What’s happening on the left? The right? What’s become of the center? Spring’s books turn inwards, taking stock of the American political landscape before the election and arguing for change.
The Republican Party seems to grow more conservative by the day, and two titles examine how and why America shifted so far right, so fast. In As Texas Goes…: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda, New York Times columnist Gail Collins analyzes the Bush, Cheney, Rove, and Perry legacies of banking deregulation, lax environmental standards, and tax cuts, as well as their championing of states rights, gun ownership, and sexual abstinence. From Texas to Fox News: how did the network become synonymous with the Republican Party? News watchdog organization Media Matters for America, via its leaders David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt, track the career of Fox News president and former political operative Roger Ailes in The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine, exposing the network’s reliance on misinformation.
Many books focus on Obama’s presidency, but readers seeking to understand the president’s character, as shaped by his family and actualized in his youth and early career, should turn to David Maraniss’s exhaustively researched biography, Barack Obama: The Story.
Meanwhile, these pages cannot contain the multitude of books on America’s economic woes. Famed pundit James Carville and pollster Stan Greenberg defend the intelligence of the American voter and look at the gap between how the public and its politicians view the economy, in their lively It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! Taking a more measured tone, Edward Luce, chief U.S. columnist for the Financial Times, interviewed lawmakers, business executives, and even military brass for Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent, in which he argues that the country’s future depends on American pragmatism, rather than relying on (now outdated) assumptions of American exceptionalism. In his first book, The Escape Artists, White House journalist Noam Scheiber reveals the personalities of Obama’s economic team as they tackle the global economic crisis.
Though a heightened security state has become routine in the decade after 9/11, three books analyze why such acceptance is dangerous. In Drift, popular MSNBC political analyst and host Rachel Maddow probes the costs of a deeply militarized culture and a financially unstable national security sector. David C. Unger looks at the assumption of broader war-making power by presidents from both parties in The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs. And in the grim, but very necessary, Rights at Risk: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America, David K. Shipler investigates cases of individual rights violations, from American terror suspects held indefinitely to teen murder suspects coaxed into false confessions.
With so much energy focused on the coming election, let’s not forget to look abroad. For a portrait of youthful dissent, see Arab Spring Dreams: The Next Generation Speaks Out for Freedom and Justice from North Africa to Iran, edited by Sohrab Ahmari and Nasser Weddady, featuring hopeful and moving essays about activism and daily life culled from thousands of entries in the Dream Deferred Essay Contest on Civil Rights in the Mideast.
PW’s Top 10: Politics
As Texas Goes...: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda
Gail Collins. Norton/Liveright, June.
The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine
David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt. Anchor, Feb.
Barack Obama: The Story
David Maraniss. Simon & Schuster, June.
It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!
James Carville and Stan Greenberg. Penguin/Blue Rider, June.
Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent
Edward Luce. Atlantic Monthly, Mar.
The Escape Artists
Noam Scheiber. Simon & Schuster, Feb.
Rachel Maddow. Crown, Mar.
The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs
David C. Unger. Penguin, Feb.
Rights at Risk: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America
David K. Shipler. Knopf, Mar.
Arab Spring Dreams: The Next Generation Speaks Out for Freedom and Justice from North Africa to Iran
Edited by Sohrab Ahmari and Nasser Weddady. Palgrave MacMillan, May.
The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine by David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt (Feb. 21, paper, $15, ISBN 978-0307279583) is based on research by the news watchdog organization Media Matters for America, offering an unflinching look at the Fox News Channel and network president Roger Ailes, and the transformation from right-leaning news network to Republican Party advocate.
Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent by Edward Luce (Mar. 12, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0802120212). From the chief U.S. columnist for the Financial Times comes a timely investigation into where America stands toward the end of Obama’s first term, and a critical analysis of the problems set to dominate America’s future.
Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation by James Howard Kunstler (June 11, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0802120304). The bestselling author of The Long Emergency expands on his alarming argument that our oil-addicted, technology-dependent society is on the brink of collapse, and suggests that the long emergency has already begun.
It’s Worse Than It Looks: The Book on America’s Political Dysfunction by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein (May 8, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0465031337). In the wake of another disastrous year in American politics, Brookings Institution pundit Mann and American Enterprise Institute scholar Ornstein, authors of The Broken Branch, provide their take on what’s wrong and how to fix it.
The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise by Arthur C. Brooks (Apr. 10, hardcover, $25.99 ISBN 978-0465029402). From the president of the American Enterprise Institute comes the follow-up to The Battle: a candid assessment of how mainstream America can take the philosophy of free enterprise and translate it into political action.
Cheating Justice: How Bush and Cheney Attacked the Rule of Law, Plotted to Avoid Prosecution, and What We Can Do About It by Elizabeth Holtzman and Cynthia L. Cooper (Feb. 7, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0807003220). Former U.S. representative Holtzman and journalist Cooper (coauthors of The Impeachment of George W. Bush) reveal how the Bush-Cheney administration broke a multitude of laws and betrayed American values.
Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent by E.J. Dionne (May 3, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1608192014). Washington Post columnist Dionne (Why Americans Hate Politics) offers a passionate argument about who we are as a nation, what’s tearing us apart, and what can be done to restore our sense of confidence.
Ron Paul’s rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired by Brian Doherty (Apr. 25, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062114792). Based on original reporting, journalist Doherty (Radicals for Capitalism) documents Paul’s swift rise to national prominence and the movement he has engendered. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic by Jay Cost (Apr. 25, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062041159). In this provocative revisionist history, a Weekly Standard columnist examines the modern Democratic coalition, how it was formed, and how it actually works. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback by Monica Crowley (May 16, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062131157). Fox News contributor and host, syndicated columnist, and national radio host Crowley (Nixon in Winter) delivers a humorous, fast-paced, sharply argued tour of what she considers the country’s disastrous Obama years. 200,000-copy announced first printing.
Drift by Rachel Maddow (Mar. 27, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0307460981). In her trademark frank and intelligent style, the host of MSNBC’s acclaimed The Rachel Maddow Show argues that in the battle between the priorities of civilian life and of the war machine, the national security sector is winning—leaving the U.S. weaker and less secure.
Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Christopher L. Hayes (June 12, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0307720450). In this controversial analysis, MSNBC host and Nation editor Hayes tackles 30 years of extreme inequality and challenges elites and citizens alike to define a new accountability for our national cultural, political, and religious institutions.
The New Leviathan: How the Left-Wing Money-Machine Shapes American Politics and Threatens America’s Future by David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin (June 12, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0307716453). The conservative coauthors of One-Party Classroom explore the new socialist agenda behind illegal immigration, health care, detainee rights, the Supreme Court, labor, the environment, and other hot-button issues.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Power, Inc.: The Epic Rivalry Between Big Business and Government—and the Reckoning That Lies Ahead by David Rothkopf (Mar., hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-374-15128-7). Rothkopf (Superclass), a former U.S. trade official, surveys the business corporation from medieval Sweden’s Stora Kopparberg mine through the private empire of the British East India Company to today’s giant multinationals.
Oblivion: A Memoir by Héctor Abad, trans. from the Spanish by Anne McLean and Rosalind Harvey (Apr. 4, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0374223977). A heartbreaking, exquisitely written memorial to the author’s father, Héctor Abad Gómez, whose criticism of the Colombian regime led to his murder by paramilitaries in 1987.
Afghan Endgames: Strategy and Policy Choices for America’s Longest War, edited by Hy Rothstein and John Arquilla (Feb. 15, paper, $29.95, ISBN 978-1589019089). This volume brings together experts in history, strategy, anthropology, ethics, and mass communications to provide a comprehensive assessment of the alternatives for restoring peace and stability to Afghanistan.
After Camelot: A Personal History of the Kennedy Family—1968 to the Present by J. Randy Taraborrelli (Apr. 24, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0446553902). For more than half a century, Americans have been captivated by the Kennedy family’s tragedy and triumph. In this sweeping account, Taraborrelli continues the family chronicle begun with his bestselling Jackie Ethel Joan.
Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution by Linda Hirshman (May 16, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0061965500). A former labor lawyer and political pundit details the story of how a resourceful and dedicated minority transformed the notion of American equality and forged a campaign for cultural change that will serve as a model for all future political movements. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
Johns Hopkins Univ. press
Leaving Without Losing: The War on Terror After Iraq and Afghanistan by Mark N. Katz (Apr. 1, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1421405582). George Mason University professor Katz argues that U.S. withdrawal doesn’t have to mean defeat, and that disengagement could do more to undermine Islamic radicals and strengthen the ability of America and its allies to deal with them.
Rights at Risk: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America by David K. Shipler (Mar. 6, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-0307594860). In a book that PW calls a “must-read” and “fascinating and provocative,” former New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize–winner Shipler (The Working Poor) examines violations of constitutional principles that preserve individual rights and civil liberties, from courtrooms to classrooms.
The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed by Terry McDermott and Josh Meyer (Mar. 26, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0316186599). Former Los Angeles Times chief terrorism reporter Meyer and journalist McDermott (Perfect Soldiers) present the definitive account of the decade-long pursuit and capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the worst terrorist attacks in history.
Little, Brown/Back Bay
The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War by Garrett M. Graff (Feb. 9, paper, $17.99, ISBN 978-0316068604). An engrossing new history of the FBI and its secret battles to confront the rise of global terrorism and the war on terror by the editor-in-chief of the Washingtonian and author of The First Campaign.
Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government’s Stranglehold on America by Matt Kibbe (May 30, hardcover, $23.99, ISBN 978-0062196019). An aggressively argued attack on centralized government by the high-profile leader of the Tea Party–aligned group, FreedomWorks.
Oklahoma City by Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles (Mar. 21, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0061986444). Combining groundbreaking investigative research with a thrilling and true conspiracy story, this is a riveting new account of the deadliest act of terrorism on American soil before 9/11. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
Showdown: The Inside Story of Obama’s Fight to Save His Presidency by David Corn (Feb. 15, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062107992). With insight and narrative flair, veteran Washington journalist Corn (The Lies of George W. Bush) traces the most dramatic years of the Obama presidency—from the historic tax-break deal with congressional Republicans to the killing of bin Laden and beyond.
Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama’s Dreams of a Socialist America by Michael Savage (Mar. 14, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0062083975). An explosive election year call to arms to retake the White House from the clutches of tyranny and preserve American greatness, by the conservative radio host and bestselling author of Trickle Up Poverty.
Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges, illus. by Joe Sacco (May 22, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1568586434). Pulitzer Prize–winner and bestselling author Hedges (Empire of Illusion) and American Book Award–winning cartoonist Sacco bring a searing on-the-ground report on the crisis gripping underclass America and crime-ridden poverty enclaves.
Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency After 9/11 by Jack Goldsmith (Mar. 12, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0393081336). The surprising truth behind Barack Obama’s decision to continue many of his predecessor’s counterterrorism policies, from a Harvard University law professor and author of The Terror Presidency.
As Texas Goes...: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda by Gail Collins (June 4, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0871404077). Bestselling New York Times columnist Collins examines the political influence of Texas, whose leaders—Bush, Cheney, Rove, and Perry—have created a conservative political agenda that’s defining our national identity, with profound social and economic consequences for us all.
The New Black Politician: Cory Booker, Newark, and Post-Racial America by Andra Gillespie (May 7, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0814732441). Recently, a vanguard black leadership has emerged, with Newark mayor Cory Booker leading the way. Using Newark as a backdrop, Gillespie examines the new terrain of black politics, where young moderates are proving more popular than civil rights veterans.
Oxford Univ. Press
No One’s World: The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn by Charles A. Kupchan (Mar. 1, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0199739394). The 21st century will not belong to America, China, or anyone else. Kupchan provides a detailed strategy for striking a bargain between the West and rising nations by advocating a new consensus on issues of legitimacy, sovereignty, and governance.
The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and Rise and Decline of Black Politics by Fredrick Harris (June 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0199739677). Obama’s historic triumph in the 2008 election contains an irony: he won as an African-American only by denying that he was the candidate of African-Americans. Harris argues that Obama’s very success exacted a heavy cost on black politics.
Arab Spring Dreams: The Next Generation Speaks Out for Freedom and Justice from North Africa to Iran, edited by Sohrab Ahmari and Nasser Weddady (Apr. 19, paper, $17, ISBN 978-0230115927). Middle Eastern youth dare to speak out in their own words about political freedom, human rights, and their hopes for transforming the region.
Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security by Kip Hawley and Nathan Means (Apr. 4, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0230120952). From the former head of the TSA comes an inside look at how this much maligned agency fights terrorism and why only a risk-tolerant strategy, rather than more crippling bureaucracy, will make us safe.
It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! by James Carville and Stan Greenberg (June 5, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0399160394). Focusing on the worldviews of the public and politicians on the state of our economy, Democratic strategists Carville and Greenberg argue that America’s voters aren’t as dumb as elected officials think, and that some backbone could avert a total election day turnover.
The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs by David C. Unger (Feb. 16, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1594203244). From New York Times editorial writer Unger, a lucid and far-reaching analysis of the cumulative harm caused by America’s outdated, bipartisan, and increasingly misdirected national security state.
Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It by Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson (May 1, $24.95, 978-0691153919). According to UPenn president Gutmann and Harvard professor Thompson, authors of Democracy and Disagreement, if politics is the art of the possible, then compromise is the artistry of democracy. A rejection of compromise biases politics in favor of the status quo.
The Arab Uprising: The Wave of Protest That Toppled the Status Quo and the Struggle for a New Middle East by Marc Lynch (Mar. 6, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1610390842). An acclaimed Middle East expert and Foreign Policy blogger explores the ramifications of upheaval in the Arab world, and how the West should react.
Rowman & Littlefield
Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond by Douglas E. Schoen (Mar. 1, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1442215238). An eminent political pundit analyzes the growing chasm between the political class—politicians, lobbyists, fund-raisers, consultants—and mainstream America, frustrated with the government’s inability to address major issues.
Simon & Schuster
The Escape Artists by Noam Scheiber (Feb. 28, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1439172407). A star White House journalist and senior editor at the New Republic provides a gripping look inside the meeting rooms, inboxes, and supersharp minds of the pedigreed propeller heads who attempted to guide President Obama out of a global economic crisis.
Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss (June 19, hardcover, $32.50, ISBN 978-1439160404). In this definitive biography of young Obama, based on extensive research, Maraniss (Head of His Class) unearths the stories of Obama and his disparate forebears in a way that makes his rise to the presidency seem that much more unlikely.
Simon & Schuster/Threshold
Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat by Michael Widlanski (Feb. 21, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1451659030). Journalist and Arab political expert Widlanski explains how the United States’ top institutions have failed to effectively use counterterrorism intelligence.
No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails—But Individuals Succeed by John Stossel (Apr. 10, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1451640946). In the latest from the bestselling journalist and Fox Business Channel host, Stossel (Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity) shows how the expansion of government control is destructive for American society.
Secrets of the Obama Administration by Tom Fitton (July 10, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1451677874). Judicial Watch president Fitton reveals what the largest nonpartisan watchdog agency has uncovered in its battles against Obama administration secrecy on high-profile issues.
Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America’s Soul by Gary Weiss (Feb. 8, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-0312590734). An examination of novelist Ayn Rand’s ideas and her enormous impact on American culture and politics—from Alan Greenspan to the Tea Party—by journalist Weiss (Wall Street Versus America), which PW calls “riveting and disturbing.”
Life Among the Cannibals: A Political Career, a Tea Party Uprising, and the End of Governing as We Know It by Sen. Arlen Specter and Charles Robbins (Mar. 8, hardcover, $26.99, 978-1250003683). A revealing memoir by the longtime Pennsylvania senator, who switched to the Democratic Party late in his career in response to mounting Republican extremism.
The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America by Tom A. Coburn and John Hart (Mar. 24, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1595554673). According to Senator Coburn from Oklahoma, the greatest threat to our nation comes not from any foreign power but from elected leaders who refuse to make the hard choices necessary to put us on a sustainable fiscal course.
Univ. of Washington Press
Unending Crisis: National Security Policy after 9/11 by Thomas Graham Jr. (May 1, paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-0295991702). Ambassador Graham, a major figure in 20th- and 21st-century politics and arms control expert, turns to our national policy since 9/11, offering insights into government mistakes and missed opportunities. 3,000-copy announced first printing.
Univ. of Wisconsin Press
Torture and Impunity by Alfred W. McCoy (July 20, paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-0299288549). McCoy (A Question of Torture) probes the political and cultural dynamics that have made impunity for torture a bipartisan policy of the U.S. government under presidents Bush and Obama.
Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan by Ahmed Rashid (Mar. 15, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0670023462). In this follow-up to Descent into Chaos, the leading journalist on Pakistan addresses America’s options with Pakistan and Afghanistan in the post–bin Laden years, and suggests a way forward.
The Obamians: How a Band of Newcomers Redefined American Power by James Mann (June 14, hardcover; $26.95, 978-0670023769). An evenhanded analysis of the events, ideas, personalities, and conflicts that have defined Obama’s foreign policy in a time of global turmoil, from the author of Rise of the Vulcans.
That Should Still Be Us: How Thomas Friedman’s Flat World Myths Are Keeping Us Flat on Our Backs by Martin Sieff (Apr., hardcover, $22.95, ISBN 978-1-118-19766-0). The main thing that’s wrong with our economy is that too many influential people have been taking Friedman’s advice, argues veteran journalist Sieff (Shifting Superpowers).
In God’s Shadow: Politics in the Hebrew Bible by Michael Walzer (May, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-300-18044-2). Distinguished political theorist Walzer (Arguing About War) reports his findings from decades of thinking about the politics of the Bible, and discusses the views of ancient biblical writers on justice, hierarchy, war, the authority of kings and priests, and the experience of exile.