Project Censored’s 2020 Summer Reading List

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

From COVID-19 to unprecedented unemployment levels and nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism, the Summer of 2020 is like none other in recent history. In the midst of these fraught events, we have been busy preparing Project Censored’s next book—State of the Free Press | 2021—which Seven Stories Press will publish in Fall 2020.  Here are some of the titles that we’ve turned to for insights and inspiration, and which we recommend to you.

The End of White Politics: How to Heal Our Political Divide, Zerlina Maxwell

Maxwell critiques the Democratic party for its continued failure to engage communities of color, even though thepopulation majority will be non-white by 2045. She takes on a liberal agenda that continues to focus its policies on white working class populations to the exclusion of others. Maxwell’s critique engages both the centrist agenda of Joe Biden and the implicit bias of the presumed far-left Bernie Bros.

From Hachette Books.

News on the Right: Studying Conservative News Cultures, Anthony Nadler and A.J. Bauer, editors

An anthology of critical media studies scholarship investigating the explosion of right-wing news media, from well-known brands like Fox News, Breitbart, and National Review to more obscure blogs, YouTube channels, and podcasts. With contributions from friends of Project Censored like Victor Pickard and Anthony DiMaggio, the collection illuminates the production, distribution, and consumption of rightwing media in the US and the UK and explores how they shape the views of their growing legions of devoted followers.

From Oxford University Press.


Down Girl: The Logic Of Misogyny, Kate Manne

Down Girl provides readers with a comfortable space to check their privilege and deconstruct patriarchy. Manne provides concrete examples and relatable language to explore patriarchy. The text is accessible and leaves readers with a more nuanced understanding of the vocabulary necessary to deconstruct patriarchy while presenting deep questions for self-reflection.

From Oxford University Press.


As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Simpson draws together insights from Nishinaabeg creation stories and Idle No More—a Canadian-based movement known for resisting environmental degradation and championing indigenous sovereignty—to produce an original perspective on what she describes as “generative resistance” to capitalism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy. The book couldn’t be more timely for US readers, as American society begins to reckon with the brutal legacy of colonialism. One of the book’s best chapters, “Constellations of Coresistance,” addresses the limitations of online organizing as a means of radical social change. Simpson notes that, although many of us have been lured by the promise of becoming content providers, the Internet offers us “no ability to structurally intervene.” This chapter—like all of Simpson’s book—offers bracing insights and hard-earned wisdom that are equally challenging and inspiring.

Published by University of Minnesota Press.

How to Be an Antiracist, lbram X. Kendi

Kendi’s memoir on his experiences with structural racism. He interweaves personal narratives with historical accounts of American racism rooted in inequitable public policies in order to elaborate different manifestations of racism. His central argument is that not being racist is not enough. He demands that we must actively choose to be “antiracist” and work to undo histories of racist polices. Kendo’s work is a prophetic call for the kind of activism that we are now seeing in the George Floyd / Black Lives Matter protests that have engaged people from different cultural backgrounds, most especially young white anti-racist activists.

Published by One World.


In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU,  Samuel Walker

The original and still the most comprehensive history of the first 70 years of the American Civil Liberties Union. In it, Walker traces the ACLU’s rise from a small project started by World War I contentious objectors in 1920 to its current status as the largest, most comprehensive civil rights organization in the country. The book details the ACLU’s many groundbreaking victories (the Scopes Monkey trial, Roe v. Wade, its voting rights work in the South, its defense of government whistleblowers,  its representation of Vietnam-era anti-war protestors), its abject defeats (its loss in the Korematsu case, opposing Japanese internment during World War II) and its occasional disastrous mistakes and missteps (its expulsion of Communist members and support for loyalty oaths during the Red Scare of 1940s and 50s, its misguided crusade against campaign finance laws). At a time when many of the rights the ACLU spent decades fighting for are under assault, this book provides invaluable insight into the battles we are still fighting for free expression, free association, privacy, due process and government transparency.

Published by Southern Illinois University Press.


Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties, Tom O’Neill

Journalist Tom O’Neill offers a concise account of his 20 years of research on the context that surrounded the Manson family’s crimes and their subsequent trials. O’Neill’s narrative combines reporting and history while admitting that there are some areas where he simply found smoke, but no fire. It is an example of how researchers can be comfortable going where the evidence takes them, regardless of how controversial it may seem, while avoiding baseless conspiracism.

From Little, Brown and Company.



The Anatomy of Fake News: A Critical Literacy Education, Nolan Higdon

The Anatomy of Fake News by Nolan HIgdonSince the 2016 US presidential election, concerns about fake news have fostered calls for government regulation and industry intervention to mitigate the influence of false content. These proposals are hindered by a lack of consensus concerning the definition of fake news or its origins. Media scholar Nolan Higdon contends that expanded access to critical media literacy education, grounded in a comprehensive history of fake news, is a more promising solution. The Anatomy of Fake News offers the first historical examination of fake news for the purpose of creating effective critical news literacy. This much-needed resource provides a rich history and a promising set of pedagogical strategies for mitigating the pernicious influence of fake news.

Published by University of California Press; available directly from Project Censored.



United States of Distraction: Media Manipulation in Post-Truth America (And What We Can Do About It), Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff

United States of DistractionA powerful critique of how manipulation of media gives rise to disinformation, intolerance, and divisiveness—and how we can fight back. It’s no secret that the goal of corporate-owned media is to increase the profits of the few, not to empower the many. As a result, people are increasingly immersed in an information system structured to reinforce their social biases and market to their buying preferences. Journalism’s essential role has been drastically compromised, and Donald Trump’s repeated claims of “fake news” and framing of the media as “an enemy of the people” have made an already bad scenario worse. Written in the spirit of resistance and hope, United States of Distraction offers a clear, concise appraisal of our current situation, and presents readers with action items for how to improve it.

Published by City Lights Publishers; available directly from Project Censored.



Censored 2020: Through the Looking Glass, Andy Lee Roth and Mickey Huff, editors

Corporate news can make us dizzy and disoriented even as we’re seeking balance and clarity. The magic mirrors of clickbait-driven reporting, pundits’ relentless “hot takes,” and social media feeds driven by secret algorithms leave us with distorted or even inverted representations of reality. Censored 2020 scrutinizes the looking-glass logic of the corporate media—where imaginary threats outweigh real existential crises, privacy is a luxury, and consent must be manufactured at all costs—and it celebrates the work of independent journalists and news organizations who courageously refocus our vision on the type of news we need in order to act as engaged community members and informed citizens.

Published by Seven Stories Press; available directly from Project Censored.