Future Bookshelf: Al Gore and Reason

By: Drew Bratcher

Welcome to "The Future Bookshelf," The Washingtonian's new feature highlighting upcoming or just signed books with a Washington connection. Tune in each Monday for a new installment, author interviews, and deal gossip.

This week's focus:

The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore
Penguin Press, Spring 2007

Obscurity is often the destiny of failed presidential hopefuls. There’s something about losing a contest of such great magnitude that snuffs out any smoldering ambition.

The 2000 election had the opposite effect on Al Gore. Perhaps it was the uncertainty of the defeat—he did in fact win the popular vote by more than a half-million votes—but in the seven years since his loss to George W. Bush, Gore has channeled his energy, which is unarguably laced with a good deal of bitterness, into successful stints as a Columbia University professor, Apple Inc. board member, Current TV president, and most notably, conservationist author of the best-seller An Inconvenient Truth, which he and director Davis Guggenheim made into an Oscar-nominated documentary.

This spring, Gore will continue his second career with a new book, The Assault on Reason, published by Penguin Press. In a publishing season packed with titles by the country’s political elite, Gore’s book is the most anticipated.

There is little doubt as to why Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton reissued their respective books, Dreams of My Father and It Takes a Village, early this year—they have their eyes set on the Oval Office, as does John McCain, whose forthcoming book, tentatively entitled Hard Call appears to have all the markings of a presidential manifesto. In Home, published last fall, John Edwards managed to work his domestic blueprint for the country into a coffee-table book filled with anecdotes and images by contributors ranging from director Steven Spielberg to pastor Rick Warren.

Gore’s intentions behind The Assault on Reason are more mysterious. As the title suggests, he aims to criticize what he called in a 2004 speech at Georgetown, President Bush’s “troubling relationship to reason.”  But does the displaced Tennessean still pine for the presidency or is he content to try shaping his party and its policies from the ideological fringe?

Take the book down from the future bookshelf to find out.

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