cover image Best American Political Writing 2009

Best American Political Writing 2009

, , intro. by Matt Taibbi. . Public Affairs, $16.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-1-58648-783-6

A tumultuous year yields a trove of political journalism in this anthology of magazine pieces. Leading off are sharp accounts of the Obama, McCain and Clinton campaigns, as well as Adam Sternbergh's smart look at how baseball statistics can inform election prognostications. A section on the economic meltdown features incisive analyses—and consistently dire forecasts—by Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and James K. Galbraith. Profiles of the incoming Democratic regime include Michelle Cottle's savvy take on Obama's laboriously constructed, Gatsbyesque veneer of cool. Foreign-policy dispatches range through Christopher Hitchens's memoir of being waterboarded, Mark Danner's harrowing investigation of CIA torture methods and disquieting reports from Michael Hastings and Dexter Filkins on America's sputtering war against Islamic extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Editor Flippin doesn't seem very widely read: the pieces are mainly culled from the New Yorker , New York magazine and the New York Times Magazine . (Brian Doherty chips in the lone conservative perspective in a sour piece on Obama as stealth dictator.) There are few surprises, but the compendium does showcase centrist flagship journalism at its most effective. (Nov.)