WLRN #FridayReads: Political Junkies Edition

Aug 4, 2017

The last year has been a divisive one for our national political scene. But one uniting factor has been to turn a lot more of us into political junkies - talking, texting and tweeting about the latest moves in Congress or the White House as if they were episodes of "Game of Thrones."

Sometimes, though, it's nice to take a break from the fire hose of breaking updates and Twitter feeds and read an entire book. We asked some journalists who closely follow politics for their recommendations.

Lesley Clark, national correspondent for McClatchy Washington D.C. Bureau

“Shattered” (full disclosure, my friends Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen wrote the book) is a terrific behind-the-scenes look at the backbiting and frustrations of Hillary Clinton's campaign. It's catnip for political junkies, with insider accounts that the two gathered over the course of the campaign with the agreement they'd publish after the election. Significantly, they found that the campaign failed to ever articulate the "vision thing" for why Clinton was running. That's something we should demand from all candidates.

On the bedside table, waiting for a reprieve from breaking news:

“Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency” by Bloomberg reporter Joshua Green, who wrote a great cover piece on Bannon back in 2015, before he became key to Trump's campaign.

Sinclair Lewis' “It Can't Happen Here” — a dystopian fantasy of what it might look like if fascism came to America.

Favorites:

“All the Kings Men” by Robert Penn Warren. The political rise of a populist jumps off the page. 

“The Plot Against America” - Philip Roth has a deft touch with a chilling premise — that Nazi sympathizer, Charles Lindbergh, won the Republican nomination in 1940 and defeated Franklin Roosevelt. Some say the novel has parallels to today ... 

Tom Hudson, WLRN Vice President of News and host of The Florida Roundup

I just finished Terry McDonnell's "The Accidental Life: An Editor’s Notes on Writing and Writers." It's not about politics, but if you were a reader of the political writings of Hunter S. Thompson or P.J. O'Rourke, McDonnell may have edited some of what you read. The book gives readers a peek inside the work of one of the top magazine editors from the 1970s to the 2000s. McDonnell was a founding editor of Outside and was near the top or topped the mastheads at Esquire, Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated, among others. Along the way, as McDonnell was wrestling with the words of the top purveyors of New Journalism's approach to politics, he also witnessed the tectonic shifts in magazine journalism and its business. 

A few weeks before the 2016 election, I received a package in the newsroom. A listener sent me the book "By Silent Majority." That listener happened to be the book's author, Robert Buschel. He's a Fort Lauderdale attorney. By its title alone, I figured it was a political novel. I set it aside until this summer. It's a political thriller of sorts with a Floridian climbing the political ranks to become President of the United States. He's riding high and cruising to re-election when a secret that threatens his legacy and future is revealed. 

Patricia Mazzei, Miami Herald political writer

I (finally) read "What It Takes," by Richard Ben Cramer, at the start of 2015, and it gave me a big-picture of presidential politics — or at least, of how they were in 1988 — that I carried with me throughout the election.