Archive for the ‘Politics and Current Events’ Category

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.

Political Tell-All Tops Amazon

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

9781455568871_0fa23Another in a line of books aimed at discrediting Hillary Clinton received attention yesterday from the Drudge Report. The exclusive sent Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate, Gary J. Byrne (Hachette/Center Street; 6/28/16) racing to the top of Amazon’s sales rankings (jumping from 48,237 to #1).

Byrne, a former Secret Service officer assigned to the White House, offers a tell-all about what he saw during the Clinton years, including what he observed of Monica Lewinsky and his take on Hillary Clinton.

The book has been embargoed but Drudge has the exclusive, claiming that the book is “causing deep concern inside of Clinton’s campaign” and quoting Byrne as saying “What I saw in the 1990s sickend me … I want you to hear my story.”

The UK conservative tabloid, Daily Mail, also has the story and Politico included it in their “Playbook” section of what is driving the day in D.C.

Byrne made news back in the late 90s, getting attention in the NYT‘s for his reporting to the White House deputy chief of staff about Lewinsky’s appearances in the West Wing without, he believed, authorization. The Lewinsky story was originally broken by the Drudge Report, bringing it to national attention.

As a result of the embargo, there were no prepub reviews and, as a result, only a few libraries we checked have ordered copies.

Political Pop

Friday, May 13th, 2016

51xx5wmHJTL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_A self-published vanity press book claiming to give insider details of congress, The Confessions of Congressman X, by Congressman X (Mill City Press; ISBN 9781634139731; 5/24), is soaring on Amazon, currently at #8 on the sales charts.

The slim book of 84 pages offers observations such as:

“Most of my colleagues are dishonest career politicians who revel in the power and special-interest money that’s lavished upon them … My main job is to keep my job, to get reelected. It takes precedence over everything.”

“Voters are incredibly ignorant and know little about our form of government and how it works. It’s far easier than you think to manipulate a nation of naive, self-absorbed sheep who crave instant gratification.”

The conservative Washington Times says “It’s a rant, but one that appears to tap into public uneasiness with elected officials and their insular culture.” It got mention on The Blaze (Glenn Beck’s outlet), Fox, Daily Mail, and the New York Post as well.

Fox begins their coverage with “A steamy new novel about to hit bookstores is – if true – threatening to blow the lid off Congress and the dirty deeds some D.C. lawmakers allegedly engage in to stay in power.”

It is listed on Amazon but has yet to appear on online wholesaler catalogs.

Order Alert: RED PLATOON

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

9780525955054_cda59Surging up the Amazon ranks on the strength of a CBS Sunday Morning feature is Clinton Romesha’s  Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor (PRH/Dutton; Penguin Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample), which hits shelves tomorrow.  

The author, who earned the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan, writes about the battle for Outpost Keating in 2009, an against-the-odds fight in which eight American soldiers died trying to defend a combat post on the front lines of the war, a place Romesha calls “the most remote, precarious and tactically-screwed combat outpost in all of Afghanistan.”

In their starred review, PW said the account “ranks among the best combat narratives written in recent decades” and that Romesha’s “powerful, action-packed book is likely to stand as a classic of the genre.”

Variety reported in late January that Sony Pictures optioned film rights to the memoir.

Ordering is light across libraries we checked.

 

SNOWDEN, First Trailer

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Director Oliver Stone’s interpretation of the Edward Snowden story, based on Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, (RH/Vintage; trade pbk tie-in, 8/23/16), titled simply Snowden, is set for release on Sept. 16.

The trailer released today, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role, gives a taste:

Also in the movie are Shailene Woodley as Snowden’s girlfriend and Zachary Quinto as journalist Glenn Greenwald.

Curiously,  a rival project based on Greenwald’s  book,  No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (Macmillan/Holt/Metropolitan Books; Macmillan Audio) was announced two years ago.

Even curiouser, as we reported earlier, there has also been a rivalry between the authors of the books each of the films are based on. In an interview in the Financial Times, Greenwald dismissed Harding’s as a “bullshit book … written by someone who has never met or even spoken to Edward Snowden.”

In The News:
[Don’t] Put A Ring On It

Monday, February 29th, 2016

9781476716565_619baThe political clout of a large and growing segment of women voters is analyzed by Rebecca Traister in All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation (Simon & Schuster).

A writer at large for New York Magazine and a noted figure in journalism and historical/political research related to women, Traiter’s newest book is getting a wide coverage. The author appears today on CBS This Morning:

This book has been heavily anticipated. In 2014, Traister appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, when it was still  in progress, giving an overview of her findings.

Thus far, library orders are very light but media attention may fuel demand .

Order Alert: DARK MONEY

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

9780385535595_c7da8As the result of an embargo, preventing pre-pub reviews, many libraries are facing high demand on few, if any, copies of a new book on right wing money and politics, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (PRH/Doubleday; BOT).

Author and journalist Jane Mayer appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday and as a result the book is now #4 on Amazon’s sales ranking and holds are skyrocketing.

Mayer shares some horrifying stories about the Koch’s, the bad blood in the family, and the secret way they (and other wealthy conservative families) give money to shape politics.

Calling them the political equivalent of secret tax shelter banks in the Cayman Islands, she explains how the Koch’s and others have undertaken a concerted campaign to shape the political environment by financing think tanks to formulate ideas, bankrolling advocacy groups to support those ideas, and pressuring politicians to create laws to enact them – all constructed in a way to hide the identity of those funding the process.

 

The Roots of ISIS

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

www.randomhouse.comAuthor and reporter Joby Warrick appeared on PBS Newshour last night to discuss the Paris attacks and this history of ISIS. In September, he published Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS (PRH/Doubleday; BOT; OverDrive Sample). It rose to #220 on Amazon’s sales rankings as a result of the show.

During the interview, Warrick explained the roots of the terrorist group:

“…to a lot of people … ISIS seemed to come out of nowhere last year. And the truth is, there is a very long and complicated story behind this organization. It’s quite different from al-Qaida. It’s always been a different stripe, but its story goes back into prisons in Jordan in the 1990s and with individuals who became radicalized and became very different from this message of al-Qaida about sort of driving out their Western powers from the Middle East.”

The Washington Post selected Black Flags as one of their 10 Best Books of 2015. In libraries, holds vary widely with large local spikes in some systems and steady circulation in others.

Spotlight On LIGHTS OUT

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

9780553419962_c0ad7As we reported on Friday, former ABC News reporter and award-winning journalist Ted Koppel is receiving media attention for his investigation into the potential of a massive cyber attack on the nation’s power grid.

Koppel appeared yesterday on CBS This Morning promoting his book, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath (PRH/Crown; BOT Audio).

He was on yesterday evening PBS’s News Hour as well.

Koppel accuses the Federal government of having no plan in place to cope with the fallout and calls such an assault inevitable, quoting Centcom Commander General Lloyd Austin as saying, “It’s not a question of if, it’s just a question of when.”

Koppel reports that the Russians and Chinese already have the capacity to conduct an attack and that individual groups, such as ISIS, can hire the expertise and run an operation with equipment that can be bought off the shelf.

The book rose to #8 on Amazon sales rankings after yesterday’s appearances.

The Nixon White House

Monday, October 12th, 2015

9781501116445_f309dNixon is in the news again, most recently as the cover story on yesterday’s CBS Sunday Morning.

Reporter David Martin interviewed both Nixon’s Deputy Assistant to the President, Alexander Butterfield, the man who told the world about the White House taping system, and Bob Woodward, who along with Carl Bernstein, exposed Nixon’s crimes.

Woodward’s new book, The Last of the President’s Men (S&S; S&S Audio), is based on interviews with Butterfield and 20 boxes of papers (some of them classified as top secret) he carried out of the White House. The book details Butterfield’s role, outlines the political era of Nixon, and offers a candid view of Nixon himself.

Much of the CBS Sunday Morning report centers on Nixon’s handling of the Vietnam War – bombing even as he internally raged against its ineffectiveness and his determination to discredit witnesses of the My Lai massacre.

It also addresses what Woodward calls “a subversion of what the job of the presidency is.” For example, Nixon had the CIA, FBI, and the House Committee on Un-American Activities all look into a civil servant who had two pictures of President Kennedy in her office – an offense Nixon obsessed over and called an “infestation.”

While orders and holds are light at libraries we checked, Woodward’s book is currently #60 and rising on Amazon’s sales rankings.

Trump Announces Title of
Campaign Book

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

9781501137969_c174e

The author of the book featured on the left, presidential candidate Donald Trump, says the cover photo is of such “a nasty-looking guy” that he decided to use the title Crippled America, (S&S/Threshold; S&S Audio, Oct. 27) rather than his campaign motto, “Make America Great Again.”

He also said, during a campaign stop in Iowa yesterday, that he was surprised that “the Rolls Royce” of publishers, Simon and Schuster would go for such a “nasty title.”

And we expected him to be a fan of one of one of S&S’s other titles, Fuck Yeah Menswear.

Ballet and Budgets on Late Night

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

9781476737980_f76dd 9780393247213_d8378 Stephen Colbert featured American Ballet Theater’s Misty Copeland and legendary musician Yo-Yo Ma yesterday on the CBS Late Show, perhaps one of the few times in recent memory a ballet dancer – not to mention a classical cellist – has taken center stage in a world dominated by comics, actors, and celebrities.

Copeland made history when she became the American Ballet Theater’s first black female principal dancer. She has published both an autobiography, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, (S&S/Touchstone; Tantor Audio) and a children’s picture book, Firebird, illus. by Christopher Myers, (Penguin/Putnam).

Colbert interviews Copeland before her performance (beginning at time stamp 31:22 in the full video). He spends a lot of time with her and asks thoughtful questions, including how she feels about being a role model.

Bustle says Twitter lit up over her and Ma’s appearance. Below is a highlight.

In contrast the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, appears tomorrow night, discussing his new book The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath (Norton; Brilliance Audio). In it he presents a history of the 2008 financial collapse through his perspective as the point man for the government’s management of the economy.

Bernanke is in the midst of a big push for his book and Colbert is not his only stop.

He was on CBS Sunday Morning last week and has gotten wide coverage in print media from his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal to coverage in The New York Times. He will appear on FOX, CNN, PBS, and ABC as well.

The early attention is paying off. His book is sitting at Amazon’s #20 spot already and he has yet to get the Colbert bump – if one is in the offing.

Donald Trump: New Book
On The Way

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 10.14.43 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-05 at 10.19.34 AMSet to appear on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert tonight, Donald Trump may announce that he has a new book coming on Oct. 27, on the heels of his update of Time to Get Tough: Making America Great Again (Regnery Publishing).

Threshold Editions, a conservative imprint of S&S that also publishes works by Karl Rove, Glenn Beck and Lynne Cheney, will release the as yet untitled book (S&S/Threshold Editions; 240 pages; ISBN 9781501137969; October 2015; $26.00).

Quoting from a statement by S&S, Vanity Fair reports the book will:

“… outline how a crippled America could be restored to greatness [and] explore Trump’s view on key issues including the economy, big CEO salaries and taxes, healthcare, education, national security, and social issues. Of particular interest will be his vision for complete immigration reform, beginning with securing the borders and putting American workers first.”

Included in the same statement is Trump’s own take on his newest offering:

“I am excited to announce that work on my new bestseller is almost done and I’ll have a new book out from Threshold Editions and Simon & Schuster later this year. Not since The Art of the Deal have I had this much fun writing a book.”

The Washington Post’s nonfiction critic, Carlos Lozada, earlier offered a round-up of some of Trump’s other bestsellers, experienced via a massive binge-reading session.

From our previous story on Lozada’s reactions, he “encountered a world where bragging is breathing and insulting is talking, where repetition and contradiction come standard, where vengefulness and insecurity erupt at random.” He doubts Trump would be satisfied if he actually became President, quoting him on what makes him happy, “The same assets that excite me in the chase, often, once they are acquired, leave me bored … For me, you see, the important thing is the getting, not the having.”