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American Whitelash: A Changing Nation and the Cost of Progress

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

An NPR Best Book of the Year • Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

Longlisted for the 2024 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence

“American Whitelash is indispensable. Really. It is.” – Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wesley Lowery confronts the sickness at the heart of American society: the cyclical pattern of violence that has marred every moment of racial progress in this country, and whose bloodshed began anew following Obama’s 2008 election.

In 2008, Barack Obama’s historic victory was heralded as a turning point for the country. And so it would be—just not in the way that most Americans hoped. The election of the nation’s first Black president fanned long-burning embers of white supremacy, igniting a new and frightening phase in a historical American cycle of racial progress and white backlash.

In American Whitelash, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and best-selling author Wesley Lowery charts the return of this blood-stained trend, showing how the forces of white power retaliated against Obama’s victory—and both profited from, and helped to propel, the rise of Donald Trump. Interweaving deep historical analysis with gripping firsthand reporting on both victims and perpetrators of violence, Lowery uncovers how this vicious cycle is carrying us into ever more perilous territory, how the federal government has failed to intervene, and how we still might find a route of escape.

Wesley Lowery is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, author and on-air correspondent. He currently works as a contributing editor at The Marshall Project and a Journalist-in-Residence at the CUNY Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. In nearly a decade as a national correspondent, Lowery has specialized in issues of race, justice and law enforcement. He led the Washington Post team that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2016 for the creation and analysis of a real-time database to track fatal police shootings in the United States. His project, “Murder with Impunity,” an unprecedented look at unsolved homicides in major American cities, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2019. His first book, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement, was a New York Times bestseller and awarded the Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose by the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.