On The Daily Show last night Jon Stewart interviewed Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me (RH/Spiegel & Grau; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample), echoing what many others have already said, the book “really is essential reading.” It is currently at #4 on Amazon’s sales rankings.
Archive for the ‘Politics and Current Events’ Category
On June 18th Pope Francis entered the climate change debate with his 184-page papal letter calling the issue a “principal challenge” of our age, placing the cause firmly at the door of human activity, and saying “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”
The independent publisher has a history of making special reports such as this more widely accessible in book form. Last December they published The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, which sold out its initial 50,000 print run in a single day.
The publication will arrive just before the Pope come to the US at the end of September for a three-stop whirlwind tour.
Proving once again that there’s nothing like controversy to help sell a book, Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer (Harper; HarperCollins audio; OverDrive Sample) debuts on the NYT Best Seller List at #2 for the week of May 24.
The book accuses the Clintons of selling influence to foreign governments and individuals through the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton campaign has fought back by identifying several factual errors. As a result, Harper has changed the Kindle version to delete passages or revise sections. As reported in Politico, Amazon sent purchasers a notice that “significant revisions have been made” to their electronic copies, which Harper then said were just “7-8 factual corrections.”
Undaunted, Schweizer continues roiling up controversy. In the new issue of USA Today, he objects to his testy interview with George Stephanopoulos in April, saying he should get a do-over because the broadcaster did not reveal that he personally donated $75,000 to the Clinton campaign in 2012.
Judith Miller, a Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times journalist, reported in 2002 that Iraq had stockpiles of WMD, Those stories, which were used by the Bush administration to help build the case for the invasion of Iraq, were later discredited for being based on false information. The NYT forced Miller to resign, but, before that, she was jailed for 85 days for not revealing the sources of information for a different story, one that outed Valerie Plame as a member of the CIA.
Now a FOX News commentator and a member of the conservative Manhattan Institute, she has written a memoir about her years at the NYT, The Story: A Reporter’s Journey (Simon & Schuster; Random House Audio; Thorndike; OverDrive Sample).
She is getting a tough reception by most commentators, her former employer, and other media outlets.
Lloyd Grove of The Daily Beast offers a scathing review, stating:
Much of The Story, including a chapter titled “Scapegoat,” is Miller’s self-pitying account of how she was demonized by critics and enemies, inside and outside the Times, as an influential cheerleader for an unjustified and ultimately ruinous war conducted under false pretenses.
This dynamic — Judy Miller against the world — lends her book an aspect that is both depressing and desperate. Over more than 300 pages, Miller flays her critics (particularly those who write for blogs) and lays out a defense of her reporting that relies on bluster, repetition and a highly selective set of facts, some of the same ingredients that the Bush administration dropped into its case for the Iraq war.
The Columbia Journalism Review, which offers perhaps the most even handed review, still holds that:
The Story turns out to be less personal than we might wish, less a memoir than an apologia and an assault… alternately turgid and fascinating, if not in equal measure.
Published on April 7th, holds are light on light ordering around the country despite the amount of media attention.
Stewart did not go easy on her. Holds are still modest.
Calling it “the most anticipated and feared book” of Hillary Clinton’s nascent presidential campaign, the New York Times breaks the embargo in a story published today on the forthcoming Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich by Peter Schweizer (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe, 5/9/15). Fox News immediately lept on the story, but New York Magazine is less excitable, “New Book Will Ostensibly Make People Care About Shady Clinton Donations.”
Expect to hear more about the book. Schweizer is a conservative writer with strong media ties. His previous book Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets (HMH, 2013), was the basis of a 2013 CBS 60 Minutes feature. One of the subjects of that story, N.J. Rep. Rob Andrews (D) resigned this February amidst an investigation by the the House Ethics Committee, begun before the 60 Minutes story, into his use of campaign funds.
Due to the book’s embargo, it has not been reviewed in the pre-pub media. As a result, some libraries have not ordered it.
A new tell-all that reveals secrets from former members of the White House staff, The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower (Harper, 4/7/15), has zoomed up to #7 on Amazon’s sales rankings as a result of a confluence of media attention. Featured on the Today Show and Inside Edition yesterday, it is excerpted in Politico and is making headlines like “White House Staff Dishes on Clintons: Hillary Hit Bill With a Book, Crooks Had Open Door,” (The Daily Beast).
While the headlines focus on the Clintons, the book covers presidential families from the Kennedys to the Obamas. In its review, Kirkus indicates that interest in the book will reach beyond political junkies, as it features, “Anecdotes both touching and hilarious about living and working in the White House … [with] an irresistible, charmingly pell-mell quality to the arrangement of these dishy stories.”
Holds in libraries are growing.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Monday features Andrew Cockburn, the Washington editor of Harpers magazine and the author of a book about a hot button issue, drone strikes, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, (Macmillan/Holt; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample).
Cockburn also appeared on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show last week. He explained that the title is a common term in the military, describing the steps taken to identify and eventually hit a target. Drones can shorten the time that takes, but sometimes with unintended and terrible consequences.
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.”
The next pick in Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fast-paced book club is:
The book was widely discussed when it was published and hit the extended NYT best seller list for one week in hardcover. NY Times review.
Previous A Year of Books picks:
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Steven Pinker, (Penguin/Viking, 2011)
The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used To Be, Moises Naim, (Perseus/Basic Books, 2013)
Currently the fifth best selling book on Amazon has been on the rise for the last two days, The Hundred-Year Marathon (Macmillan/Holt; OverDrive Sample, Feb. 3), by Michael Pillsbury, a senior fellow at the conservative think tank, the Hudson Institute. It asserts that China has followed a long-standing policy to overtake the US as the world’s superpower. The Washington Times summaries the book’s thesis that China, following a “secret strategy, based on ancient Chinese statecraft, produced a large-scale transfer of cash, technology and expertise that bolstered military and Communist Party ‘superhawks’ in China who are now taking steps to catch up to and ultimately surpass the United States.”
Media attention from The Christian Science Monitor, (in a story that doesn’t agree with all the author’s points, but says they “deserve to be widely debated”) to the conservative Weekly Standard and The Washington Times, helped fuel the book’s rise.
Holds in libraries are currently light, however.
On the Daily Show last night, Jon Stewart introduced his guest, journalist Jill Leovy by calling her book, Ghettoside (RH/Spiegel & Grau; OverDrive Sample), an “incredibly gripping true crime story.” Leovy went on to show that the story is about much more than one murder.
Holds in libraries are now heavy on modest orders.
After a several weeks of an author drought, The Daily Show ramps up its book coverage with two authors appearing this week: Jill Leovy, on Tuesday, and Sarah Chayes on Thursday.
As we reported last week, Leovy’s Ghettoside (RH/Spiegel & Grau; OverDrive Sample), a gripping journalistic investigation into the murder of a young black man in Los Angeles, is getting strong coverage in The New York Times and on NPR. The author’s appearance with Stewart should bring her to the attention of an even wider readership. Holdings and holds vary across the country with some libraries yet to buy, some with light holds, and others with holds as high as 11:1. Fair warning: Ghettoside seems destined to be an important book on an important conversation that will continue for years to come. As The New York Times put it in their Sunday cover, “Leovy’s relentless reporting has produced a book packed with valuable, hard-won insights — and it serves as a crucial, 366-page reminder that ‘black lives matter,’ showing how the ‘system’s failure to catch killers effectively made black lives cheap.’”
Sarah Chayes’s Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, (W. W. Norton) has gotten far less media attention although NPR’s All Things Considered did a story on Jan. 16th and The Washington Post gave the book a generally favorable review on the same day. Holds are light in libraries we checked, but Stewart can be relied upon to create at least a short-term bump in demand. Certainly Chayes’s book, which identifies corruption as the link between a number of political hotspots spiraling out of control, provides Stewart with a wind-up pitch he can hit out of the park.
Book news is currently dominated by Guantánamo Diary (Hachette/Little, Brown), a memoir by Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Larry Siems. The author, who is still being held at the prison, details the tortures he has endured there. Featured on yesterday’s Morning Edition, the host noted, “The Pentagon confirmed to NPR that for a brief period at Guantanamo in 2003, a ‘special interrogation plan’ was designed for Slahi, and it was outside the military’s own standard interrogation procedures.”
Excerpts are published in People magazine, it will be on the cover of the Feb. 15 NYT Book Review (online now, three weeks ahead of the print version, presumably to coincide with the publication), is featured in the L.A. Times, reviewed by The Washington Post. and the basis for a NYT Op-Ed piece.
The Guardian. which is serializing the book, features a documentary about it on their Web site:
In the U.K., celebrities, including Colin Firth, Jude Law, Benedict Cumberbatch and Nick Cave are supporting the “Free Slahi” campaign.
Check your orders. Most libraries have ordered conservatively and holds are light so far, but we expect them to surge as the story creates even more headlines.
UPDATE: coverage is expected on Friday’s PBS Newshour. ABC This Week is planning coverage, TBA, and the daily NYT is also planning a review. The book was embargoed, so no advance reviews. LJ noted it in Prepub Alert in July and Kirkus just posted their review online.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi, edited by Larry Siems,
Hachette/Little, Brown, January 20, 2015
Hachette Audio and Blackstone Audio, 9781478986942
Former defense Secretary Leon Panetta criticizes President Obama in his new book, Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace (Penguin Press; Penguin Audio). He explains why in an interview with Charlie Rose on today’s CBS This Morning. He was also interviewed yesterday on NPR’s Morning Edition and is scheduled for the Daily Show tonight.
On Fox News, Bill O’Reilly worked hard to get him to criticize Hillary Clinton’s handling of Benghazi. Panetta responded that, as head of the Defense Department, he was not familiar with the inner workings of the State Department, but could say, “If I know Hillary Clinton, if she knew there was a problem at Benghazi, she would have done something about it.’
The book is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings and is currently at #14. Libraries are showing holds on light ordering.
Beth Macy’s nonfiction debut, Factory Man, (Hachette/Little, Brown, 7/15), which received media attention when it was published this summer, is being developed by Tom Hanks’s production company, Playtone, for an HBO mini-series, reports Deadline.
The book’s subtitle outlines the story, How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local–And Helped Save An American Town. It received strong support from the NYT‘s Janet Maslin, who called it “in a class with other runaway debuts like Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers … Ms. Macy writes so vigorously that she hooks you instantly. You won’t be putting this book down.” The author was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air in July (read the first three chapters via OverDrive).
The book debuted at #10 on the New York Times Hardcover Non-fiction Best Sellers list during its first week on sale, remained on the main list for 3 weeks, and continued on the extended list for 4 more weeks.
Playtone is also producing the upcoming Olive Kitteridge miniseries for HBO, to debut Nov. 2, and is set to begin production on another mini series adaptation, based on Stephen E. Ambrose’s book about Lewis and Clark, Undaunted Courage, (S&S, 1997), with Casey Affleck in the role of Meriwether Lewis.