🎧 Democracy Awakening by Heather Cox Richardson @HC_Richardson @PRHAudio #LoveAudiobooks

Posted October 3, 2023 by Anne - Books of My Heart in Book Review / 12 Comments

Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

🎧 Democracy Awakening by Heather Cox Richardson @HC_Richardson @PRHAudio #LoveAudiobooksDemocracy Awakening by Heather Cox Richardson
Narrator: Heather Cox Richardson
Published by Penguin Audio on September 26, 2023
Genres: Non Fiction
Length: 8 hours, 28 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonAudibleLibro.fmBarnes & NobleApple
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

In the midst of the impeachment crisis of 2019, Heather Cox Richardson launched a daily Facebook essay providing the historical background of the daily torrent of news. The essays soon turned into a newsletter and, spread by word of mouth, its readership ballooned to more than 2 million dedicated readers who rely on its plainspoken and informed take on the present and past in America.

In Democracy Awakening, Richardson crafts a compelling and original narrative, explaining how, over the decades, a small group of wealthy people have made war on American ideals. By weaponizing language and promoting false history they have led us into authoritarianism -- creating a disaffected population and then promising to recreate an imagined past where those people could feel important again. She argues that taking our country back starts by remembering the elements of the nation’s true history that marginalized Americans have always upheld. Their dedication to the principles on which this nation was founded has enabled us to renew and expand our commitment to democracy in the past. Richardson sees this history as a roadmap for the nation’s future.

Richardson’s unique talent is to wrangle our giant, meandering, confusing news feed into a coherent story that singles out what we should pay attention to, what the historical roots and precedents are, and what possible paths lie ahead. Writing in her trademark calm prose, she manages to be both realistic and optimistic about the future of democracy. Richardson’s easy command of history allows her to pivot effortlessly from the Founders to the abolitionists to Reconstruction to Goldwater to Mitch McConnell, highlighting the political legacies of the New Deal, the lingering fears of socialism, the death of the liberal consensus and birth of “movement conservatism.”

There are many books that tell us what has happened over the last five years. Democracy Awakening explains how we got to this perilous point, what our history really tells us about ourselves, and what the future of democracy can be.

I don’t read a lot of nonfiction and reviewing doesn’t seem quite the same as fiction.  Usually, there are characters and plot and dialogue to explore.  So a different way of looking at things is needed.

I chose to read Democracy Awakening because I have been reading the author’s Facebook posts, Letters from an American, for about 4 years.  Her gathering of the daily events in context to the backdrop of history has been very helpful to understand what is happening.   The title here is encouraging.

There are descriptions throughout the book of democratic movements and choices from the beginning of the United States to present day.  She looks at the way the country has interpreted and developed its governing as the world has grown and become more global.

Throughout history, there are those politicians who seem to be only about money, themselves, controlling others, and having the rich business people control everything.  The problem is they are not good at government, often causing recessions and poverty. They don’t want to be good at government; they just want all the money and control.  The greedy bunch normally uses what they can to divide the country based on race, gender or culture to elevate their own group, normally what I call old white men.

On the other hand, there have been many groups who have made efforts to improve the overall health and welfare of the entire population.  They try to make sure all children have food and a basic education to give them the best chance to grow up and be citizens who support themselves.  But they also try to provide a social safety net for the disabled, orphans, and elderly, for example. There are also things like roads, police and fire protection which are more easily done by a community than a single person.

Early years were bringing the vote to the black people and women. Segregation was a big issue. Black people were often mistreated, beaten, jailed, had their things stolen or outright killed. Women were also highly controlled and didn’t have the rights to own property, have custody of their children, have jobs or use birth control until more recently.

Generally, the country doesn’t have the best record. The government made deals with the native Americans and broke them and took their land, destroying their cultures.  The black people were mostly enslaved and had been kidnapped and brought here to be property in those years before the Civil War.  The Japanese were put into camps when World War II started.

Democracy Awakening goes through the changes in government and legislation which happen over the years.  It has been a bit of two steps forward, one backward.  Since 1980 and the Reagan years, things have been rough with more of the wealth moving up through tax cuts, and business subsidies. Since current Republican policies aren’t popular, they have worked to suppress the vote as much as possible, moving towards fascism.

The author does a good job of organizing the facts and relaying what policies and brought the government to democratic state, oligarchic rule and towards fascism.   I hope from the title that she sees hope in the current situation.  It is helpful to have the overall ups and downs in history clearly discussed.  The first thing I do each day is read her Facebook post to find out the current status of things and understand how they fit into our history.


The narration was provided by the author.  I always appreciate that because the author knows what they mean and where any emphasis should be.  I’m used to listening to some of her Facebook Live or podcasts so her voice was already familiar to me. I listened at 1.3x speed which is a bit slower than usual, to grasp all the concepts.

Listen to a clip:   HERE

About Heather Cox Richardson

I’m an American historian who lives with a lobsterman on the coast of Maine.


Anne - Books of My Heart
Follow me
Please follow and like us:
Follow by Email
Visit Us
Follow Me

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 23-COYER

Posted October 3, 2023 by Anne - Books of My Heart in Book Review / 12 Comments

12 responses to “🎧 Democracy Awakening by Heather Cox Richardson

  1. I’ve had this on my list to check out but I’ve been a little a hesitant because I read her book Wounded Knee and it was a little dry and repetitive. I do think I need to read this one! Great review, Anne!

    Angela @ Simply Angela recently posted: The Hunting Party