Currently reading

Paul Hanley
A Month in the Country
Michael Holroyd, J.L. Carr
A Tale of the Dispossessed: A Novel
Laura Restrepo, Dolores M. Koch
Mesabi Pioneers
Jeffrey Smith, Russell Hill
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes
Jon Rothschild, Amin Maalouf
Island of a Thousand Mirrors
Nayomi Munaweera

Citizens of the Green Room: Profiles in Courage and Self-Delusion

Citizens of the Green Room: Profiles in Courage and Self-Delusion - Mark Leibovich The reference to the green room in the title of this book gave me the incorrect impression that it is forward-looking, perhaps looking at who's in the wings for the next presidential election. It is backward looking, and many of the essays are quite old, considering the pace of political change. The title is drawn from an essay Leibovich wrote about the candidates in the green room before the democratic nomination debate in 2004. In many fields of study, 2004 wasn't that long ago, but politics tends to move a little faster, so it feels like a long time ago.

As far as the writing goes, the best essays are the ones that are more personal. These essays were written for a variety of publications and for a variety of reasons. The best, I believe, is the first about Mike Allen of Politico. It's quite compelling, but one of the reasons that it's so good is that Leibovich knows Allen and likes him. And that makes a difference. There are many profiles of people here whom Leibovich clearly doesn't respect very much, and that makes for a less enjoyable experience. At least for me. I'm not a huge political fan as much as a human fan -- I'm more looking for admirable characters, and many here fall short of that. Inevitably.

As a collection, these essays paint an amusing picture of the folks in politics and political media. They don't sleep and are caught up in themselves. They're all a little crazy. As a group they make for interesting study. But it's not a timely collection, as I say, so it comes as more an interesting collection of character sketches.

I got a free copy of this through Penguin's First to Read program.