Half King reading series : Democracy awakening

featuring author Heather Cox Richardson

Jan 16, 2023 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
skylight gallery
Half King Reading Series
Open to the public
Eventbrite RSVP required
FREE to attend

About the Series

What was once one of the most vital literary hubs in the city, The Half King Reading Series, has a new home at the Salmagundi Club. At monthly events, authors of new works will discuss their books in a warm, welcoming, and informed setting. Selections are predominantly, but not exclusively, non-fiction, current events, biography, autobiography, novels and memoir.


Salmagundi members are welcome to have dinner in our dining room. Dining reservations can be made via our Reservations page. Please note that last call for food is 8:30 PM.

About the Event

In the midst of the 2019 impeachment crisis, history professor Heather Cox Richardson began writing a daily Facebook essay, providing historical context for the daily churn of news. It soon became a chart-topping Substack newsletter, Letters from an American, which now has over 2 million subscribers – passionate, dedicated readers who rely on Richardson’s plainspoken, insightful take on America, past and present, as a much-needed dose of sanity in today’s insane world.

In her compelling new book, Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America (Viking; On Sale: 9/26/23), Richardson explains how a small group of wealthy people have made war on American ideals, leading us down a dangerous path to authoritarianism. By weaponizing language and promoting a false history, they have created a disaffected population and then promised to recreate an imagined past where those people could feel important again. Richardson argues that taking our country back starts by remembering the elements of the nation’s true history that marginalized Americans have always upheld – their dedication has sustained our democracy in the past and can be a roadmap for our future.

Richardson’s talent is to distill bleak headlines and wide swaths of history into a coherent story that singles out what we should pay attention to and what the precedents are. Democracy Awakening examines the origins of our modern rightwing swing, from the deep roots of racism, oligarchy, and minority rule to the courage of heroes now and then, fighting back for progressive causes. Far from dry, inaccessible, or unwieldy history, this book is instead like having a world-class scholar talk to you over the dinner table, decoding a confusing world and making you feel smarter and more knowledgeable than you did before.

Unlike many historians, Richardson is optimistic about America’s future – she firmly believes that we can preserve our democracy, in spite of the many mistakes and missteps that we have made since the founding. Many books tell us what has happened over the last five years, but Democracy Awakening explains how we got to this perilous point, what our history really tells us about ourselves, and what the future of democracy can be.

Heather Cox Richardson wears a pink collared shirt and a blue baseball cap.
Cover of "Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America" by Heather Cox Richardson, author of the newsletter, "Letters from an American." Features a blue-to-orange ombre and the hand and torch of the Statue of Liberty.
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