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Our Recent Speakers' Most Recent Books

Ronald Brownstein

Speaker: “How Did Politics and Pop Culture Become One?

Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Rock Me on the Water: 1974-The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, Television, and Politics
From the Publisher: In this exceptional cultural history, Atlantic Senior Editor Ronald Brownstein—“one of America’s best political journalists” (The Economist)—tells the kaleidoscopic story of one monumental year that marked the city of Los Angeles’ creative peak, a glittering moment when popular culture was ahead of politics in predicting what America would become.

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Sir Paul Nurse

Speaker: “What Is The Meaning of Life?

Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

What Is Life?
From the Publisher: The renowned biologist Paul Nurse has spent his career revealing how living cells work. In What Is Life?, he takes up the challenge of describing what it means to be alive in a way that every reader can understand.

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Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Moderator: “What Is The Meaning of Life?

Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Dance of Life: Symmetry, Cells and How We Become Human
From the Publisher: How does life begin? What drives a newly fertilized egg to keep dividing and growing until it becomes 40 trillion cells, a greater number than stars in the galaxy? How do these cells know how to make a human, from lips to heart to toes? How does your body build itself?

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Ainissa Ramirez

Speaker: “Do Inventors Bear Responsibility for the Effects of Their Inventions?

Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another
From the Publisher: In The Alchemy of Us, scientist and science writer Ainissa Ramirez examines eight inventions—clocks, steel rails, copper communication cables, photographic film, light bulbs, hard disks, scientific labware, and silicon chips—and reveals how they shaped the human experience.

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Michelle Nijhuis

Speaker: “Can We All Become Conservationists?

Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction
From the Publisher: In the late nineteenth century, as humans came to realize that our rapidly industrializing and globalizing societies were driving other animal species to extinction, a movement to protect and conserve them was born. In Beloved Beasts, acclaimed science journalist Michelle Nijhuis traces the movement’s history: from early battles to save charismatic species such as the American bison and bald eagle to today’s global effort to defend life on a larger scale.

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Cynthia Barnett

Speaker: “Can We All Become Conservationists?

Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History

From the Publisher: Rain is elemental, mysterious, precious, destructive.

It is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of the world’s water. Yet this is the first book to tell the story of rain.

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Elizabeth Mitchell

Speaker: “Is It Time to Consider Lincoln More Critically?

Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Lincoln’s Lie: A True Civil War Caper Through Fake News, Wall Street, and the White House
From the Publisher: A thrilling dive into the little–known, darker side of a revered president’s history, Lincoln’s Lie untangles the threads behind a mysterious 1864 newspaper article to reveal how Lincoln manipulated the media during the Civil War, shining new light onto today’s issues of fake news and presidential conflict with the press.

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Richard Kreitner

Moderator: “Is It Time to Consider Lincoln More Critically?
Break It Up
BREAK IT UP: SECESSION, DIVISION, AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF AMERICA’S IMPERFECT UNION
From the Publisher: The novel and fiery thesis of Break It Up is simple: The United States has never lived up to its name—and never will.

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Dan Morain

Speaker: “What Does Kamala Harris’s Rise Say About America?

Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Kamala’s Way: An American Life
From the Publisher: A revelatory biography of the first Black woman to stand for Vice President, charting how the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of this country’s most effective power players.

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Steve Viscelli

Speaker: “How Will Robot Trucks Change American Life?

Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Big Rig Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream
From the Publisher: The Big Rig explains how this massive degradation in the quality of work has occurred, and how companies achieve a compliant and dedicated workforce despite it. Drawing on more than 100 in-depth interviews and years of extensive observation, including six months training and working as a long-haul trucker, Viscelli explains in detail how labor is recruited, trained, and used in the industry…

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Margaret MacMillan

Panelist: “What Would a New Cold War Mean for the World?

Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

War: How Conflict Shaped Us
From the Publisher: The instinct to fight may be innate in human nature, but war—organized violence—comes with organized society. War has shaped humanity’s history, its social and political institutions, its values and ideas. Our very language, our public spaces, our private memories, and some of our greatest cultural treasures reflect the glory and the misery of war. War is an uncomfortable and challenging subject not least because it brings out both the vilest and the noblest aspects of humanity.

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Philip P. Pan

Moderator: “What Would a New Cold War Mean for the World?

Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Out of Mao’s Shadow
From the Publisher: Out of Mao’s Shadow offers a startling perspective on China and its remarkable transformation, challenging conventional wisdom about the political apathy of the Chinese people and the notion that prosperity leads automatically to freedom. Like David Remnick’s Lenin’s Tomb, this is a moving story of a nation in transition, of a people coming to terms with their past and struggling to take control of their future.

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Oriana Mastro

Panelist: “What Would a New Cold War Mean for the World?

Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Costs of Conversation
From the Publisher: In The Costs of Conversation, Oriana Skylar Mastro argues that states are primarily concerned with the strategic costs of conversation, and these costs need to be low before combatants are willing to engage in direct talks with their enemy.

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Michael Crow

Panelist: “Can Higher Education Be Transformed to Better Serve Society?

 | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Fifth Wave: The Evolution of American Higher Education
From the Publisher: Out of the crises of American higher education emerges a new class of large-scale public universities designed to accelerate social change through broad access to world-class knowledge production and cutting-edge technological innovation.

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Jessica Garrison

Speaker: “Why Is It So Easy To Get Away with Murder?
The Devil's Harvest
THE DEVIL’S HARVEST: A RUTHLESS KILLER, A TERRORIZED COMMUNITY, AND THE SEARCH FOR JUSTICE IN CALIFORNIA’S CENTRAL VALLEY
From the Publisher: On the surface, fifty-eight-year-old Jose Martinez didn’t seem evil or even that remarkable—just a regular neighbor, good with cars and devoted to his family. But in between taking his children to Disneyland and visiting his mom, Martinez was also one of the most skilled professional killers police had ever seen.

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Karthick Ramakrishnan

Panelist: “Are American States Better at Protecting Human Rights than the U.S. Government?
Citizenship Reimagined
CITIZENSHIP REIMAGINED: A NEW FRAMEWORK FOR STATE RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
From the Publisher: The United States is entering a new era of progressive state citizenship, with California leading the way. A growing number of states are providing expanded rights to undocumented immigrants that challenge conventional understandings of citizenship as binary, unidimensional, and exclusively national.

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Pankaj Mishra

Panelist: “Has Hysteria Conquered America?
Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian
BLAND FANATICS: LIBERALS, RACE AND EMPIRE
From the Publisher: A wide-ranging, controversial collection of critical essays on the political mania plaguing the West by one of the most important public intellectuals of our time.

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Ronald Brownstein

Panelist: “Has Hysteria Conquered America?
Buy the Book | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian
THE SECOND CIVIL WAR: HOW EXTREME PARTISANSHIP HAS PARALYZED WASHINGTON AND POLARIZED AMERICA
From the Publisher: In recent years American politics has seemingly become much more partisan, more zero-sum, more vicious, and less able to confront the real problems our nation faces. What has happened?

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