National Blog Posting Month Day 1
Are Men Necessary? by Maureen Dowd
I Am America (And So Can You) audiobook by Stephen Colbert
The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin
Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron
I nearly made through the month without buying any books, but I had a 30% off coupon from BigBoxOfBooks that expired on Halloween. Since my wife was looking for the new Robert Plant/Alison Kraus album, we tried BBoB first. I figured that since I was writing the Dowd Report I ought to have a copy of MoDo’s latest book for reference. And then in the checkout line they had Stephen Colbert’s book on CD. Since he had cowritten a column with Dowd recently, I picked it up as an impulse purchase.
The one book I did manage to read all the way through this month was a book about the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin called The Nine: Inside The Secret World Of The Supreme Court. It covers the modern history of the court from the Reagan era on. In many ways it is about what could be called the O’Conner Court since during this period she was the swing vote on many issues. While the book is organized chronologically, individual chapters tend to focus on an individual justice or issue. And the biggest issue for the past twenty years has been abortion. Because of its unique position, the Supreme Court has final say on anything related to reproductive rights.
The book is lucid, clearly written and fairly objective. Nothing the Supreme Court does is uncontroversial and Toobin does an excellent job in not only describing the issues, but explaining why each justice votes the way they do. The most “inside” episode in the book details the tar baby the court got stuck with when they started meddling in the 2000 election. The book convincingly paints this episode as a turning point in the public view of the court.
It also covers all the major issues as well including the Clarence Thomas hearings, the Bush-Gore election, and school prayer controversies. It is very up to date since the Harriet Miers debacle was covered on this very blog. I still think Dubya should have nominated one of my choices, or even one of my alternates.
In the nearly two years I have been doing BooksFirst I have only ever noted one other book as Abandoned, meaning that not only have I set it aside, I have no intention of ever finishing it. I thought Secrets of The Silk Road would be a good companion piece to China Road which I read in August. Instead I found myself bogged down in an endless litany of obscure archeological sights as Colin Thubron tries to stay ahead of the avian flu inspectors. The book is poetically written, but the endless descriptions of bus rides with peasant women wore me down. I abandoned the book somewhere in a desert oasis in Khazakstan where it has been buried by pages of florid prose.