Coup -- The Day the Democrats Ousted Their Governor, Put Republican Lamar Alexander in Office Early, and Stopped a Pardon Scandal by Keel Hunt, Vanderbilt UPress '13, $27.50, 284 pages, ASIN #0826519326. Index, bibliography, list of interviews, timeline, two groupings of b&w images.
Tennessee journalist Keel Hunt's new book about how "good government" forces stopped a pardon scandal won't draw the interest of most general readers. But for those who realize that political corruption is all around us and draws no boundaries at state lines, this amazing tale will be instructive for those who want to keep their own states on the up and up.
From the dust jacket:
"Coup is the behind-the-scenes story of an abrupt political transition, unprecedented in U.S. history. Based on 163 interviews, Hunt describes how collaborators came together from opposite sides of the political aisle and, in an extraordinary few hours, reached agreement that the corruption and madness of the sitting Governor of Tennessee, Ray Blanton, must be stopped. The sudden transfer of power that caught Blanton unawares was deemed necessary because of what one FBI agent called 'the state's most heinous political crime in half a century' -- a scheme of selling pardons for cash.
"On January 17, 1979, driven by new information that some of the worst criminals in the state's penitentiaries were about to be released (and fears that James Earl Ray (Martin Luther King's assassin) might be one of them), a small bipartisan group chose to take charge. Senior Democratic leaders, friends of the sitting governor, together with the Republican governor-elect Lamar Alexander (now the U.S. Senator from Tennessee) agreed to oust Blanton from office before another night fell. It was a maneuver unique in American political history."
Author Keel Hunt's early career was as a reporter, editorial writer, Washington correspondent, and city editor for the Nashville Tennessean. He left newspapering to join Lamar Alexander's successful campaign for governor of Tennessee and worked for eight years in the Alexander administration. Since then, he has been a speechwriter and public affairs consultant.
The World's Most Dangerous Place -- Inside the Outlaw State of Somalia by James Fergusson, DaCapo '13, $27.50, 405 pages, ASIN #0306821176. Index, bibliography, notes and sources, grouping of b&w glossy images.
In his new book, foreign correspondent James Fergusson focuses on the nation of Somalia, which he characterizes as the "world's most dangerous place." Recognizing that bloody pirates from Somalia have been in the headlines in recent years, the author argues that "a generation of young people who've grown up in the center of conflict could prove to be far more dangerous."
Fergusson summarizes his thesis on the book jacket:
"Somalia and the region known as the Horn of Africa have long been viewed as the rotting and charred heart of the continent -- a burning cauldron of crime, corruption, poverty, famine, and civil war. Somalis fled their country in the millions. Hundreds of thousands of them sought refuge in western cities, scattering everywhere from London and Melbourne to Minneapolis. In recent years, as Somalia's lucrative piracy industry has grabbed the headlines, a darker, much deeper threat has come of age: the al-Qaeda-linked militants al-Shabaab, and the dawn of a new phase in the global war on terror.
"Yet, paradoxically, Somalia's star is brightening, as new forms of business, law enforcement, and local politics begin to take root, and exiles return to their homeland. Intrepid journalist James Fergusson takes us to the heart of the struggle, meeting everyone from politicians to pirates, extremists and mercenaries, aid workers and refugees. In The World's Most Dangerous Place, Fergusson offers a unique account of a country ravaged by war, and considers what a future might hold for a generation that has grown up knowing little else."
Author James Fergusson has written for such publications as The Times and The Economist and is a regular commentator on Islamism and security matters on BBC-TV and radio. He lives in Edinburgh.
History, Literature, Critical Theory by Dominick LaCapra, Cornell UPress '13 paperback. $23.95, 248 pages, ASIN #0801478650. Index, notes, no bibliography or images.
From the back cover:
"In this new collection of essays linked thematically by a concern with the problem of violence, Dominic LaCapra shows once again why he is one of the most significant critical intellectuals working at the intersection of history and literature. Avoiding the traps of contextual reductionism and ultraformalism, he offers nuanced, theoretically informed reflections on the pressures history and literature exert on each other.
History, Literature, Critical Theory engages with some of the most important writers of the last century, including Conrad, Sebald, and Coetzee and reads them in productive conversation with Badiou, Derrida, Zizek, and other leading theorists of our 'postsecular' moment."
Author Dominick LaCapra teaches humanistic studies, history, and comparative literature at Cornell University. He has written or edited many previous books.