Unthinkable Reading Guide: People For the American Way Book Club

Want to read Unthinkable with your local book club? Use this reading guide to help get your group thinking about Congressman Raskin’s book – and the role we must all play to protect our democracy.

About the book 

In this searing memoir, Congressman Jamie Raskin tells the story of the 45 days at the start of 2021 that permanently changed his life as he confronted the painful loss of his son to suicide, lived through the violent insurrection in our nation’s Capitol, and led the impeachment effort to hold President Trump accountable for inciting the political violence.

Congressman Raskin’s Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy provides a vital reminder of the ongoing struggle for the soul of American democracy and the perseverance that our Constitution demands from us all.

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Questions for your book club

  • What themes stuck out to you in this book?
  • Tommy Raskin is the main character in this book. What can we learn from Tommy about being an active participant in a democracy? How did his son move Congressman Raskin through the course of impeachment? Are there people like that in your life whose memory you want to honor or who you find yourself hoping to emulate?
  • We often take the Electoral College for granted. What should we do with our institutions that were built on white supremacist foundations and an ugly history? Were you moved by Congressman Raskin’s argument to reform it in favor of the national popular vote?
  • Congressman Raskin details the lessons he learned from the first impeachment of Trump. What lessons can we take from the second impeachment?
  • Were you moved by Raskin’s case for radical optimism? Is it necessary for a healthy democracy?
  • Looking forward, what do we need to do to stop this from happening again? How do we need to strengthen our democratic institutions, and what can we do?

Make an action plan

Now that you’ve read Rep. Raskin’s book and seen his first-hand account of the threat to our democracy, what do you plan to do about it? How can you take action to protect our democracy and your community? 

Here are three ways People For the American Way members are working to protect democracy that you can join too! 

  • Pass a democracy resolution in your city or county. Let’s get our elected officials on the record promising to recognize the results of our elections and protect our democracy. You can find all the information at democracyresolutions.org, and you can always reach out to us at People For for help.  
  • Tune in and amplify the next January 6th hearing – and keep tuning in. The Committee is meeting again this Thursday at 1pm ET. Make sure you tune in, and keep an eye on Right Wing Watch’s social accounts for in-depth coverage during the hearing. We need to know the full depth of what happened to hold these bad actors accountable – and make sure this never happens again.  
  • Join the January 6th Our Freedoms, Our Vote mobilizations from October 13th to 23rd to fight ongoing threats to our elections and hold Donald Trump and his MAGA allies accountable. Find an event near you at ourfreedomsourvote.org.  

Spread the word! 

Have a favorite quote from the book? Inspired to take action? Got a message for Rep. Raskin? Post it on social, and don’t forget to tag us at @peoplefor on Twitter and @peoplefor_ on Instagram. Use the hashtag #PeopleForBookClub to tap into our community of readers ready to protect our democracy. 

Join the Book Club

The People For the American Way book club meets virtually every month to talk with authors who are on the cutting edge of working to protect our democracy. Learn more about our upcoming books and join the conversations at pfaw.org/bookclub

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People For the American Way Book Club

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