What We Are Reading Today: A Good American Family

Updated 16 July 2019

What We Are Reading Today: A Good American Family

Author: DAVID MARANISS

A Good American Family is biographer David Maraniss’s look at a subject very close to his heart: His father.
“This is an eye-opening book about an American family that was affected by the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s,” said a review in goodreads.com.
The author’s father was accused of being a communist. The book traces the effects of this on the Maraniss family and sets the larger context of the Red Scare, according to the review.
The author “does a great job of bringing the impact on people and families labeled as ‘unamerican’ home to the reader,” the review added.
In a review for The New York Times, critic Kevin Baker said: “For all of Maraniss’s research, a mystery remains at the heart of A Good American Family: Just what were his parents, and especially his father, doing in the Communist Party in the first place? This is a question Maraniss cannot answer, because his parents, for one reason or another — shame? embarrassment? an effort to spare their children? — rarely spoke of it.”


What We Are Reading Today: Conscience by Patricia S. Churchland

Updated 26 August 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Conscience by Patricia S. Churchland

  • Churchland brings together an understanding of the influences of nature and nurture

In her brilliant work Touching a Nerve, Patricia S. Churchland, the distinguished founder of neurophilosophy, drew from scientific research on the brain to understand its philosophical and ethical implications for identity, consciousness, free will, and memory, according to a review published on goodreads.com.

In Conscience, she explores how moral systems arise from our physical selves in combination with environmental demands.

All social groups have ideals for behavior, even though ethics vary among different cultures and among individuals within each culture. In trying to understand why, Churchland brings together an understanding of the influences of nature and nurture. 

She shows how children grow up in society to learn, through repetition and rewards, the norms, values, and behavior that their parents embrace.

Conscience delves into scientific studies, particularly the fascinating work on twins, to deepen our understanding of whether people have a predisposition to embrace specific ethical stands.