DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH? NEVER!
It was in the dewy palm of a troubled summer that Foreword’s editorial staff first looked ahead to this issue—the first summer of a presidency that, rightfully, left many in a state of constant concern, including book people, whose whole lives are dedicated to the exaltation of free and imaginative speech. Such speech suddenly felt threatened. As often makes sense when you’re looking toward an uncertain future, we thought that we should devote some space in this issue to looking back.
Fifty years back, to be exact—to 1968, another tumultuous year rent by political upheaval, cries for change, acts of resistance, and, in some dismaying cases, the violent repression of speech. It was the year we lost Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, a year of riots, a time of fear—but also a time of great hope, as protestors and countercultural activists pushed for something better.
You’ll find much of that uncertainty and determination covered in the riveting titles of our 1968 feature; their topics range from the presidential race to commune-living, and they remind us throughout of human beings’ consummate ability—if often only articulated in the acts of a brave few—to resist.
Have we lost some of that fervor? There are valid concerns; the news is no happier now than it was a year ago. But each time we turn to books—especially independent books, where the most ferocious and homogeneity-resistant voices reside—we see plentiful evidence of enthusiastic resistance.
Despite it all, people are still finding ways to speak out, create, and effect change. We see it in the stories of our memoir feature, in which retirees return to their early dreams, in which changemakers reflect on their complex pasts, in which people overcome the seemingly impossible. We see it in the pages of our featured mysteries and thrillers, where writers push their characters, with ingenuity and grit, past incredible obstacles. We see it in our children’s books, which focus on science, technology, engineering, and math—self-consciously igniting curiosity and encouraging problem-solving for next generations.
I’ve found myself doing a lot of escapist reading this year, sliding into science fiction titles, or tales of the fantastic, that push right past our present distress to resuscitate what’s best about the human spirit. That’s valid, too, and there are plenty of titles here worth resting in. We sometimes need the rest. Through stories of Comic-con sleuthing, through navigations of complicated youths, into recollections of bygone days—every page is a panacea of some sort.
In the face of small-mindedness and increasing restrictions, every book is an act of resistance. We are so proud to recommend these hundred-plus options.