Everett Cafe Book Display: Dear Mr. Gerry

| October 17, 2018

181015_Display_1080x1920“The Salamander devours his tail..”
— Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451.

In Ray Bradbury’s international acclaimed novel, Fahrenheit 451 (1953), we are thrust into a dystopian future where firemen start fires and are ordered to destroy books. Salamander, the name on the firetrucks, symbolizes both the fire and the firemen– power, protection, immortality. But saving books instead of burning them can prove highly dangerous — especially for protagonist fireman Guy Montag who sees truth through literature rather than mindless television.

Cycle back a century and half, and we see that the salamander also links to the hotbed of the American political system — and one particular issue: gerrymandering. Does it feel as if are we living in an increasingly dysfunctional nation — our sensibilities fraying in the alarming heat of politics, executive level down? What if media /social media dominate at the expense of reading informed books or literature? Are elections turning into an unprecedented game of self interest at the expense of our nation’s well-being?

As we gear up for mid term elections, we take stock of the electoral process and drawing of boundary districts in the United States. It’s been happening since 1812, when the Governor of Massachusetts Elbridge Gerry signed a bill that redistricted his state to benefit the Democratic-Republican Party or the Jeffersonian Republican party to which he belonged. When Gerry redrew district lines for the upcoming senate election, The Boston Centinel lashed back with a political cartoon depicting a poisonous creature, the salamander, symbolizing fiery transformation over the Essex South state senatorial district.  Gerry

To manipulate political districting for gain or advantage is to unfairly disenfranchise certain groups of people from the democratic process — some might say, rendering government effectively unconstitutional. New York, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Ohio, and Maryland are no strangers to the practice of gerrymandering, evident by past elections.

What lies ahead in our turbulent political times and what should we do about the upcoming vote? With primaries just under our belt, Dear Mr. Gerry: Meandering Into Elections draws attention to this critical issue from both an historical and contemporary lens.

This book display is curated by staff of the Gottesman Libraries and designed by EdLab. Push a button or two in Everett Cafe to create the map for current, Democratic, or Republican mapping in the State of New York. And also be sure to checkout the Atlas of Redistricting, part of The Gerrymandering Project, where you can draw your own lines.

LinesBickerstaff, Steve. Lines in the Sand: Congressional Redistricting in Texas and the Downfall of Tom DeLay. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007.




RedistrictingBullock, Charles S., III. Redistricting: The Most Political Activity in America. Latham, MD: Roman and Littlefield, 2010.





Cox, Gary and Jonathan N. Katz. Elbridge Gerry’s Salamander: The Electoral Consequences of the Reapportionment Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.




Ratf*Daley, David. Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy. New York: Liveright, 2016.
Cafe JK1341 .D35 2016





DeathKakutani, Michiko. The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump. New York: Tim Duggan (Crown  at Penguin), 2018.
Cafe JK1726 .K355 2018





Dark_MoneyMayer, Jane.  Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. New York: Anchor, 2017.
Cafe JC599.U5 M373 2016




DemocracyMacLean, Nancy. Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. New York: Penguin, 2018.
Cafe HN49.R33 M23 2017




Even_WorseMann, Thomas E. and Norman J. Ornstein. It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism. Mew York: Basic Books, 2016.
Cafe JK275 .M27 2013




Gerrymandering_in_AmericaMcGann, J and Charles Anthony Smith. Gerrymandering in America: The House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, and the Future of Popular Sovereignty. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
Cafe KF4905 .M29 2016




People's_HousePepper, David. The People’s House. St Helena’s Press, 2016.
Cafe PS3616.E66 2016





Gerrymandering_VotingSantos, Rita. Gerrymandering and Voting Districts (At Issue). Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2018.
Cafe JK1341 .G47 2019




DrawingSeabrook, Nicholas R. Drawing the Lines: Constraints on Partisan Gerrymandering in U.S. Politics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2017.
Cafe JK1341 .S39 2017




RealitiesWinburn, Jonathan. The Realities of Redistricting: Following the Rules and Limiting Gerrymandering in State Legislative Redistricting. Latham, MD: Lexington Books, 2009.





At the Everett News Cafe, you’ll find a new book collection every few weeks that relates to current affairs, education, or learning environments.