Archive for the ‘Politics and Current Events’ Category

Explaining America

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Face The Nation hosted a panel of authors on its New Year’s Day episode, illustrating how the news media is turning to books to talk about the divisions within the country.

9780679763888_272bc  Hillbilly Elegy  9781627795272_80c35  9781501159503_db1ac

Four authors took part in the discussion, Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (RH/Vintage, 2011; OverDrive Sample), J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), actor and author Diane Guerrero, who wrote In the Country We Love: My Family Divided (Macmillan/Henry Holt; OverDrive Sample), and Amani Al- Khatahthbeh, Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age (S&S; OverDrive Sample).

Host John Dickerson opened the segment by saying “We’ve gathered four authors who’ve written about the many faces of America, about the differences that divide us, as well as the common experiences that can unite us as one.”

In the personal and heartfelt discussion, Vance, who has been the focus of much of the media’s attempt to explain the anger of many among the white working class and has become a contributing opinion writer for the NYT, says:

“[what] really ties us together is something aspirational about being an American. Right? So whether you’re a black American moving from the rural South or from South America or from an Islamic country, like, whether it’s our parents, our grandparents or even further back, it’s this idea that we want something better for our kids than we have right now … That we’re going to keep getting better. Things are going to keep on improving. And I think, frankly, a lot of the problems we have in our politics are in some ways rooted in different groups thinking that things aren’t continuing to get better. I think that pessimism, that cynicism, is a real problem in our politics and our society more broadly.”

Isabel Wilkerson says “we talk a lot about diversity, but I think we should talk more about commonality. I think we’re very aware of the things that make us different. I don’t think we realize enough what makes us the same and what makes us– our hearts beat the same and the things that we want are so similar.”

The Warmth of Other Suns is rising on Amazon, jumping from #1,226 to #96. Hillbilly Elegy is already at #4. The other two books are farther down (Guerrero at #503 and Al- Khatahthbeh at #787).

In the News: PRIVATE EMPIRE

Friday, December 16th, 2016

9780143123545The 2012 NYT Bestseller, Steve Coll’s Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (PRH/Penguin; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) is earning a second readership now that Donald Trump has nominated the CEO of that global company, Rex Tillerson, to be Secretary of State.

The book is moving up Amazon’s charts, to land just outside the Top 100 (it is currently #107, up from #2,064) and is temporarily out of stock in paperback at Amazon. The hardcover is selling for almost a hundred dollars a copy, used.

Coll, a staff writer for The New Yorker, is the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist. His book received favorable reviews when it debuted.

In his review in the NYBR, Adam Hochschild compared Exxon to the East India Company, and wrote Coll’s book provides:

“a picture of a corporation so large and powerful — operating in some 200 nations and territories — that it really has its own foreign policy … Exxon Mobil has its own armies — and, in these days of outsourcing, also hires those of others … the book assuredly does what it sets out to do: show the inner workings of one of the Western world’s most significant concentrations of unelected power.”

Coll is currently in the news again. He published a story in The New Yorker, and has recently been on PBS’s Newshour and NPR’s All Things Considered.

Holds are strong in a few libraries, steady in others.

The Post-Election Book Rush

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Publishers are hurrying to get books out in the aftermath of the election, reports PW. At least three new titles are already in the works, each focused on how progressives can respond to the Trump presidency.

In a very fast turn-around, two will be released before Inauguration Day:

img_1529-3-572x402What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump’s America, ed. by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians (Melville House) continues a tradition for the indie publisher. Melville also issued as similar work following the election of George W. Bush. The essay collection includes pieces from Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Gloria Steinem, Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and others. Edited by the publisher Dennis Johnson, it offers advice on what upset voters can do during the next four years.

9780062686480_c22e8The Trump Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living Through What You Hoped Would Never Happen, Gene Stone (HC/Dey Street Books). Quoting the book’s editor, PW reports it is “aimed at people looking for answers and ways to mobilize following Trump’s victory. In the book, Stone gives a background on the different issues that are at stake over the next four years and provides lists of organizations and resources for promoting progressive action.”

Also in the works  is another collection of essays,  Radical Hope (PRH/Vintage), which the editor says are “socially conscious love letters in the tradition of ‘My Dungeon Shook,’ the first essay in James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.” It does not yet have a release date but is expected in early 2017.

Already signed up are several political books set to make noise in 2017, as PW reports in their Spring Adult Announcements issue (Children’s Announcements are coming Jan 30).Their picks include:

 9780802126191_ef27f  9780691175515_f6bf7

Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom, Condoleezza Rice (Hachette/Twelve, May 2.)

How the Hell Did This Happen?: The Election of 2016, P. J. O’Rourke (Atlantic Monthly Press, Mar. 7)

How Liberty Can Change the World, Gary E. Johnson (HC/Broadside, June 13)

#Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media, Cass R. Sunstein (Princeton Univ., Mar. 28)

 

Kelly and Sanders
Prove Politics Sells

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

9780062494603_df2feThe Fox News host and political touchstone Megyn Kelly lands at #1 on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction Best Sellers list this week with her memoir Settle for More (HarperCollins/Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample).

The book got a boost beyond her own built-in audience with the news that she writes about Donald Trump’s bribery attempt to bribe her as well as others in the press. As we have written previously, Vanity Fair‘s headline on the story asserts, that, by holding this information until after the election, Kelly “Blew The Goodwill She’s Built,” as an “improbable feminist icon” and one of the strongest voices standing up to Trump during the election.

Adding to the publicity, USA Today reports that Amazon has deleted “several politically motivated negative reviews … after a flood of one-star ratings drew media attention.” Writing that “This scary phenomenon essentially means that a small, angry, vocal group can flood a space with fringe views that masquerade as majority opinion,” Slate reports that “a whopping 76 percent of the [reviews] were one-star.”

9781250132925_2fc19On Kelly’s heels is the new political call to arms from Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Macmillan Thomas Dunne Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample). It debuts at #3.

The Wall Street Journal writes that both books are selling, reporting that “In the first six days on bookstore shelves, Ms. Kelly’s memoir sold 64,000 copies, while former Democratic presidential contender Sen. Sanders’s book sold 45,000 copies.” The article goes on quote Sanders’s publisher as saying “He’s been waiting nearly his entire life to give this message to huge audiences … Happily, they’re buying books.” As for Kelly, one independent book store owner told the paper, “People are interested in her book because she was right in the middle of everything.”

Black Deaths Matter

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

9780316312479_e13eeGrabbing media attention, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample), is a debut book by Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery, part of a team who won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for WP‘s coverage of police shootings.

The NYT review says it is “electric,” in part “because it is so well reported, so plainly told and so evidently the work of a man who has not grown a callus on his heart.”

It is a book, says the paper, with “a warm, human tone” that details the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray; explores racial conditions, in the wake of all the police shootings and the Barack Obama’s presidency; and introduces “a new generation of black activists” and the black reporters who cover them and the events they are protesting.

Lowery was on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday talking, in part, about the implications of the election:

“One thing that was remarkable about the election of President Obama was that he did so with a rhetoric and with an ideal that we were not a divided America. It’s fundamental to his ideology of American exceptionalism. What’s been remarkable is that Donald Trump ran on an ideology and a platform that we are in fact a divided America, that there is an us vs. them, that we need to take something back from people who have seized it from us.”

Expect more attention. It is on multiple most anticipated lists including New York Magazine‘s and is getting coverage in newspapers from coast to coast, including the Boston Globe (subscription may be required), Chicago Tribune, which calls it a “behind-the-scenes narrative” of the “black death beat,” and the Seattle Times. Even other countries are taking notice, such as Macleans in Canada and the BBC in the UK.

Holds Alert: OUR REVOLUTION

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Bernie SandersSenator Bernie Sanders’s book, releasing today, is #1 on Amazon and is racking up holds in libraries, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Macmillan Thomas Dunne Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample),

Holds ratios are topping 5:1 in libraries that have ordered copies while others have yet to place orders, perhaps due to a lack of pre-pub reviews. Sanders, who is emerging as the leader of the Trump opposition, is getting high profile media coverage, which is driving sales and holds.

He was on CBS This Morning yesterday and his appearance there is currently the #1 trending video on YouTube:

He also sat down with Stephen Colbert last night (the full interview spans two clips):

NPR’s All Things Considered featured Sanders as well (see below for audio). He has also recently been on The View, Face the Nation, and many other network and cable news shows.

As we wrote earlier, the book recounts Sanders’ primary fight and offers a call to arms to continue his revolution.

More Books to Understand
the Election

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Following our post yesterday on election-related titles rising on Amazon’s sales rankings, the NYT published an article “6 Books to Help Understand Trump’s Win.” Those titles are now rising on Amazon as well.

The following are in the top 200:

Hillbilly ElegySales rank: 2 (was 5)
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample)

At the top of nonfiction best seller lists since August, the NYT calls it, “a compassionate, discerning sociological analysis of the white underclass that has helped drive the politics of rebellion.”

9781620972250_2d0ceSales rank: 26 (was 279)
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild, (The New Press, 2016; OverDrive Sample)

A finalist for the National Book Awards, to be named next week, the NYT says the author “takes seriously the Tea Partiers’ complaints that they have become the ‘strangers’ of the title — triply marginalized by flat or falling wages, rapid demographic change, and liberal culture that mocks their faith and patriotism. Her affection for her characters is palpable.”

White TrashSales rank: 65 (was 404)
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, Nancy Isenberg (PRH/Viking; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample)

NYT best seller for several weeks this summer, reaching a high of #8, is described by the NYT as  “an analysis of the intractable caste system that lingers below the national myths of rugged individualism and cities on hills. ”

9780374102418_d256aSales rank: 81 (was 3,196)
The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample)

Winner of the National Book Award in 2013, the NYT says that even though the book is now 3 years old, it is possibly the one “that best explains the American that elected Donald J. Trump”

9781627795395_ad7ff-2Sales rank: 129 (was 1,678)
Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? , Thomas Frank.  (Macmillan. Metropolitan Books, 2015; Macmillan audio; ; OverDrive Sample)

Rather than blaming the alt right for the disaffection of the white working class, this book argues that liberals should look at themselves, “Too busy attending TED talks and vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Frank argues, the Democratic elite has abandoned the party’s traditional commitments to the working class.”

The more academic book on the list is currently at #553.

9780997126440_25083The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics, John B. Judis, (Columbia Global Reports, 2016)

Argues that Trump is not a fascist, but a “nasty nationalist,” resembling “the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the buffoonish media baron,” rather than Mussolini.

Turning to Books to
Understand the Election

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

9780399594496_ac64d  Hillbilly Elegy  9781620972250_2d0ce

On the day after the election, Amazon’s sales rankings indicate people are turning to books to make sense of the Trump win. Trump’s own book from 2004 , Trump: The Art of the Deal (PRH/Ballantine) rose to #65. Trump’s co-writer on the book, Tony Schwartz, is now a Trump critic and says he regrets the role the book played in building the Trump image.

Already a best seller and widely regarded as the book that helps explain what fuels the anger of many among the white working class, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample) moved from #13 to #3.

An examination of the Tea Party, the National Book Award finalist, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild, (The New Press, 2016, NYT review) also shows a significant uptick.

We can expect to see many more books on the subject in the upcoming months.

Post-Transition Publishing

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Regardless of what happens on election day, several people are set to win big book contracts.

The Wall Street Journal reports that everyone from Vice President Joe Biden to Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway have the opportunity to write books for large payouts (subscription maybe required).

Of course, the big prize authors are the President and First Lady.

97803072376999781400082773_4e504The President has already proven his writing chops with The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream and Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (both from PHR/Crown). He still has one book left under his contract with Crown. WSJ reports it is “not clear” whether that third book will be his hotly anticipated presidential memoir and the publisher declined to comment.

That leaves open the slim possibility of a bidding war for the Presidential memoir. Based on Obama’s previous efforts, it is likely to be a more interesting book than any that have come before, just as his pre-election Dreams from My Father was not a typical candidate biography.

One editor told the paper “This is a book that will be read in 100 years.”

9781250132925_2fc19Bidding wars will have to wait until his term has concluded however, and others, such as Conway, have their hands full until after the election.

In the meantime, a new book by Bernie Sanders comes out on Nov. 15, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Macmillan/Thomas Dunne) and Former Attorney General Eric Holder has already sold a book project, Pursuing Justice, for seven figures to PRH/One World.

How To Rule The World

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Two professors of politics at New York University have written a hot title, The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith (Perseus/PGW/Legato/PublicAffairs; Tantor Media; OverDrive Sample).

The cynical and insightful guide to ruling was first published in 2011, but is gaining new attention thanks to a video that has gone viral:

The new exposure has caused the book to make an astounding leap on the Amazon rankings. Like a corrupt wanna-be ruler, it has conducted a coup on the list and moved from #63,499 to #2 yesterday. It is now at #40.

In their 2011 review, WSJ compared it to Freakonomics and called it “lucidly written, shrewdly argued.” [subscription may be required].

Read the Bern

Friday, September 9th, 2016

9781250132925_636deNot to be outdone by Hillary or Trump, Bernie Sanders is also publishing a book, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Macmillan/Thomas Dunne Books, Nov. 15, 2016).

To be published the week after the election, the book recounts Sanders’ primary fight and offers a call to arms to continue his revolution.

The book title is the same as Sanders’s new political group. Intended to continue the movement he began during the primary, the NYT says it is “focused on addressing economic inequality and taking on special interests.”

Macmillan is promoting the book with the hashtag #readtheburn.

Campaign Promises

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

9781501161735_87255Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine have released a book outlining their policies and plans, using  their campaign slogan as the title, Stronger Together (S&S).

The L.A. Times reports that the 288-page trade paperback (an ebook version has been released as well) is full of details:

the minutiae is the point. The political aim of the book is less to be a gripping page turner than to make the case that Donald Trump doesn’t even have the material to publish such a book if he were so inclined.”

The book is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings. The customer reviews section indicates that people are either strongly “with her” or strongly not. So far, but based on just 12 reviews, 58% of the ratings are 5 stars and 42% are just one star, with none in between.

Voices of the Other Percenters

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

9780307339379  Hillbilly Elegy  9780670785971_39370

Poor white Americans tend to vote against their own interests, a phenomenon that has long perplexed political observers. For the 2008 election, a touchstone book was  Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War by Joe Bageant (PRH/Crown).

This year, journalists are turning to two new books to try to understand the issue.

Debuting on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction best seller list this week at #9 is Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), which we first wrote about last week, as holds began to soar, based on media coverage.

Immediately behind it is White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg (PRH/Viking; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample), at #10 after six weeks. The author was interviewed a few days ago on the Bill Moyer’s website, noting:

“Since voters who feel unrepresented don’t expect anything new from practiced politicians, they have become convinced that Trump is talking to and not about them … They’re hearing his anger, an anger they recognize.”

When we checked in June, library holds were minimal, but that has changed. It is now topping a 4:1 ratio in most libraries.

Jesmyn Ward Gets NPR Bump

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

9781501126345_ad734Rising on Amazon is The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward (S&S/Scribner). The jump coincides with a featured interview on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday.

National Book Award–winner Ward talks with host Audie Cornish about her new essay collection and how she and her fellow essayists included in the book respond to the current state of race in America. The collection brings James Baldwin’s 1963 seminal book, The Fire Next Time to the present day. Contributors include Edwidge Danticat, Claudia Rankine, Natasha Trethewey, Isabel Wilkerson, and Kevin Young.

Ward says that few of the essays address the future “because this moment can feel so overwhelming” and discusses what it means, “as Claudia Rankine says, to be in a perpetual state of mourning.”

She also talks about the importance of the Presidency of Barack Obama and his statements “that he could be a victim of the kind of senseless, random, state-sanctioned violence that many black Americans have been victim to in the past couple of years … those statements were a revelation … I think it’s really important for us to hear someone in position of power, like the position of power, to say that.”

Reviews and listings are piling up. Bustle includes it on their list of “17 Nonfiction Books Coming in August 2016,” writing “the book explores the progress we’ve made and the work left to be done.”

USA Today is also featuring the collection, giving it 4.5 stars out of 5 and saying, “The perils of walking, driving — indeed living — while black have become tragically apparent in recent months … At a time of such tension, The Fire This Time … might seem too much to bear. But ultimately, the prose and poetry contained in this concise volume … is illuminating and even cathartic.”

Vogue says the book affirms “the power of literature and its capacity for reflection and imagination, to collectively acknowledge the need for a much larger conversation, to understand these split-second actions in present, past, and future tense, the way that stories impel us to do. This is a book that seeks to place the shock of our own times into historical context and, most importantly, to move these times forward.”

Holds Alert: HILLBILLY ELEGY

Monday, August 1st, 2016

9780062300546_801dfRequests are soaring for a memoir that details a key touchstone in the race for President, the feelings of alienation and loss among the white working class, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J. D. Vance (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample).

Demand is being generated by strong media coverage. The Wall Street Journal writes about it in a feature, The Washington Post printed an excerpt, and David Brooks recommends the book in his NYT‘s column “Revolt of the Masses,” writing “Vance’s family is from Kentucky and Ohio, and his description of the culture he grew up in is essential reading for this moment in history.”

In the WSJ Vance says his memoir seeks to address why he felt “culturally foreign” at Yale Law School and “started out as a quest to answer questions about his own upbringing but developed into a broader conversation about social divisions in the U.S. and feelings of disenfranchisement among the white working class.”

In the excerpted passage in the WP he writes, “economic cynicism brought with it a feeling that the country we believed in could no longer be trusted.”

His solution to a problem that spans multiple states is decidedly local, telling WSJ: “Concretely, I want pastors and church leaders to think about how to build community churches, to keep people engaged, and to worry less about politics and more about how the people in their communities are doing … I want parents to fight and scream less, and to recognize how destructive chaos is to their children’s future.”

His memoir is currently the 4th bestselling book on Amazon and holds have reached 8:1 ratios. A fact that one library patron shares with other readers of WSJ, writing in the comments section: “I tried to obtain Hillbilly Elegy from the library…I’m 95th in line for 12 copies.”

Interest in the subject has already proven high, as White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, Nancy Isenberg (PRH/Viking; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample) attests.