My new Think Again column is called “When Labor Unions Were at the Center of Politics” and it’s here.
My Nation column is called “Show Us the Money” and it’s here.
I did a Daily Beast piece for Tuesday morning called “The Downside of Obama’s Decision to Skip Wisconsin” here.
I just finished listening to Robert Caro’s fourth volume of the Lyndon Johnson biography. Having listened to the entire thing on audio, as well as The Power Broker, I believe I hold what would be the Guiness Book of World Records’ record for most time spent listening to a single author by a single individual if there were such a category. Anyway I would like to second this praise for its reader, Grover Gardner, whom I used to see perform at the Source Theater and elsewhere in Washington back when I was still a young man with hopes and dreams. I also wanted to recommend Jeff Himmelman’s nicely nuanced and balanced book on Ben Bradlee called Yours in Truth since it’s gotten slagged in a bunch of places. Himmelman probably made a mistake in allowing New York magazine to make such a big deal over a non-story regarding Woodward and Bradlee which has confused the reception of the project but authors—particularly first-time authors—are desperate for any attention these days and this kind of thing is hard to turn down. Anyway here are some letters.
I also wanted to say something nice about John Cheever. I went to a lovely evening in honor of his 100th birthday at the 92nd street Y a few weeks ago and there’s this nice blog post in The New Yorker (here) but the Library of America version of the collected stories and novels is truly something anyone who loves literature will love to read for decades to come. I’m amazed that Cheever has fallen out of fashion among English professors, and cannot begin to explain it.
My letter to the Times about my book review about The Cause is below. I feel silly kvetching too much. It was a sympathetic assigment by the editors and the Times does a much better job of covering important books than any other institution. Still, it’s deeply annoying to spend eight years on a book and then have it misinterpreted before far more people than will ever see the book. In addition to my primary complaint, which I describe in the letter, it’s fair to say that Sheshol, a professional political speech writer as well as the author of two well-regarded political histories, does not understand the importance of culture to the history of liberalism. He objects to the amount of space devoted to writers and artists, without noticing that cultural liberalism has proven, in recent decades, to be far more powerful and successful than political (or economic) liberalism. What he terms “randomness” in my choices reflects attempts to represent this power, not to argue that Oliver Stone was more important Walter Reuther. (Book reviews by arithmetic are wrong-headed by definition.) Finally, he intends the word “pontilist” as a criticism. But since this is the only time in my life I expect to be compared to George Seurat, I’m afraid don’t mind at all.