You say you're having mixed company coming and you're fresh out of religion- and sex-related topics? No problem! For a party steeped in partisan give-and-take, if not open hostility, this week's roster of releases includes some new political tomes from which to peruse and with which to provoke.
Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right
by Paul Edward Gottfried
Gottfried, a Guggenheim recipient and Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, argues that the modern American conservative movement is a relatively new development that began in the 1950s as the creation of journalists and academics reacting to the early Cold War and trying to form common ground for opponents of international Communism. Moving forward, newcomers to the movement de-emphasized the qualities of those they had replaced, and in the 1980s the neo-conservatives, who took over the postwar conservative movement from an earlier generation, disparaged their predecessors in a similar way. Among conservatism’s major achievements, Gottfried contends, has been to recreate its own past.
Obama: From Promise to Power by David Mendell
As a journalist who has been covering Barack Obama and his career since his successful run for U.S. Senate, Mendell turns out well-rounded biography of the politician — from public servant to presidential candidate — that benefits from research that includes exclusive interviews with Obama's closest aides, mentors, political adversaries, and family, most notably his wife Michelle.
Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them by John McCain, Mark Salter
Identifying six qualities representative of exceptional individuals — awareness, timing, foresight, confidence, humility, inspiration — Arizona Senator McCain and coauthor Salter hold that these traits are personified in such diversely historical and little-known figures as Henry Ford, Winston Churchill, Reinhold Niebuhr, Branch Rickey, who integrated baseball with his signing of Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the inventor of the disposable razor ("Sell the shave, not the razor"). Such biographical sketches with such a singular bent comprises a study of principled positions that either "win a hero's welcome or indefinite pain and suffering."