If John Jackley seems a bit bitter, well, he is. Perhaps that’s because it took working for three congressmen to confirm what he never suspected–that few of these romanticized public servants give a shit about their constituents, let alone their aides.
What It Takes: The way to the White House
by Richard Ben Kramer
(New York: Random House, 1992)
Following six presidential candidates–including Dick Gephardt–in the 1988 election, this Pulitzer Prize-winning author dissects what happens when a campaign platform ends at the Oval Office.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Directed by Frank Capra, 1939
The Jimmy Stewart classic about an idealistic young senator who goes against the grain by trying to hold up true American values ends–guess what?–in his success. Remember, it’s only a movie.
This bimonthly barometer of lobbying activity tracks campaign contributions to legislators who play key roles on major issues. While the Center claims not to take sides on any particular bill or policy debate, the “Eye” keeps an irreverent watch.
The Lobbyists: How influence peddlers work their way in Washington
by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
(New York: Times Books, 1992)
A White House reporter explains how 80,000 of Washington’s smoothest operators have gained unlimited power and access to government.
Showdown at Gucci Gulch: Lawmakers, Lobbyists, and the Unlikely Triumph of Tax Reform
(New York: Vintage Books, 1988)
Birnbaum and co-author Alan S. Murray expose how liberals and conservatives conspired with big business to overhaul the federal income tax laws in 1986.
And Weapons For All: How America’s multi-billion-dollar arms trade warps our foreign policy and subverts democracy at home
by William D. Hartung
(New York: HarperCollins, 1994)
A senior research fellow at the World Policy Institute shows the irony of an American security policy designed to fight against the very conflicts fueled by “world arms dealer number one”–the United States.
The Weary Titan: Britain and the experience of relative decline, 1895-1905
by Aaron L. Friedberg
(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988)
Friedberg details how military expenditures forced turn-of-the-century Britain into decline.
The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers
by Paul Kennedy
(New York: Random House, 1987)
This best-seller argues that America faces probable decline, based on comparisons with Britain and other empires.
Bound to Lead
(New York: Basic Books, 1990)
Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
Vigorously challenges the decline thesis proposed by Friedberg and Kennedy. But if reading Nye’s tome seems too daunting, he wrote the Cliffs Notes to the debate in a book review published in The New Republic on Feb. 13, 1989.
by Vaclav Havel (translated by Paul Wilson)
(New York: Vintage Books, 1992)
In an effort to cleanse Czechoslovakia’s tainted image after the 1989 fall of communism, President Havel placed morality above politics by ending arms exports from his country. Unfortunately, morality has since given way to economics, and the Czech parliament has reinstated arms sales, albeit under tighter new export control laws. Nevertheless, Havel’s exploration of the ethics of conviction makes for riveting reading.
Arms and Security in the Post-Cold War World
Edited by Randall Forsberg
(McLean, Va.: Brassey’s, Inc., November 1994) (800) 428-5331
The first in a three-part series that looks at why the global military aerospace industry has outlived our need for it, this book proposes that the United States and Russia cooperate to curtail the spread of conventional weapons.
The British American Security Information Council
1900 L Street, N.W., Suite 401 Washington, D.C. 20036 (202) 785-1266
This nonprofit, independent research organization analyzes international security policy in Europe and North America. Recent BASIC publications, such as reducing military tensions in south-east europe and a comprehensive test ban within reach, explore emerging opportunities for disarmament.
Generation at The Crossroads: Apathy and action on the American Campus
by Paul Rogat Loeb
(New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, November 1994) (800) 446-9323
If you liked the article, you’ll love the book it’s adapted from.
Who Cares: A journal of service and action
1511 K Street, NW, Suite 1042 Washington, D.C. 20005 (202) 628-1691
A grassroots-goes-glossy quarterly whose stated mission is to “inform, challenge and inspire a new generation of volunteers and activists.” Its upbeat tone is tempered by a healthy dose of reality (the Spring 1994 issue includes Donna Ferrato’s shocking photo essay on domestic violence).
Study War No More: UCP’s guide to uncovering the right on campus
edited by Dayla Massachi and Rich Cowan
(Cambridge, Mass.: University Conversion Project, 1994) (617) 354-9363
This detailed list of college groups funded by the right wing provides ammunition for progressives currently fighting the “war of ideas” on campus. The second book in the series, study war no more: campus organizing guide for peace and justice groups (1994), is a concise “how-to” book that can be ordered with inserts covering issues such as violence against women and anti-ROTC campaigns.
1335 P Street, N.W., Suite 202 Washington, D.C. 20009 (202) 462-5901
This organization, which places young people in nonprofit apprenticeships nationwide, is considered a model for Clinton’s national service plan.
Generation X: Tales for an accelerated culture
by Douglas Coupland
(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991)
For a glimpse into the minds of twentysomethings, try the book that (mis)named a generation. It won’t ever be considered great literature, but it might get “McJob” into Webster’s.