Given her media blitz leading up to the release of her 2016 campaign memoir Hacks, Donna Brazile’s recollection of what it was like to be on the receiving end of the Russian cyberattack against the Democratic National Committee was far more enlightening than I’d had any expectation.
That’s because, ahead of the Virginia state elections in November 2017, Brazile’s press interviews and excerpts tended to be internecine and conspiratorial, focusing on how the Hillary Clinton campaign had unethically bought the DNC at “Bernie’s” expense, or how Hillary didn’t call Brazile for a while after she lost the Electoral College, or how staffer Seth Rich’s murderer still needed to be found.
Now, this is not what most of the book, subtitled The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, turns out to be about, but the strategy was successful. It reached No. 5 on the New York Times bestseller list, sold out on Amazon, then was subsequently completely forgotten.
The modern political memoir and tell-all has become the publishing equivalent of Hollywood’s superhero and sci-fi franchise films.
Continue reading “The airing of grievances in Donna Brazile’s “Hacks” comes at her true crime memoir’s expense”
“Perfect” may be the enemy of “good”, but “better” ain’t always its friend.
Fundamentally, that is the most damning praise for impact investor Morgan Simon’s Real Impact: The New Economics of Social Change, an admirable embodiment of the difficulties of navigating “woke neoliberalism” in our ongoing Gilded Age.
Simon’s book is a guide to better divest from harmful industries and businesses while investing in and founding endeavors that align with social justice values.
She also criticizes philanthropy as it exists today, in the form of charitable nonprofits and ethical-as-branding for-profit enterprises.
Continue reading “Morgan Simon’s “Real Impact” won’t be the right investment for most”
In their first post-2016 general election show, Saturday Night Live had a skit with Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock reacting to the results throughout that night, not with pleasure but certainly without the shock or horror of the other urban-dwelling liberals.
David Neiwert’s book Alt-America is as convincing an argument you’ll find anywhere for why no one had an excuse to be surprised by Donald Trump’s campaign, its competitiveness, or its ultimate success.
Neiwert traces the historical strains of xenophobia, white supremacy, misogyny, and petty resentments that culminated in the “alt-right”, chronicling how they were able to come together to win the Republican nomination and get enough votes in right places to win the presidency.
Continue reading “David Neiwert’s latest book “Alt-America” feels like chemotherapy”
The saying “all is fair in love and war” has passed into platitude, but it’s true that with romance as well as bloodshed, we prepare for the next one mainly by worrying about the mistakes of the last conflict.
Lawrence Freedman’s The Future of War: A History is only about the more martial of the two human endeavors, but there’s a lot to love in it.
Across 287 pages of prose, Freedman’s book is part retro-futurism, part dissertation on the difficulties of determining what actually is a war and who died in one, and, finally, part looking forward at the sort of armed conflicts yet to come.
It doesn’t all fit together seamlessly, or read equally engagingly, but Freedman shows his homework regardless of topic, and there’s an additional 45 pages of notes and 28 pages just devoted to bibliography if warfare of the recent past, present, and future pique your interest.
For non-specialists, the most enjoyable portion is, thankfully, the first bit.
Continue reading “‘The Future of War: A History’ could be a bit more forward-looking”
Someone—I don’t remember now who—described the major difference in American politics to be that the Left fetishizes being correct where the Right reserves that obsession for power.
For that reason, Republicans have been willing to abandon all previously stated principles so long as they can expect to have a warm body capable of signing regressive tax bills into law and who will nominate judges to protect conservative orthodoxies.
And it’s why a year and a half later, Democrats still get into fights about whether they supported Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the 2015-16 primary. It’s why many of us on the Left continue, inexorably, viewing contemporary events as a chance to re-litigate that contest and who was right.
So just to say, “Bernie Sanders: Guide to Political Revolution is for teenagers,” will invite cheap jokes along those lines, and merely by existing, it reinvigorates the conversation about who actually had the better fire extinguisher a year and a half ago, even as the grease fire continues to spread.
Continue reading “Book Review: Bernie Sanders’ “Guide to Political Revolution” is more textbook than revolutionary”
In response to the recent Buzzfeed article about behind-the-scenes goings-on of Milo Yiannapoulus’ and Breitbart’s racism laundering, Washington Post journalist Philip Bump said, “An early chapter of every book documenting the Donald Trump era will be about Gamergate.”
If so, Zoë Quinn’s book Crash Override will be cited by nearly all of them as the autobiography of the person most affected by Gamergate and how she’s worked to defend everyone against online mobs since.
Continue reading “Book Review: We’ll be reading Zoë Quinn’s “Crash Override” to understand the Trump era for decades to come”
It’s become a standard bit of 20th Century trivia that as terrible as the First World War was, the 1918 Flu Pandemic coinciding with the armistice killed more than the conflict itself.
Now, an especially pedantic person might want to argue that WWI really was the beginning of the ‘Second Thirty Years War‘; they might treat as bookends both world wars—roping together all battlefield deaths, all civilian bombings, every atrocity and genocide, every preventable famine and epidemic. And put together as a single historical event, they would claim, all the misery springing from human malice between 1914 to 1945 led to up to 100 million untimely deaths in those three decades.
But, as British science journalist Laura Spinney relates in her latest book Pale Rider, the pandemic known in its time as the Spanish Flu (but definitely not originating in Spain) may have killed in three years about the same amount as we murdered each other during those 30, infecting one out of every three people on the earth while killing one-in-20 of the global population.
Continue reading “Book Review: Laura Spinney’s Pale Rider re-examines 20th Century’s biggest tragedy”