The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Political Polarization During a Pandemic Will Be Deadly: Jay Van Bavel for The Washington Post

Jay Van Bavel is a professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University. He speaks frequently about political polarization and ‘the partisan brain,’ exploring why so many people are willing to put party over policy, and oftentimes, even over truth. In his latest for The Washington Post, Van Bavel explains why polarization becomes more dangerous during a pandemic.  

“There are many reasons people might not be heeding experts’ advice [about the coronavirus], from the overconfidence of youth to psychological denial to exposure to misinformation,” writes Jay Van Bavel. “But several polls released over the past few weeks suggest that a partisan divide might be partly to blame.”


Democrats appear to be preparing for the worst, with 68% reporting they’re worried about someone in their family catching the virus, compared to just 40% of Republicans. And while Google searches on the pandemic are on the rise—regardless of political affiliation—the rampant misinformation from outlets such as FOX news, has impacted public response. According to studies, there has been “stark partisan differences on hand washing, social distancing, travel, and other pandemic-related behavior.”


Fortunately, it appears that the deadly reality of COVID-19 will soon puncture the partisan divide. Van Bavel writes, “As the pandemic bears down on America and people start to see their friends and family hospitalized with life-threatening illness, you can expect to see the partisan-colored lenses start to clear up. You’ll likely see Republicans heed the advice of experts and hunker down to protect themselves and their loved ones.”


Read his full article here.


To book speaker Jay Van Bavel for your next virtual keynote session, contact The Lavin Agency today, his exclusive speakers bureau.

Why ‘Cartooning’ Political Opponents is Bad for Us: Jay Van Bavel for the BBC

We tend to reduce our political opponents to caricatures and stereotypes, a practice that is further reinforced by social media. And though it may feel satisfying to call one another out publicly, the effects could be dangerous. Psychology professors Jay Van Bavel and Dominic Packer investigate for the BBC

Political polarization may increase voter turnout, but unfortunately, it also leaves us with two deeply disconnected factions of society. In a new article for the BBC, Lavin speaker Jay Van Bavel joins forces with psychology professor Dominic Packer, to explore the effects of this division. First and foremost, we’re not as different as we think we are. Many people, despite their political affiliation, share common values on issues such as child rearing, healthcare, or civic responsibilities. Unfortunately, the similarities are obscured by polarization. We tend to overestimate the proportion of opponents who hold more extreme and unflattering views.


“People can be reluctant to mix with those they assume to be different from themselves. But without these interactions, we lose the capacity for reality checks and to see the humanity in others,” write the authors. “Democracy is built upon on our ability to vigorously disagree but ultimately find sufficient common ground to forge a consensus. If left and right co-operated, societies might be better placed to address challenges in areas like health care, the climate, education, or terrorism.”


Read the full article here.


To book speaker Jay Van Bavel for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency today, his exclusive speakers bureau.

Acclaimed Artist and Activist Molly Crabapple Interviewed on NPR’s Democracy Now

On the latest Democracy Now, Molly Crabapple sat down with Amy Goodman and Juan González to discuss her time on the campaign trail with Bernie Sanders, the Electoral College system and the Democratic primaries—and how she is using her art and activism to fight for change. 

“I was doing these illustrations from life, packed into these high school gyms, these breweries full of working people, with my sketchbook on my knees, trying to not just capture Bernie, but also capture the massive movement behind him,” says Molly Crabapple. She’s talking about her process creating the art showcased in her recent piece in The Nation magazine, headlined “A Sanders Campaign Sketchbook.” There’s something extra special about the experience, for Crabapple. “It’s hard to explain. But when you’re there and when Bernie or when AOC walks into the room, the energy in those rooms is like nothing that I have ever seen. And I have drawn a lot of political rallies for a lot of people.”


Crabapple also uses the opportunity to dispel a common myth about Sanders: that he doesn’t have support among people of color. “Bernie is the most popular candidate with Latinos in America. And there were six times as many Latinos who caucused for him in Iowa as there were to his rival, Biden,” she explained. And she knows firsthand the kind of support out there: Crabapple organized phone banks with David Galarza Santa and Jasmin Sanchez, where Spanish-speaking Latinos called other Spanish-speaking Latinos in Iowa right before the caucuses, which were met with incredible support.


When asked about Bloomberg—of whom some recordings of racist comments have recently resurfaced—Crabapple pulled no punches. “Mike Bloomberg is a billionaire Republican who purged the city of the working class, who sold it out to foreign oligarchs and who terrorized black and Latino youth,” she told Goodman and Juan González. “That’s Mike Bloomberg’s legacy in New York. And that is not someone who should be anywhere near the presidency.”


To watch the full interview of Molly Crabapple on NPR’s Democracy Now, click here.


To book speaker Molly Crabapple contact The Lavin Agency, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Forbes CCO Randall Lane Organizes the Magazine’s First Under 30 Voter Survey

The Forbes Under 30 Voter Survey, powered by Zogby, polled 1,014 young American voters on the upcoming election—revealing somewhat unexpected results. Chief Content Officer Randall Lane weighs in on the younger generation’s attitude towards the presidential race. 

Though Bernie Sanders remains the obvious favorite for voters aged 18-to-29, he was surprisingly followed by former Vice President Joe Biden in this poll—a candidate whose widely rumored to be lacking support among the younger segment. Forbes’ Chief Content Officer Randall Lane explains, “Millennials and Generation Z are defining the issues that are shaping this year’s presidential contest, but they also appear to back candidates who they think have the most-realistic chance of ousting President Donald Trump in November.”


Rounding out the top five candidates were Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg, both tied for 9%, and Silicon Valley’s Andrew Yang. Notably absent from the leading candidates was Pete Buttigieg. “[T]he former South Bend, Indiana, mayor [and] the youngest candidate, has practically no support among Millennials or Generation Z,”  writes Lane. “He generates just over 3% support among likely Democratic primary voters under 30, which places him in a virtual tie at the absolute bottom, with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and his fellow Millennial, Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard.”


Read more of Lane’s thoughts here.


To book speaker Randall Lane for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, his exclusive speakers bureau.

NYU’s Jay Van Bavel Explores How Tribalism is Increasing Hypocracy in Politics

Hypocrisy in politics is not, by any means, a new concept. But it does seem to be escalating—especially in an Internet age, where every tweet and video clip can be captured and circulated indefinitely. As the 2020 election approaches, NYU’s Associate Professor of Psychology Jay Van Bavel explores how we got here.

“It is pragmatic for politicians to act like hypocrites during periods of hyperpartisanship, since they otherwise might be harassed or expelled from their group for disloyalty,” explains Jay Van Bavel in an article for The Christian Science Monitor. An example of this occurred earlier this year, when Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan was so heavily ostracized by his fellow Republicans for supporting impeachment, that he quit the party and became Independent.


Presenting evidence of a politician’s hypocrisy does little to change behavior, and in fact can be counterproductive. In an effort to reduce cognitive discomfort, people will often “double down on their beliefs or ignore evidence that their behavior is inconsistent with the past,” Van Bavel says.


During his first term in office, Trump has not shied away from being aggressively partisan—a move that got him elected in the first place—maintaining fierce Republican support, while denouncing any potential sway with Democrats or Independents. Van Bavel explains that today, “We are in a vicious cycle of hyperpartisanship that is self-reinforcing.”


Read the full article here.


To book speaker Jay Van Bavel for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency and speak with one of our knowledgeable sales representatives.

When Fear Replaces Trust: John Ibbitson Reflects on the Uncertainty of Iran for The Globe and Mail

In the not-so-distant past, citizens have rallied around their president in moments of terror and distress. The crisis in Iran feels different. Taking place in the shadow of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, the current political moment is inspiring more fear than faith. Globe and Mail alum John Ibbitson considers what might happen next.  

“No one knows what game Mr. Trump is truly playing,” writes John Ibbitson. The President’s questionable character—exemplified by his disparaging tweets, unabashed hostility towards U.S. allies, and his controversial friendships with despots—has shaken the American public, and polarized his Republican base. NAFTA is joining citizens in calling for restraint and de-escalation, but no one knows what could happen next. Is Trump looking for an excuse to go to war? Or will he begin to wind this crisis down, seeing as there are so few American casualties, if any?


Ibbitson writes, “Mr. Trump has fired or forced the resignation of many of the advisers who were respected by those beyond the ideological inner circle of this administration. What are the true motivations of people such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo? What are the military leaders counselling? Is Mr. Trump listening to them?” While early indications—no televised address has yet been made by the President—are good, the future remains shaky.


Read the full article here.


To book speaker John Ibbitson for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency today, and speak with a knowledgeable member of our sales team.

Unfollow Author and Former Westboro Baptist Church Member Megan Phelps-Roper Profiled in The Cut

“I think for some people who leave Westboro, losing that sense of specialness feels like you’ve lost something really valuable and important. I had the opposite experience,” former Westboro Baptist Church member and author of Unfollow Megan Phelps-Roper tells The Cut. “I was so grateful to know that I wasn’t uniquely evil. I was just a human being who had had this set of experiences that were outside of my control.”

Megan Phelps-Roper’s choice to leave the notoriously hateful Westboro Baptist Church, and her subsequent decision to share how dialogue can be used to fight extremism, makes for a fascinating profile of an incredible individual—and an insider’s take on an incendiary organization. In an insightful interview, she explores Westboro’s fixation on pop culture, how her role as their social media representative opened her eyes to the hurt they caused, and why we need to take care of each other as humans, now more than ever.


As always, Phelps-Roper’s ultimate message is one of hope and perseverance in the face of hate. “We lose if we stop having the language to articulate and defend better positions,” she says. “It sucks that anybody has to do this work, but it’s still a necessary part of living in a society, our willingness to think we are our brother’s keeper.”


Even with the success of Unfollow and the positive attention her TED Talk has received—currently it’s at over 8 million views—it’s still a difficult reality that for Phelps-Roper to live a life of compassion and unlearn a lifetime of hate, she had to leave most of her family behind. “It’s obviously really painful to think of the betrayal that they would feel reading [Unfollow]…But I also know that not saying anything doesn’t change anything,” she explains. “That’s kind of where I am now with my family: I have to talk about it or else nothing changes.”


You can read Phelps-Roper’s full interview here.


To book speaker Megan Phelps-Roper contact her exclusive speakers bureau, The Lavin Agency. 

Media Mogul and Religious Scholar Reza Aslan Featured in L.A. Weekly’s ‘People 2019’ Issue

Is there anything Reza Aslan can’t do? The Harvard-educated religious scholar has published numerous books and screenplays, is adapting his New York Times bestseller Zealot into a feature film, and executive produces the new Chuck Lorre comedy on CBS. Combine that with his hilarious podcast with Rainn Wilson, and you have a bona-fide “multi-hyphenate.”

“I am a tenured professor, I host reality and talk shows, I produce and write books and screenplays, and I do political commentary because politics are stories, just like religion is stories,” Reza Aslan says. “But it’s all the same thing—no matter what the platform is—and that is the storytelling.”


Now, as the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of BoomGen Studios, Aslan tells stories by and about the people of the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and North Africa.  “That region is the cradle of myth, religion, and literature,” Aslan says. “The best stories in the world have been born there, so why not mine that resource?”


Read the full profile here.


To book speaker Reza Aslan, contact his exclusive speakers bureau, The Lavin Agency. 

Derek Thompson Reveals How Age Became the Democractic Party’s Most Important Fault Line

Age no longer merely divides Republicans and Democrats. In today’s political tapestry, there exists a third party—the young leftists—who veer sharply away from both platforms. In his latest for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson dives deep into the progressive movement happening throughout the current election. 

Young Americans have gradually been shifting to the left. This trend was first observed with the historic election (and re-election) of President Barack Obama, and continues today, with the rise of progressive 2020 candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. “Compared with the average American, Progressive Activists—‘young, secular, cosmopolitan, and angry’—were more likely to be under 30, college-educated, and white; twice as likely to say they never pray; and three times as likely to say they’re ‘ashamed’ of the country,” explains Derek Thompson, citing a 2018 study.


Motivated by social justice, skeptical of capitalism, and unconvinced of the American Dream,  progressives differ significantly with most Americans over 40, many of whom—while supporting some measure of social justice— have a “deep aversion to anything that can be characterized as ‘political correctness’ or ‘socialism.’” So where does this leave the young party? Considering that in 2016, voters over 40 accounted for nearly three-fifths of all primary voters, Thompson writes: “It is impossible to win a national election by running a campaign of generational warfare that runs counter to, or directly indicts, a majority of the electorate. One way or another, America’s third party will have to grow up.”


Read the full article here.


To book Derek Thompson for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, and speak with a skilled representative.


Bridging the Divide: The Top 10 Political Speakers Standing Up for Democracy

Ever since the 2016 election, American politics have seemed more like a circus than a system of government. Lavin’s top ten political speakers are some of the brightest, sharpest minds fighting anti-democractic forces and standing up for the values of free society.  

Garrett M. Graff: Garret Graff has unique insight into America’s ever-shifting political landscape. An award-winning journalist, he’s spent over a decade covering the happenings in Washington D.C., including Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation into Donald Trump. Graff—a distinguished historian and political speaker—has also authored several critically acclaimed books, his most recent being a chilling account of the terrorist attacks on 9/11.  


How the Cold War Invented the Internet | Garret M. Graff


Marc Busch: Trade wards have dominated the headlines since Donald Trump took office, and the 2020 election will only continue to stoke the fire. To understand the “epic battle of free trade” happening today, look no further than trade expert and McKinsey consultant, Marc Busch. A sought-after political speaker, Busch helps businesses and industries understand how international trade will affect them—and how they can protect themselves.


Marc Busch at The Common Good


Emily Bazelon: In her latest book Charged, New York Times staff writer Emily Bazelon examines how the American criminal justice system continually fails its citizens. A groundbreaking piece of investigative journalism, Charged confronts the problem of mass incarceration head-on, offering bold solutions for institutional reform. Bazelon—a lecturer at Yale Law School—is a riveting speaker and one of the leading authorities on justice in America.


Restoring Faith in the Justice System | Emily Bazelon


Yascha Mounk: The rise of far-right groups and authoritarian leaders are threatening democracy around the world. In his book The People vs Democracy, Atlantic contributor Yascha Mounk explains how we got to this critical juncture in American history, and what we can do to fix it. His rousing political talks offer practical solutions for everyday citizens looking to do their part in protecting our rights and freedoms.  


How To Save Democracy | Yascha Mounk | TEDxBerlin


Masha Gessen: National Book Award-winning author Masha Gessan examines the Trumpian turn America has taken, and the effect its had on the country’s political system, institutions, and its media. Expanding on the landmark article “Autocracy: Rules for Survival,” Gessen reveals how together we can defend the ideals on which our country is based.

When National Leaders Live in an “Alternative Reality” | Masha Gessen


Julia Ioffe: Russia is once again largely figuring into the American political sphere. To what degree have the country’s threats to US democracy been successful, and how worried should we be? Gifted political speaker and thinker Julia Ioffe—author of the Atlantic cover story “What Putin Really Wants,” and the forthcoming Russia Girl—unpacks the geopolitical drama with piercing clarity.


Starr Forum: The Trump-Putin Phenomenon


George Packer: In his New York Times bestseller The Unwinding, award-winning author George Packer offers a comprehensive look at the institutional collapse, political upheaval, and troubling populism characterizing America today, while his latest book Our Man is a stunning depiction of one of the country’s most complicated political figures: Richard Holbrooke. In gripping talks drawn from his reporting, Packer unravels the shifting, diverse tapestry of the country like no other.  


George Packer


Matt Taibbi: Rolling Stone columnist Matt Taibbi has written four New York Times bestselling books over the course of his career. A compelling writer, his work focuses on the most pressing issues of our time—including the demise of democracy as we know it. In the book Insane Clown President, as well as in his eye-opening political talks, Taibbi shows how we’ve arrived at a moment where spectacle triumphs over substance.  


Matt Taibbi


David Rohde: “I still believe that the heart of journalism must be original, fact-based reporting. And in the Trump era, journalists must operate at our fastest and most accurate and ethical rate ever,” says David Rohde. A two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the head of online news coverage at The New Yorker, Rohde speaks to the polarization and social extremism bankrupting politics today.  


David Rohde - January 17, 2013


Schachi Kurl: As the Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute, Shachi Kurl has a remarkable grasp on what we’re collectively thinking about society’s most pressing issues. Whether it’s opinions on affordable housing, or the public perception of our most complex political figures, Kurl looks at non-partisan polling data to paint an astute picture of the current political moment.  


Opinions on Religion in Canada


To book a Politics & Society speaker for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency and speak with a skilled member on our sales team.


Capitalism, Democracy, and Our Future: Yancey Strickler Speaks to Vanity Fair on Building a More Generous World

When did we come to the conclusion that maximizing shareholder value was the primary goal of all business? Is this belief inherent in capitalism, or did it enter our collective consciousness much later? And what can we do now that it’s clear this assumption is limiting our potential? Yancey Strickler answers these questions and more on Vanity Fair’s Inside the Hive podcast.  

“There was a record-scratch moment where the way everyone thought things should operate just wasn’t working,” explains Yancey Strickler, author of This Could Be Our Future. The U.S. moved away from the gold standard, and a lot of economic reset happened around this moment. “They [were] looking for a new, simpler way. And so the idea of just maximizing for share price, something that’s rational, that’s tradeable, that you can very clearly argue for […] seemed like the obvious thing to do.”


By the early 80s, this mentality was starting to “run America,” says Strickler, citing President Raegan’s policy of deregulation and government geared towards top-level financial growth (with little consideration to how that money would be distributed). Today, we’re still feeling the effects of this economic model—but it doesn’t have to be this way, says Strickler, who outlined a powerful vision for the future in his book. “In the world we live in today, ‘Now Me’ is the only space we see as real. Everything else is emotional, hazy, nebulous,” says Strickler. His philosophy provides a way for us to consider value for our future and collective selves, in addition to our present-day selves.


Listen to the full episode here.


To book speaker Yancey Strickler for your next speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency and speak with a representative.

The AI Disruption: Martin Ford Explores Andrew Yang’s Surprising Campaign and Why it Matters

In a new op-ed, Martin Ford—acclaimed author of two books on the impact of AI on the labour market—explains why AI-driven automation should be a top-of-mind issue in the upcoming election, and why Andrew Yang is the only candidate willing to speak out about it. 

“The Democratic Party’s agenda increasingly is being shaped by the ‘Social Justice Left.’ If you count yourself among this movement, you should know that AI-driven automation is not a fringe issue, nor can it be dismissed as a ‘tech bro’ concern. Rather, it is poised to amplify the types of inequality that you care most about,” writes Martin Ford, bestselling author of Rise of the Robots, in a new op-ed for The Hill. He cites a recent McKinsey study which found that automation will disproportionately impact African Americans, likely worsening the racial income and wealth gaps. “The fact is that virtually everything Democrats care about—inequality, health care, poverty, the environment, education, the prosperity of the middle class—will be deeply influenced by relentless advances in artificial intelligence.”


In Ford’s view, Yang is the only candidate willing to speak honestly about this forthcoming issue. With no previous political experience or big-name recognition, Yang’s candidacy was initially given little attention. Yet his platform has ballooned rapidly, advancing beyond many seasoned governors and senators in terms of fundraising, polling, and qualifying for the debates. Yang’s concern for the future is resonating with voters, regardless of how seriously the media has taken his campaign, and “his warnings about the impact of AI and automation should be taken seriously.”


Read Ford’s full article here.


To book speaker Martin Ford for your next speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency and speak with a skilled sales agent.

Ashton Applewhite Talks Ageism with Katie Couric on Next Question

What if discrimination on the basis of age were just as unacceptable as other kinds of prejudice? Why is society’s view of aging so grim when the lived reality is so different? Author and anti-ageism activist Ashton Applewhite connected with Katie Couric on her podcast, Next Question, to discuss.

Together, they tackle tough questions about ageism, sexism, and how they interact. Applewhite, a TED mainstage speaker is a leading voice in an emerging movement dedicated to dismantling ageism and making age a part of diversity. Her funny, straight-talking approach is in full force in conversation with Couric, the former news anchor and 60 Minutes correspondent.


There are so many untapped possibilities of later life—in our communities, at work, and in ourselves, and Applewhite is a champion for the need for greater age-based diversity in our institutions. Her book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, was also named on of Forbes’ list of “10 Books To Help You Foster a More Diverse and Inclusive Workplace”. Her manifesto against ageism and in favor of age pride is so popular that Macmillan launched its new imprint with it in 2019.

Applewhite was named a member of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ “100” list. She was also recognized on the PBS site Next Avenue’s annual list of 50 Influencers in Aging as their Influencer of the Year. She has been acknowledged by the New Yorker and NPR, and has written for Harper’s, The New York Times, FastCompany and The Guardian. Applewhite speaks widely, at venues that have ranged from universities and community centers to the Library of Congress and the United Nations.


To book speaker Ashton Applewhite, contact her exclusive speakers bureau, The Lavin Agency.

Wanuri Kahiu’s Groundbreaking Film RAFIKI to Screen in Kenyan High Court

Wanuri Kahiu’s award-winning feature film, RAFIKI, will be screened in Kenyan High Court—one of the first films ever to do so—as part of a landmark case for the nation. 

Acclaimed writer, director and artist Kahiu is the co-founder of AFROBUBBLEGUM, a media company that creates “fun, fierce and frivolous African art.” Her second feature film, RAFIKI, was selected for the 2018 Cannes Film Festival (and was the first Kenyan film ever to screen there), where it was met with acclaim—but was banned in her own country.


RAFIKI follows the story of a growing romance between two young women, Kena and Ziki, amidst political and family pressures around LGBT rights in Kenya. It was banned “due to its homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law”.


Now, it’s being screened in the Kenyan High Court as part of a landmark case, allowing court to decide if there has been a breach of constitutional rights in its ban. “Our wish is that RAFIKI helps towards upholding the articles in our Bill of Rights as enshrined in our constitution,” Kahiu tweeted.


While this is happening, Kahiu is still busy with some amazing new projects—like teaming up with Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown to adapt and direct the celebrated YA novel The Thing About Jellyfish as a feature film, to be produced by Reese Witherspoon. And if that weren’t enough, acclaimed Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor and Kahiu are co-writing the upcoming series adaptation of sci-fi legend Olivia Butler’s Wild Seed, set to star Academy Award-winner Viola Davis.


To book speaker Wanuri Kahiu, contact The Lavin Agency today.

Author Andrew Marantz Interviewed in Fast Company on His New Book, Antisocial

Journalist and author Andrew Marantz spent four years with the internet’s most “dodgy characters”—trolls, conspiracy theorists, alt-right bloggers and the like—and his new book Antisocial exposes the underbelly of social media. In an interview with Fast Company, Marantz explores the dangers of both disinformation and deplatforming, and the relationship between the gatekeepers and gatecrashers of social media. 

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“I don’t think social media is like tobacco in the sense that it has no social value, but I think that it doesn’t have 100% pro-social value. It also has antisocial components to it.”

— Andrew Marantz in Fast Company

The effects of the increasingly toxic—and increasingly powerful—world of social media platforms like Youtube and Twitter are rippling into the real world more and more. But do the people spreading false information, alt-right propaganda and hateful memes really believe the bile they’re spewing? Marantz thinks there’s a spectrum. “Some people don’t believe anything and they’re just nihilists or opportunists or just trying to make a buck or trying to get some attention…I think other people are true, dedicated ideologues,” he tells Fast Company. “They feel like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, and they feel like the scales have fallen from their eyes and that the truth has been revealed to them. That’s a really powerful feeling. Even when you are feeling it erroneously, it can still motivate you really strongly, so strongly that you mess up your whole life because of it.”


The reality of our 24-hour news cycle and the fact that anyone can say whatever they want online without being subjected to fact-checks or even consequences for lying is leading to essentially weaponized confusion. “A lot of times when people are sowing misinformation, their goal is not to get everyone to believe every piece of misinformation but rather to create muddle and confusion and exhaustion so that nobody believes anything, Marantz explains.


It’s only been out for a day, but already Antisocial is making an impact. Aside from Fast Company Marantz has also been featured in the New York Times. Marantz, a staff writer for the New Yorker has also written for Harper’s and Mother Jones, and been interviewed on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR.


To book speaker Andrew Marantz, contact his exclusive speakers bureau, The Lavin Agency.

Is Outrage Hijacking Our Culture? NYU’s Jay Van Bavel Explains Why Some Content Goes Viral for NPR

In his latest paper, Professor of Psychology Jay Van Bavel explores why moral, emotional content tends to capture our attention more than other kinds of content. He expands on this study for the latest episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain.  

In his study of thousands upon thousands of tweets, Jay Van Bavel found that there’s an easy way to dramatically increase likes and retweets: “For every moral, emotional word that people use in a tweet, we found that it increased the rate of retweeting from other people who saw it by 15-20 percent.”


The list of words that could be defined as either moral, emotional, or both ranged from curses, to words like “war,” “hate,” “greed,” and “punish.” These words tend to generate outrage, cause messages to spread, and in turn, create even more outage. “Twitter is weird because there’s a level of outrage, then you have people who are outraged by the outrage, because it’s the wrong type of outrage. Then you have people who are outraged by that outrage. And then you have another group of people who are outraged that you’re not outraged enough.”


The different levels and types of outrage co-exist simultaneously, and, says Van Bavel “it cycles through issue after issue on a twenty-four hour basis.”


To listen to the full episode, click here.


To book speaker Jay Van Bavel for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, his exclusive speakers bureau.

How the Alt-Right Exploited a Democratic and Free Internet: The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz Explains

Andrew Marantz’ first book Antisocial has been described as a “searching study of the right-wing gate-crashers who have overwhelmed social media in the Trump Era” (Kirkus Reviews). In a new interview with Longform podcast, Marantz reveals what inspired him to write the book, and why he doesn’t shy away from the tough questions. 

In Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation, Andrew Marantz reveals how the boundaries between technology, media, and politics have been eradicated. Ideas once relegated to the fringe of society have now become mainstream—even presidentially endorsed—thanks to a modern-day communications crisis unleashed by online radicalization, reckless social media, and the exploitation of the Internet.


“[Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey] wanted to make money, they wanted to make people addicted to their products, just like any good business person would want to do. There were no checks on them, in a way that if you were making another addictive product like opioids or cigarettes, there would be,” Marantz explains. “Facebook is 2.3 billion people now. By the time you come in ex post facto and try to make rules, it’s a little bit too late.”


Listen to the full conversation, here.


To book speaker Andrew Marantz for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today and speak with a representative.

James Robinson, the Co-Author of Why Nations Fail, Returns with a New Book on the Pursuit of Liberty

Economist James Robinson published the acclaimed Why Nations Fail—an investigation of power, prosperity, and poverty—in collaboration with Daron Acemoglu. Now, the two come together once again for The Narrow Corridor, a book examining the “state, society and the fate of liberty.” 

“Everywhere people are interested in liberty,” James Robinson says, discussing his just-released book The Narrow Corridor. “But they also understand that there are disadvantages to living in a society without states, without hierarchy: it’s hard to cooperate, to provide public goods, to get order.”


So how do we create a centralized authority without cascading out of control? On the one hand there’s China’s example of a state dominating society, Robinson explains, while the other extreme is a country like Yemen or Lebanon, where the society dominates the state.


“In the book, we call the first of those a ‘despotic leviathan,’ and the second an ‘absent leviathan.’ And then in between, you can get this balance, what we call the ‘shackled leviathan,’ which is critical to the emergence of liberal democracy. This is the ‘narrow corridor’ of the book’s title.”

To read more of Robinson’s discussion on the new book, click here.


To book speaker James Robinson for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, his exclusive speakers bureau.

Nikole Hannah-Jones’ ‘1619’ Podcast Launches Its First Episode for The New York Times

Four hundred years ago, in August of 1619, a ship carrying enslaved Africans arrived in the American state of Virginia, then a British colony. That fateful trip altered the country, it’s identity, and its history in unimaginable ways. Nikole Hannah-Jones explores the shadow cast by that crucial moment in her new audio series ‘1619.’

Titled “The Fight for a True Democracy,”  the first episode of Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 1619 podcast examines the collective trauma and repercussions of slavery, both on the African American population, and the nation as a whole. The series is part of the much larger 1619 project for The New York Times Magazine.


“Without the idealistic, strenuous, and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different—it might not be a democracy at all,” says Hannah-Jones.


You can listen to the full episode here.


To book speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones for your next speaking engagement, contact an experienced sales agent at The Lavin Agency, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Campaign Culture, Politics, and the News Media: Matt Taibbi Launches New Podcast on Rolling Stone

Bestselling author and Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi is the host of ‘Useful Idiots,’ a compelling weekly series focusing on news and politics.  

Useful Idiots is described as “an iconoclastic take on the political podcast.” Rather than jumping on the bandwagon of viral coverage, Matt Taibbi and his co-host Katie Halper will cover the stories that are frequently left out, erased, or skimmed over in traditional media. And because Taibbi will be covering much of the upcoming presidential election for Rolling Stone, the program will feature guests straight from the campaign trail. For instance, Hawaii congresswoman and democractic hopeful Tulsi Gabbard will join Taibbi and Halper for an inaugural interview.


Listen to the podcast’s first episode here.


To book Matt Taibbi for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today and speak with a representative.

Why Trump’s Re-Election Campaign Appeals to Liberals: Stanford Professor Robb Willer Explains

Common wisdom would suggest that Donald Trump’s campaign is targeted towards his most ardent supporters: fellow Republicans. Yet, a new study co-authored by Stanford Sociology Professor Robb Willer and his colleague suggests the opposite is true. Liberals, not conservatives, may be most swayed by the President’s re-election strategy. 

It turns out that a subset of liberals are “most responsive to the implicit―and sometimes explicit―racial appeals of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign,” write Robb Willer and Rachel Wetts in their paper “Who is Called by the Dog Whistle?,” appearing in this month’s Socius (a scholarly journal published by the American Sociological Association). The study examined whether or not subtle racial cues invoking negative stereotypes would be enough to shift the political attitude of participants.


Whereas outwardly racist attacks are more likely to turn off voters, these implicit racial appeals were found to be successful in harnessing resentment and swaying voters. The study found that “white, racially resentful liberals were particularly likely to switch their vote to Trump,” even after having voted for Obama in the previous election.


You can read more about the study here.


Interested in learning more about Politics & Society? You can visit our dedicated topics page, or contact a sales agent at The Lavin Agency for more information.

Our Man”: George Packer Chronicles the Life and Career of American Diplomat Richard Holbrooke

In his latest book, award-winning journalist George Packer tells the story of controversial American diplomat Richard Holbrooke. Our Man paints a dazzling portrait of a policy giant who was brilliant, self-absorbed, and willing to do anything to fulfill his political ambition. Recently, Packer joined Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffery for an enlightening conversation about the longstanding diplomat. 

In Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and The End of the American Century, George Packer draws from Richard Holbrooke’s diaries and papers to construct an intimate narrative of a man who was both admired and detested. Though his “sharp elbows and tireless self-promotion” ensured he never reached his coveted seat as Secretary of State, Holbrooke remains a striking figure in American history.


Our Man has been dubbed one of the “most fascinating dissections of US power” by The Guardian, and feels especially timely as the current administration continues its reckless leadership, alienating allies overseas. While Holbrooke was known for his outsize ego, he also “came to define a type of American Power abroad that is now in short supply”; and that stands in stark contrast to Donald Trump.


Packer sat down with Clara Jeffery for a conversation on the book, taking place at San Francisco’s City Arts and Lectures. You can listen to their full conversation here.


To book speaker George Packer for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency to speak with a sales representative.

Is the European Left in Trouble? Lavin Speaker Yascha Mounk Explores for The Atlantic

A few short years ago, the radical left was poised for a European take-over; today, the once-shining leftist leaders have barely made a mark on the government. Yascha Mounk considers why the resurgent movement never took off for The Atlantic

The European Left has been traditionally controlled by moderate social democrats. Though the far left has always had a minor presence in European parliament, it had no real power until the Great Recession withered the public’s faith in the old system. “The first sign of the new era came in January 2015 when Syriza, a party forged from a potpourri of leftist splinter groups, won national elections at the height of Greece’s devastating currency crisis. The party’s young leader, Alexis Tsipras, became the first far-left politician in decades to head a western European government,” writes Yascha Mounk in his Atlantic article “The Rapid Fall of The Left.”


Tsipras’ win was one of many small radical leftist victories in Europe, including Jermy Corbyn in Britain and Jean-Luc Melenchon in France. Many predicted that a democratic wave would take over the continent, but, as Mounk writes, most observers failed to recognize that these victories constituted a “reordering of power within the left, rather than a triumph over the right.”


Sunday’s election in Greecewhere Tsipras was ousted from office after less than four years in powersuggests that the left is in deep crisis. Mounk offers a potential explanation for the turnaround: its appeal was always more negative than positive. In Tsipras’ case, his opposition to the current system was what fuelled his platform and garnered him support. “So long as Tsipras remained in opposition, his incoherence mattered less than the apparent authenticity of his anger. But once he came to power, his inability to deliver alienated Greeks on all ends of the political spectrum.”


The economic crisis offered a rare opportunity for the far left to gain political ground with angry voters who were turning their backs on the establishment. Unfortunately, they were unable to nurture the momentum into full-fledged and long-lasting support. As the U.S. 2020 election draws near, Mounk urges American leftists to take note of the European Left’s fall from grace if they don’t wish to suffer the same fate.


To book Yascha Mounk for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau.

Political Debate or Political Circus? Lavin Speaker Matt Taibbi Explores the Media’s Influence on the Democratic Debates

As the democratic debates kick off, Contributing Editor at Rolling Stone Matt Taibbi joins broadcast journalist Warren Olney on KCRW to discuss how the rise of social media has dramatically altered America’s political landscape.  

The democratic debates take part in two two-hour sessions, each featuring ten candidates and five moderators. Each candidate has no more than a handful of minutes to essentialize their political platform to its most crucial, bite-size points. While it may be a time-honored tradition, it isn’t much of a debate, argues Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone. This will be the 5th presidential campaign he’s covered for the magazine. Instead, Taibbi refers to the debates as more of an advertising segment than anything else, where candidates toss out of a few campaign “slogans” and hope to be crowned the winner by the media.


Though they are based on very little information, these media pronouncements of the “winners” and “losers” paint a picture of who are the most viable, qualified, or presidential candidates, and effects voter judgement moving forward. In fact, Taibbi notes, the press feels like it has a responsibility to paint this picture and educate voters. However, as we saw in 2016, times are changing: voters are pushing back against these manipulative tendencies, often picking non-traditional candidates just to spite the media, who they have come to view as a faction of the ruling elite.


The American public also no longer has to rely on traditional sources for information. “Commercial press hasn’t clued into the fact that in the social media age, they just don’t have the clout that they used to,” Taibbi says. “We’re in a new frontier, and the press hasn’t caught up to that.”


You can listen to the Taibbi’s full conversation with Olney here.  


Interested in Matt Taibbi or another speaker like him? Visit our dedicated Politics & Society speakers page for more information.

The Rise and Fall of Civilizations: Sam Harris Sits down with Jared Diamond for Making Sense Podcast

Public intellectual and international best-selling author Sam Harris is well-versed on issues ranging from moral philosophy and religion, to neuroscience and human reasoning. In the latest episode of his wildly popular Making Sense podcast he interviews inimitable historian Jared Diamond on his new book Upheaval, and the rise and fall of civilizations.

In Upheavalthe third book of his monumental trilogy that started with Guns, Germs and SteelJared Diamond explores how nations recover from crisis by looking at a collection of case studies. From the Soviet Union’s attack on Findland to the transformation of Germany in WWII, Diamond reveals the strategies that have been most successful in the face of collective trauma. Amidst the grave dangers the world currently faces, Upheaval encourages us to learn from past nations.


Diamond joined modern-day philosopher Sam Harris’ on his Making Sense podcast for an insightful conversation touching on political polarization, immigration policy, the biological differences between populations, and the fragility of American democracy as a whole. The full podcast is available here.


To book Jared Diamond for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency today.

Are We Living in 1984? George Packer Revisits Orwell’s Dystopian Novel for The Atlantic

1984George Orwell’s seminal workhas enjoyed a cultural resurgence in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency. Now, award-winning journalist and author George Packer unpacks the novel’s newfound relevance for The Atlantic.

“Orwell never intended his novel to be a prediction, only a warning,” George Packer writes in Doublethink is Stronger than Orwell Imagined, his latest article for The Atlantic. The book, originally published in 1949, envisions a dystopian future in which the world has fallen prey to ruthless totalitarianism, fueled by terror, surveillance, and political propaganda. Though there are startling similarities between the world todaythe haunting phrase “fake news” comes to mindand Orwell’s nightmarish dystopia, we don’t live under a totalitarian regime. “We are living with a new kind of regime that didn’t exist in Orwell’s time,” Packer writes. “Today the problem is too much information from too many sources, with a resulting plague of fragmentation and division—not excessive authority but its disappearance, which leaves ordinary people to work out the facts for themselves, at the mercy of their own prejudices and delusions.”


Packer offers us a new reading of 1984; today, the heart of the issue is not the state, but the individual. It’s not that Trump might abolish democracy, Packer argues, “but that Americans had put him in a position to try.” Regardless of the political ideologies of the day, 1984 will remain fundamental reading because it wrestles with the enduring concept of truth. Does it exist? Who gets to decide what is and isn’t true? According to Packer, the real political war is the one we wage internally.


George Packer is a staff writer for The Atlantic. His recent book, Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century, was released in May 2019.


To book George Packer or another Politics & Society speaker, contact The Lavin Agency for more information.

Emily Bazelon’s Charged: Crucial Book to Understanding Hit Netflix Series When They See Us

Netflix’s new series When They See Us tells the story of the Central Park 5: the five teenagers who were wrongfully imprisoned for the violent rape of a female jogger in 1989. Following its release, The New York Times has chosen Emily Bazelon’s Charged as one of six must-read books to help viewers better contextualize the crime, investigation, and it’s aftermath.

Thirty years ago, five black and latino boys in New York City were falsely convicted of the rape and attempted murder of Trisha Meili, a 28-year-old white woman. Years after DNA evidence exonerated the boys (now men) collectively known as the Central Park 5, director Ava DuVernay revisits the case with her heart-wrenching miniseries When They See Us: a powerful indictment of an unchecked criminal justice system influenced by racial bias. Veteran legal journalist and Lavin speaker Emily Bazelon crafted a similar indictment earlier this year in her bestselling book Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration. Now, The New York Times is recommending Charged as a companion read to the series, offering viewers a key to understanding the many grey areas of the legal systemand how something like the Central Park 5 case could have happened.


In Charged, Bazelon shows readers how having the right prosecutor can change everything. Through the stories of two young defendants navigating the system, interspersed with years of meticulous research, Bazelon makes a compelling argument for excessive prosecutorial powers being responsible for over-incarceration in the United States.


Though she paints a bleak picture of the system in its current state, Bazelon remains hopeful that American prosecution can heal itself through the inclusion of young and diverse prosecutors with their eye on reform. “Prosecutors also hold the key to change,” Bazelon writes. “They can protect against convicting the innocent. They can guard against racial bias. They can curtail mass incarceration.”


Curious to learn more? Visit our dedicted Politics & Society speakers page or contact The Lavin Agency today. 

Emily Bazelon’s New York Times Magazine Cover Story: Elizabeth Warren is Serious About Change—and Presidency.

The 2020 Presidential Race is densely packed with contenders. Journalist and Lavin Speaker Emily Bazelon explores the legitimacy of one of the Democratic Party’s most visible candidatesElizabeth Warrenin her cover story for the New York Times Magazine.

Who can beat Donald Trump in 2020? That is the question on many people’s lips as the election draws nearer. With such a tightly packed race to the democratic primary, it’s anyone’s game. But one candidate’s star is steadily rising: Elizabeth Warren. In her New York Times Magazine cover story “Elizabeth Warren is Completely Serious,” Emily Bazelon chronicles the senator’s political journeyand transformationinto serious presidential contender.


“For her entire career, Warren’s singular focus has been the growing fragility of America’s middle class,” Bazelon writes. “She made the unusual choice as a law professor to concentrate relentlessly on data, and the data that alarms her shows corporate profits creeping up over the last 40 years while employees’ share of the pie shrinks.” In her intruiging and thorough profile, Bazelon expertly illustrates Warren’s platform today: centered on income inequality, corporate power, and corrupt politics.


Emily Bazelon is a staff writer for The New York Times and the author of the recently released Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration.


To book Emily Bazelon for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency today.

Is Nationalism Ever a Force for Good? Jared Diamond Weighs In for Big Think

In today’s political climate, nationalism tends to carry negative connotations. But in the latest video from Big Think, historian, geographer, and bestselling author JARED DIAMOND explores how—much like self-confidence for the individual—nationalism is something that countries should have, in healthy doses.

Nationalism isn’t inherently badit just depends how much you have of it. Jared Diamond sat down with Big Think to discuss what separates a healthy sense of national identity from unhealthy patriotic obsession. He cites Finland as an example of a country with a “healthy nationalism” based on realityspecifically, their unique language. “Nobody else in the world speaks the Finnish language. It's a beautiful, but very difficult language,” Diamond explains. “It's the root of Finnish national identity.” On the other end of the spectrum lies Germany during WW2, a situation in which grandiose pride compelled them to try and conquer the world. Today, Germany has restored what Diamond deems a much healthier national identity focused on the importance of community. 


Is nationalism ever a force for good? | Jared Diamond


Diamond is a Pulitzer Prize Winner and a #1 New York Times bestselling author. His latest book Upheavalthe conclusion to the epic trilogy that began with Guns, Germs, And Steelfocuses on how nations can recover from crises.


To learn more about the latest in Politics & Society, browse our dedicated speakers page

Bill Gates Counts Lavin Speaker Jared Diamond’s Upheaval as One of His Must-Reads of the Summer

Bill Gates is a software mogul, a billionaire philanthropist, and an avid reader—reporting he reads at least one book per week (or 50 titles per year). As a result, he’s emerged as a trusted authority on book recommendations. This year, he’s chosen Lavin Speaker Jared Diamond’s new book Upheaval as a summer must-read.

“I’m a big fan of everything Jared has written, and his latest is no exception,” Gates writes. “The book explores how societies react during moments of crisis. He uses a series of fascinating case studies to show how nations managed existential challenges like civil war, foreign threats, and general malaise. It sounds a bit depressing, but I finished the book even more optimistic about our ability to solve problems than I started.”


My conversation with Jared Diamond


Gates also sat down with the celebrated author and historian to have a longer conversation about how societies have creatively solved their biggest problems. Diamond admits he became “cautiously optimistic” while researching some of the world’s most successful negotiations, and thinking about how to apply those insights to our current problems. “Jared doesn’t go as far as to predict that we’ll successfully address our most serious challenges,” Gates’ notes, “but he shows that there’s a path through crisis and that we can choose to take it.”


For more information or to book speaker Jared Diamond for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

Early Reviews for Ashton Applewhite’s This Chair Rocks: “An Essential Tool for Healthy and Happy Aging.”

Ageism is the last acceptable “ism” says Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks—the powerful anti-ageism manifesto that Publishers Weekly called “a valuable resource, an agent for social change, and an enjoyable read.”   

Booklist calls it “a fierce and funny yet practical and thoughtful manifesto on how such negativity can be combated on individual and societal levels. Offering much food for thought and abundant realistic steps to engender positive change, Applewhite's guide is an essential tool for enjoying healthy and happy aging.”


Applewhite’s TED talk below garnered a standing ovation and has been viewed almost two million times.


Let's end ageism | Ashton Applewhite


To book Ashton Applewhite for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

“Provocative, Exciting, Important.” Team Human, Out Today, is Douglas Rushkoff’s Most Crucial Call to Action.

Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world? Or do you want to make the world a place you don’t have to insulate yourself from? World-renowned media theorist Douglas Rushkoff has written his most important book yet: a crucial rallying cry to resist the technologies, markets and institutions that aim to isolate and repress us, and instead, remake society as a team: Team Human

“We have to stop using tech to optimize human beings for the market, and start optimizing tech for the human future,” says Rushkoff in his popular TED talk based on the book. “The future changed from this thing we create together in the present to something we bet on in some kind of zero-sum, winner-takes-all competition. When things get that competitive about the future, humans are no longer valued for our creativity, now we’re just valued for our data. Because they can use the data to make predictions. Creativity, if anything, just makes noise; makes us harder to predict. So we ended up with a digital landscape that represses creativity, that represses what makes us most human.”


Team Human, called “a provocative, exciting, and important rallying cry to reassert our human spirit of community and teamwork,” by Walter Isaacson, is out today. 


How to be


To book Douglas Rushkoff for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency

In Jared Diamond’s New Book Upheaval, the Pulitzer Prize Winner Explores What Makes Some Nations More Resilient Than Others

Jared Diamond is a Pulitzer Prize winner, a #1 New York Times bestselling author, and one of Foreign Policy’s Top 10 Public Intellectuals. His forthcoming book, Upheaval, is the final installment a trilogy that the Times calls “one of the most significant projects embarked upon by any intellectual of our generation.” In Upheaval he brilliantly answers another of the world’s most pressing questions: what makes some nations resilient in the face of tremendous change—and others not? 

Yuval Noah Harari, bestselling author of Sapiens, calls it “a riveting an illuminating tour of how nations deal with crises—which might hopefully help humanity as a whole deal with our present global crisis.” Diamond’s books, like his keynotes, take audiences on a journey through some of the most profound evolutionary questions of our time, with an urgent, persuasive focus on how we can learn from the past to improve the world today. 


Watch Diamond’s TED talk, viewed over two million times, in which he asks, and answers the question: why do societies collapse?  


Why societies collapse | Jared Diamond


To book Jared Diamond for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau.

Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now is One of the New York Times’ Most Notable Books of 2018

In a follow-up interview with bestselling author and Harvard professor Steven Pinker, he explains (among other things) what gave him the idea for Enlightenment Nowa book about why and how the world is getting better. “It was an epiphany from seeing graphs of human improvement that changed my view of the overall course of history: that progress is a demonstrable fact. It’s not a matter of seeing the glass half full. It’s not a matter of being an optimist. It’s a fact—that very few people know about.”

His below TED talk, based on Enlightenment Now, has been viewed almost three million times:  

Is the world getting better or worse? A look at the numbers | Steven Pinker


To book Steven Pinker for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau.

Amidst Increasing Polarization, Robb Willer Teaches “Moral Reframing”—a Method for Making Your Message Heard

Leading into the 2018 midterms, we’re in the most polarized political climate since the Civil War says Robb Willer, Stanford social psychologist and new Lavin speaker. In timely keynotes and brilliant workshops, Willer explains and teaches a technique called “moral reframing”—a rigorously tested method of persuading people to see and empathize with the other side.

So why exactly do liberals and conservatives tend to talk past one another, instead of to one another? Willer’s must-watch TED talk (viewed over two million times) explains why it happens and how we can fix it. 

How to have better political conversations | Robb Willer


To book Robb Willer for your next speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency.

In His New Book, Celebrated Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah Disarms Identity

The question of who you think you are is inextricably linked to what you think you are. That is, what gender, religion, race, nationality, class, culture. In Kwame Anthony Appiah’s latest book, The Lies That Bind, the celebrated philosopher and bestselling author explores, disarms, and repositions the collective, contradictory identities that are responsible not only for our sense of self, but also for some of history’s worst atrocities.

“We need more thinkers as wise as Appiah … digging their fingers into the soil of our predicament,” says the New York Times. The notion of identity today is more fraught than ever. As a writer and speaker, Appiah is able to soften the social constructs that plague us, and open minds to new ways of thinking.


Award-winning novelist and essayist Zadie Smith says “The Lies That Bind is a small volume of mighty power … Appiah elegantly dismantles the humbug, dogma, pseudo-science and propaganda that have long dogged our attempts to discuss ‘identity,’ and offers in their place a practical and philosophical took-kit … from the illusions of 19th century ideas of biological destiny, to the late-capitalist logic of our contemporary ‘cultural appropriation’ debates, this book will help a lot of people think with far more clarity about some of the thorniest issues of our times. An inspiring and essential read.”  


Read Appiah’s Guardian essay “Can We Choose Our Own Identity,” his New York Times piece, “Go Ahead, Speak for Yourself,” and his recent interview with The Financial Times.  


America is a Nation Divided. Eric Klinenberg’s Palaces for the People Offers a Strong Solution.

America is fractured and Eric Klinenberg, professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University, has written a real, actionable fix. Palaces for the People (out Sept. 11, 2018) is a brilliant, fascinating, and uplifting argument for the importance of shared spaces—libraries, childcare centers, bookstores, parks, churches, synagogues—to the future of American democracy.  

In its starred review, Booklist calls Palaces for the People “an engrossing, hopeful read, nothing less than a new lens through which to view the world and its current conflicts.” Jon Stewart calls it “a comprehensive, entertaining, and compelling argument for how rebuilding social infrastructure can help heal divisions in our society and move us forward.” Read an excerpt in The New Yorker.


And check out Klinenberg’s inpiring talk below about the sociology of connection.


Eric Klinenberg:


To book Eric Klinenberg for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency > > >

Want to Do Something Meaningful But Don’t Know Where to Start? Read Molly Crabapple’s Guide to Making a Difference.

Molly Crabapple is one of the most determined and gifted political voices of our time. Her illustrations and writing on the Occupy Wall Street movement, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and the Syrian War make human and visceral what can often seem distant and abstract. She spoke to Huck Magazine about what we can all do to enact real change.  

1. “Be yourself, with as much rigor, pragmatism and passion as you can,” says Crabapple. In other words, having the confidence and conviction to create your own path is the first step to dismantling the system.


2. Principals are always more important than money. “I tend not to work for people I truly loathe,” she says. 


3. Don’t beat yourself up: “The world is filled with injustice, and no one can be aware of everything all the time. Pick an area that personally affects or appalls you … focusing is one of the better ways to avoid burnout.”


4. Resistance is everything: “Authoritarians everywhere are on the ascent. This is not some sort of dress rehearsal; we are fighting for our lives, whether or not we admit it.”   


Crabapple’s latest book, Brothers of the Gun, is a bracing and powerful collaboration with a Syrian journalist about growing up in a warzone. 


To book Molly Crabapple, or another artist or political speaker, contact The Lavin Agency today.  

Our Towns: Deborah & James Fallows Take Us On a Tour of Small-Town America’s Surprising Economic Renewal and Growth

“We began this project with one purpose in mind: we wanted to take a fresh look at the country, its disappointments and its possibilities.” In James and Deborah Fallows bestselling new book Our Towns, two seasoned journalists go on a remarkable exploration of America’s “flyover country,” creating a surprising, necessary, portrait of the civic and economic reinvention taking place across America.  

Our Towns: A Journey into the Heart of America


The results, which they share in their colorful and illuminating talks, provide a much-needed view of America’s neglected towns (and townspeople), accomplishing exactly what the authors  intended—and then some. “Our Towns will become a classic, joining the ranks of American odysseys from De Tocqueville to Dos Passos. The landscape unfurls beneath us; the language of different regions echoes in our ears. Most important, this book is a tonic for what ails us as a nation, a captivating story of energy and renewal across the land” says Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America, and former Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department.


Are you interested in having an Olympic-level speaking duo present at your next event? Deborah and James Fallows offer a truly captivating account of their journey across America. To find out more about booking the Fallows, contact The Lavin Agency today, their exclusive speakers bureau.  

Journalist James Fallows and Author Deborah Fallows Spent Five Years Documenting an America Reinventing Itself

James Fallows has been a national correspondent for The Atlantic for over three decades. Deborah Fallows is a linguist and author. Together, they spent five years travelling the US, compiling a surprising portrait of the civic and economic reinvention taking place across the country. The result is their new book Our Towns, released today. 

Documenting the grassroots changes, generally out of view of the media, Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America has already been praised by Publisher’s Weekly as “an eye-opening, keenly optimistic reminder of the strength of American’s vital center.” Check out James and Deborah Fallows on CBS Sunday Morning, discussing the inception of the book, the process of writing it, and how craft breweries factor into America’s renewal.    


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To book James Fallows or Deborah Fallows, contact The Lavin Agency. href=”http:> >