Lilly Goren and Susan Liebell

Dec 21, 2020

New Books in Political Science 2020 Round Up

New Books Network 2020

The co-hosts of New Books in Political Science, Dr. Lilly J. Goren (Carroll University) and Dr. Susan Liebell (Saint Joseph’s University) looked back at the year.

We want YOUR insights on the podcast -- so please Tweet or email us with your favorite podcasts of the year and the authors you want us to interview!|SusanLiebell | LillyGoren

Susan’s favorite podcasts included Black Political Thought: From David Walker to the Present (Cambridge University Press 2020) edited by Sherrow O. Pinder (Professor of Political Science and Multicultural and Gender Studies, California State University, Chico). The podcast included Dr. Pinder as well as chapter authors Charisse Burden-Stelly (POL and Africana Studies at Carleton College and now U of Chicago as a fellow), Babacar M’Baye (Kent State University, English and Pan-African Studies), and Brenda E. Stevenson (Professor of History, UCLA). This is a great anthology that leans into interdisciplinarity and it is a terrific resource for teaching (Susan’s students really connected with the bold and insightful introductions to the chapters as well as the choices of primary texts.) Susan also loved her conversation with Dr. Peniel E. Joseph (Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values; Professor of Public Affairs and History, LBJ School of Public Affairs and College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin) about The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. (Basic Books 2020). The common myth of opposition distorts our understanding of civil rights. Josephs argues that they shared a revolutionary path in search of black dignity, citizenship, and human rights. A terrific podcast that underlines the importance of history. Last, Susan highlighted her conversation with Nazita Lajevardi (Assistant Professor of Political Science, Michigan State University) about Outsiders at Home: The Politics of American Islamophobia (Cambridge University Press 2020). Dr. Lajevardi uses a combination of quantitative methods to explore the status of Muslim Americans in American democracy -- and this is an example of an accessible quantitative book and an open and thoughtful author.

Looking forward at 2021, Susan hopes to interview Dr. Elizabeth Hinton (Yale University, Yale Law School) about The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s (Liveright/Norton May 2021). She argues that these “riots” were really collective acts of rebellion against policy brutality and racism. Dr. Hinton’s interrogation of the “War on Crime” and the “riots” of the 1960s seems required reading to understand contemporary protests and formulate policy. Another book that seems essential to unpack is The Essential Kerner Commission Report (Liveright/Norton, expected 2021). Jelani Cobb (staff writer at The New Yorker and Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at the Columbia Journalism School) contextualizes the report -- released a month before Dr. King was assassinated -- as required reading to understand systemic racism -- and the extent to which the dynamics have been known since the 1960s. Dr. Matthew Guariglia (Policy Analyst, Electronic Frontier Foundation) edited the report to be accessible for the contemporary reader.

Lilly was hard pressed to choose her favorite podcasts, since so many were fascinating and engaging, but she quite enjoyed her two conversations (because of technical problems it needed to be recorded twice) with Dr. Adam H. Domby (Assistant Professor of History, University of Charleston) about his new book, The False Cause: Fraud, Fabrication, and White Supremacy in Confederate Memory (University of Virginia Press, 2020). The False Cause is particularly timely given the broader cultural and political conversations about confederate monuments, the renaming of domestic military bases, and the whole concept of historical memory, and how it is shaped and understood. Lilly found the book, Histories of Dirt: Media and Urban Life in Colonial and Postcolonial Lagos (Duke University Press, 2020), fascinating and captivating on multiple levels. Interviewing Dr. Stephanie Newell (Professor of English at Yale University and Professor Extraordinaire at the University of Stellenbosch) about the research and her experience only added to that fascination. Dr. Newell, along with a team of researchers across a variety of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, explore this idea of “dirt” across the long 20th century and how this concept and terminology are understood on a variety of levels by different populations, especially in context of colonial and postcolonial experiences in West Africa and beyond. Lilly’s third entry among her favorite conversations was with Dr. Chryl N. Laird (Assistant Professor of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College), who, along with Dr. Ismail K. White (Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University), wrote Steadfast Democrats: How Social Forces Shape Black Political Behavior (Princeton University Press, 2020). Steadfast Democrats is landing on quite a few “best of” lists this year and with good reason, since it is an important and complex study that delineates the ideological fissures within the African-American community while also analyzing the voting patterns of African Americans and their inclination to remain loyal Democratic voters. Drs. Laird and White examine extensive and diverse data to determine how this particular group of voters have operated as a fairly unified voting block over the course of many election cycles.

Both Susan and Lilly tried to claim The Economic Other: Inequality in the American Political Imagination by Dr. Meghan Condon (Loyola Chicago) and Dr. Amber Wichowsky (Marquette University) -- but Lilly won out on the podcast. Lilly has already scheduled a conversation with Dr. Lara M. Brown (The George Washington University) about her new book, Amateur Hour: Presidential Character and the Question of Leadership (Routledge 2020). Brown’s book on the presidency joins quite a robust grouping of new books that explore the American presidency, especially given the pressures on the office and the entire constitutional system over the past four years. Given Lilly’s interest in and research on contemporary superheroes, she is particularly enthusiastic about talking with Dr. Michelle M. Kundmueller (Old Dominion University) about her new book, Homer’s Hero: Human Excellence in the Iliad and the Odyssey (SUNY Press, 2019). Understanding classical heroes helps us to consider our fascination with modern heroes in capes and primary colors on the big and small screens.

Lilly and Susan reflected on the launch of our new Special Series -- Postscript -- that allows authors (usually 2-4 in conversation) to interrogate contemporary political developments that engage their scholarship. We discuss the first episodes (A Deep Dive on China, Shirley Chisholm as Principled Political Strategist, and Race, Anger, and Citizenship) and how we featured real-time commentary with four experts on the day after Joe Biden announced his choice of Kamala Harris as Vice President -- and we are planning another Postscript podcast for the upcoming inauguration of Joe Biden. Again, we want to know what you like -- so let us know through Twitter or email!

Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Her Why Diehard Originalists Aren’t Really Originalists recently appeared in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage and her “Retreat from the Rule of Law: Locke and the Perils of Stand Your Ground” was published in the Journal of Politics (July 2020). Email her comments at or tweet to @SusanLiebell.

Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at or tweet to @gorenlj.

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Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI.

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