- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 10, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399180028
- ISBN-13: 978-0399180026
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 124 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together Hardcover – October 10, 2017
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“Van Jones is a light in the darkness when we need it most. Beyond the Messy Truth breaks with the tribalism of today’s politics and offers us a way forward. In the tradition of the great bridge builders of our past, Van’s love for this country and all its people shines through.”—Cory Booker, U.S. senator, New Jersey
“Whether you agree or disagree with him, Van Jones’s voice has become an integral part of our national political debate. He is one of the most provocative and interesting political figures in the country.”—Bernie Sanders, U.S. senator, Vermont
“Speaking with heartfelt conviction and clarity of purpose, [Van] Jones proffers an achievable pathway to harmony for ideologues of both conservative and liberal persuasions.”—Booklist
“Part manifesto, part manual for activism, [Beyond the Messy Truth] is enlivened by case histories and personal anecdotes that serve as support for the author’s assertions. . . . The author proposes common projects that may bring opposing sides together . . . [and] offers concrete suggestions to revive democracy, heal culture wars, and prevent a Trump victory in 2020.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Van Jones’s willingness to speak with, not to, those who may not traditionally hold his political and cultural point of view is on full display in Beyond the Messy Truth. In an age when hardworking families across America are feeling left behind, Van’s commitment to letting other voices be heard is much needed in today’s discourse.”—Rick Santorum, former senator of Pennsylvania and Republican presidential candidate
“If I say I’m actually friends with Van Jones, will that cause conservatives to read the book or just cause progressives not to? I hope they all read it—I disagree with Van on just about everything, but I respect him for being authentic in his convictions and for having the ability to articulate them forcefully but fairly.”—Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and Republican presidential candidate
“We should all be listening to Van Jones, because of how deeply he’s been listening to all kinds of people who are hurting in America. His vision for American politics calls forward the best of who we are, so that we can engage with humanity and solve real problems together.”—Ai-jen Poo, director, National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-director, Caring Across Generations
“Those of us who truly believe in the power of love and aloha welcome Beyond the Messy Truth with open arms, in the hope that it will be read by those from all parts of the country and all points on the political spectrum. This book will help start conversations and bring people together to find common ground and work toward a better America.”—Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. congresswoman, Hawaii
“What you will find in these pages is the work of one of the most thoughtful and honest progressives on the American political scene. We disagree, and our debates can get, well, messy. But every so often, we find a place of agreement and cause to celebrate. The great battle of ideas is a bedrock of our democracy—and there is no one better at this than Van Jones.”—Jeffrey Lord, political strategist and former CNN commentator
About the Author
Van Jones is a CNN political contributor and host of the recurring CNN primetime special The Messy Truth with Van Jones. A graduate of the University of Tennessee and Yale Law School, he was a special adviser to the Obama White House and is the author of two New York Times bestsellers. Jones founded the social justice accelerator the Dream Corps and has led numerous social and environmental justice enterprises, including the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green For All. He has earned many honors, including the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation and a Webby Special Achievement Award, and he has been named one of Rolling Stone’s 12 Leaders Who Get Things Done, Fast Company’s 12 Most Creative Minds on Earth, and Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. He lives with his wife and two children in the Los Angeles area.
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Since I have seen Van Jones on CNN followed him on Twitter, I decided to see what he have to say after the failure and defeat that the Liberal faced in 2016/2017.
Honestly I was expecting the usual, throwing blames around, more divide, and image restoration for the DNC. but it turned out something different, something amazingly remarkable. when i started reading his open letter to Liberals i couldn't stop reading until i reached chapter 4! and it was midnight. Despite my busy day, i couldn't hold my self, i switched to the Audio version and finished the book in less than 48 hours.
What really struck me is the "Prince" story with Van Jones.
It made me rethink and revisit all my views, political and personal!
I believe that every politician should read this book, i think we all should read this book from time to time to remind ourselves that we stand united not matter what.
Van does not mince words. "There is evidence that Trump is crazy," he noted in a Nov. 5 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, "but he has also driven us crazy." Van's new book advises us how to treat that craziness.
In Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together, his third book, Van writes at the outset that "the same political dynasties that screamed the most against Trump's ascendance . . . created the mess that opened the door for him in the first place." And he makes clear that those "dynasties" are the Clintons and the Bushes. To remedy the mess that resulted from the neoliberal views that have dominated their years in government—and remained largely unchallenged under Barack Obama—Van advocates bridging the gap between conservatives and liberals by finding common ground on issues where our values overlap. He takes both political parties to task for blocking the way for activists on both Left and Right to meet on that common ground. And both liberals and conservatives come in for harsh criticism for our failure to grasp how we might come together on some critical issues despite the dramatic contrast in our values.
Beyond the Messy Truth consists of seven short chapters. The first addresses the dilemma we Americans now find ourselves in. Each of the two following chapters is devoted to an "open letter" to one of the two major political parties. A fourth chapter explains what Van calls the "whitelash" that elected Donald Trump. It's followed by two other chapters that detail Van's own work on both sides of the aisle to address some of the most urgent issues of our time. Here, he lays out an agenda for action on these issues: reforming the criminal justice system, ending the addiction epidemic, and creating jobs for the millions of people who are either already shut out of employment opportunities or will become unemployed as automation continues to take its toll. The concluding chapter expresses Van's optimism that the agenda he lays out is not just necessary but also possible.
Here, for example, is Van in his letter to liberals: "It is one thing to say, 'I disagree with you because we have different values and priorities.' It's quite another to say, 'I disagree with you because you are an uneducated idiot—a pawn—and a dupe.' The prevalence of the latter set of arguments is why the Democratic Party stinks of elitism."
In each of the two cases, Van enjoins us to "honor our traditions," uphold religious liberty, respect all Americans, "fix the party," and "solve real problems." Liberals, he notes, tend to be disrespectful to both churchgoers and white working-class voters—and we're "addicted to the bickering and infighting." ("We cannot win against the worst of the right if all of our best weapons are pointed at one another.")
Conservatives fail by disparaging Muslims, who might otherwise be their allies, since they tend to be both religiously observant and conservative. And today's Republicans seem to have forgotten their core commitment to limited executive power, small government, and freedom of speech and religious practice. ("Would [our founders] approve of a U.S. president attacking the credibility of independent judges merely on the basis of their heritage . . .? Would they stand by idly as the executive branch tramples on the rights of the press?")
Van Jones is best known as a commentator and reporter on CNN. But his work as a leading activist is far more consequential. In fewer than fifty years, he has founded or co-founded numerous social enterprises, including the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, Rebuild the Dream, the Dream Corps, and Magic Labs Media. He has also collaborated with other public figures including Newt Gingrich, Prince, and Patrick Kennedy in launching nationwide initiatives on such topics as criminal justice reform, the opioid epidemic and heroin addiction in our inner cities, and training "100,000 young women and men from underrepresented backgrounds find success in the tech sector" (#yeswecode). In other words, Van walks the talk. Many of the views he expresses in Beyond the Messy Truth reflect his own years of work on these issues.
For further reading, search online for "How Steve Bannon sold the alt-right to Donald Trump and made history," "5 books that explore our broken criminal justice system," "Donald Trump: populism, or fascism?," and "Van Jones: Making sense of the Tea Party, the Occupy Movement, and Barack Obama's shift from candidate to President." You might also be interested in my post, "35 excellent nonfiction books about politics."
That is why I think this book is important. It’s not a one-stop guide to solve all problems that exist, but it is a good beginning. Van Jones gives us a glance into his childhood and upbringing as a young black kid in the South. He delves into his own personal experiences to help us understand that for identifying problems and solutions, it is not only necessary but better for people of all ideological spectrums, races and classes to find common ground. In his open letters to both liberals and conservatives, he points out the flaws in each of the party’s approaches to furthering their goals and ideologies at the expense of common people. At the end, he discusses in detail issues like criminal justice reform, opioid addiction crisis and job creation which have supporters across both left and right, it’s just that we need to be prepared to engage with everyone to work on solving the crises.
I believe that everyone invested in the betterment of the country, especially youngsters should read this book, if not completely, at least look at the appendices which give information about lots of resources to get to know both sides of every story. We should play our part to ensure that our common goal is achieved – Liberty and Justice for All.
PS: Thank you to Random House Publishing and Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.