Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Published by
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2015-08-04)
Current material
Press Folder/Reviews
Original language
Politics & government


The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America

by Berman, Ari

Countless books have been written about the civil rights movement, but far less attention has been paid to what happened after the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. Give Us the Ballot tells this story for the first time.

In this groundbreaking narrative history, Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA and the counterrevolution that has sought to limit voting rights, from 1965 to the present day. The act enfranchised millions of Americans and is widely regarded as the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement. And yet, fifty years later, we are still fighting heated battles over race, representation, and political power, with lawmakers devising new strategies to keep minorities out of the voting booth and with the Supreme Court declaring a key part of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.

Berman brings the struggle over voting rights to life through meticulous archival research, in-depth interviews with major figures in the debate, and incisive on-the-ground reporting. In vivid prose, he takes the reader from the demonstrations of the civil rights era to the halls of Congress to the chambers of the Supreme Court. At this important moment in history, Give Us the Ballot provides new insight into one of the most vital political and civil rights issues of our time.

The book is a highly readable social history, rather than a dry manifesto that is too American. Hailed as one of the most important nonfiction titles of 2015, GIVE US THE BALLOT has achieved spectacular reviews throughout North America.

Ari Berman is a political correspondent for The Nation and an investigative journalism Fellow at the Nation Institute. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and he is a frequent commentator on MSNBC and NPR. His first book, Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, was published in 2010. He lives in New York City.

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Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Sebastian Ritscher

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An engrossing narrative history . . . Berman vividly shows that the power to define the scope of voting rights in America has shifted from Congress to the courts.” ?Jeffrey Rosen

Review: New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)

[Give Us The Ballot] should become a primer for every American, but especially for congressional lawmakers and staffers, because it so capably describes the intricate interplay between grass-roots activism and the halls of Congress . . . Congress must fix the Voting Rights Act, and Berman’s book explains why, without passion or favoritism. It is the first history of the contemporary voting rights movement in the United States. It is long overdue, but Berman’s extensive reporting makes it well worth the wait. - John Lewis

Review: Washington Post

Berman does a superb job of making the history of the right to vote in America not only easily understandable, but riveting...This is the best kind of popular history-literate, passionate, and persuasive, balancing detail with accessibility.

Review: Publishers Weekly (starred)

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act comes this deep dive into the legacy of the civil rights movement and why we're still fighting for the right for everyone to have a slice of the political power pie.” ?Lara Zarum

Review: Village Voice

Comprehensive . . . The value of Give Us the Ballot lies in illustrating that the [Voting Rights Act] has never been universally accepted . . . Ari Berman convincingly shows that the fight for voting rights is far from over.” ?Jordan Michael Smith

Review: Boston Globe

Illuminating . . . Give Us the Ballot is a smart compendium of election "reforms." Berman removes the facade of intellectual honesty--where voting-rights opponents even bothered to make an argument--and lays bare the many, many ways to game the outcome of an election.” ?Scott Porch

Review: Chicago Tribune

Ari Berman’s Give Us the Ballot, a history of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, makes for an excellent extended example of the mechanisms by which race in the South becomes race in the nation.” ?Nicholas Lemann

Review: New Yorker

The Voting Rights Act was signed into law 50 years ago, but according to journalist Berman, the fight for equality in voting is still taking place.

Review: Los Angeles Times

[I]ncisive... This emotional book runs the gamut... Not just a compelling history, but a cry for help in the recurring struggle to gain what is supposed to be an inalienable right.

Review: Kirkus (starred)

GIVE US THE BALLOT is ranked #39 in Elections and #62 in Civil Rights & Liberties, two categories that represent millions of readers in North America, and it is increasing substantially every day. Ari and his book have also been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, the results of which will be announced March 17.

Quote: Ellison

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