News & Politics

Good Reads: Krugman’s Conscience and Stupid Pols

A look at the political books coming out in October.

Larry Sabato, the country’s self-proclaimed most quoted political pundit, has decided that the Constitution doesn’t work, so the Virginian’s new book, A More Perfect Constitution, offers 23 ways to fixit—from expanding the Senate and the House to switching to a single six-year term for the presidency to establishing a mandatory two years of national service for young people. The book is packed with provocative ideas that probably won’t go anywhere.

MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews is back with another book of lessons on friendship, rivalry, reputation, and success from political life. Life’s a Campaign offers some heart-warming stories of friendship, and there’s a reminder in the back of what friendship in Washington means: In the acknowledgments (written several months ago) Matthews thanks longtime Hardball producer Tammy Haddad, who recently and abruptly split from the show. Matthews doesn’t include in his book the foremost lesson on Washington friendship: Get a dog.

Economist Paul Krugman has a new book, The Conscience of a Liberal—it’s a distillation of his New York Times critiques of the conservative agenda and the Bush administration.

Richard Rhodes, the Pulitzer-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb, returns to the subject with Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race, describing what he calls the “incoherent” development of US and Soviet nuclear-arms policies and how the world came within minutes of nuclear war. For Washingtonians, whose homes are among the first target of any nuclear exchange, it’s not comforting reading.

For some context in which to place the antics of today’s lawmakers, turn to Kathryn and Ross Petras’s new compilation, Unusually Stupid Politicians: Washington’s Weak in Review, which includes everything from embarrassing flubs to legendary evasive nonanswers.

The book also contains steamier categories such as best sex scenes in novels by politicians, like this one in Senator Barbara Boxer’s novel, A Time to Run: “Her skirt was very short and Josh found himself mesmerized by her perfectly shaped, silken legs with kneecaps that reminded him of golden apples.”

This article can be found in the October 2007 issue of Washingtonian Magazine.