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Reggie Marra
Healing America's Narratives: The Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow
Reggie Marra, author

Adult; Political & Social Sciences; (Market)

Healing America's Narratives takes a multi-disciplinary look at American history and current affairs through the lens of the country's collective Shadow—what we deny about ourselves and project onto others—which, dominated by unhealthy masculine energy, longs for integration with the healthy feminine. The book explores increasingly comprehensive, inclusive, and complex perspectives on the larger scope of the American experiment, including chapters on women, Native Americans, African Americans, the Vietnam War, and the post-9/11 war on terror—all within the context of the country's ongoing struggles with polarization, gun violence, healthcare, and the state of the planet itself.
Outraged yet hopeful, sweeping in its conclusions but always characterized by humility, Marra’s impassioned treatise calls for a national effort to face and “integrate” the collective “shadow” of the United States, elements of which include “ignorance, arrogance, fear, bigotry, violence, greed, excess” and more. Marra, a poet and author of Enough with the Talking Points, draws from the Jungian concept of “shadow,” which describes “that which we do not recognize or own in ourselves, and which we often project onto others.” He posits that former President Trump embodies the American shadow—"those undesirable beliefs and traits that we … see ‘out there’ in others and deny in ourselves”—but also that Trump represents an opportunity for national healing and growth if we can bring ourselves to the discomfiting collective work of “uncovering, recognizing, owning, and integrating Shadow.”

In short, Marra calls for Americans to face themselves and our past, acknowledging the darkness and daring to do better, in both personal and political spheres. To lay out a path, Marra offers pained, unstinting examinations of historical American failings (the ongoing subjugation of women and Black Americans; the betrayal of Native Americans; the last half century’s worth of elective wars), all times and tendencies in which Shadow has prevailed. Resonant threads include consideration of the nation’s tightly constrained ideals of masculinity as well as the contradictory nature of what, collectively, outrages us:, such as why we accept as normal “103 gunshot deaths a day, but we’re shocked and engaged when one entertainer slaps another entertainer.”

In precise, inviting prose, Marra urges readers to look with clear eyes at ourselves. He makes clear throughout that he’s one of us rather than some presumed authority, putting in the work to understand himself and his nation; while he’s shrewd and persuasive at making a case, his conclusions (“one manifestation of fundamentalism is bullying”) will challenge or offend some readers. He knows that, of course. Key to his argument is the truth that no system run by individuals can change unless individuals dare to change first.

Takeaway: This call for Americans to face their “collective shadow” will thrill readers eager for compassionate change.

Great for fans of: Jon Meacham’s The Soul of America, Seth David Radwell’s American Schism.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

Bill Plotkin, PhD

In this courageous, compassionate, wise, and visionary wake-up call, Reggie Marra asks some very deep and challenging questions about who we are as a nation, questions that all Americans would be asking if we were brave enough to look in our collective mirror. His socially, politically, and psychologically sophisticated answers are both shocking and self-evident, both outrageous and kind, both arresting and liberating.

   An exceptionally well-written and readable book, Healing America’s Narratives goes right to the heart and to the root of what ails our nation … and to what just might enable us to build a better world, a life-enhancing society. Brilliant. Thoroughly researched and referenced. A tour de force. Read it.

—Bill Plotkin, Ph.D., author of Soulcraft and The Journey of Soul Initiation

Bridgit Dengel Gaspard

Throughout his eloquent and thorough exploration of America’s collective Shadow, Reggie Marra embraces ‘truth’ both as evidence-based and as an ongoing conversation about things that matter. Deeply engaging both the political lens of our collective historical and current events, as well as the psychological lens of our individual inner terrain,...this book fosters hope and proactively embraces the possibility of a radical shift in how humans interrelate, even—and especially—while some of the worst traits of our humanity are so dismally on display.” —Bridgit Dengel Gaspard, author of The Final 8th: Enlist Your Inner Selves to Accomplish Your Goals

Eduardo Duran, Ph.D.

Marra is doing the collective archeology in his book as he explores how Collective shadow multiplies the power of personal shadow exponentially. Not integrating shadow is not an option, as we stand at the edge of the abyss looking down at the reflection of the demonic that is us....The creators of the new path are the dreamers, poets, storytellers and all who follow an ancient path of relationship with our earth. Marra is giving us the diagnosis and some of the treatment plan we need if we are to survive even into the near future. Let this poet, Reggie Marra, clear a new path into a new way of being as we integrate and befriend our personal and collective shadow. —Eduardo Duran (Tiospaye Ta Woapiye Wicasa), Ph.D., Vietnam veteran, author of Healing the Soul Wound: Trauma-Informed Counseling for Indigenous Communities

Janet E. Aalfs

In Healing America’s Narratives, Reggie Marra offers compelling and extensive historical research regarding the deep trauma and dysfunction of which our current social fabric is woven....

He emphasizes that we stand to receive countless gifts in working to heal personal, collective, and ancestral Dis-ease. Aspects of Shadow into which Marra delves include violence against women, Native Americans, and people of African descent; destruction of the environment; and atrocities of war in Vietnam and Iraq.

....In the spirit of kindness, hope, and tenacity, Reggie Marra reminds us that regardless of the particular issues we face, each and every one of us needs and deserves the healing that arises from this essential work of becoming more fully human. —Janet E. Aalfs, author of What the Dead Want Me to Know


Kirkus Reviews

An educator’s vision for healing America’s traumatic past and politically fractured present…. Part 2 centers on the whitewashed narratives Americans have told themselves... Despite these historic wrongs…the book is optimistic in tone, emphasizing hope in the possibility of national healing.…Marra is well versed in classical literature, philosophy and history. …a sophisticated presentation of critical theory, U.S. history and philosophy, the book carefully balances nuance with accessibility and practical application…. A convincing, if occasionally unwieldy, guidebook for a better future.”

Kirkus Reviews

Marianela Medrano, Ph.D.

Healing America’s Narratives is brilliant at so many levels. Reggie Marra takes the history of America—the good, the bad, and the in-between—and turns it into a guide for transforming the heart and mind, not just for Americans, but for anyone interested in the radical transformation of body, mind, and spirit....Reading this book feels like a rehearsal for new ways of being in the world. 

Marra brings voices together, rightening history with unprecedented accuracy. In his voice we find a confluence of narratives from opposite, alienated, privileged, unprivileged, and marginalized perspectives—balanced with gender, race, ideological and social strata representations.

....In the author’s hands, history is a living source of healing. Savvy readers will walk away feeling affirmed that from ill-told history, new vistas arise from which to tell whole new personal and collective stories that heal. —Marianela Medrano, Ph.D., author of Rooting: Selected Bilingual Poems

Trebbe Johnson

Healing America’s Narratives bears blunt, bold, eloquent witness to the hidden assumptions and attitudes that have shaped America’s history and psychology. Reggie Marra achieves something extraordinary here: he clarifies difficult concepts and shines unfaltering light on painful truths, yet he never loses sight of the voices, ideals, and possibilities that have been, and continue to be, dedicated to healing and wholeness. Stunning, insightful, intelligent, and fearless, this book deserves a place among the great narratives of the American psyche. —Trebbe Johnson, author of Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty in Earth's Broken Places