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Sunday Paper Recommends—Week of July 2, 2023

Sunday Paper Recommends—Week of July 2, 2023

By Sharon McMahon
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This week, we're thrilled to be handing over our 'Recommends' section to Sunday Paper friend Sharon McMahon. A former high school government and law teacher, McMahon is fighting to combat political misinformation by sharing non-partisan facts about the US government, democracy, and history via her Instagram account, @sharonsaysso.

Here are the books, documentaries, and podcasts McMahon recommends we all consider to be more vitally informed and engaged citizens.

What to Read:

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight. This book sets the standard for our understanding of Douglass and the true freedom that equality brings. Blight gained access to never-before-seen, privately held archives that enriched our understanding of who Douglass was and what motivated him.

The Revolutionary Samuel Adams by Stacy Schiff. Scratch what you think you know about the founding era—you're about to have your mind blown by the antics of one of the architects of the American Revolution: Samuel Adams.

King: A Life by Jonathan Eig. The first book written about Martin Luther King in decades, Eig's new work helped me understand more about a man I thought I knew a lot about. Meticulously researched and with lots of new insight from people who personally knew King and understand his legacy.

What to Watch:

John Adams (HBO miniseries). John Adams famously died on the same day as his longtime frenemy, Thomas Jefferson: July 4. Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti give award-winning performances, and historians say there has never been a more accurate depiction of this time period on screen. Even the paint used on the sets was period-appropriate.

Benjamin Franklin, a film by Ken Burns. Franklin was an enigmatic genius: He is in the swimming hall of fame, and he also invented bifocals? He started one of the first lending libraries, and was also a fireman? He represented the US to the court of France, but his son spent years in a colonial prison? Take whatever you think you know about Franklin, and triple it.

What to Listen to:

Here's Where It Gets Interesting: Resilience. The story of how Japanese Americans—most of them citizens—were forced into incarceration camps during WWII. With firsthand accounts from actor George Takei, primary sources, and interviews with scholars, this documentary series explores a little-known portion of American history.

Presidential: This podcast series succinctly and entertainingly helps you remember everything you learned in school but forgot, all while introducing mind-blowing facts you've probably never heard about America's presidents.

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