Our unfinished march The violent past and imperiled future of the vote-- a history, a crisis, a plan

Eric H. Holder, 1951-

Book - 2022

Chronicles the dramatic history of the vote in America and presents an urgent summons to protect and perfect democracy, from the former Attorney General of the United States and a leading voting rights advocate.

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New York : One World [2022]
First edition
Physical Description
x, 283 pages ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 227-269) and index.
Main Author
Eric H. Holder, 1951- (author)
Other Authors
Sam (Speechwriter) Koppelman (author)
  • Introduction
  • Note: the case for democracy
  • Lessons from the past. Rebellion: how white men won the vote ; A moment in the sun: how black men won the vote, and white men stole it ; Resistance and realpolitik: how women won the vote ; Revolution: how black Americans won the vote, and made America a democracy
  • The crisis of the present. Backlash to a black president: the Obama years ; Democracy in descent: the Trump years
  • A more perfect future. Making it easier to vote ; Making it harder to suppress the vote ; Saving Congress ; Saving the presidency ; Saving the court.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Civil rights leader and former U.S. attorney general Holder, with coauthor Koppelman (coauthor of Impeach: The Case against Donald Trump, 2019), examines historic and current challenges to voting rights in the U.S. Drawing on this country's history of disenfranchisement, Holder details how voting rights began with white, landowning men and were expanded to women and Black Americans through struggle, perseverance, and violence. Based on his direct experiences as the first Black U.S. attorney general, working under the first Black U.S. president, Holder describes the ongoing threats against U.S. democracy and, responding to policy changes leading to voter suppression, argues for new protective measures and processes to safeguard and expand voting rights for millions of Americans. Readers will find important, compelling episodes in U.S. history and politics, along with hope for the future in the form of the opportunities Holder outlines for challenging voter suppression and other threats to our democracy. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this analytical call-to-action, former U.S. attorney general Holder charts the history of voter discrimination. Noting that since the Supreme Court "gutted" the Voting Rights Act in 2013, more than two dozen states "have instituted draconian anti-voting laws that clearly and intentionally have a disproportionate impact on communities of color," Holder documents disagreements among the Founders over whether to "expand the franchise" to propertyless whites, and details the progress and reversal of Black voting rights after the Civil War and the campaign for women's suffrage. According to Holder, the election of the nation's first Black president in 2008 provoked efforts by Republican lawmakers ("aware that their agenda did not align with the interests of a majority of Americans") to make it harder to vote. Holder also delves into Donald Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election and details how recent state laws have made it harder to vote by mail and criminalized giving water and food to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots. His proposals for fixing the problem include automatic voter registration and passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Lucid history lessons and concrete solutions make this an essential primer on a hot-button political issue. (May) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Chronicles the dramatic history of the vote in America and an urgent summons to protect and perfect our democracy, from the former attorney general of the United States and a leading voting rights advocate.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Chronicles the dramatic history of the vote in America and presents an urgent summons to protect and perfect democracy, from the former Attorney General of the United States and a leading voting rights advocate.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A brutal, bloody, and at times hopeful history of the vote; a primer on the opponents fighting to take it away; and a playbook for how we can save our democracy before it’s too late—from the former U.S. Attorney General on the front lines of this fightVoting is our most important right as Americans—“the right that protects all the others,” as Lyndon Johnson famously said when he signed the Voting Rights Act—but it’s also the one most violently contested throughout U.S. history. Since the gutting of the act in the landmark Shelby County v. Holder case in 2013, many states have passed laws restricting the vote. After the 2020 election, President Trump’s effort to overturn the vote has evolved into a slow-motion coup, with many Republicans launching an all-out assault on our democracy. The vote seems to be in unprecedented peril.  But the peril is not at all unprecedented. America is a fragile democracy, Eric Holder argues, whose citizens have only had unfettered access to the ballot since the 1960s. He takes readers through three dramatic stories of how the vote was won: first by white men, through violence and insurrection; then by white women, through protests and mass imprisonments; and finally by African Americans, in the face of lynchings and terrorism. Next, he dives into how the vote has been stripped away since Shelby—a case in which Holder was one of the parties. He ends with visionary chapters on how we can reverse this tide of voter suppression and become a true democracy where every voice is heard and every vote is counted. Full of surprising history, intensive analysis, and actionable plans for the future, this is a powerful primer on our most urgent political struggle from one of the country's leading advocates.