Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The night after the election: five books

Still processing the results from Tuesday's election--mostly a numb, profound sadness, at this point. But, talking to a colleague this morning, I realized that one blessing was that DH was small enough not to have "the talk" about the Trump election. Many of you are not so lucky. But no: hopefully he will grow up with Trump like I grew up with Nixon...almost totally oblivious. Small mercies, right?

So here are five books that rocket to the top of my queue in the wake of the 2016 election--and, I guess, the kick-off of the 2020 election too. (Yep, Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren are already trending...)

1. Leonidas Donskis, Loyalty, Dissent, and Betrayal: Modern Lithuania and East-Central European Moral Imagination (2005). An early entry in the "Boundary of Two Worlds" Rodopi series, this is one I've had for a while, waiting for the right opportunity. Donskis passed away this year, and I'm still disappointed in myself that I didn't try harder to connect with him in Kaunas when I had the chance. The interweaving themes of loyalty, dissent, and betrayal take on new resonance this week...

2. Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich (2005). I've been eyeing Evans three-volume history of Nazi Germany for several years, and it's finally (past) time to dive in. Please God let the ready comparisons be hyperbole. My friend Adam reminds me, though, that today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht...

3. Jeffery C. Isaac, Democracy in Dark Times (1998). Another one on the office shelf that has been waiting for its time. Just think: Isaac wrote this before 9/11, before eight years of W, before Afghanistan and Iraq, before Ukraine and before Syria. And before The Donald.

4. Timothy Garton Ash, Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World (2016). TGA has been one of my main men since working on my M.A. in Austin, and while he's less regionally focused now in his more recent books, he continues to be a source of inspiration and insight. If I were ever to take on teaching Media Law & Ethics, I think we'd have to take this one on together. But I'd like to take in on myself, regardless--the book is on my nightstand, waiting.

5. Donald J. Trump with Tony Schwartz, Trump: The Art of the Deal (1992). Because, well, four years is a long time. Actually, I don't know if I could really get myself to read this. It seems like something here might be useful to understand the phenomenon--but I just don't know. If you want to bet $1 on which of these I never ever get to--the smart money is here.

Dream EP of the week:
Devo, "Freedom of Choice"
Bob Dylan, "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues"
X, "The New World"
R.E.M., "Ignoreland"