More than 850 book reviews

Tag Archive for ‘politics’

Al Franken’s memoir is revealing, insightful—and funny

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken @@@@@ (5 out of 5) If you’re expecting nonstop laughs from Al Franken’s memoir, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, you’ll be disappointed. Naturally, the book is laced with Franken’s signature humor. He rarely passes up an opportunity to go for a laugh. That even begins with… Read More ›

Cocaine, the CIA, and a Central American revolution

Missionary Stew, by Ross Thomas @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Start with a hapless French-American journalist imprisoned by the Emperor-President of a small African country. The Emperor is a cannibal, which is admittedly worrisome, but the journalist is rescued by Amnesty International and returned to the United States. He’s penniless but makes his way to… Read More ›

Donald Trump: populism, or fascism?

The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics, by John Judis @@@@@ (5 out of 5) The unexpected emergence of Donald Trump as a major-party candidate for the White House has triggered a great deal of punditry about how the Republican Party managed to put forward such a bigoted and ignorant… Read More ›

27 biographies worth reading

One of the very best ways to gain insight into history and the ways of the world around us is to read biographies. Which explains why I read them so frequently. Over the more than six years since I began writing this blog, I’ve read dozens. Here I’m listing 27 that stand out in my… Read More ›

A terrific political history novel

Dewey Defeats Truman: A Novel, by Thomas Mallon @@@@ (4 out of 5) For at least a year before the 1948 presidential election, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey was almost universally expected to beat the incumbent, former Vice President Harry Truman. (Apparently, even Truman himself thought he would lose.) The title of Thomas Mallon’s… Read More ›

An entertaining history of the post office

Neither Snow Nor Rain: A History of the United States Postal Service, by Devin Leonard @@@@@ (5 out of 5) For a guy who made his living for more than thirty years by writing letters and mailing hundreds of millions of copies of them, you might think I’d be familiar with the story of the… Read More ›

America’s third Red Scare

Fellow Travelers: A Novel, by Thomas Mallon @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Only American history majors are likely to be aware that America’s first Red Scare was sparked in 1886 by the Haymarket affair in Chicago — a demonstration by workers calling for an eight-hour day which led to widespread persecution of men, usually foreign-born,… Read More ›

Dirty politics, union style

A review of Yellow-Dog Contract, by Ross Thomas @@@@@ (5 out of 5) It’s been so long since labor unions have appeared high on our radar screens here in the US that you may be unaware what the phrase “yellow-dog contract” means. I for one had forgotten. Well, it turns out that such a contract,… Read More ›

The secret history of cyber war

A review of Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War, by Fred Kaplan @@@ (3 out of 5) Occasionally, I come across a book on an important topic that’s crammed with information I was able to find nowhere else — but is a chore to read. Even though it is not an academic study… Read More ›

21 novels about politics

Politics fascinates me. Always has. Which is why I gravitate toward books that bear on the subject, nonfiction and fiction alike. Here are 21 novels that are worth considering, if you too are intrigued by the give and take of politics in a democratic society. These novels run the gamut from accounts of nasty and… Read More ›