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Future Bookshelf: Al Gore and Reason

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.

Below are some of the week's Washington-related deals: 


  • Bob Woodruff, the ABC reporter who nearly died last year when his convoy was attacked in Iraq, signed with Random House to write a memoir with his wife, Lee, about the traumatic event, which forced Woodruff to step down as anchor of ABC’s evening news, and its effect on their family. The book, entitled In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing, will be out later this spring. 

  • Nigel Hamilton will take a second stab at a Bill Clinton biography with Mastering the Presidency, to be published by PublicAffairs. Historian Douglas Brinkley called his 2004 volume, Bill Clinton: An American Journey, “a bold, highly readable, interpretive study.”

  • Brookings Institution scholar and former Clinton-era National Security Council member Ivo Daalder has teamed up with Mac Destler from the University of Maryland to pen In the Shadow of the Oval Office: The National Security Advisor and the Making of American Foreign Policy. The book, to be published by Simon & Schuster, gives a history of the position and the consequences of presidential reliance on the people who have held it.

  • Ralph Eubanks of the Library of Congress signed on with Smithsonian Books to publish The House at the End of the Road: A Story of Race, Reconciliation and Memory, a memoir of his grandparents’ experiences in the early 1900s defying the Jim Crow law that banned miscegenation. The Washington Post called Eubanks’ book Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past one of the best of 2003.

  • Bert Sugar, famed boxing historian, DC native, and grand-nephew of coach Red Auerbach, has been licensed by the National Baseball Hall of Fame via Running Press to write a history of America’s favorite pastime. Sports photographer Bruce Curtis will add his photos to the book.

  • Richard Avedon, who has photographed everyone from Kofi Annan to Charlize Theron, is set to add to the teeming canon of Kennedy picture books with The Kennedys': Portrait of Family. The book is composed of pictures of the family from JFK's first year in the White House and will be published in the fall by Collins Design and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
Got a deal or a book to feature for the Future Bookshelf? Email bookdeals AT washingtonian DOT com.

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