Since last November, Presidential politics and elections have been on everyone’s mind. Regardless of which side of the political aisle you fall, each of us has pondered the future of American politics and whether or not our democracy can withstand the impact of foreign intrusion and maintain its integrity for future generation. As voting citizens, we have the right to explore our political options and vote for the candidate we best see fit to lead our nation. However, much can be learned from critical analysis and study of the political process.
Today is yet another election day, and we will once again be deciding the very fate of the union. The majority of the races are for local candidates, but these races will have some national impact that could ripple across the nation. After casting your vote, you may want to venture into your local bookstore and pick up one of these new political reads. Today’s releases feature a new picture book on Barack Obama, the much talked about book by former DNC strategist, Donna Brazile; a satire based on Alec Baldwin’s SNL portrayal of Donald Trump; a look at the year 1968 by MSNBC host of The Last Word, Lawrence O’Donnell; and Veteran journalist Dan Rather releases a collection essays that focus on American unity if the face of adversity. From Obama to Trump and a few things in between, these are the books that will help readers gain a better understanding of what a democracy is and how it works.
Obama: An Intimate Portrait, Pete Souza
Former Chief White House Photographer Pete Souza has captured the most public and most personal images of the Obama presidency during his eight year tenure. This is the second of three photo books about Obama that Souza has authored. The third will be released later this month and is specifically for young readers who dream big like the 44th President of the United States. Obama is being sold as a hardcover coffee table book with over 300 pictures, many that have never been seen before, and a foreword written by Obama, himself. in addition to the hardcover edition, a deluxe limited edition is also available. BookTrib’s review of Obama contains some of the images Souza has taken over the years.
Hacks: The Inside Story of Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, Donna Brazile
Donna Brazile has come under fire in the last week as news about her new book emerged. The former Democratic National Committee Chair writes about her experiences during the 2016 election cycle and the things that she felt were worth voicing concern. Despite the criticism, Brazile tells a very compelling story about how election cycles work, how candidates are made and the delicate struggle to balance the desire to win with the ethical standards of running a fair and unbiased campaign.
This isn’t the first book where Brazile can be found ‘stirring the pots’ in political circles. Her first book, Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in America, is a searing memoir that chronicles Brazile’s life in politics beginning at age nine. Hacks is told in this same manner, Brazile holds nothing back and offers insight as to how we got to this moment in our political discourse in a manner that is unflinching an overwhelmingly real.
What Unites Us: Reflection on Patriotism, Dan Rather
What started out as an idea turned into a collection of essays by veteran journalist Dan Rather who contemplates the true meaning of patriotism in America. Rather offers his trademark approach to a very nuanced subject by examining American freedoms and values and how these lend themselves to helping to shape a national identity that is constantly changing. As a voice of reason, Rather offers his insight based upon the many years he’s spent covering transformative change in American social and political life. This book is a historical reflection of our times and how we move forward as a nation that seems to be more divided than ever.
Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics, Lawrence O’Donnell
O’Donnell cites 1968 as his “political awakening,” the defining moment in his political career where he realized that elections do matter. The 1960’s had already been a turbulent time in America, but on the political landscape, it appeared that things had begun to settle. The country weathered the assassination of a president, race relations seemed to be improving with passages of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, and LBJ seemed poised to win the Democratic nomination to hold onto his seat as president in a fight for the ages against Richard Nixon.
It seemed at the close of the decade, America was moving in a more positive direction— then all hell broke loose. Establishment Democrats wanted LBJ out and vied to put Robert Kennedy in his place, a candidate they thought had a better shot at defeating Nixon. After LBJ was out and Kennedy was in, the year continued to veer toward tragedy with the assassinations of Martin Luther Kin, Jr. and Robert Kennedy within months of one another, escalating tensions and casualties in Vietnam were on TV nightly, riots in Chicago and the incident at the DNC left a young O’Donnell facing life in a nation with an uncertain future. This is the year O’Donnell says provides the most insight into how we must view politics today and to employ the lessons learned that year as we continue to strive for a more perfect union.
You Can’t Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump (A So-Called Parody), Alec Baldwin and Kurt Andersen
For those of us who have loved Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, we now have a book to keep us entertained for the other six days of the week. Until Trump comes out with his own memoir of his days in the White House, we have You Can’t Spell America Without Me: the public’s window into Trump’s personal thoughts during important and monumental moments as president, like meeting other world leaders, strategy campaigns, and managing world politics from the golf course. From Alec Baldwin, leading Donald Trump actor, and Kurt Andersen, novelist and former editor of the Harvard Lampoon, we can’t recommend this one enough.
Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror, Victor Sebestyen
This is the first major biography of Lenin to be published in the English in almost twenty years. Instead of taking the traditional route and examining Lenin’s political years, this biography also takes look at who Lenin was as a person: his upbringing and education, his family, and relationships. With Lenin’s own papers, as well as the notes of other political figures now available, Sebestyen is able to paint a portrait of Lenin that is different than the typical one, both adding to our comprehension of Lenin the man, and Lenin as ruthless dictator, master of the Red Terror. Brilliantly written, and thoroughly educational.
God and Donald Trump, Stephen E. Strang
It’s been a year, and the 2016 presidential election still seems shocking and unexpected. We’re still asking ourselves what happened, and how every prediction made could have been so wrong. Stephen E. Strang, journalist and Christian leader who campaigned for Trump during the election season, takes a different approach, and looks at whether God had a role to play in getting Trump elected. The forward has been written by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who talks about the religious community that Trump has surrounded himself with. If you’re looking for a unique explanation for the election, this is it.
President McKinley: Architect of the American Century, Robert W. Merry
William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, is often overshadowed by his successor, Teddy Roosevelt. But, in his two terms in office, McKinley changed the face of the American people and industry: he helped liberate Cuba from Spain in the Spanish-American war, and helped create the “special relationship” between the US and the UK, in addition to other monumental events, before getting assassinated six months into his second term. Acclaimed historian Robert W. Merry examines how a man who became more or less forgotten in presidential history, had such a powerful impact on the face of the nation.
Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life, Robert Dallek
While many biographies have been written on Franklin D. Roosevelt, this one takes a pretty unique approach: rather than looking at him from his upbringing to his presidency and beyond, Dallek looks at the specific causes and influences that gave FDR such success in politics. The only person to hold the position of president for more than two terms, Roosevelt held office during some of the worst moments in history: the Great Depression and World War II. Roosevelt died in 1945, and leaving the presidency to Vice President Harry S. Truman, who dropped the atomic bomb on Japan in the first few months of his own presidency. An interesting take on an interesting man: Dallek has done a fantastic examination of FDR.
The Great Fear: Stalin’s Terror of the 1930s, James Harris
In the 1930s, almost three quarters of a million Soviet citizens were executed during the “Great Purge.” Stalin’s Soviet Union was marked with a bloody background, and one of the most unstable political climates in history. More than just an overview of Russian history, James Harris looks at key aspects of Stalin’s era, like how information was gathered and spread, the perception of Stalin in comparison to the documents made public in the Russian archive, and the motivations of those in power at the time, in other countries, as well as Russia. A very eloquent and perceptive analysis of Russian history.
Next week, former Vice President Joe Biden will also be releasing a book, ‘Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose’ to be released on November 14th. This book is a memoir that chronicles the last year of Biden’s term as VP while coping with the unimaginable loss of his eldest son, Beau Biden to a malignant brain tumor and the decision he made to not seek the democratic nomination for president in 2016.
ICYMI: Dennis Leary on Morning Joe this morning discussing his book, Why We Don’t Suck, and how the next presidential candidate may just have to be a celebrity.
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**Authors: Aisha K. Staggers (Senior Editor, BookTrib) and Rachel Fogle De Souza (Editorial Intern)