5 books to prepare yourself for late spring
Originally Published on LinkedIn (5/5/2020)
Don’t know where to start? Try ‘ere.
The Ambassadors: America’s Diplomats on the Front Lines / Paul Richter
Often by design, middle-persons seldom get accolades for the rich and complex problems they solve on behalf of others. While some may consider it appropriate for all the credit to trickle up to the top, the exercise of warping history to favor its managers creates real challenges for those attempting to study it in detail and avoid the mistakes of the past. Paul Richter provides readers with a detailed look at the perspectives of four American ambassadors who serviced American interests in 13 near eastern countries by putting on record the finer details of global politics that didn’t (or have yet to) reach the twitter-sphere of the American media system. Perhaps unintentionally, the book does a decent job of reframing high-minded political rhetoric as customer service challenges where our Ambassadors do their best to serve difficult clients while also staying true to a sometimes misguided corporate policy. Whatever the scale of problems you are interested in solving The Ambassadors provides some great examples of how to work the stressful puzzle of what to do when you find yourself between Iraq and a hard place.
The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump / Andrew G. McCabe
“Between the world of chaos and the world of order stands the rule of law.” With one of the best first-lines in modern nonfiction, Andrew G. McCabe sets the stage for a tightrope act to reboot the role the FBI has historically played in domestic political elections. At no point in the book does McCabe make any attempt to acknowledge or excuse the remaining sting of past political interference carried out by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI on peaceful left-wing activists. Instead, McCabe focuses on the serious and immediate threat to democracy at hand. Walking his readers through the process and procedure of uncomfortable discoveries in the workplace, Andrew G. McCabe makes several solid cases before the American public: (1) During his service the FBI was a world-class organization and not the fascist bootlickers that Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were hoping to enlist. (2) Our democracy is in serious and immediate danger from devout fascists operating on the left and the right as well as in the middle of our political systems. (3) The FBI has creative and honorable professionals in their service who know how to combine modern intelligence gathering with good ole fashion shoe-leather to uncover crimes and even prevent them.
Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts / David E. McCraw
Jeremy Bentham said, “Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of regular government.” In his 2019 book, the Deputy General Counsel of The New York Times reminds of this centuries-old axiom and other truths that have already been uncovered in the service of a commitment to values higher than ourselves. Unquestionably written in the manner of the Grey Lady, McCraw provides the underlying reasoning for the writing style that some would label an indulgence of an erudite vernacular; sometimes good ideas are complex. With real-life examples of how attacks on our federal rights happen at a very local level, McCraw does his best to cut through the legalese and humanize the renewed fight for what were previously considered self-evident freedoms playing out in public before our eyes.
Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America / Adam Cohen
The United States Supreme Court commands deference that its co-equal branches have failed to maintain for one primary reason, its presentation of institutional staticity. Adam Cohen asks readers to look beyond that appearance, challenging the Court’s 0vert and “systematic rewriting of society’s rules to favor those at the top and disadvantage those in the middle and the bottom.” As one of the most difficult branches of government for the public to gain admission within, the Court has become ground zero for those with the privilege of access to education or financial resources to bully and impose their will upon otherwise worthy contestants of the American dream. While the book is certainly a downer, Cohen skillfully mark-ups the blueprint of the past fifty years of American legal thought pointing out where there are plenty of opportunities for renovation.
Weird Maryland: Your Travel Guide to Maryland’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets / Matt Lake
Maryland has played host to more than a few rumors over the years and with its 388 birthday quickly approaching it’s not untimely to take a closer look at the local legends and bizarre beasts the Free State’s residents have unmasked over the years. Whether you are on the hunt for spooks, fairies, or other monsters of the night, Matt Lake provides a fun detailed account of stories to ask the locals about the next time you are in their neck of the woods.