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About Jonathan Rauch
At about age 20, I realized that (1) I didn't have the talent to be a musician, and (2) I didn't have the concentration to specialize. Naturally, I became a journalist. My first managing editor, Joe Goodman, at the Winston-Salem Journal, used to say: "Everyone has a story to tell; your job is to find it." In my books, I tell stories about Japan, free inquiry, government sclerosis, gay marriage, sexual denial, political realism, and--most recently--why life gets better after 50. I've won the National Magazine Award and some other prizes and been called (wrongly) "doctor" and "professor." To me, though, the highest honorific is: journalist. For my official bio: www.jonathanrauch.com.
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Titles By Jonathan Rauch
Arming Americans to defend the truth from today’s war on facts
In what could be the timeliest book of the year, Rauch aims to arm his readers to engage with reason in an age of illiberalism.
Disinformation. Trolling. Conspiracies. Social media pile-ons. Campus intolerance. On the surface, these recent additions to our daily vocabulary appear to have little in common. But together, they are driving an epistemic crisis: a multi-front challenge to America’s ability to distinguish fact from fiction and elevate truth above falsehood.
In 2016 Russian trolls and bots nearly drowned the truth in a flood of fake news and conspiracy theories, and Donald Trump and his troll armies continued to do the same. Social media companies struggled to keep up with a flood of falsehoods, and too often didn’t even seem to try. Experts and some public officials began wondering if society was losing its grip on truth itself. Meanwhile, another new phenomenon appeared: cancel culture. At the push of a button, those armed with a cellphone could gang up by the thousands on anyone who ran afoul of their sanctimony.
In this pathbreaking book, Jonathan Rauch reaches back to the parallel eighteenth-century developments of liberal democracy and science to explain what he calls the Constitution of Knowledgeour social system for turning disagreement into truth.
By explicating the Constitution of Knowledge and probing the war on reality, Rauch arms defenders of truth with a clearer understanding of what they must protect, why they must doand how they can do it. His book is a sweeping and readable description of how every American can help defend objective truth and free inquiry from threats as far away as Russia and as close as the cellphone.
"In this warm, wise, and witty overview, Jonathan Rauch combines evidence and experience to show his fellow adults that the best is yet to come.” —Steven Pinker, bestselling author of Enlightenment Now
This book will change your life by showing you how life changes.
Why does happiness get harder in your 40s? Why do you feel in a slump when you’re successful? Where does this malaise come from? And, most importantly, will it ever end?
Drawing on cutting-edge research, award-winning journalist Jonathan Rauch answers all these questions. He shows that from our 20s into our 40s, happiness follows a U-shaped trajectory, a “happiness curve,” declining from the optimism of youth into what’s often a long, low slump in middle age, before starting to rise again in our 50s.
This isn’t a midlife crisis, though. Rauch reveals that this slump is instead a natural stage of life—and an essential one. By shifting priorities away from competition and toward compassion, it equips you with new tools for wisdom and gratitude to win the third period of life.
And Rauch can testify to this personally because it was his own slump, despite acclaim as a journalist and commentator that compelled him to investigate the happiness curve. His own story and the stories of many others from all walks of life—from a steelworker and a limo driver to a telecoms executive and a philanthropist—show how the ordeal of midlife malaise reboots our values and even our brains for a rebirth of gratitude.
Full of insights and data and featuring many ways to endure the slump and avoid its perils and traps, The Happiness Curve doesn’t just show you the dark forest of midlife, it helps you find a path through the trees. It also demonstrates how we can—and why we must—do more to help each other through the woods. Midlife is a journey we mustn’t walk alone.
In this expanded edition of Kindly Inquisitors, a new foreword by George F. Will strikingly shows the book’s continued relevance, while a substantial new afterword by Rauch elaborates upon his original argument and brings it fully up to date. Two decades after the book’s initial publication, while some progress has been made, the regulation of hate speech has grown domestically—especially in American universities—and has spread even more internationally, where there is no First Amendment to serve as a meaningful check. But the answer to bias and prejudice, Rauch argues, is pluralism—not purism. Rather than attempting to legislate bias and prejudice out of existence or to drive them underground, we must pit them against one another to foster a more vigorous and fruitful discussion. It is this process that has been responsible for the growing acceptance of the moral acceptability of homosexuality over the last twenty years. And it is this process, Rauch argues, that will enable us as a society to replace hate with knowledge, both ethical and empirical.
“It is a melancholy fact that this elegant book, which is slender and sharp as a stiletto, is needed, now even more than two decades ago. Armed with it, readers can slice through the pernicious ideas that are producing the still-thickening thicket of rules, codes, and regulations restricting freedom of thought and expression.”—George F. Will, from the foreword
How different is this industrial superpower? Why did its fast climb to the pinnacle of the global economy also contain the causes of its subsequent fall? And what can we all--Americans and Japanese alike--learn from the Japanese model?
First published in 1992, and now republished with a new foreword by Dreux Richard, The Outnation is a rigorous, searching, deeply personal journey through Japan's islands and institutions. Jonathan Rauch reveals how different the country really is--and how hauntingly, sometimes eerily, familiar. In 200 numbered, lyrical paragraphs, The Outnation takes readers through Tokyo's nighttime crowds and into quiet country hamlets, to the office of a high-tech industrialist and to a farmer's dinner table. The author distills conversations with dozens of Japanese, statesmen and professors as well as sushi chefs and innkeepers. He probes the public values of the Japanese and details the inner workings of their political, economic, and intellectual systems.
Now an acknowledged classic, The Outnation is a perceptive and honest exploration of Japan and its people--and a sometimes disconcerting mirror that reflects America in a fresh light.
A young boy sitting on a piano bench realizes one day that he will never marry. At the time this seems merely a simple, if odd, fact, but as his attraction to boys grows stronger, he is pulled into a vortex of denial. Not just for one year or even ten, but for 25 years, he lives in an inverted world, a place like a photographic negative, where love is hate, attraction is envy, and childhood never ends. He comes to think of himself as a kind of monster—until one day, seemingly miraculously, the world turns itself upright and the possibility of love floods in.
Equal parts Oliver Sacks and George Orwell, with a dash of Woody Allen, Jonathan Rauch’s memoir is by turns harrowing and funny, a grippingly intimate journey through a bizarre maze of self-torment that ends with an unexpected discovery. Many people, gay and straight, have lived through their own versions of this story, seeking to twist their personality in directions it just wouldn’t go. Not all have been lucky enough to escape.
First published in 2013, Denial has been revised for this new edition, which includes a new afterword by the author.
What if idealistic reform itself is a culprit?
In Political Realism, Jonathan Rauch argues that well-meaning efforts to stem corruption and increase participation have stripped political leaders and organizations of the tools they need to forge compromises and make them stick. Fortunately, he argues, much of the damage can be undone by rediscovering political realism. Instead of trying to
drive private money away out of politics, how about channeling it to strengthen parties and leaders? Instead of doubling down on direct democracy, how about giving political professionals more influence over candidate nominations? Rauch shows how a new generation of realist thinkers is using timetested truths about politics and government to build reforms for our time.
Rich with contrarian insights and fresh thinking, Political Realism is an eye-opening challenge to today’s conventional wisdom about what ails American government and politics.
A leading Washington journalist argues that gay marriage is the best way to preserve and protect society's most essential institution
Two people meet and fall in love. They get married, they become upstanding members of their community, they care for each other when one falls ill, they grow old together. What's wrong with this picture? Nothing, says Jonathan Rauch, and that's the point. If the two people are of the same sex, why should this chain of events be any less desirable? Marriage is more than a bond between individuals; it also links them to the community at large. Excluding some people from the prospect of marriage not only is harmful to them, but is also corrosive of the institution itself.
The controversy over gay marriage has reached a critical point in American political life as liberals and conservatives have begun to mobilize around this issue, pro and con. But no one has come forward with a compelling, comprehensive, and readable case for gay marriage-until now.
Jonathan Rauch, one of our most original and incisive social commentators, has written a clear and honest manifesto explaining why gay marriage is important-even crucial-to the health of marriage in America today. Rauch grounds his argument in commonsense, mainstream values and confronting the social conservatives on their own turf. Gay marriage, he shows, is a "win-win-win" for strengthening the bonds that tie us together and for remaining true to our national heritage of fairness and humaneness toward all.