A New York Times Book Review New and Noteworthy Book
Washington State Book Award Winner
Silver Nautilus Book Award Winner
“This collection of essays exhorts Americans to love the nation they have by becoming the nation they want.” —The Washington Post
What does it mean to be an engaged American in today’s divided political landscape, and how do we restore hope in our country? In a collection of “civic sermons” delivered at gatherings around the nation, popular advocate for active citizenship Eric Liu takes on these thorny questions and provides inspiration and solace in a time of anger, fear, and dismay over the state of the Union.
Here are 19 stirring explorations of current and timeless topics about democracy, liberty, equal justice, and powerful citizenship. This book will energize you to get involved, in ways both large and small, to help rebuild a country that you’re proud to call home. Become America will challenge you to rehumanize our politics and rekindle a spirit of love in civic life.
Former Clinton White House speechwriter Liu (You're More Powerful than You Think) collects a selection of the "civic sermons" he gave at the Civic Saturday programs put on by Citizen University, an organization he cofounded, from November 2016 to August 2018. Topics follow the initial shock of the 2016 election, insurgence in public protests, and ongoing perseverance against the Trump administration. Liu asks readers to talk with others who may also feel alienated but are on the opposing political side, and also to consider their own hypocrisy (for example, left-leaning voters' ignorance of Obama's executive orders that resembled Trump's on issues such as immigration). Liu shares stories of engaging in calm discourse to find common ground, notably in an account of him having had a passionate but respectful discussions off-camera with Glenn Beck. Each sermon opens with selections from writers, leaders, and artists, including Thomas Paine and W.E.B. DuBois; poet Claudia Castro Luna's contemporary "Summer Sparks," about the Statue of Liberty, is especially remarkable. Liu's style is conversational ("So the other night my wife and I watched an episode of Queer Eye") and gently exhortatory ("Do you live to exclude or include? Be honest"). This inspirational guide will speak to readers looking for encouragement and a path to meaningful civic engagement.