Author's new book offers hope for narrowing the nation's divide


By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

It’s been said that America is getting meaner by the minute, a product of a growing intolerance with those with whom we differ – whether on political, religious, racial, or ethnic grounds.

Author Nathan Bomey has taken note, parlaying the unfortunate development into his latest book, “Bridge Builders: Bringing People Together in a Polarized Age.”  

“I started working on ‘Bridge Builders’ in late 2018 by going out and meeting people who aren’t accepting the status quo of toxic polarization,” said Bomey, a business writer for USA Today, the nation’s largest newspaper by circulation. “This book is the result.”

The book is the third written by Bomey, following on the heels of the 2018 release of “After the Fact: The Erosion of Truth and the Inevitable Rise of Donald Trump.” The 270-page work by Bomey explored “how trends in social media, news media, and politics paved the way for someone to rise to power while skewing the facts,” according to the Eastern Michigan University alum, who served as editor of the student newspaper during his senior year there.

In 2016, Bomey authored a widely acclaimed book on the Detroit bankruptcy saga, titled “Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back.” That book arose out of his award-winning coverage of the bankruptcy while with The Detroit Free Press, which also is part of the Gannett chain of newspapers. 

Collectively, the three books showcase the writing and reporting talents of one of the bright young stars in journalism who has watched with dismay as the nation experiences a fractious political divide that seemingly gets wider and deeper by the day.  

“I walked away from the experience of the second book disillusioned about the future of democracy in this country,” Bomey admitted. “It was clear that there was a need to work together for the good of the nation, and I was determined to be part of the solution in that regard.”

With that goal in mind, Bomey set out to build a case for writing a book offering a “positive path” for an otherwise grim political situation.

“Before pitching the book idea to publishers, I knew that I had to do a lot of work up front to convince them that there were signs of hope amidst all the doom and gloom,” said Bomey, who is the son of a minister. “I wanted to avoid people in the public square and instead concentrate on those outside the spotlight or under the radar who were working hard to make a difference.”

He began his journey in Charlottesville, Va., the scene of the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017 that resulted in one death and more than 30 injuries when white supremacist groups clashed with counter-protesters.

“Charlottesville offered a perfect example of a seemingly progressive community racked by extremism and hate,” said Bomey, who initially ran into a general reluctance to be involved in the story he was trying to cover. “I began by cold-calling some ministers who pointed me to others instead.”

From the beginning, Bomey was intent on telling the story of “someone who was using social media to bring people together,” given how much the opposite occurs on those platforms.

Eventually, Bomey was led to those working with “The Everyday Projects,” a grassroots movement that “uses photography to challenge stereotypes that distort our understanding of the world,” according to its website. The group bills itself as a “global community of visual storytellers . . . all committed to using imagery to combat harmful misperceptions and to rise above persistent inequality.”

For Bomey, the organization’s “shared sense of humanity” spurred his search for other like-minded groups and individuals that emerged over a six-month period. His efforts impressed those at Polity Press, an international publishing house of non-fiction works, which agreed to a book deal for “Bridge Builders.”

The book was an 18-month project for Bomey, capped by a “virtual book release party” on June 15.

“It’s already the No. 1 best-selling new release in Amazon’s Civil Rights and Anthropology sections,” said Bomey, whose book also is available through Barnes & Noble, independent bookshops, and other outlets.

The book has earned early praise from such distinguished reviewers as Leonard Pitts Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Miami Herald, and Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief of USA Today.

Said Pitts: “In an era of division so stark that many people are seriously drawing parallels with the Civil War, Nathan Bomey’s new treatise on ways to heal our house divided could not be a more welcome arrival. At this fractious and polarized moment, this a book America truly needs.”

Page, who regularly appears on the PBS News Hour, echoed the comments.

“Nathan Bomey finds lessons from everywhere – from relationship counseling to mediation to the engineering of actual bridges – in this smart exploration of how to counter our polarized, petrified politics,” wrote Page. “He tells the stories of regular folks who are using innovative ways to better see and understand those who stand on the other side of the divide. Discourage about the course we’re on? Here's some hope.”

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