Cover Image: The Ones We've Been Waiting For

The Ones We've Been Waiting For

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Member Reviews

Alter’s important new book is sadly infuriating: both outstanding and incredibly annoying (ergo, my 3-star rating).

OUTSTANDING: The literary “new journalism” anecdotal, fictional-esque style of her stories of “The Ones” (19 members of the “new generation of leaders [who] will transform America”) is engaging and humanizing. And each is indeed a story of great and admirable achievement.

ANNOYING: (1) The pages and pages and pages of turgid political/psychological/sociological background from the historical record (most of it already published, including by Alter) that interrupt the stories of these 19 interesting individuals. (2) Rather than devote a chapter to the story of each leader, Alter blurbs each one only those chapters whose over-arching theme the individual fit, so we only read about some of them in each chapter. Because only two of the 19 are widely known (“AOC” and “Mayor Pete”), it’s therefore especially difficult to remember who is who, particularly after the reader has spent so much time slogging through so much sterile data before again arriving at each chapter’s few compelling related bio blurbs that personalize that particular chapter.

Although I’m a person who normally reads every. single. word, after the “Harry Potter” chapter (#2), I high-speed skimmed each chapter’s “background” data, from which Alter makes and/or cites wild generalizations—including that all members of a particular generational cohort spanning nearly 20 years nevertheless tend to share the same values and beliefs. Similarly, although the stories of the 19 are indeed inspirational and commendable (and a highly worthy read), it’s not possible to generalize from this minute specifically selected “case study” sample to an entire “new generation of leaders.”

Nevertheless, I did appreciate getting to know these 19 fascinating successful young leaders through Alter’s lyrical story-telling. A more linear style—with more about these individuals as individuals and less of the data dumps into which short segmented aspects of the lives of The Ones were interspersed—might have been a better approach.

My thanks to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP/Viking for providing a free Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Loved this book! Such a great look at the future of America’s democracy. I can’t wait to start recommending this to my patrons!
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