Watching the election night results come in used to be like Superbowl Sunday to me. Then I moved to Calfornia, where the propositions are invariably more interesting than the candidates, yet somehow, everybody from the Insurance Commissioner to the Green Party State Assembly candidate seems vaguely awash in corruption or minor sleaze. I remember the days when I could go down to my polling place at the Madison Public Library and vote for Russ Feingold. Those were simpler times.
But for those of you who live in more politically interesting areas than I do, and need another month or so to come down from the effects of that alternately sweet and bitter drug called democracy, here is some reading to round out the end of your year.
I felt no need to reinvent the wheel on political fiction book lists, as there are many fine ones out there on this subject. Here are two of the best:
Nancy Pearl's "The Best in Political Fiction" for NPR
Political Fiction on Overbooked
And some of the most interesting-looking political nonfiction to come out this year:
The Bystander: John F. Kennedy and the Struggle for Black Equality by Nick Bryant
While something like 17,572 biographies of JFK were published in 2006, this one stands out from the pack by focusing on Kennedy's approach to civil rights, an approach that mainly entailed courting the black vote, then standing idly by.
Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg
Between the excerpt from this and that feature on grunge fundamentalists, Salon has been chilling me to the bone of late.
Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America by Philip Jenkins
Everybody knows it - the 70s were a dark, ugly time. A look at how the hippies lost their idealism and became neo-cons terrified of everything from Communists to Satanic cults, this book seems wonderfully bleak and interesting.
Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction by David Kuo
Kuo came to work at Bush's controversial Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, convinced he could use his Christian faith to make a difference in how politics was done. This did not turn out to be the case. I saw an interview with Kuo on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and he was so darn sincere both about his belief in God and in the U.S. government that I can't even imagine what must have happened to break him.
Conservatize Me: How I Tried to Become a Righty with the Help of Richard Nixon, Sean Hannity, Toby Keith, and Beef Jerky by John Moe
Somehow, I doubt this book is anything approaching subtle. Still, its premise has that appealing Morgan Spurlock 30 Days vibe, rather than that annoying Morgan Spurlock Don't Eat This Book vibe.