The best-selling author of How Children Succeed returns with a devastatingly powerful, mind-changing inquiry into higher education in the United States
Does college work? Does it provide real opportunity for young people who want to improve themselves and their prospects? Or is it simply a rigged game designed to protect the elites who have power and exclude everyone else? For many of us, our doubts and resentments about higher education live side by side with an appreciation, even a yearning, for the life-changing personal transformation that a college education can provide.
In these pages, you will meet young people making their way through this system, with joy and frustration and sorrow: deciding how and where to apply, cramming for the SAT, braving a strange new campus, negotiating changing family relationships, and trying to find the resilience to recover from setbacks and downturns.
You’ll encounter the individuals who, behind the scenes, make higher education go: from an SAT tutor hacking the test and his students’ stressed-out brains to a calculus professor turning potential drop-outs into math majors. And you’ll see the many shapes that college in America takes today, from Ivy League seminar rooms to community college welding shops; from giant public flagships to tiny, innovative experiments in urban storefronts.
The Years That Matter Most will shake you up, it will inspire and enrage you, and it will make you think differently about who we are as a country – and whether the American dream of opportunity and mobility is still worthy of our faith.
Paul Tough is the author of three previous books, including the bestselling How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, which has been translated into 27 languages. He lives in Austin, Texas, and Montauk, New York.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A renowned journalist and legal commentator exposes the unchecked power of the prosecutor as a driving force in America’s mass incarceration crisis—and charts a way out.
The American criminal justice system is supposed to be a contest between two equal adversaries, the prosecution and the defense, with judges ensuring a fair fight. That image of the law does not match the reality in the courtroom, however. Much of the time, it is prosecutors more than judges who control the outcome of a case, from choosing the charge to setting bail to determining the plea bargain. They often decide who goes free and who goes to prison, even who lives and who dies. In Charged, Emily Bazelon reveals how this kind of unchecked power is the underreported cause of enormous injustice—and the missing piece in the mass incarceration puzzle.
Charged follows the story of two young people caught up in the criminal justice system: Kevin, a twenty-year-old in Brooklyn who picked up his friend’s gun as the cops burst in and was charged with a serious violent felony, and Noura, a teenage girl in Memphis indicted for the murder of her mother. Bazelon tracks both cases—from arrest and charging to trial and sentencing—and, with her trademark blend of deeply reported narrative, legal analysis, and investigative journalism, illustrates just how criminal prosecutions can go wrong and, more important, why they don’t have to.
Bazelon also details the second chances they prosecutors can extend, if they choose, to Kevin and Noura and so many others. She follows a wave of reform-minded D.A.s who have been elected in some of our biggest cities, as well as in rural areas in every region of the country, put in office to do nothing less than reinvent how their job is done. If they succeed, they can point the country toward a different and profoundly better future.
“Bazelon, cogent and clear-eyed as ever, lays out a welcome double-barreled argument: A prosecutorial shift toward mercy and fairness is crucial to healing our busted criminal justice system, and it’s already happening.”—Sarah Koenig, host of Serial
“An important, thoughtful, and thorough examination of criminal justice in America that speaks directly to how we reduce mass incarceration.”—Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy
“This harrowing, often enraging book is a hopeful one, as well, profiling innovative new approaches and the frontline advocates who champion them.”—Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted
Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law, and a lecturer at Yale Law School. Her previous book is the national bestseller Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. She’s also a co-host of the Slate Political Gabfest, a popular weekly podcast. Before joining the Times Magazine, Bazelon was a writer and editor at Slate, where she co-founded the women’s section “DoubleX.” She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
If you're unable to attend the event and would like a signed copy of The Years That Matter Most and/or Charged, please purchase the "Signed" version below.