Archive for the ‘Politics and Current Events’ Category

Slate Discusses Ta-Nehisi Coates

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Ta-Nehisi CoatesAdd this to your podcast playlist. Slate‘s Audio Book Club convenes this month to discuss Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me (RH/Spiegel & Grau; OverDrive Sample).

Written as letter to his teenage son about racism in America, it continues to draw attention and debate. One of the ten selections on this year’s NBA Nonfiction longlist, it is also once again holding the #1 spot on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction Best Sellers list (it hit the list at #1 during its first week on sale and stayed there for three weeks before dipping to the #2 spot for five weeks).

Jamelle Bouie (Slate’s chief political correspondent), Meghan O’Rourke (Slate’s cultural critic), and Katy Waldman (Slate’s “Words” correspondent) engage in a conversation on what they all agree is a searing and demanding experience that forces readers to struggle with Coates’s multiple indictments.

Describing the book as a mix of memoir, polemic, and literary essay that evokes Richard Wright and James Baldwin, the three panelists struggle themselves to come to grips with Coates’s essential message, his slippery take on hope and the iffy possibility for justice.

They praise the book’s lyrical, literary power, agree that it is forcefully animated and rigorously demanding, and call it a book without answers that they each recommend to readers.

The Audio Book Club will take on Andy Weir’s The Martian (RH/Crown) in October. NASA is a fan, claiming the book has already “saved the entire the entire space program.” It is currently #1 on the NYT Paperback Trade Fiction Best Sellers list after 46 weeks.

The film version debuts Oct. 2, starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain.

Trump Analysis

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 11.12.34 AMAnalyzing what Michael D’Antonio’s new biography of Donald Trump, Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success (Macmillan/Thomas Dunne Books; Macmillan Audio; Sept. 22) indicates about his potential as a political candidate, The New York Times notes that it includes “candid and sometimes unflattering assessments of Mr. Trump by co-workers, friends, enemies and, most entertainingly, his former wives.”

D’Antonio also interviewed Trump, but says that those sessions ended abruptly after Trump discovered that the author had interviewed one of his enemies.

On the touchy subject of the military, the bio says that Trump, who never served, having received multiple deferments during the Vietnam War, claims he nevertheless “always felt that I was in the military” due to the character of the military-themed boarding school he attended as a teenager.

He tells Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist D’Antonio that the school provided “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”

With great glee the NYT also reports on the more grandiose of Trump’s past public statements, saying “Mr. Trump is a veritable factory of boorish put-downs, laugh-out-loud exaggerations and self-aggrandizing declarations. But Never Enough unearths decades-old gems that might otherwise be lost to history.”

The publisher’s promo includes a list of “Ten Facts” from the book, including that he once hoped to date Princess Diana and that Richard Nixon urged him to run for office.

Originally scheduled for release in January, publication was moved up due to “high demand and heightened interest” in Trump after he announced he was running for president. Library orders and holds are light, however.

UPDATE: Never Enough is also reviewed in the NYT Sunday Book Review by James B. Stewart, NYT columnist and author of Den of Thieves.

Trump Biography Moved Up

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 10.06.39 AM Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success by Michael D’Antonio (Macmillan/Thomas Dunne; Oct. 6) will be in the hands of readers sooner than first planned.

Originally scheduled for release in January, it will now be issued in early October in response to “high demand and heightened interest in Republican Presidential candidate Trump,” reports Entertainment Weekly. The LA Times adds that the biography will feature information gathered from interviews with Trump’s children and his ex-wives.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 10.19.34 AMAn update of Trump’s own 2011 book, Time to Get Tough: Making America Great Again (Regnery Publishing) is set for publication on Aug. 31. The burst on the cover, “Updated for 2016” indicates this may be his campaign book (the original, published in 2011, came out before the 2012 elections. He had hinted he would run then but ended up dropping out).

Neither book, however, will be available before the first Republican debates, scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, August 6 at 9 p.m EST.

Trump has published many books. Carlos Lozada, nonfiction book critic of The Washington Post, binge-read all eight of them and reports 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.”


Friday, July 24th, 2015

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.

Climate Change Encyclical
Coming in Book Form

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Encyclical on Climate ChangeOn 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.”

His comments and call for action centered within a moral and religious context triggered headlines and OpEds.

The letter has been available free online, but on August 4th Melville House will release it in print under the title Encyclical on Climate Change and InequalityOn Care for Our Common Home.

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.

Controversy Sells;

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 9.26.35 AMProving 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 Tells Her Story

Monday, April 27th, 2015

The StoryJudith 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 NYTThe Story: A Reporter’s Journey (Simon & Schuster; Random House Audio; Thorndike;  OverDrive Sample).

Following a round of appearances earlier this month on several FOX shows, CBS This Morning, and on the Bill Maher Show, she will appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this Wednesday.

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.

The NYT calls her book “sad and flawed” while The Washington Post‘s media critic says:

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.

CLINTON CASH: Embargo Broken

Monday, April 20th, 2015

9780062369284_4d7a3Calling 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.

Dishing on White House Residents

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015


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.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Sunday, March 15th, 2015

9780805099263_ac285The 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.

Obama’s Political Philosopher on THE DAILY SHOW

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 9.15.06 AM

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.”

Read Like Zuckerberg, Book Three

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

glforadayThe next pick in Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fast-paced book club is:

Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, Sudhir Venkatesh (Penguin Press, 2008; HarperCollins Audio; Overdrive Sample)

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 NatureWhy 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)

New Book On China Roars on Amazon

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 10.10.42 AM

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.


Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

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.

A Two-Author Week on Jon Stewart

Monday, January 26th, 2015

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.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 12.11.33 PMAs 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.’”

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 12.10.47 PMSarah 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.