It’s become commonplace for us to write that Jon Stewart has featured on The Daily Show the author of some heavy-duty book on an important topic, which then flies up best seller lists. Sadly, Stewart announced last night that he is leaving the show possibly in September when his contract is up, but it “might be July, or December,” because “this show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host.”
Before Stewart, who would have imagined serious conversations with authors presented in the context of a comedy show? Not only did he introduce that concept and make it work, he continued it in another show he produced, The Colbert Report. Thanks, Jon Stewart, for giving books the attention they deserve. You never seem restless when you are engaging authors, whether you agree with their points of view or not.
True to form, Stewart featured a 2-part interview with President Obama’s campaign manager and “political philosopher,” David Axelrod on the same show. As a result, the book, which had already received a boost from a feature on CBS Sunday Morning, rose from #139 to #28 on Amazon sales rankings.
Believer: My Forty Years in Politics (Penguin; OverDrive Sample) details Axelrod’s relationship with Obama as well as his Senate and Presidential campaigns, but he also shares stories of other politicians and his belief in the kind of politics that serves the nation best. In an interview with the New York Magazine he says “I didn’t want to write a book that would be measured by the number of revelations in Politico … I wanted to write a narrative, a story about my life, through my eyes, through the evolution of politics in our country.”
It’s somewhat of an irony then that Politico leaked a story from the embargoed book that “Mitt Romney ‘12 concession call ‘irritated’ Barack Obama” which brought a swift response from the Romney camp that the call never happened. And now news sources are jumping on evidence in the book that Obama was lying when he initially said he opposed gay marriage.
For the most part, however, as David Gergen puts it in his New York Time’s review, “David Axelrod has written a highly readable, uplifting account of the candidate he loves — and, reassuringly, has shown politics can still be a calling, not a business.”