The Politics1 Bookstore
Ambling Into History by Frank
Bruni (2002). This book -- published in the aftermath of the
9-11 attacks -- was written by New York Times political
reporter Frank Bruni. Bruni covered Bush during the 2000 campaign,
and subsequently at the White House, and had a lengthy period
of time to get to observe and know the President first-hand. What
comes out -- considering how critical the NYT (and Bruni
himself) normally are -- is, surprisingly, a very balanced, sensitive
(and generally positive) portrait of Bush. The book presents the
stories in a informal, anectdotal way, and makes for a breezy
read. He explains how the small things may tell as much about
Bush as the big things. Finally, he explains how and why he believes
Bush rose to "real leadership" in the aftermath of the terrorist
attacks. You may not learn a lot about his political development,
but you'll get a much better appreciation of Bush "the person."
The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush
by David Frum (2003). This is the first "insider account"
to come from a Bush Administration official (of course, it caused
him to get blacklisted by the Bush folks for giving away inside
secrets). Frum -- the White House speechwriter who coined the
famous "Axis of Evil" phrase -- wrote a very pro-Bush account
of the President he very much admires. Don't expect objectivity,
as Frum is a partisan. He writes that Bush is "a good man who
is not a weak man. He is impatient, quick to anger; sometimes
glib, even dogmatic, often uncurious, and as a result ill-informed
... [but] outweighing the faults are his virtues: decency, honesty,
rectitude, courage, and tenacity." He especially admires Bush's
leadership as our war-time Commander-in-Chief. Price:
$14.95. Your Price: $10.17 (You Save 32%)!
My Life by Bill Clinton (2004). President Clinton penned this massive
(1,008 page) autobiography of his political career. The book offer
many fascinating and exclusive perspectives of key points in his
life and his eight years as President. And, like the man himself,
the book can also get a bit longwinded at times (but you can just
skip ahead a few pages whenever that happens). The New York
Times described the book as “part policy primer, part
12-step confessional, part stump speech and part Presidential
archive.” Most critics agreed that the two best parts of
the book were the sections covering his childhood and the Lewinsky
affair/Impeachment. While he certainly whitewashed many incidents
in his political career, so does every other politician who pens
a political memoir. All in all, this is one of the better Presidential
autobiographies. List: $35.00. Your Price: $21.00 (You Save 40%)! Paperback.
The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton by Joe Klein (2002). Klein -- a national news reporter best
known as the "Anonymous" author of the hit novel Primary
Colors -- is an unabashed Clinton fan. Here he offers
a nonfictional take on Clinton, whom he describes as both "the
most talented politician of his generation" and "the
most compelling." Klein is at once disappointed by Clinton's
failure to achieve greatness, but also a defender of what Clinton
did do. He can be harsh about Clinton's personal shortcomings
-- yet he also credits Clinton with running "a serious, substantive
presidency" whose chief success was dragging "Washington
toward a recognition that a revised form of government activism
might be appropriate in the anarchy of an instant economy."
This book is an honest liberal's best effort to explain eight
controversial years. Readers who supported Clinton will discover
new insights into why he didn't accomplish more -- and those who
opposed him will gain a sharper understanding of why he remained
so popular with the public. List: $14.00. Your Price: $11.20 (You Save 20%)!
George Bush: The Life of a Lone Star Yankee
by Herbert S. Parmet (1997). President George H.W. Bush --
the first President Bush -- always vowed that he would never write
an autobiography. Instead, Bush fully and candidly cooperated
with the author in the preparation of this book. The cooperation
made for a very balanced -- the good and the bad -- and well-researched
book. A truly insightful look at President Bush's life as a Yale
student, youngest combat pilot in Navy history, millionaire Texas
oil man, Congressman, twice losing candidate for US Senate, Republican
National Chairman, Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador
to China, C.I.A. Director, candidate for President in 1980, Vice
President, President, and unsuccessful candidate for re-election
in 1992. A great book -- and it may also help you better understand
his political sons. List: $29.95. Paperback
A Memoir of Ronald Reagan by Edmund Morris (1999).
This controversial, authorized biography of the late President Reagan
was years in the making. Pulitzer Prize winning biographer Morris
was granted unprecedented access to the Reagan family and the Reagan
White House for the preparation of this work. The biggest item of
controversy was Morris' decision to add a fictionalized version
of himself into the story as a voyeur-like character who has known
Reagan since childhood (note: he also added an imaginary gossip
columnist who makes snide comments on Reagan's career). Reagan's
sons Michael and Ron praised this book -- while Reagan daughter
Maureen and numerous Reagan partisans bashed the book as a disappointment
because it characterized Reagan as boring, ignorant and shallow
in his personal life. Still, Morris is a Reagan admirer who ultimately
praises Reagan as one of our greatest Presidents for his leadership
and for helping to end the threat of world communism. Patti Reagan
and Ron Reagan both praised this book as having accurately captured
their father and helping them to better understand him, while Michael
Reagan said he had mixed views about the book. A fascinating read
-- regardless what you think of Reagan or of the questionable writing
style Morris employed here. List: $16.95. Your Price: $11.53 (You Save 32%)! Paperback.
Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter's Journey Beyond the White
House by Douglas Brinkley (1998). This is a story
of public redemption -- the story of how President Carter left
the White House highly unpopular and, over time, steadily rehabilitated
his public image by being seen as a "good Ex-President." Many
Americans admire Carter for his charity work building homes in
the United States with the group Habitat for Humanity. He is also
known and respected internationally for attempting to negotiate
peace in world trouble spots such as Haiti, North Korea, and the
Middle East. This book tries to place Carter's post-presidency
activities into context with his devout religious beliefs and
public life before his 1980 defeat. This insightful book includes
the story of how Carter worked relentlessly to undermine President
Bush in the days leading up to the Persian Gulf War, as well as
Carter's difficult relations with President Clinton. List:
$18.00. Your Price: $12.24 (You Save 32%)! Paperback.
2008 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS:
Father to Son: A Private Life in the Public Eye by
Evan Bayh (2003) - US Senator Evan Bayh used to this
book to write about the political tradition in the Bayh family
that ran from his father to himself. Bayh recounts his life in
the national spotlight with affection and candor. He covered all
the highlights of his ongoing career in government: from his father's
US Senate campaigns and a sleep-over in the Lincoln Bedroom during
the Johnson Administration, to delivering the Keynote address
at the 1996 Convention (a moment he shared with his young twin
sons). Bayh also used the book to promote a piece of legislation
in Congress he touts as "The Responsible Fatherhood Act."
This book never received much attention and showed up in few bookstores
- but you can find it online. List: $24.99. Your
Price: $21.24 (You Save 15%).
History by Hillary Rodham Clinton (2003). Former
First Lady Hillary Clinton's memoirs are a candid look back at
her eight years in the White House. Considering the huge price
of the advance paid to Mrs. Clinton, she delivered on what the
publisher's wanted: insider details about just about everything
and a national bestseller. She recounts her failed fight for health
care reform, her (and her husband's) long-running fight with conservative
opponents (what HRC had then dubbed the "vast rightwing conspiracy"),
and details of the Lewinsky scandal and the impeachment. She writes
about the hurt she felt by her husband's betrayal -- and the estrangement
between the two for a lengthy period of time afterwards. This
book adds a new understanding of the Clinton White House from
the inside. Of course, if she is elected President, then this
will be the memoirs of the "Clinton 42" White House
-- and HRC will get to take another stab a writing the memoirs
of the "Clinton 44" Administration sometime in the future.
List: $16.00. Your Price:
$11.20 (You Save 30%)! Paperback.
Trials by John Edwards (2003).
Unlike some trial lawyers who go into politics, Edwards is
never one to play down his past. Following that instinct, Edwards
has styled his official Presidential campaign memoir as an account
of four of his past courtroom experiences. In the book, Edwards
tries to present a Clintonian empathy for "regular folks"
(a phrase Edwards likes) and paints endearing portraits of the
victims he represented in medical malpractice and personal injury
lawsuits. He also displays a keen understanding of the psychology
of a jury, which he calls "a microcosm of democracy."
Edwards weaves in recollections of his youth as the son of a working-class
mill worker, his rise to prominence as a trial lawyer, and his
dedicated family life (and the death of his son in a car accident).
In fact, Edwards devotes so much attention to his trial lawyer
years that he devotes almost none to his term in the US Senate.
Although it was intended to come off like a courtroom drama, the
book is chiefly of interest for the way it manifests Edwards's
strategy to present himself as an advocate for the downtrodden.
This book is useful for getting a good understanding of the 2004
VP nominee. List:
$24.00. Your Price: $16.32 (You Save 32%)!
Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America by
John Kerry (2003).
To use a favorite Kerry '04 campaign tag line, Senator Kerry
uses to book to set forth his life story and explain why he is
"The Real Deal" that so many others try to claim as
their own. Before Kerry lays out his positions on everything from
education reform to health care, foreign policy and civil liberties,
he discusses his candidacy in the context of his calling to public
service, hitting on the themes of finding common ground and restoring
America's promise. Kerry's belief in service strongly shapes the
campaign platform, as in his suggestion that community service
should become a requirement for high school graduation. Kerry's
autobiographical story is somewhat muted here, serving as "background
music to the main theme of my life right now." Still, he
frequently references experiences from his past as guides to his
views on current issues. This book -- which was certainly intended
as Kerry's authorized "campaign book" -- helps give
the reader a good understanding of the man and his ideas. List:
$24.95. Your Price: $9.98 (You Save 60%)!
Candidate: Behind John Kerry's Remarkable Run for the White House
by Paul Alexander (2004). This book is described as an "all-access
pass to the inner workings of the Kerry campaign, the grooming
of the candidate, and how decisions get made and who will be making
them in the run up to the November election." Alexander was given
extensive, behind-the-scenes access to Kerry, his wife, campaign
manager Mary Beth Cahill and others. Clearly, the Kerry camp felt
a high level of comfort and trust with Alexander -- and he did
not betray that trust. There really aren't many "secrets" revealed,
but it does give you an idea of how methodical Kerry is in his
thinking and decision-making -- and the major role Cahill plays
in day-to-day decisions. You'll read of early stumbles, the November
2003 firing of Kerry's first campaign manager, the great disdain
the Kerry crew had for the Howard Dean campaign, and the re-tooling
that brought him back from the brink of defeat to victory in Iowa
(and, ultimately, the Presidential nomination). The book also
contains a lot of passages that clearly contain Kerry's personal
thoughts about events as they unfolded. It's a quick read, has
interesting tidbits, and will be of interest to Kerry supporters.
However, it was not a particularly critical look at Kerry because
the author is clearly an admirer of his (much like Karen Hughes'
book -- Ten
Minutes from Normal -- that similarly fawned over President
$23.95. Your Price: $9.58 (You Save 60%)!
POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS:
Campaigns Online: Strategies for Candidates and Causes
- by Emilienne Ireland and Phil Nash (2nd Edition - 2001). If
you're either a candidate for office or are helping a candidate
to run for office, you need to read this great book. The authors
of this book know what they're writing about because they've been
responsible for award-winning campaign web sites and Internet fundraising
for a broad array of state and federal candidates (and causes) across
the political spectrum, from Dick Gephardt's political campaign
to John McCain's national campaign for gun safety. Frankly, even
a total Internet idiot could follow the easily understandable road
map in this book to create an effective web presence for a campaign.
The book covers everything from using the site to convey your message
(or a negative message), recruiting volunteers, online fundraising,
database solutions, budget considerations, GOTV activities, e-newsletters,
site maintenance, blunders to avoid ... and lots more. Highly recommended!
List: $24.95. Price:
$21.21 (You Save 15%)!. Paperback.
The Almanac of American Politics 2006
by Michael Barone (2005). First published in 1972, this bi-annual
political almanac gets better every year. The Washington Post
calls it "indispensable." George Will calls it -- correctly --
"the bible of American politics." NBC's Tim Russert said this
book is "the ultimate guide for political junkies." This is the
book you will always find on every desk inside the Beltway. Detailed
profiles and pictures of all 535 US Senators and Congressmen &
the 50 governors. Special interest group ratings. Updated district
maps. Voting trends and all of the 2004 election results. Insightful
analysis -- and weighing in at a whopping 1,800 pages. Political
predictions by veteran pundit Charlie Cook on every House, US
Senate and gubernatorial race in the nation. If you only buy one
political reference book -- make sure it is the Almanac of
American Politics. Price: $69.95. Your Price: $44.07 (You Save 37%)!
by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative
by David Brock (2002). A warning: liberals will LOVE this
book and conservatives will hate ... and there is no guarantee
that anything in this book is true. Brock, who made his name as
a conservative journalist, is best known for calling Anita Hill
"a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty." Brock -- who admits
he lied in his past reporting for conservative publications --
now claims it is the right who are unhinged and cannot be trusted.
He absolves Hill and bashed conservatives as a "right-wing sleaze
machine." The book is written in the same style of madcap character
assassinations that made him famous. At times, it is tremendously
heavy-handed (every conservative is desacribed as gap-toothed
or fat or acne-marked or unkempt or obnoxious ... and every liberal
is now ascribed saintly looks and manners). Is this book true,
or is it just Brock's latest lie intended to keep money flowing
into his pockets. Read it and decide for yourself. No matter your
ideology, you're likely to find the author somewhat revolting
-- yet irresistibly fascinating (like the way folks slow and look
at a bad car wreck). List: $15.00. Your Price: $10.20 (You Save 32%)! Paperback.
The Road to Everyplace but the White House by Michael
Lewis (1997, with a 2000 Afterword). Sadly, this is one of
the funniest books ever published on the pursuit of the Presidency.
Sadly ...because this details the way we really select
our Presidents. A behind the scenes look at the 1996 Presidential
hopefuls. Lewis is able to make some insightful, damning, and
often hysterically funny observations. The reporting technique
is eccentric -- who else would spend so much time with GOP dark
horse candidate Morry Taylor, a rich man who ran for president
in what largely amounted to a vanity campaign -- but it works.
Why focus on the underdogs? Because, Lewis maintains, they are
the only candidates who offer any new ideas. Lewis wrote a very
good book that could be shelved under both humor and politics.
This book -- formerly named Trail Fever -- now includes
a new 2000 Afterword by the author. List: $14.00. Your Price: $11.20 (You Save 20%)! Paperback.
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