10 novels that brilliantly capture the American experience

The distance between the American dream and reality is expressed best through literature.

American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin poses at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979. (Photo: Ralph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Literature expands our ability to feel empathy and inspires compassion.
  • These 10 novels tackle some facet of the American experience.
  • The list includes a fictional retelling of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard, and hiding out in inner-city Newark.
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What socialism is — according to Michael Harrington

America's socialists owe a lot to one man, but what did he think about socialism?

  • Michael Harrington was a public intellectual who strove to help the poor and inspired a generation of socialists.
  • He was the first chairman of the Democratic Socialists of America, and nearly ran for president in 1980.
  • While he is far from the only influential thinker on the American left, his ideas have had an outsized influence over the last sixty years.
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Jordan Peterson on gun control

The Canadian professor calls for personal responsibility over legislation.

Jordan Peterson speaks at ICC Sydney Theatre on February 26, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
  • Shortly after the Las Vegas shooting, Jordan Peterson replied to a question about gun control in America.
  • Peterson believes only the police and army being armed is dangerous, and that the citizenry should be equally dangerous.
  • He also feels that legislation would do "zero" to stop school shootings in America.
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UC Berkeley study finds link between inequality and racism

Inequality and racism are connected, but maybe not as much as you think.

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
  • A new study finds a relationship between income inequality and racist attitudes.
  • The effect is small, and doesn't exist for every kind of racial bias.
  • The data won't be the last word on the subject, but it could give insights into how to remedy long standing issues.
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Who was the emperor of the United States?

Few realize that the US was once "ruled" by a beloved monarch from San Francisco.

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  • Joshua Norton was once a successful businessman before he fell into ruin and what some contend to be madness.
  • Norton declared himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico in 1859 "at the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States."
  • During his time as emperor, Norton abolished Congress and political parties, requested the formation of the League of Nations, issued currency, and was much-loved by the people of San Francisco.
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