Double Down -- Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Penguin '13, $29.95, 499 pages, ASIN #1594204403. Index, no bibliography or notes, grouping of b&w glossy images.
"With so much at stake," write co-authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in their Prologue, "the 2012 election had the feel of a big casino, as the players took on the complexion of compulsive gamblers, pushing more and more chips into the center of the table. On the right, a phalanx of millionaires and billionaires doubled down on Romney even after his flaws were all too clear, pouring gargantuan sums into his campaign and conservative super PACs.
"The Republican nominee, in turn, not only doubled down on the orthodoxies of the right but on his own controversial statements and positions. On the left, the Obamans were engaged in their own doubling down: on the coalition that had elected their man in 2008; on their pioneering use of new technology; on their grassroots get-out-the-vote machine. But no doubt the biggest wager they placed was on Obama."
About the authors:
Mark Halperin is an editor at large, a senior political analyst for Time magazine and a senior political analyst for MSNBC. John Heilemann is national affairs editor for New York magazine and a political analyst for MSNBC.
Play it Again -- An Amateur Against the Impossible by Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the Guardian, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux '13, $28, 403 pages, ASIN #0374232911. Index, further reading, score and commentary, b&w images sprinkled through text.
When a radiologist friend of mine retired, he took on the unbelievably arduous task of writing a symphony, fortunately gaining the assistance of a symphony conductor along the way. Some might say that author Alan Rusbridger's challenge was greater, some not as great, "to fluently learn Chopin's magnificent Ballade No. l in G minor, arguably one of the most difficult Romantic compositions in the repertory. With pyrotechnic passages that require feats of memory, dexterity, and power, the piece is one that causes alarm even in battle-hardened concert pianists. He gives himself a year.
If this task were to fall to a veteran concert pianist, that would be challenge enough. But instead, it fell to Alan Rusbridger, for the past 18 years the editor of the Guardian, one of London's foremost newspapers. His description of mastering the Ballade "is hugely engaging, yet his subject is clearly larger than any one piece of music. Play it Again deals with focus, discipline, and desire but is, above all, about the sanctity of one's inner life in a world dominated by deadlines and distractions."
Northern Rhodesia-born Rusbridger was educated at the University of Cambridge and lives in London.
The Disuniting of America -- Reflections on a Multicultural Society by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Norton '92, $15.95, 160 pages, ASIN #0393045803. Index, notes on sources, unillustrated.
Few American political historians have had the influence and insights of Dr. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. No one would ever dare call Schlesinger a conservative; he earned his spurs on the staff of President John F. Kennedy and, with it, cemented a reputation along with Prof. John Kenneth Galbraith as two of the foremost liberals of the second half of the 20th century.
From the dust cover:
"In this powerfully argued essay, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. considers what it means to be an American.
"The promise of America has always been a fresh start on equal footing, and the classic image of the republic is that of the melting pot, where differences of race, wealth, religion, and nationality are submerged in the pursuit and exercise of democracy. But today the idea of the melting pot is under attack, and a new orthodoxy describes America, past and present, as a nation of self-interested groups. The idea of assimilation into the mainstream is giving ground to the celebration of ethnicity.
"The upsurge in ethnic awareness has had some healthy consequences, including long-overdue recognition of the achievements of women, black Americans, Indians, Hispanics, and Asians, among others. But the cult of ethnicity has its price, observes Schlesinger, and, pressed too far, poses this danger: 'the fragmentation, resegregation, and tribalization of American life."
Not one -- but two -- Pulitzer Prizes have come to Harvard Prof. Arthur M. Schlesinger during his political and writing career. His numerous books include A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House. He taught history at Harvard as far back as 1946, and he taught for many years at the graduate school at University Center of City University of New York.