Skip to main content
Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Give Us the Ballot

Give Us the Ballot

The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America

Ari Berman

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

BUY THE BOOK

A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, Nonfiction

A New York Times Notable Book of 2015
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2015
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2015
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2015
An NPR Best Book of 2015

Countless books have been written about the civil rights movement, but far less attention has been paid to what happened after the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. Give Us the Ballot tells this story for the first time.

In this groundbreaking narrative history, Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA and the counterrevolution that has sought to limit voting rights, from 1965 to the present day. The act enfranchised millions of Americans and is widely regarded as the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement. And yet, fifty years later, we are still fighting heated battles over race, representation, and political power, with lawmakers devising new strategies to keep minorities out of the voting booth and with the Supreme Court declaring a key part of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.

Berman brings the struggle over voting rights to life through meticulous archival research, in-depth interviews with major figures in the debate, and incisive on-the-ground reporting. In vivid prose, he takes the reader from the demonstrations of the civil rights era to the halls of Congress to the chambers of the Supreme Court. At this important m… More…

A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, Nonfiction

A New York Times Notable Book of 2015
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2015
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2015
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2015
An NPR Best Book of 2015

Countless books have been written about the civil rights movement, but far less attention has been paid to what happened after the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. Give Us the Ballot tells this story for the first time.

In this groundbreaking narrative history, Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA and the counterrevolution that has sought to limit voting rights, from 1965 to the present day. The act enfranchised millions of Americans and is widely regarded as the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement. And yet, fifty years later, we are still fighting heated battles over race, representation, and political power, with lawmakers devising new strategies to keep minorities out of the voting booth and with the Supreme Court declaring a key part of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.

Berman brings the struggle over voting rights to life through meticulous archival research, in-depth interviews with major figures in the debate, and incisive on-the-ground reporting. In vivid prose, he takes the reader from the demonstrations of the civil rights era to the halls of Congress to the chambers of the Supreme Court. At this important moment in history, Give Us the Ballot provides new insight into one of the most vital political and civil rights issues of our time.

Less…

NPR Best Book of the Year, New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year, National Book Critics Circle Award - Nominee, National Book Critics Circle Awards - Nominee, Washington Post Best Books of the Year, Boston Globe Best Books of the Year, Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

1

THE SECOND EMANCIPATION



In December 1964, Lyndon Johnson was in a jubilant mood. He'd just routed Barry Goldwater by twenty-three points, winning 486 electoral votes to Goldwater's 52, the most lopsided victory...

Praise for Give Us the Ballot

“[I]ncisive... This emotional book runs the gamut... Not just a compelling history, but a cry for help in the recurring struggle to gain what is supposed to be an inalienable right.” —Kirkus, starred review

“Expertly taking us from the bloody streets of Selma to the current counterrevolution against the voting rights of black and poor Americans, Ari Berman reminds us that democracy can never be taken for granted, especially at a time when the courts are more than willing to abet efforts to limit the right to vote.” —Eric Foner, author of Gateway to Freedom

“Ari Berman's Give us the Ballot is a must read for anyone who cares about the health of American democracy. Written with a deep respect for history, a keen journalistic sensibility, and a visceral passion for fairness, Berman's book takes us on a swift and critical journey through the last fifty years of voting in America. He begins on the Edmund Pettus bridge with the foot soldiers of Selma and concludes in the rotunda of the North Carolina statehouse with the protestors of Moral Mondays. All the critical figures of American voting rights appear in this book, but Berman allows no one story to dominate the narrative. His book is about the people, the ballot box, and our as yet unrealized ideal of fully free and fair elections. We have not yet arrived at the healthy democracy the 1965 Voting Rights Act promises is possible, but we have not given up hope. The struggle continues.” —Melissa Harris… More…

“[I]ncisive... This emotional book runs the gamut... Not just a compelling history, but a cry for help in the recurring struggle to gain what is supposed to be an inalienable right.” —Kirkus, starred review

“Expertly taking us from the bloody streets of Selma to the current counterrevolution against the voting rights of black and poor Americans, Ari Berman reminds us that democracy can never be taken for granted, especially at a time when the courts are more than willing to abet efforts to limit the right to vote.” —Eric Foner, author of Gateway to Freedom

“Ari Berman's Give us the Ballot is a must read for anyone who cares about the health of American democracy. Written with a deep respect for history, a keen journalistic sensibility, and a visceral passion for fairness, Berman's book takes us on a swift and critical journey through the last fifty years of voting in America. He begins on the Edmund Pettus bridge with the foot soldiers of Selma and concludes in the rotunda of the North Carolina statehouse with the protestors of Moral Mondays. All the critical figures of American voting rights appear in this book, but Berman allows no one story to dominate the narrative. His book is about the people, the ballot box, and our as yet unrealized ideal of fully free and fair elections. We have not yet arrived at the healthy democracy the 1965 Voting Rights Act promises is possible, but we have not given up hope. The struggle continues.” —Melissa Harris-Perry, host of MSNBC's Melissa-Harris Perry Show and Presidential Professor of Politics and International Studies at Wake Forest University

“Ari Berman has written a powerful history of the massive struggle that has taken place since 1965 over the survival of the Voting Rights Act. Berman reveals that from the moment Congress passed the landmark bill, opponents mobilized to dismantle it. The ongoing and sustained assaults on this historic legislation finally started to find success during the 1980s when opponents directed their efforts to the courts. This is a terrific, though troubling, read about the future of American democracy.” —Julian E. Zelizer, author of The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society

“Berman does a superb job of making the history of the right to vote in America not only easily understandable, but riveting...This is the best kind of popular history-literate, passionate, and persuasive, balancing detail with accessibility.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

- Less…

Reviews from Goodreads

Ari Berman

Ari Berman is a contributing writer for The Nation and an investigative journalism fellow at the Nation Institute. His first book, Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, was published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian, and he is a frequent political commentator on MSNBC and NPR.

image of Ari Bermano
Ports Bishop

Ari Berman

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Latest on Facebook

LATEST ON TWITTER