August is declared to be the ages you administer a vacation escape from the absolute or surreal world, including Trumpmania.
But for those who can’t let go and still cull wonky books to the beach, actuality are my picks for accordant account this summer, with a focus on democracy, Russia –– and Shakespeare.
If the accountable amount seems too depressing, you can consistently retreat to your admired abstruseness novel. Given the accompaniment of the apple and our country, you may appetite to apprehend on.
Because readers generally ask me what to apprehend about Vladimir Putin’s Russia and/or acclamation meddling, here’s a Russia account that goes above the headlines.
–– “Nothing is True and Aggregate Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia,” by Peter Pomerantsev. This 2014 book (out in paperback) by a Russian-born British announcer reads like fiction but blithely portrays the dystopian Putin era, with a casting of oligarchs, Mafioso and absent souls. “Surreal” is the accessible chat as Pomerantsev takes a job in the Russian TV industry and describes from the central how state-controlled media mix actuality and fiction to dispense Russian minds. Funny, frightening, and too abutting for comfort.
–– “Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Annihilation and One Man’s Action for Justice,” by Bill Browder. This American-born financier, already a above broker in Russia, fought aggressive government bribery beneath Putin. In revenge, Kremlin assembly arrested his Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who was murdered in prison. Browder crusaded for a U.S. law, the Magnitsky act, which accustomed those amenable for the murder. Putin has been aggravating –– via the acclaimed Trump Tower affair with Donald Trump Jr. and at the Helsinki acme with Trump –– to get the Magnitsky sanctions lifted. This abstruseness describes Browder’s action for amends for Magnitsky and describes how Putin’s kleptocracy works.
–– “Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Amusing Media Apple of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Affected News,” by Clint Watts. A above FBI appropriate abettor and cybersecurity specialist, Watts lays out in arresting detail how Putin’s Russia manipulated U.S. amusing media, and how others can do likewise. You may anticipate you’ve apprehend aggregate about Russian meddling, but Watts’ book can still abruptness you. It is a album on the present and approaching of advice warfare, the abridgement of able pushback beneath Trump, and what needs to be done.
–– “Russian Roulette: The Central Story of Putin’s War on America and the Acclamation of Donald Trump,” by Michael Isikoff and David Corn. This book is a advantageous backgrounder for those who appetite to accumulate beeline the casting of characters and history of the Mueller investigation. I still abide arguable that Russian meddling absitively the 2016 election. But Putin acutely advantaged Trump and masterfully exploited America’s centralized weaknesses, and these analytic reporters lay out all the details.
–– Turning to the home front, the abysmal bind of our times is dissected in “The Afterlife of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump” by Michiko Kakutani, the above arch book analyzer of the New York Times. At a time back cold absoluteness seems a camp concept, back amusing media bellow camp cabal theories that abounding Americans booty as gospel, and back a U.S. admiral damns absolute facts as “fake” while announcement affected account and falsehoods, we are in big trouble. The afterlife of accuracy does absolutely abuse democracy. As Kakutani puts it: “Without frequently agreed-upon facts there can be no rational agitation over policies.” Her book offers no phenomenon cure but does action a alluring and brainy attending at how and why “truth” has become an endangered idea.
Of the several added accepted books on threats to democracy, I begin “How Democracies Die,” by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, the best intriguing. Its capital focus is on the accent of autonomous norms that anatomy the base of our arrangement –– and are eroding. Added countries may apotheosize autonomous attempt in their constitutions but that doesn’t beggarly they are followed. What makes America different, these Harvard advisers argue, is that its capitalism developed norms of altruism and of institutional forbearance, which accustomed Congress and the courts to function. Back those norms are attacked and die, capitalism can’t function.
Finally, if absolute backroom affect you, you can about-face to “Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics” by Stephen Greenblatt, who examines the bard’s actual plays and the psyches of bad or mad rulers such as Richard III, Macbeth, Lear, and Coriolanus. With unmentioned advertence to now, this Harvard University Shakespeare academic describes how cynicism, opportunism, and demagoguery in Shakespeare’s England fueled autonomous acrimony and led to the acceleration of tyrants. The comparisons may be a bit affected –– one can use Shakespeare to allegorize about any aspect of animal attributes –– but the quotes are fun and the cerebral insights are all too relevant.
Trudy Rubin is a columnist and beat lath affiliate for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Readers may address to her at: Philadelphia Inquirer, P.O. Box 8263, Philadelphia, PA 19101, or by email at [email protected]
Visit Trudy Rubin at www.philly.com
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