Nick Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn: Tightrope (A Union League Club Event)

Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, The Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of the acclaimed, best-selling Half the Sky, join the Union League Club of Chicago's Authors Group for a luncheon, as they discuss their new book, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope.

The event begins with registration and book sales/signing at 11:30 a.m., followed by luncheon and our program at noon. PLEASE NOTE: the ULCC maintains a "business casual" dress code -- i.e., no jeans, denim or athletic wear. 

For tickets, or to order a signed copy of Tightrope. call The Book Stall at 847-446-8880.

This deeply personal story, told through the lives of real Americans, addresses the crisis in working-class America, while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure. With stark poignancy and political dispassion, Tightrope draws us deep into an "other America." The authors tell this story, in part, through the lives of some of the children with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Yamhill, Oregon, an area that prospered for much of the twentieth century but has been devastated in the last few decades as blue-collar jobs disappeared. About one-quarter of the children on Kristof's old school bus died in adulthood from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents. And while these particular stories unfolded in one corner of the country, they are representative of many places the authors write about, ranging from the Dakotas and Oklahoma to New York and Virginia. But here too are stories about resurgence, among them: Annette Dove, who has devoted her life to helping the teenagers of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as they navigate the chaotic reality of growing up poor; Daniel McDowell, of Baltimore, whose tale of opioid addiction and recovery suggests that there are viable ways to solve our nation's drug epidemic. These accounts, illustrated with searing images by Lynsey Addario, the award-winning photographer, provide a picture of working-class families needlessly but profoundly damaged as a result of decades of policy mistakes. With their superb, nuanced reportage, Kristof and WuDunn have given us a book that is both riveting and impossible to ignore.

Praise for Tightrope:

"While [Kristof and WuDunn] cover policy failures of the last half-century, they also affirm that we're no longer dealing in Republican or Democratic issues, but issues of Americans' very survival. . . Highlighting successful small-scale programs, they emphasize that there are potentially nationwide solutions. Both researched and personal, this will be hard for readers to stop thinking about." --Annie Bostrom, Booklist [starred review]

"With compassion and empathy, [the authors] pull readers into the lives of families who have been in a downward spiral for several generations. . . They bring a human face to issues such as drug addiction, incarceration, family dysfunction, and declining prospects for employment. Enlightening for all concerned Americans." --Caren Nichter, Library Journal [starred review]

"While acknowledging the need for personal responsibility--and for aid from private charities--the authors make a forceful case that the penalties for missteps fall unequally on the rich and poor in spheres that include education, health care, employment, and the judicial system; to end the injustices, the government also must act. . . An ardent and timely case for taking a multipronged approach to ending working-class America's long decline." --Kirkus

"Kristof and WuDunn avoid pity while creating empathy for their subjects, and effectively advocate for a 'morality of grace' to which readers should hold policy makers accountable. This essential, clear-eyed account provides worthy solutions to some of America's most complex socioeconomic problems." --Publishers Weekly

"This is an unflinching book that illustrates the central, confounding American paradox -- in a country that purports to root for the underdog, too often we exalt the rich and we punish the poor. With thorough reporting and extraordinary compassion, Kristof and WuDunn tell the stories of those who fall behind in the world's wealthiest country, and find not an efficient first-world safety net created by their government, but a patchwork of community initiatives, perpetually underfunded and run by tired saints. And yet amid all the tragedy and neglect, Kristof and WuDunn conjure a picture of how it could all get better, how it could all work. That's the miracle of Tightrope, and why this is such an indispensable book." --Dave Eggers, author of The Captain and the Glory

"A deft and uniquely credible exploration of rural America, and of other left-behind pockets of our country. One of the most important books I've read on the state of our disunion." --Tara Westover, author of Educated

"A quarter of the chums Nicholas Kristof rode to school with in the 1970s in sundown rural Yamhill, Oregon, are dead, the authors of this riveting book tell us, from drugs, alcohol, obesity, reckless accidents and suicide. In this deeply empathic, important, and timely book the authors conceive of such childhood friends and others like them across rural America as unwitting shock absorbers of cruel trends for which we have yet to acknowledge collective responsibility. Read this book and pass it on!" --Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of Strangers In Their Own Land

Event date: 

Thursday, January 30, 2020 - 11:30am to 1:15pm

Event address: 

The Union League Club
65 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60604
Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780525655084
Availability: On Our Shelves Now--Subject to Availability
Published: Knopf - January 14th, 2020

New York Times Best Seller 

"A deft and uniquely credible exploration of rural America, and of other left-behind pockets of our country. One of the most important books I've read on the state of our disunion."—Tara Westover, author of Educated