The intricate non-fiction novel Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas follows three families—one African-American, one WASP, one Irish—through the upheaval of the Boston busing crisis. It’s a masterful look at ordinary people overtaken by historic events. With chapter length asides on the mayor, a Globe editor and other Beantown players, Common Ground is like The Wire in book form. When it was published in the mid 1980s, Common Ground won a basket of awards, including the Pulitzer, and it was made into a miniseries. As memories of the crisis fade, and fewer readers have an appetite for 600+ pages of dense reporting, the book’s celebrity hasn’t held up. But during our dark age of reporting it’s a pleasure to crack open Common Ground at any page and see how it’s done.
Bio: Alex Halperin is an editor at Guernica. Read his last recommendation “here”:https://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1395/rec_room_alex_halperin_the_mag/.