Archive for the ‘Politics and Current Events’ Category

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.

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.