Sam Tanenhaus’s The Death Of Conservatism (Random House, $17) is a wake-up call in 120 pages for serious conservatives and liberals. Movement conservatives today are anti-institutional, embrace fundamentalist orthodoxies, and reject government. They refuse to adapt to changing societal conditions. Principled conservatives (think William Buckley) have been replaced by the likes of Limbaugh, O’Reilly, and William Kristol. This irresponsible conservatism(Robespierre-like) damages liberalism as well, leading to fighting political issues in ways that demonize opponents and reject finding common ground. Tanenhaus’s penetrating prose and his erudition remind readers why political ideas do matter.

The Death of Conservatism: A Movement and Its Consequences Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812981032
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - October 19th, 2010

Taylor Branch played Boswell to President Bill Clinton in The Clinton Tapes (Simon & Schuster, $35). Because of Nixon’s experience with taping, Clinton did not want to have conversations taped in the oval office. Instead, he asked Taylor Branch to come to the White House periodically so that Branch could record Clinton’s reflections during his eight years as President. The book comes from the reminiscences that Taylor himself recorded after each meeting. (President Clinton kept the tapes.) As with anything involving Bill Clinton, this book is fun to read. Taylor has done a fine job of reminding us about the accomplishments and the frustrations of the Clinton presidency.  There is a trove of material, and wherever you turn in the book, you find interesting observations.

The Clinton Tapes: Conversations with a President, 1993-2001 Cover Image
ISBN: 9781416543343
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 1st, 2010

A stimulating argument that citizens need to act as watchdogs over the honesty and competence of our federal government, The Limits Of Power (Metropolitan, $24), by Andrew Bacevich, offers a thoughtful, sobering, and fresh re-assessment of the past 60 years of American politics and economics. As citizens, Bacevich believes, we have ducked such basic responsibilities as defending our country; we have too few soldiers for too many wars.  We have redefined freedom as “just another word for nothing left to buy.”  Bacevich invokes the 20th-century liberal theologian and activist, Reinhold Niebuhr, to buttress his call for a return to responsible citizenship. Citing Niebuhr’s warning that our dreams of omniscience, born out of arrogance and delusion, posed a potential deadly threat to America, Bacevich adds, “Today we ignore that warning at our peril.”

The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (American Empire Project) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780805090161
Availability: Backordered
Published: Holt Paperbacks - April 27th, 2009