Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr): Vroom! by Barbara McClintock

The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars

Meghan Daum is hardly the first writer to quibble with practices like so-called purity policing and virtue signaling. But liberals of good faith should take note: Daum is working from within. As she writes in The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars, "I felt an obligation to hold the left to account because, for all my frustrations with it, I was still of it."

Daum uses both personal experiences and of-the-moment news items to seed the eight essay-like chapters that make up her carefully reasoned book. Several stories play out on ideological-tinderbox college campuses. Among them is Washington's Evergreen State, where Bret Weinstein, a self-described progressive, was a biology professor until 2017. He resigned after his safety was threatened by student activists calling him a "white supremacist" for challenging the school's decision to ask white students and staffers to stay off campus during an anti-racism event. Daum writes of such goings on, " 'Social justice warriors' emerged on the scene with a self-proclaimed utopian vision that sometimes sounded a lot like authoritarianism."

The author of four previous books and the editor of the bestselling Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, Daum has a penchant not so much for going against the grain as for taking a magnifying glass to its fibers. She's releasing The Problem with Everything with some trepidation; in her introduction, she admits, "I've never been more afraid of writing a book." Open-minded readers may well find themselves grateful that she did. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer