic accomplishments and heartbreaking setbacks in the efforts to allow all the right to vote. Berman approaches his topic as if it were a crime novel. While working in legal terms and court decisions, his focus on the individuals—both those who thwarted and those who fostered the law—is what holds the reader’s attention. Moreover, political figures who tried to achieve one result often, ironically, achieved the opposite.
Think there is nothing much left to know about World War II? Think again. This book tells of enlisted men whose one and only form of entertainment became reading, and of the enormous home-front effort to supply them with the books they desperately wanted. Ms. Manning’s book not only depicts the need of soldiers for books to alleviate the horrors of war, but also reminds us all never to take them for granted. Librarians, (let’s hear it for them), were the first to realize the lack of books and take steps to organize. Along the way, we get clear glimpses of the hardships of the soldiers and the deep and varied joy the books brought. While one might assume that a drive for books for soldiers would only meet with support, one would be wrong. Along the way, there were problems of supply, cost and, of course, censors. But the achievements were outstanding. Indeed, the reader begins to realize that the solace and inspiration that the books brought were as powerful a weapon as any the military could provide.