Our take on this month's best-sellers at East Bay independent bookstores, including Analog Books, Bay Books, Black Oak, Cody's, Diesel, and Pegasus.
Democrats won not just at the polls last month, but in the bookstores as Dem heroes past, present, and future came out on top. Nixon-slayer Bob Woodward takes a stab at reanimating his past journalistic glories with State of Denial (Simon & Schuster, $30), this third installment in a trilogy (after the earlier Bush at War and Plan of Attack). Combined, these three comprise the Mahabharata of modern Democratic political strategy. It's obvious Woodward hoped to bring down the Bush presidency with this, his final salvo, but so far its debatable revelations have had little effect on the Teflon Chimperor. Apparently, being relentlessly optimistic is not an impeachable offense.
1970s Dem Superman #2 Jimmy Carter next enters the fray, and takes a ball-peen hammer to his reputation of neutrality in the Israel-Palestine conflict with his unapologetic Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (Simon & Schuster, $27). Coming down squarely on the Palestinian side by "adopting the Arab narrative" in the ongoing crisis, Carter places all the blame on Israel and Israel alone and lets Arafat and his successors off scot-free. The punditosphere reverberates with recriminations and lamentations from all sides, and even some of Carter's closest former associates and supporters have dropped him.
With a foreword by none other than the Man Who Would Have Been President, Al Gore, Alex Steffen's Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century (Abrams, $37.50) is a Web site, a movement, and a treading-lightly-upon-the-earth lifestyle. As the global-warming pontiff, Gore reminds us that we can all make a difference by buying toilets that transform you-know-what into compost and by not flying our private jets to the next environmental summit. (Okay, he didn't say that last part, but he should have.)
The two top-selling books in the East Bay are both by Mr. 2008 himself. Yes, we're talkin' Barack Obama, whose 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (Three Rivers, $14.95) is jockeying with his 2004 campaign manifesto The Audacity of Hope (Crown, $25). It's amazing what being dubbed the savior of the Democratic Party can do for book sales. Dreams is Obama's tale of changing his identity from half African and half American to something entirely different: African-American. Even though he was only two when his Muslim father returned to Kenya, and as a boy Obama was raised by the white side of his family (plus a short interlude with a second Muslim father figure in Indonesia, of all places), he concluded as did fellow biracial superstars Tiger Woods and Halle Berry that he was African-American at heart. Audacity is more overtly political. Is he a liberal? Is he a moderate? The answer, he tells us, is both. If all goes according to plan, we'll know on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, shortly after the polls close.
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What the Fork - November 11, 11:00 AM
Culture Spy - November 8, 2:53 PM