Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Independent Book on Politics?

First off, can I put a disclaimer here? I don't want to talk politics on this blog. I don't like getting my blood pressure up. I'm making an exception here for a book which represents something increasingly hard to find in the modern news.

What You Should Know About Politics... But Don't, by Jessamyn Conrad, calls itself "A nonpartisan guide to the issues". For the most part, it succeeds in this goal. The book opens with a chapter explaining how politics in America works, focusing on elections and the division of political parties (and the divisions within political parties). It also covers some ongoing controversies in elections, including voter fraud and gerrymandering.

Every remaining chapter in the book covers a single issue:

-Foreign Policy
-The Military
-Health Care
-The Environment
-Civil Liberties
-Culture Wars
-Socioeconomic Policy (Immigration)
-Homeland Security

Each chapter starts with a background on the issue, followed by a description of current debates on the subject. Arguments on both sides are presented in a dispassionate, fact-focused manner, identifying and describing positions one by one. None of the issues are described in depth, but each subject gets enough detail to form a basis for further research. The health care chapter, in particular, is an excellent introduction to the current debate, and should be considered a must-read.

The book was published in 2008, so there's a strong focus on the Bush administration debates. I thought this gave the book a slight lean to the left, but I may be projecting my own opinions onto the text.

Overall I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants an unbiased introduction to modern politics (and quickly, before the whole thing changes again). I'd also recommend it to people who suspect that CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News are lying to them, and always have been.

(Hrm... This probably could have been an Amazon review.)


Author's Log

Still early, but so far today I've dictated notes (maybe 15 minutes' worth) on a short story and my novel. Tonight I'll be revising my super-short story for the Writer's Digest competition and submitting it over the web.

Current Reading

Just finished reading Grey Seer, by C.L. Werner. This is a very "niche" book: It's set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe, and features the primary antagonist from the long-running Gotrek and Felix series in his own adventure. If you have any idea what all that means, this book comes highly recommended.

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