Book Review: America Redux: Visual Stories from Our Dynamic History by Ariel Aberg-Riger
A critical, unflinching cultural history and fierce beacon of hope for a better future, America Redux is a necessary and galvanizing read.
What are the stories we tell ourselves about America?
How do they shape our sense of history,
cloud our perceptions,
America Redux explores the themes that create our shared sense of American identity and interrogates the myths we’ve been telling ourselves for centuries. With iconic American catchphrases as chapter titles, these twenty-one visual stories illuminate the astonishing, unexpected, sometimes darker sides of history that reverberate in our society to this very day—from the role of celebrity in immigration policy to the influence of one small group of white women on education to the effects of “progress” on housing and the environment, to the inspiring force of collective action and mutual aid across decades and among diverse groups.
Fully illustrated with collaged archival photographs, maps, documents, graphic elements, and handwritten text, this book is a dazzling, immersive experience that jumps around in time and will make you view history in a whole different light.
This book is everything. You know all of the anger you’ve been feeling as you’ve watched the horrors of our modern age unfold—book banning, endless gun violence, police violence, white supremacy, abortion bans, environmental disasters, and the other many attacks on freedom and progress—all of the anger you feel as you look back at the history of our country, a country with a long legacy of exclusion, hatred, unequal rights and protections, and so much violence? That anger, that righteous rage, that disgust… this book is here for all of it. This is an unflinching look at the truest and ugliest parts of our country’s history, a hard look at the cycles our country repeats as we learn nothing from our past, as we make the same “mistakes” (a word far too small) over and over again, as we take two steps back from any forward progress.
And yet, also, somehow, this book is a look at the best of our country—activists speaking truth to power, genuine progress, collective action, and the guidance of those brave enough to speak up, stand up, and push back.
This is history that includes the voices that have been overlooked, suppressed, erased, and spoken over. This is history that embraces the idea that our timeline is not linear, our progress is not linear. This is history that’s alive, that’s here, that’s now—this is a book that shows that history is not some far-removed thing. While other history books may make events from our past feel at a distance, this one shows its immediacy, its relevance, its presence in all that surrounds us.
The visual storytelling at play here, with collage, old photos, ads, and snippets of newspaper stories, brings the book to life. Immensely readable, this look at the worst and best of our history will inspire, educate, and infuriate. This would make a great graduation gift for students who may be leaving high school without having learned the real stories about our country’s history. A brilliant read.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/02/2023
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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