Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Ask The Expert...Nonfiction November Style!
Hello, Nonfiction November-ites! We are in Week 2 of the event, and it's going well for me so far. I finished At The Mercy of The Mountains last week, and have moved on to 1776 by David McCullough. It's been a long time since I delved into historical nonfiction, and I'm enjoying the change of pace. This is definitely a great event for me! Nonfiction has been woefully absent from my life in the last year or two.
For week 2, we are tasked with any one of three options...
"Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert)."
With that in mind, I am choosing to "Ask The Expert". Specifically, I'm looking for recommendations on nonfiction regarding American politics. Let me explain, because that's a pretty broad category! I enjoy books that provide an inside view into American politics. I've tried autobiographies (My Life by Bill Clinton, Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama, etc), bipartisan reports (The 9/11 Commission Report), heavily biased political analyses (The Assault on Reason by Al Gore), and books that trended more towards peeping-Tom-expose than behind-the-scenes-informative (In the President's Secret Service by Ronald Kessler). The list goes on, but that at least illustrates some of the breadth of what I've attempted.
In all that reading, I've realized that I have several desires when I step into this genre.
-Smartly written, analytical writing. I loved the heavily detailed account of Clinton's presidency in his autobiography; I hated the obviously-pandering-to-the-lowest-common-denominator expose style of Kessler's book.
-Not too dry. Clinton's book had a lot of detail, but also a human element that kept my interest up (not just Lewinsky, ha). On the other hand, the 9/11 Report was impressive, but also put me to sleep on several occasions. It's all detail, no emotion. Not a bad thing (I mean, consider its purpose), but just not tops on my list of reading options.
-Too heavily partisan. This is a big one. It's very hard to write about politics without any sort of partisan bias--I get that. I'm not asking for every political book to be nonpartisan/bipartisan. However, I think you can write from a political stance in a way that isn't hateful to the other side. If you've ever read Gore's Assault on Reason, you know that that is an example of a HEAVILY partisan book...annoyingly so. And that's coming from a Democrat. (And since I've mentioned that--yes, I welcome books written from the right as well! But again, as long as they are not overly hateful to the other side. Rush Limbaugh suggestions, I can safely assume, will be left at the door.)
Just to give you an idea...without knowing much about them, a few books that have been on my TBR for a while are Pennsylvania Avenue by John Harwood, What Happened by Scott McClellan, and The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by Vincent Bugliosi (okay, I admit the title of that one is not promising given the above requirements, but reactions from those who have read it are welcomed!). Autobiographies and biographies also seem to have worked well for me in the past.
So there it is, experts! I know I gave you a tough assignment, but give it a try. Lay it on me. What political nonfiction should I read next?