Politics meet publishing in books by Chozick, Farrow, Goldberg, Tapper

A week after the publication of James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty kicked off a frenzied news cycle, a quartet of political books out today offer additional fodder for political junkies. The books are Amy Chozick’s Chasing Hillary, a memoir of her decade covering two Clinton campaigns; Ronan Farrow’s War on Peace, his look at the changing face of American diplomacy; Jonah Goldberg’s Suicide of the West, an effort by the conservative writer to account for the problems facing western societies; and Jake Tapper’s The Hellfire Club, a fictional account of a deadly conspiracy set in 1954 Washington, DC, with echoes in the present. Farrow (#27), Goldberg (#57), and Chozick (#73) are all in the top 100 bestsellers on Amazon as of this morning (Comey’s remains in the top spot).

Given the endless interest in the 2016 election, Chozick’s memoir of her time on the trail with Hillary Clinton will likely make the most news. Chozick served as The New York Times’s lead reporter on the Clinton campaign, and also covered her 2008 effort during the Democratic primaries. The Washington Post’s book critic Carlos Lozada describes Chasing Hillary as “a buffet-style book—media criticism here, trail reminiscences there, political analysis and assorted recollections from Chozick’s own past tossed throughout.” Media watchers over the weekend quickly picked out Chozick’s reckoning with the role her own paper’s coverage of Clinton’s email scandal played in the closing month of the most recent campaign. She expresses regret for focusing on emails hacked from John Podesta’s account, allowing, in her view, Times reporters to become “puppets in Vladimir Putin’s master plan.” Chozick’s colleague Nick Confessore, who shared a byline with her on several of those stories, pushed back against that idea on Twitter.

The other books out today offer broader perspectives on the current political environment. Farrow, fresh off a Pulitzer win for his Harvey Weinstein bombshell, is promoting his look at the State Department in a time of waning influence and budget cuts. He tells NPR that the crisis didn’t start under Trump: “It’s not unprecedented. This is something that has been a long time coming.” Goldberg, a mainstay at National Review, earned plaudits from The New York Times’s David Brooks, who calls Suicide of the West a “debate-shifting book.” Tapper’s fictional effort is a departure from his role as a CNN anchor, but BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith writes that his thriller “has the best qualities of this sort of historical fiction, which include the winking perspective of the present.

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None of these books will have the impact of Comey’s look back at his time in the FBI and interactions with Donald Trump, but each offers a window into the state of politics in an era in which interest has never been higher. Below, excerpts from the books that offer a peak at their contents.

  • Chasing Hillary: The New York Times published an adaptation from Chozick’s book with the provocative headline, ““They were never going to let me be president.”
  • War on Peace: In The New Yorker, Farrow looks at the final days of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.
  • Suicide of the West: National Review published an excerpt from Goldberg’s book laying out his thesis of society at the precipice.
  • The Hellfire Club: Entertainment Weekly has the first chapter of Tapper’s thriller.


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Other notable stories

  • Journalists at the Toronto Star are providing blanket coverage of a tragedy in the city after a van plowed through pedestrians yesterday, killing 10 and injuring 15.
  • Vanity Fair announced this morning that it is launching a metered paywall. Editor Radhika Jones writes that readers will get four free articles per month, after which they’ll be offered the opportunity to subscribe, with the first three months free.
  • The Des Moines Register’s Mike Killen profiles rural Iowa’s “Trump translator,” radio reporter Bob Leonard. Leonard, himself no fan of Trump, credits his ability to listen to Iowans’ views to his time driving a cab over a decade ago. He now spends his time reporting for KNIA/KRLS radio, and interpreting Iowans’ continued support for the president to a wider audience through columns at larger publications like the Kansas City Star and New York Times. Killen writes that Leonard has “railed against the blanket stereotypes of dull hicks on the prairie who often spilled from the pens of big media but later tried to understand what his conservative friends saw in Trump.”
  • For CJR, Ryan Bell writes that AM radio is making a comeback in Puerto Rico. The damage from Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico’s already struggling media industry in shambles, but radio is filling the void, Bell writes. “Maria served as a moment of contraction in the news industry,” WORA-TV production manager Carolina Rodriguez Plaza tells him. “Meanwhile, AM radio emerged even stronger. Young people in the under-35 demographic are listening to radio news for the first time in their lives. Radios are at the center of a culture shift. Neighbors sit together drinking coffee and listening to the news.”
  • Kanye West’s return to Twitter has earned him new fans in the pro-Trump media. Following tweets praising right-wing personalities Candace Owens and Scott Adams, Fox’s Jesse Watters called West a “modern-day philosopher.” The Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani has a nice explanation of what’s going on with Kanye.
  • CJR’s Meg Dalton reports on a legal case that could have far-reaching implications for defamation suits against writers. Freelancer Ryan Goldberg is potentially being sued by Las Vegas oddsmaker RJ Bell over a story he wrote for Deadspin in 2016. Bell is being represented by Charles Harder, who served as Hulk Hogan’s lawyer in the suit that forced Gawker into bankruptcy.

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Pete Vernon is a former CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.