"Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America" by Ari Berman

Jul 20, 2016

On this edition of ST, a compelling discussion with Ari Berman, a political correspondent for The Nation whose writing has also appeared in The New York Times and Rolling Stone (and who is a frequent commentator on MSNBC and NPR). We are discussing Berman's widely acclaimed book, "Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America," which first appeared last summer and will be published in paperback early next month. As was noted of this volume in a starred review in Publishers Weekly: "Berman...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."