Inexplicably, I had never heard of this book until I discovered it in the discount bin at the used book store. Being a huge fan of Molly Ivins, I gladInexplicably, I had never heard of this book until I discovered it in the discount bin at the used book store. Being a huge fan of Molly Ivins, I gladly handed over my last crumpled dollar bill.
You'd think Shrub would be outdated now, five years after the end of the Bush presidency, since it was written in the run-up to his election in 2000. Political tell-alls are rarely relevant a decade-plus after their publication. Ivins, however, packed this one full of Texan political history and context in such a way that it has aged very well. I actually got quite a bit out of it.
First, even if you aren't interested in Texas politics at all (which you should be, because this state has very different standards than the rest of the country in terms of how much eccentricity is allowed in public figures, and subsequently Texan political anecdotes are *amazing*), you should still read this book for its clear-eyed look at the role of money in American politics and its evolution in the '90s. Weirdly, it made me less upset about Citizens United; Ivins makes it really obvious that functionally unlimited corporate money in elections pre-dated the decision.
Second, if you are interested in Texas, you should read this book for Ivins' take on the structure of state politics. Her analysis of the state political parties (who their major donors tend to be, some of the more arcane rules in their respective primaries and conventions, their various organizational failings and successes) is quiet enlightening about the way local politics works. Plus, there is some *choice* Ann Richards vintage sass in Shrub that should not be missed.
Third and finally, you should read this book for the information it gives you about Texas political figures who, unlike Shrub, are still relevant: Greg Abbott, John Cornryn, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and especially Rick Perry all feature in Shrub to varying degrees. Given Perry's announcement this week that he won't seek re-election as Governor (and the existence of his presidential exploratory committee), Ivins' anecdotes about "Mr. Good-hair," as she refers to him, are more relevant even than when she wrote them. Greg Abbott, Perry's presumptive GOP successor to the governor's chair, also features in a few stories about corporate money and corruption in Texas, and not to his credit. ...more
While Kilbourne sometimes gets a little preachy about what she perceives to be the degenerating moral culture in the United States (for example, she sWhile Kilbourne sometimes gets a little preachy about what she perceives to be the degenerating moral culture in the United States (for example, she seems a lot more upset about young women who are sexually active than I think is warranted), in general her opinions are fascinating. Focusing primarily on feminist issues and public health, she thoroughly deconstructs the way advertising has permeated and influenced American culture, particularly in the latter half of the twentieth century. Even though the book was published in 1999, many of its insights are still valuable....more
This book changed my outlook on the role of international organizations in peacekeeping efforts. Power's Pulitzer is incredibly well-deserved - A ProbThis book changed my outlook on the role of international organizations in peacekeeping efforts. Power's Pulitzer is incredibly well-deserved - A Problem from Hell is painfully well-researched and documented, while also being a compulsively readable condemnation of US human rights policy. ...more
A unique insiders' perspective on the question plenty of books in the genre have tackled: "why the hell do poor white people vote Republican?"
BageantA unique insiders' perspective on the question plenty of books in the genre have tackled: "why the hell do poor white people vote Republican?"
Bageant often wanders off onto personal soapboxes, ranting on for pages with minimal warranting of his arguments, which would be incredibly grating if he weren't frequently correct. If you disagree with him politically on pretty much any issue, he's going to annoy you at one point or another in this book. He certainly irritated me more than once. Ultimately, though, it's an affecting chronicle of a particular economic and cultural subclass - "the great American redneck." For those of us with family ties to the culture Bageant is talking about, it's both frustratingly and nostalgically familiar, and his delving into the political implications is thoroughly engaging.