Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream

Regular price $ 26.00

by Mychal Denzel Smith

Bold Type Books

9/15/2020, hardcover

SKU: 9781568588735


Brave, clear-eyed, and passionate, Stakes Is High is the book we need to guide us past crisis mode and through an uncertain future.

The events of the past decade have forced us to reckon with who we are and who we want to be. We have been invested in a set of beliefs about our American identity: our exceptionalism, the inevitable rightness of our path, the promise that hard work and determination will carry us to freedom. But in Stakes Is High, Mychal Denzel Smith confronts the shortcomings of these stories -- and with the American Dream itself -- and calls on us to live up to the principles we profess but fail to realize.

In a series of incisive essays, Smith exposes the stark contradictions at the heart of American life, holding all of us, individually and as a nation, to account. We've gotten used to looking away, but the fissures and casual violence of institutional oppression are ever-present.

There is a future that is not as grim as our past. In this profound work, Smith helps us envision it with care, honesty, and imagination.


"Stakes Is High is that rare book written before the pandemic that predicts the American response to the pandemic and also provides a soulful, rigorous way out of the destruction. Mychal Denzel Smith is the rarest of tenacious writers who remind us that the only way into a dignified free future is backwards. And our refusal to go walk back together makes the stakes highest for the most vulnerable children of tomorrow."-- Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir

"Nuanced, intimate, and sharp in its view of America's history and present, Mychal Denzel Smith's Stakes Is High offers a clear-eyed view of this nation's inequities, shortcomings, and self-deceptions. It's a beautifully written , timely and illuminating book."-- Rebecca Traister, author of Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger

About the Author:

Mychal Denzel Smith is the author of the New York Times bestseller Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching (2016) and Stakes Is High (2020). His work has appeared, online and print, in the New York Times, Washington Post, Harper's, Artforum, Oxford American, New Republic, GQ, Complex, Esquire, Playboy, Bleacher Report, the Nation, the Atlantic, Pitchfork, Bookforum, and a number of other publications. He has appeared on the Daily Show, PBS Newshour, Democracy NOW!, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, and more national and local radio/television programs.