Pick Me A Political Polemic
March 26, 2007 11:17 AM   Subscribe

A friend and I want to read a current and topical book about U.S. politics together for online discussion, and we're looking for suggestions...

Here's what he's already read:

How Would a Patriot Act by Glenn Greenwald, In Defense of the Religious Right by Patrick Hynes, American Fascists by Chris Hedges, and The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney.

Not looking for the Sam Harris/Richard Dawkins books as a suggestion, and we're not limiting this to religion (although it remains on the table for suggestions). As a matter of fact, in the lead right now is Irving Kristol's Neo-Conservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea.

(None of the Amazon links are pointed to any referral accounts)

I don't think either of us cares what the political issue is, or what side of the aisle the issue(s) in the book is biased towards, but we're looking for something a little smarter and more focused than O'Reilly, Coulter, Moore or Franken. Must be current-event related (no Lincoln biographies), and bonus points if you've got first-hand recommendations for a lefty book and its righty counterpoint (or vice versa).
posted by peacecorn to Education (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by verisimilitude at 11:35 AM on March 26, 2007

If you've got the stomach for it, Dinesh D'Souza's The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 and Andrew Sullivan's very lengthy review/rebuttal would make a good pair.
posted by otio at 11:53 AM on March 26, 2007

Best answer: Anythig by George Lakoff. Smart, articulate, concise (and, to some, controversial) analysis of contemporary politics.

I'm particularly fond of Don't Think of an Elephant!, even though I disagree with quite a bit of its analysis.
posted by googly at 11:56 AM on March 26, 2007

The Intellectuals and the Flag by Todd Gitlin.

"Gitlin argues for a renewed sense of patriotism based on the ideals of sacrifice, tough-minded criticism, and a willingness to look anew at the global role of the United States in the aftermath of 9/11. Merely criticizing and resisting the Bush administration will not do—the left must also imagine and propose an America reformed."
posted by mattbucher at 12:11 PM on March 26, 2007

A short read that although written a while ago is even more hugely relevant to todays political climate would be E. E. Schattschneider's "The Semisovereign People". Especially with the 2008 campaigns already getting moving, it would provide a lot of theory that you can watch unfold firsthand over the next year and a half and would greatly enhance any discussion about the entire American domestic political scene.

It's a pretty short read, but its really one of the most important books discussing "politics" ever written and it will help inform just about anything else you ever read or think about the subject.
posted by teishu at 12:28 PM on March 26, 2007

Thomas Frank, What's the Matter with Kansas?
posted by scody at 12:29 PM on March 26, 2007

Dr.Chalmers Johnson's trilogy, Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire and the latest, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. From 1967 until 1973,
posted by hortense at 12:52 PM on March 26, 2007

Howard Zinn.
posted by brujita at 1:03 PM on March 26, 2007

American Fascists by Chris Hedges if you want domestic politics, Zbig Brzezinski's newest for foreign policy. He's the clearest voice on how disastrous Iraq has been for US at home and abroad.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 2:47 PM on March 26, 2007

The Broken Branch by Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann (one is a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the other is a fellow at the more liberal Brookings Institute). Passionate Declarations by Howard Zinn is great. It's a little more theoretical than his other essay collections. The Unconquerable World by Jonathan Schell is great if you want to read about war and nonviolence. The Assassin's Gate by George Packer is an excellent book on the current Iraq War.
posted by HotPatatta at 3:21 PM on March 26, 2007

Imperial Life in the Emerald City is about, essentially, how the Bush administration has screwed up Iraq. Specifically it's about the surreal, detached-from-reality existence of American commanders and representatives in the Green Zone in Baghdad, and how little they understand of the country they are trying to occupy.

Whistling Past Dixie: How the Democrats Can Win Without the South is more of a conventionally "political" book. It's actually better than most, because it's not just opinion -- it's full of very meaty, fact-based analysis of American political history, going back 40 years and delving into the intricacies of specific races in specific states. The thesis is pretty clearly stated in the title, and compellingly argued within the book.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 6:49 PM on March 26, 2007

Made In Texas by Michael Lind
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:53 PM on March 27, 2007

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