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POLITICS - December 26, 2001

POLITICS
Greg Starks
GREG STARKS

A Political reading list

It is necessary to use this space to criticize those whom I disagree with — or those who just do a lousy job. But it is also important to recognize those who do well. It should be no surprise that often the same people are mentioned in both respects.
Mayor David Hollister has taken some unwarranted grief this year. His overwhelming victory last month was a reward for the way he has dramatically changed the nature of Lansing politics, probably more than any other resident since R.E. Olds. The question is how much of his giant trove of political capital he will spend to seal his legacy as one of Lansing’s great mayors. I bet we are in for a few surprises in the coming years.
Kudos go as well to Superintendent Sharon Banks, the Lansing School Board and Nancy Wonch and the Community Task Force she chaired for embracing a more open process for developing a new bond proposal. The report is still not on the district’s Web site, nor are the dates of the public hearings to shape the proposal. Let’s get them up there, solicit email comments and have fruitful multimedia dialogues to gather enough grassroots support to pass the bond! Let’s also continue Michigan’s proud tradition of public education finance in the process.
Hats off go to you, the City Pulse readers, as well. You are part of a significant minority who are interested in multiple perspectives of public events. Continue to demand accountability and respect from our political leaders. Reward them well when it is provided and encourage your neighbors to do likewise.


A holiday reading list for the politically minded
In honor of the holiday season and the commercialism it has come to represent, and knowing that a number of you may have gifts that you need to return, the following are offered as a list of books that people interested in politics might enjoy:
“Hardball,” by Christopher Matthews, is the best basic political manual I have ever seen, period. Trust me, the book is much better than his TV show of the same name. Its purpose is to explain some of the fundamentals of political action and behavior with a series of anecdotes that reflect basic do’s and don’ts of the political game. When I am lucky enough to find it in cutout bins, I buy as many copies as I can to give to friends. Six stars out of five.
“The Power Game,” by Hedrick Smith, a then-reporter for The New York Times, is a more scholarly work. It is long and very worthwhile reading. Smith did a PBS series based on this book, which explains how Washington works as well as anything.
“Parliament of Whores,” by P.J. O’Rourke. This book is funny. Its purpose was to satirize Washington by casting an ironic tone to many of the goings-on.
“Man of the House,” by Tip O’Neill. This is a collection of vignettes from the late House speaker. A fine read from a fine storyteller and master politician.
“Lincoln,” by Gore Vidal. The best of Vidal’s American historical novels, based largely on the diaries of John Hay, this is an amusing and complex portrayal of a man bound to his times. If you want purer history, try David Herbert Donald’s book of the same name.
“Humor of a Country Lawyer,” by Sam Ervin. The man who chaired the Senate Select Committee on Watergate wrote a marvelous memoir of an extraordinary life.
“John Adams,” by David McCullough, the latest presidential biography by the author of “Truman” casts light on another somewhat overlooked president.
“Post-Capitalist Society,” by Peter Drucker. The preeminent professor of business management looks forward again, explaining well before the boom of “e-commerce” the fundamental societal changes we can look forward to in the next half-century.
“Database Nation,” by Simson Garfinkel. Frequent Wired Magazine columnist Garfinkel suggests that our privacy and degree of self-control we have is already far more compromised than we suspect, and will grow worse unless we take steps to prevent it.
“The Money Game,” by Adam Smith. Called ‘the most Xeroxed book of all time,’ this remarkable perspective of the motives and style of major financial market players was published at the dawn of the computer age in 1966, but remains compelling and fresh today.
“Islam,” A Short History, by Karen Armstrong. This is an eminently readable book about a major religion that is far too misunderstood and misrepresented.
“Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail 72,” by Hunter S. Thompson. Presidential campaigns aren’t really like this anymore, which is a pity, in a sense. This is a classic; go read it again.
“Turning Point,” by Jimmy Carter. This is the true story of Carter’s first political campaign in 1962, for the Georgia State Senate. It is better than fiction, a classic story of corruption, stupidity and persistence.
“Critical Path,” by Richard Buckminster Fuller. Professor Fuller came to MSU as a part of the Great Issues series and presumably to promote this book in 1983. It is a remarkably insightful argument.

 

 

 

 

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