Can it Happen Here? review: urgent studies in rise of authoritarian America

Cass Sunstein’s collection of essays shows Republican-led decay of US democracy predates Trump – and may be irreversible after him

The 17 thinkers who have contributed to this new collection of essays come down firmly on all sides of its central question: is the United States destined to become an authoritarian state? Multiple points of view are expressed by the book’s editor, Cass Sunstein, alone.

In his introduction, Sunstein writes: “My own summary of this book: Absolutely. It has happened before. It will happen again. To many Americans something like it is happening now.”

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Russian Roulette review: as Joe Biden said, ‘If this is true, it’s treason’

Michael Isikoff and David Corn lay bare the evidence that Trump and Putin have been striving to collaborate for years

Whenever I finish a book like Russian Roulette, I ask myself the same question: why is anyone still debating whether there was collusion between the Russians and Donald Trump?

Related: Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House by Luke Harding – review

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Smoketown by Mark Whitaker review: an alliance that advanced Pittsburgh’s black culture

Relationships between reporters and sportspeople were at the heart of African-American cultural achievement in mid-20th century Pittsburgh

Mark Whitaker has written an enticing history of the black culture of mid-20th century Pittsburgh, filled with engaging musicians, athletes, and journalists. Smoketown makes a plausible argument that the cultural achievements of African-Americans in this western Pennsylvania steel town often rivaled those of the much better known Harlem Renaissance in New York City – and that the relationships between reporters and sportspeople were at the heart of that.

Whitaker was the first black editor-in-chief of Newsweek and a top executive at NBC News and CNN before becoming a full-time book writer. His resume is undoubtedly one reason that so much of this book focuses on the men and women of the Pittsburgh Courier, which was America’s largest black weekly at the end of the 1930s, with a circulation of nearly 250,000.

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Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House by Luke Harding – review

Secret meetings and dirty money in a compelling investigation of the US president’s 30-year relationship with Russia

The subtitle of Guardian investigative reporter Luke Harding’s comprehensive and compelling volume hints at the scope here. Trump’s interactions with Russia go back more than 30 years – Vladimir Putin is perhaps the only person in the world who will never have to worry about being attacked on the president’s Twitter feed.

Many of the incriminating facts reported in Collusion won’t be new to serious students of this saga, but the experience of reading them all in one place can be almost overwhelming. When, less than halfway through the book, ex-MI6 spy Christopher Steele describes the Trump-Russia conspiracy as “absolutely massive”, it sounds like classic British understatement.

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Al Franken, Giant of the Senate review – how a comedian became a lawmaker

Senator’s memoir reflects on his days at Saturday Night Live and his current job, as he demands an end to lying liars with a plea for truth in politics Al Franken’s new memoir, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, covers everything from his 15 years as a writer and performer on Saturday Night Live to the near-death experience of his first run for the Senate from Minnesota (after a recount, he won by 312 votes, out of 2.9 million cast). In between, we learn that a TV ad with his fourth grade teacher and another in which his wife described her battle against alcoholism turned the tide in that campaign; how his fellow senators feel about Ted Cruz (“I like Ted Cruz more than most of my other colleagues ... and I hate Ted Cruz”) ; and about one of his biggest fears about our new president (“We’re going to ...