When I go to Thanksgiving, all the people there will be reasonable. Also, this will be in Minnesota where politics are not discussed. And if they are discussed, my Father-in-Law has well developed techniques to run interference, as is his responsibility as head of the hosting household. There will be chairs to get from the basement (always wait until the last second to ask Greg to help with the chairs, just in case he starts talking politics!). The dogs are trained to make a fuss when given secret hand signals. That sort of thing.
But you may not be as fortunate as I am. Perhaps you will be having Thanksgiving with some people who are not either a) Democrats or b) silent. In the old days (last month) the big concern was climate change or, possibly, evolution. Now, of course, it is the Trump presidency.
If you are very unfortunate, you have an “Uncle Bob.” That’s the code word for that man without a filter who never misses a family event and can’t wait to argue with you. There are a lot of different kids of Uncle Bob, and I’ve got some suggestions for books that may help prepare for some of them.
In case your Uncle Bob is an Evangelical Christian:
Climate change is a confusing and polarizing issue. It may also prove to be the most daunting challenge of this century because children, the elderly, and the poor will be the first to feel its effects. The issue is all over the news, but what is seldom heard is a conservative, evangelical perspective.
Connecting the dots between science and faith, this book explores the climate debate and how Christians can take the lead in caring for God’s creation. The authors answer top questions such as “What’s really happening?” and “Who can we trust?” and discuss stewarding the earth in light of evangelical values. “Acting on climate change is not about political agendas,” they say. “It’s about our kids. It’s about being a disciple of Jesus Christ.” Capping off this empowering book are practical, simple ideas for improving our environment and helping our families and those around us.
In case your Uncle Bob is big on Bigfoot: Don Prothero, Dan Loxton, and Michael Shermer on cryptozoology
Throughout our history, humans have been captivated by mythic beasts and legendary creatures. Tales of Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness monster are part of our collective experience. Now comes a book from two dedicated investigators that explores and elucidates the fascinating world of cryptozoology.
Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero have written an entertaining, educational, and definitive text on cryptids, presenting the arguments both for and against their existence and systematically challenging the pseudoscience that perpetuates their myths. After examining the nature of science and pseudoscience and their relation to cryptozoology, Loxton and Prothero take on Bigfoot; the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, and its cross-cultural incarnations; the Loch Ness monster and its highly publicized sightings; the evolution of the Great Sea Serpent; and Mokele Mbembe, or the Congo dinosaur. They conclude with an analysis of the psychology behind the persistent belief in paranormal phenomena, identifying the major players in cryptozoology, discussing the character of its subculture, and considering the challenge it poses to clear and critical thinking in our increasingly complex world.
In case your Uncle Bob is a Neocon: Rachel Maddow on the unmooring of American military power
Written with bracing wit and intelligence, Rachel Maddow’s Drift argues that we’ve drifted away from America’s original ideals and become a nation weirdly at peace with perpetual war. To understand how we’ve arrived at such a dangerous place, Maddow takes us from the Vietnam War to today’s war in Afghanistan, along the way exploring Reagan’s radical presidency, the disturbing rise of executive authority, the gradual outsourcing of our war-making capabilities to private companies, the plummeting percentage of American families whose children fight our constant wars for us, and even the changing fortunes of G.I. Joe. Ultimately, she shows us just how much we stand to lose by allowing the scope of American military power to overpower our political discourse.
In Case your Uncle Bob thinks our elections are fair: On the hacking of the election by Putin
In April 2016, computer technicians at the Democratic National Committee discovered that someone had accessed the organization’s computer servers and conducted a theft that is best described as Watergate 2.0. In the weeks that followed, the nation’s top computer security experts discovered that the cyber thieves had helped themselves to everything: sensitive documents, emails, donor information, even voice mails.
Soon after, the remainder of the Democratic Party machine, the congressional campaign, the Clinton campaign, and their friends and allies in the media were also hacked. Credit cards numbers, phone numbers, and contacts were stolen. In short order, the FBI found that more than twenty-five state election offices had their voter registration systems probed or attacked by the same hackers.
Western intelligence agencies tracked the hack to Russian spy agencies and dubbed them the CYBER BEARS. The media was soon flooded with the stolen information channeled through Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. It was a massive attack on America but the Russian hacks appeared to have a singular goal—elect Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.
New York Times bestselling author and career intelligence officer Malcolm Nance’s fast paced real-life spy thriller takes you from Vladimir Putin’s rise through the KGB from junior officer to spymaster-in-chief and spells out the story of how he performed the ultimate political manipulation—convincing Donald Trump to abandon seventy years of American foreign policy including the destruction of NATO, cheering the end of the European Union, allowing Russian domination of Eastern Europe, and destroying the existing global order with America at its lead.
Also, Mayer’s Dark Money: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
In case your Uncle Bob is an idiot:
With his trademark wit and insight, veteran journalist Charles Pierce delivers a gut-wrenching, side-splitting lament about the glorification of ignorance in the United States.
Pierce asks how a country founded on intellectual curiosity has somehow deteriorated into a nation of simpletons more apt to vote for an American Idol contestant than a presidential candidate. But his thunderous denunciation is also a secret call to action, as he hopes that somehow, being intelligent will stop being a stigma, and that pinheads will once again be pitied, not celebrated. Erudite and razor-sharp, Idiot America is at once an invigorating history lesson, a cutting cultural critique, and a bullish appeal to our smarter selves.