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, in particular the election of Donald Trump, have forced us to reckon with who we are as a country 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, and 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. 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 incarceration, poverty, misogyny, and racism-are ever-present. But 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.