Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

America, We Need to Talk

A Self-Help Book for the Nation

by Joel Berg

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The newest book by Joel Berg—internationally recognized leader and media spokesman in the fields of hunger, poverty, food systems, and U.S. politics, and the director of Hunger Free America—America We Need to Talk: A Self-Help Book for the Nation is both a parody of relationship and self-help books and a serious analysis of the nation’s political and economic dysfunction. Explaining that the most serious—and most broken—relationship is the one between us, as Americans, and our nation, the book explains how, no matter who becomes our next president, average Joes can channel their anger with our hobbled system into concrete actions that will fix our democracy, rebuild our middle class, and restore our stature in the world as a beacon of freedom and hope. Starting with the belief that it is irresponsible for Americans to blame the nation’s problems solely on “the politicians” or “the system,” Joel makes a case for how it is the personal responsibility of every resident of this country to fix it. The American people are in a relationship with their government and their society, and, as in all relationships, it is the responsibility of both sides to recognize and repair their problems.

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“It is both important and entertaining. We need both—I’ve never seen the political world so sad, so foolish. So dangerous. This book will certainly help.”

“A timely take-no-prisoners argument for sane and humane policies by the master truth-teller, Joel Berg. Been wondering how we can really make America great again? Read this book.”

“Joel Berg has done it again with another book to challenge policy makers and Americans to think boldly and creatively about how to solve some of the biggest issues facing our nation. Joel won’t rest until we end hunger and poverty once and for all. And, quite frankly, we need more people like him.”

“In AMERCA WE NEED TO TALK: A SELF HELP BOOK FOR THE NATION, Joel Berg combines wit, dogged research, and insight based on decades of on-the-ground experience to drill down deeply on issues vital to all Americans. His call for more civility in our modern public discourse, as well as his proposals for wholesale social change based on centrist policies and mainstream values, deserve particular attention. While we may not concur on all his critiques and solutions, we surely should agree that the issues he raises demand wide-spread consideration and debate.”

“Fearless and compulsively readable, America, We Need to Talk will make you laugh, think and snort coffee through your nose. Joel Berg is that irascible uncle who speaks the unmentionable truth at family dinners. You may squirm, but secretly you’re glad he’s there.”

blog — November 30

We're Donating 10% of Online Proceeds to Hunger Free America

We're very proud to announce that, for the month of December, we are donating 10% of our online proceeds to Hunger Free America. Hunger Free America is a national direct service and advocacy nonprofit group working to enact the policies and programs needed to end domestic hunger and ensure that all Americans have sufficient access to nutritious food.

- Hunger has skyrocketed from 37 million Americans before the pandemic to an estimated 50 million Americans this year including 17 million children (according to Feeding America).

- From March 2020 to July 2020, the total SNAP caseload in 33 states increased from 30.8 million to 35.2 million – a 14 percent jump (according to the new HFA Annual Hunger Report).

- The total amount of SNAP benefits received from March 2020 to July 2020 in 22 states – including California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Ohio – went up from $3 billion to $4.4 billion, which represents a 47% increase (also according to the new HFA Annual Hunger Report.)

- 22.5 percent of food pantries and soup kitchens across the country were forced to turn people away, reduce the amount of food distributed, or limit hours due to a lack of resources in 2020 (also according to the new HFA Annual Hunger Report).

- Food pantries and soup kitchens across the country experienced a nearly 15 percent increase in the number of people served in 2020 (also according to the new HFA Annual Hunger Report). 

Hunger Free America found that 37% of parents nationwide were cutting the size of meals or skipping meals for their children in the spring of 2020 because they did not have enough money for food. That means that the current child hunger rate is more than 2.5x the 2019 rate found by USDA.

New federal data analyzed by Northwestern University also found that overall food insecurity has doubled, and child food insecurity has tripled, during the pandemic.

Since its founding in 1983, Hunger Free America has been an effective champion in the fight for economic, racial, and food justice. As a leading research and advocacy organization, they work to implement innovative yet practical solutions to hunger, working to address the root causes of hunger and engage Americans of all backgrounds in the fight to ensure that our society provides living wage jobs and an adequate government nutrition safety net. By working to end hunger through government policy instead of charity, Hunger Free America offers a powerful lobby for real, substantial improvement to America's anemic social safety net.

As a direct service provider, Hunger Free America assists low-income families in obtaining aid from government programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — formerly called the Food Stamp program — and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, so that people struggling to pay their bills have access to nutritious food. They also connect families nationwide with private food resources. Because the Hunger Free America staff works daily on the front lines of hunger, and because they empower low-income people to speak out on their own behalf, they are one of the nation's most effective advocates for improved economic and public policies.

We're proud to publish the work of Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America and author of All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?  and America, We Need to Talk: A Self-Help Book for the Nation

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Labeled “Mister Frowny Pants” by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (on which he once appeared), Joel Berg is the CEO of Hunger Free America, which the Nation called “one of the leading direct service and advocacy organizations on hunger and poverty in the nation.” Berg wrote the decade’s definitive book on US hunger, All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America? (Seven Stories Press, 2008). Playboy (which Berg reads only for the reviews) called the book “refreshing” for its “optimism . . . rationality and passion.” Berg has also published numerous op-eds, poems, and policy papers and was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Policy Analyst at the Progressive Policy Institute, two DC-based think tanks. Berg has delivered hundreds of keynote speeches on four continents and in thirty-seven states, from Maine to Alaska, while surviving moose attacks and volcanic eruptions. One audience member wrote, “Seeing Joel Berg speak in person is like watching the History Channel, C-Span, and Comedy Central all at once.”  Noted by City Limits magazine for his “trademark good-natured snarkiness,” Berg has been covered extensively by national and international media, appearing on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Fox News, CNN, National Public Radio, The Kudlow ReportAll In with Chris Hayes, and the NBC Evening News, and quoted by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and tons of obscure blogs. Berg has also been featured in three documentary films. Prior to joining Hunger Free America, Berg worked for eight years in senior executive service positions in Bill Clinton’s presidential administration, served on the Clinton/Gore Presidential Transition Team, and staffed the 1992 Bill Clinton for President campaign. While working for 13 years as a political campaign professional, Berg lived in Kansas, Alaska, New Jersey, Maine, Arkansas, and New York. Berg is also the author of America, We Need to Talk: A Self-Help Book for the Nation and All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?​ ​​ He now resides in Brooklyn, New York but has yet to overdose on local, artisanal kale chips.