Sunday Bookchat

August 9, 2008

Of all the journalists who did and are doing good, necessary work during the Bush administration — there were a few, mind you — the most valuable may well turn out to be Ron Suskind.

He was the one who introduced the world to the term “reality-based community” and the scary implications of what that meant in the topsy-turvy universe of the Bush crowd and its sycophants. He was the one who showed how Dick Cheney’s “one percent doctrine” was a formula for madness. And now, in his new book The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism, Suskind has revealed that the White House ordered the creation of a forged letter linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda, as well as attempts to buy uranium yellowcake. And he’s able to back it up. The man deserves every kind of award there is, including this one:



The man is flying high, no doubt about it.

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Roll out the red carpet for Thomas Frank, author of the just-published The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, the followup to his masterly What’s the Matter with Kansas? I haven’t finished the book yet, but as with the earlier book, Frank brings formidable research skills and tremendous wit to the argument that conservatism as it is now constituted has become divorced from the very idea of government as anything beyond an opportunity to loot public coffers in the name of privatization and “small government.”

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You’d think the rumpus-room warriors of the Jack Bauer fan club would be anxious to tangle with Jane Mayer, whose book The Dark Side exposes the madness of the Bush administration’s secret detention and torture program. But rather than deal with Mayer’s impeccably researched book, our lil’ wingers have opted to stay in their bunkers and avoid the subject. My my.

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Lord knows how much it’s costing conservative groups to bulk order copies of Jerome Corsi’s anthology of lies about Barack Obama and Dick Morris’ toe-sucking ruminations on politics, but there they are on the NYT bestseller list with little daggers next to their titles. These books are, of course, wingnut fashion accessories, to be displayed on tables in the more literate bunkers. But who in his right mind would actually read them?

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George Pelecanos, novelist and star writer on The Wire, talks about crime, writing, racial divides and the rise of Barack Obama. A former writer for the Lonely Planet travel guide asks: Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? Louis Bayard sings the praises of Gore Vidal. Jeffrey Rosen applauds My Guantanamo Diary.

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