ISBN: 978-0-19-767479-6

Johan Brosché

Uppsala University & Stockholm University

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The United States is in crisis. How did the country end up in deep political polarization, electoral violence and unconstitutional attempts to take power? Louis Kriesberg's book provides deep insights into this question by analyzing the conflicts that have shaped the country from 1945 until today. It covers three central societal dimensions. The first part focuses on class and how the degree of inequality in the United States has varied over time and uncovers the root causes of the current hyper class inequality. Kriesberg then turns to status. The main focus here is on inequality facing African Americans from the civil rights movement to the Black Life Matters movement, but conflicts over gender and other collective identities are also included. The third theme, power, deals with the changing political power equality and puts different forms of political power in their historical context. Together, the analyses of these three themes constitute an excellent platform for understanding the contemporary US. The main asset of the book, however, is not the historical review of constructive and deconstructive conflicts but its assessment of how to fight better. Throughout, Kriesberg highlights what has, and has not, worked and offers guidance on how these conflicts could have been fought more constructively. Reading an analysis that builds on insights acquired over a period stretching from the Spanish Civil War to the 6 January attack on the Capitol is humbling. That Kriesberg has written such an excellent book at the age of 96, is inspiring. Furthermore, the personal reflections and anecdotes from events such as the murder of Martin Luther King (when Kriesberg was about my age) contributes to the delight in reading the book.