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FixCam Pick: America, America

The Fix loves politics -- and that includes political novels.

It's rare these days when a truly great political novel comes down the pike, one that makes The Fix go back to his dog-eared copy of "All the King's Men" (without question the greatest political novel of all time) and read random snippets from it.

But, Ethan Canin's latest novel -- entitled "America, America" -- did the trick and, if you love politics like we love politics, it's worth splurging on the hard cover today. You won't regret it.

The story, which we won't ruin here, tells the tale of a wealthy family in Upstate New York, a young boy who works for them (and winds up becoming, of all things, a reporter) and a politician who runs for president.

It's a terrific story that shows, better than most non fiction ("What It Takes" excluded) how politics and politicians provide a unique window into human nature and American culture -- each in equal measure.

Looking for more on "America, America"? Check out Ron Charles review from Washington Post's "Book World" or John Updike's take from the New Yorker. Both reviews are largely positive; the New York Times offered a more lukewarm review.

And, The Fix is always on the hunt for other great fiction -- political or otherwise. So, if you've got something you love (or even like) we'd love to hear it in the comments section.

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 18, 2008; 3:18 PM ET
Categories:  Fix Picks , FixCam  
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Next: Introducing the Campaign Timeline


At this point the democratic party is a complete joke by nominating a candidate who has not released the minimum documents which a candidate should:

Let’s look at all of the items Barrack Obama has released:

1. Occidental College records — Not released

2. Columbia College records — Not released

3. Columbia Thesis paper — “Not available”

4. Harvard College records — Not released

5. Selective Service Registration — Not released

6. Medical records — Not released (To see if his heart is alright after all the cocaine use)

7. Illinois State Senate schedule — “not available” (he wasn't there that day when they passed out the schedule)

8. Law practice client list — Not released

9. Harvard Law Review articles published — NONE WRITTEN

10. University of Chicago scholarly articles — NONE WRITTEN

11. Your Record of baptism– Not released or “not available”

12. Your Illinois State Senate records–”not available”

Not even a certified copy of his birth certificate has been released.

The media should get on this. There are rumors that Obama was born in Indonesia or Kenya to a Muslim family. FACT.


Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse


Voted One of the Nation's Best Blogs for the Election of 2008:

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Voted One of the Nation's Best Blogs for the Election of 2008:

Bookmark it now !


Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

There's a great political thriller out right now, The Army of The Republic by Stuart Archer Cohen. Imagine a 4th Bush term and an armed insurgency here at home. It's an angry book, over the top for some, but very smart. He superimposes Disaster Capitalism on our future and it is all too believable.

Posted by: Dylan Perk | September 19, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm am OUTRAGED that the Bush administration's so called fix to their latest economic crisis is to force Americans to pay hundreds of billions of dollars in NEW TAXES to rescue the banks and Wall Street! We're in this problem in the first place because Bush and his Republican buddies on the far right implemented a policy of de-regulation which directly led to the explosion of bad mortgages, toxic debt, and record gas prices. So I have a simple adjustment to the Republican's "fix": impose these taxes on only those Americans that voted for Bush, (anyone stupid enough to vote for Bush twice pays double). Most of us in middle class America cannot AFFORD 4 more years of this. Listen to your wallet, America. It's pleading with you to vote for Obama/Biden!

Posted by: GOP literaly stealing money from our pockets | September 19, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

My favorite political novel is "The People's Choice," by Jeff Greenfield. It describes the chaos that ensues when the President-elect dies before the electoral college has met, and all the political machinations that then kick in. It's also chock full of useful factual information about the history of presidential elections in the country. Perhaps most importantly, however, it's also side-splittingly funny. Well worth a read during this campaign season.

Posted by: JJ | September 19, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse


Voted One of the Nation's Best Blogs for the Election of 2008:

Bookmark it now !


Voted One of the Nation's Best Blogs for the Election of 2008:

Bookmark it now !


Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Before you read any of that dumb, dumber stuff which can't get beyond self improvement, reas a matrix piece of writting : The Judgement of The Nations, Christopher Dawson; Sheed and Ward, New York 1942.

Posted by: R.S.Newark | September 19, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

The Fed now plans to buy the loans that poor Americans are struggling to pay, but instead of helping them refinance and work out payment, it is going to auction them off, unchanged, so it can protect failing investment banks.

Big Business wins. Little guy loses.

Posted by: Angry as Hell | September 19, 2008 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

--One of the best I've read in some time. Not a political novel outright, but an excellent historical novel set mainly in Detroit with insightful passages on social and political events and issues.

Posted by: bluemuser | September 19, 2008 12:17 AM | Report abuse


Voted One of the Nation's Best Blogs for the Election of 2008:

Bookmark it now !


Voted One of the Nation's Best Blogs for the Election of 2008:

Bookmark it now !


Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2008 11:37 PM | Report abuse

For any of you who are into audio books... is great and America, America is available there unabridged.

Posted by: DaveinFL | September 18, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse

So WaPo, now that we know you leaked Palin's email address, inviting the criminal theft of her private correspondence, when do we get a fact check on you?

Maybe we can start posting family pictures of your editors?

Posted by: Vern | September 18, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Echo House by Ward Just

Posted by: sziegler | September 18, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Chris, I enjoyed "Advise and Consent" and "Manchurian Candidate" when I was a senior in HS [59-60]. I do not know if either has stood up over time like ATKM.

I assume you are limiting your scope to DC and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"/"Quest for Karla" does not count. But it sure was terrific.
KOZ, thanks for your comment. I am still reading a disdain for "welfare" in your post - and there just is not any of that in the Fed budget unless you include the entitlements, which are presumably funded by a tax on "first" dollars, not marginal wealth. We should talk about this over a beer sometime.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | September 18, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Looks like an interesting book. Here's an interesting blog...

With only 47 days left until November 4th, do you know the Top 50 Swing Voter Demographics in 2008?

#50 - Hockey Moms
#49 - Godless Hollywood Liberals
#48 - Baristas
#47 - People with STDs
#46 - ???

Check out

Posted by: Conrad | September 18, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

My favorite pieces of political fiction is the notion that McCain is a populist reformer who cares more about the little guy taxpayer than fat cat lobbyists and monied interests.

Posted by: bondjedi | September 18, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

If there is one way to clear out all the dimwits and misfits, it is a bracing discusssion of literature.

Try "the fourth turning". It is a study of historical cycles in american history. not dissertation stuff but interesting in a "tipping point" sort of way.

Posted by: kingofzouk | September 18, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

CC - you blog has turned into a juvenile spam-fest. Sad really. the idiots that are on here now make drindl and rufas look like scholars.

I saw you on H&C last night. you have got to practice not taking a breath and refusing to stop talking until Sean cuts you off. Just ignore alan - he is simply a token to provide cover for all dimwits watching the enemy camp.

I suppose all these cockroaches will crawl back under the log after their messiah is humiliated in a 40 state sweep.

Posted by: kingofzouk | September 18, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, I've rather enjoyed the two novels I've read by Richard North Patterson, The Race and Exile.

Posted by: JamesCH | September 18, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Come on, guys - can you give us a break from the partisan crapflooding for just one thread? If you've got nothing interesting to say on political fiction please give this one a miss, eh?

I used to really enjoy the comments on here when things were quieter...

Posted by: pmyteh | September 18, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

So Phil Gramm, John McCain's supposedly banished economic guru and campaign chairman, has been seeking Ron Paul's endorsement. Paul's answer? Not in a million years.

Here Ron Paul is just a few minutes ago:

"I can't endorse somebody (McCain) that disagrees with me on all the major issues -- on the federal reserve system, on spending and taxes, and No Child Left Behind, and McCain-Feingold, and foreign policy especially. I mean I could never support somebody who thinks that its funny to say "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." That to me is not somebody I could endorse ever."

-Ron Paul - 9/18/08

Paul's strident non-endorsement is the biggest deal here, but there's another issue: what in the world is Phil Gramm doing politicking on John McCain's behalf? Hadn't he been banished to Belarus? Does this mean that John McCain now endorses Gramm's "Americans are whiners" comments?

Posted by: Bush + McCain = "W"orthless | September 18, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

The Last Hurrah

The Last Hurrah is a 1956 novel written by Edwin O'Connor. It is considered the most popular of O’Connor’s works, partly because of a significant 1958 movie adaptation starring Spencer Tracy. The novel when published was immediately a bestseller in the United States and stayed so for 20 weeks[1] and on bestseller lists for the year it was published.[2] The Last Hurrah, which won the Atlantic Prize, was also highlighted by the Book-of-the-Month Club and Reader's Digest. The Last Hurrah received very positive critical reviews, including an "ecstatic" one from the New York Times Book Review. [3]

Posted by: Jimmy | September 18, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Can John McCain explain to America how he could have been in favor of privatizing a portion of Social Security? As this crisis looms, what would the losses been to American's safety net of Social Security? Is this the judgement we can expect under his administration?

Posted by: Mike Adams | September 18, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

We're all supposed to vote for John McCain, and take it on faith that he'll miracluously come up with a plan for us? Really?

What's the plan? Divert tax revenue into lottery tickets? An McCain/Palin trip to Vegas?

I'd accept either of those answers before "we'll let you know if we take office"

Posted by: JamesCH | September 18, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Straight talk from the horse's...

...I wanted to say mouth, but I think it's coming from the other side.

McCain advisor Doug "Blackberry" Holtz-Eakin was asked how much worse the economy has to get before the campaign releases a specific plan on how to remedy it.

His answer: "I think the moment when we write down a specific plan is the moment we send legislation from a McCain administration to Congress. That's the moment when that happens."

Wait! I get it! It's a "faith-based economic plan", right?

Posted by: JamesCH | September 18, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

City of Refuge by Tom Piazza

Posted by: Ken Shane | September 18, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

In a twisted sort of way I almost want McCain to win this election because four more years worth of failed Bush/McCain policies would for all intents and purposes be the end of the Republican party as we know it today. They would become the 4th party gadflies that they deserve to be.

The only question is, would this country survive it?

You people out there who live in economic downtrodden states like Ohio, Pa and Michigan etc, if you are stupid enough to vote for McCain, a guy who is offering four more years of the exact same failed policies that Bush gave will deserve every bit of the continued economic hardship a "President McCain" would give you.

Posted by: former Republican | September 18, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Hi Anonymous! My name is Bambi. I am 18 years old, have baby blue eyes, and am pure as the driven snow, but I have naughty thoughts!

Anonymous wrting his usual politcal porn from some dingy office. Why are you working as a paif hack for the McCain campaign? Hey did the economy take out your job as a telephone porm operator?

Posted by: Bambi | September 18, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

McCain in April declared that there had been "great progress economically" during the Bush years. On more than one occasion, he diagnosed Americans' concerns over the dismal U.S. economy as "psychological." (Phil Gramm, McCain's close friend and adviser supposedly excommunicated over his "whiners" remarks, was back with the campaign last week.) McCain, a man who owns eight homes nationwide, in March lectured Americans facing foreclosure that they ought to be "doing what is necessary -- working a second job, skipping a vacation, and managing their budgets -- to make their payments on time." And when all else fails, McCain told the people of the economically devastated regions in Martin County, Kentucky and Youngstown, Ohio, there's always eBay.

In his defense, McCain's shocking tone-deafness may just be a matter of perspective. When you're as well off as he is, anything below a $5 million income (a figure exceeding that earned on average by the top 0.1% of Americans) seems middle class.

*The $100 Million Man*
Courtesy of his wife Cindy's beer distribution fortune (one her late father apparently chose not to share with her half-sister Kathleen), the McCains are worth well over $100 million. (In the two-page tax summary she eventually released to the public, Cindy McCain reported another $6 million in 2006.) As Salon reported back in 2000, the second Mrs. McCain's millions were essential in launching her husband's political career. Unsurprisingly, the Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti, who four years ago called Theresa Heinz-Kerry a "sugar mommy," has been silent on the topic of Cindy McCain.

*The Joys of (Eight) Home Ownership*
While fellow adulterer John Edwards was pilloried for his mansion, John McCain's eight homes around the country have received little notice or criticism. His properties include a 10 acre lake-side Sedona estate, euphemistically called a "cabin" by the McCain campaign, and a home featured in Architectural Digest. The one featuring "remote control window coverings" was recently put up for sale. Still, their formidable resources did not prevent the McCains from failing to pay taxes on a tony La Jolla, California condo used by Cindy's aged aunt.

*The Anheuser-Busch Windfall*
As it turns out, the beauty of globalization is in the eye of the beholder. While John McCain apparently played a critical role in facilitating DHL's takeover of Airborne (and with it, the looming loss of 8,000 jobs in Wilmington, Ohio), Cindy McCain is set to earn a staggering multi-million dollar pay-day from the acquisition of Anheuser-Busch by the Belgian beverage giant, In Bev. As the Wall Street Journal reported in July, Mrs. McCain runs the third largest Anheuser-Busch distributorship in the nation, and owns between $2.5 and $5 million in the company's stock. Amazingly, while Missouri's politicians of both parties lined up to try to block the sale, John McCain held a fundraiser in the Show Me State even as the In Bev deal was being finalized.

*McCain's $370,000 Personal Tax Break*
Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress analyzed John McCain's tax proposals. The conclusion? McCain's plan is radically more regressive than even that of President Bush, delivering 58% of its benefits to the wealthiest 1% of American taxpayers. McCain's born-again support for the Bush tax cuts has one additional bonus for Mr. Straight Talk: the McCains would save an estimated $373,000 a year.

*Paying Off $225,000 Credit Card Debt - Priceless*
That massive windfall from his own tax plan will come in handy for John McCain. As was reported in June, the McCains were carrying over $225,000 in credit card debt. The American Express card - don't leave your homes without it.

*Charity Begins at Home*
As Harpers documented earlier this year, the McCains are true believers in the old saying that charity begins at home:
Between 2001 and 2006, McCain contributed roughly $950,000 to [their] foundation. That accounted for all of its listed income other than for $100 that came from an anonymous donor. During that same period, the McCain foundation made contributions of roughly $1.6 million. More than $500,000 went to his kids' private schools, most of which was donated when his children were attending those institutions. So McCain apparently received major tax deductions for supporting elite schools attended by his children.
Ironically, the McCain campaign last week blasted Barack Obama for having attended a private school in Hawaii on scholarship. That attack came just weeks after John McCain held an event at his old prep school, Episcopal High, an institution where fees now top $38,000 a year.

*Private Jet Setters*
As the New York Times detailed back in April, John McCain enjoyed the use of his wife's private jet for his campaign, courtesy of election law loopholes he helped craft. Despite the controversy, McCain continued to use Cindy's corporate jet. For her part, Cindy McCain says that even with skyrocketing fuel costs, "in Arizona the only way to get around the state is by small private plane."

*Help on the Homefront*
In these tough economic times, the McCains are able to stretch their household budget. As the AP reported in April, "McCain reported paying $136,572 in wages to household employees in 2007. Aides say the McCains pay for a caretaker for a cabin in Sedona, Ariz., child care for their teenage daughter, and a personal assistant for Cindy McCain."

*Well-Heeled in $520 Shoes*
If clothes make the man, then John McCain has it made. As Huffington Post noted in July, "He has worn a pair of $520 black leather Ferragamo shoes on every recent campaign stop - from a news conference with the Dalai Lama to a supermarket visit in Bethlehem, PA." It is altogether fitting that McCain wore the golden loafers during a golf outing with President George H.W. Bush in which he rode around in cart displaying the sign, "Property of Bush #41. Hands Off."

Posted by: McCain is a LIAR! | September 18, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I just finished reading "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz and recommend it very highly .. Not political, but a great portrait of a Dominican "ghetto geek" that I think you'll really enjoy

Posted by: Keith Demko | September 18, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Recommend Neal Stephenson. He had two early works under pseudonym Stephen Bury which qualify as political fiction -- Interface and The Cobweb (Interface is more so than The Cobweb, which comes off as more of a spy thriller).

His latter fiction delves into the meaning of money and the markets and the history of currency -- try Cryptonomicon before launching into the ambitious Baroque Cycle.

Hell of a fun author.

Posted by: Chris in Kansas City | September 18, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

How are you? Marc is feeling rejuvenated working on Obama's campaign. He wants to do more than calls and emails. Maybe a local meeting on Friday night.

I made beets for dinner and they came out real good and have enough left overs for 2 days, yeah! Am enjoying my driving lessons. Tomorrow Marc will take a break from it to do his jogging after work instead. I plan to be in the city at employment agencies and help Max do reception for his exhibit in the afternoon from 1:30-4:30pm since he needs to be at the Student's Art League at that same time.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Ever read the the orations of Cicero? Sounds boring but is anything but. End days of the Roman Republic with corruption, sex scandals, political malfeasance, etc etc...much like today.

Start with the Catalinarian Orations.

O tempora, O mores!

Those who do not learn from the past, etc etc....

Posted by: McRumi | September 18, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

From the Lexington (KY) Herald Leader, posted at, here is a voice from a real small town of the heartland, published as a guest op-ed piece:

GOP Campaign Twisting Small-Town Values

Posted by: BRMP | September 18, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

For those with a sense of humor...

I posted a short news clip of Sarah Palin, on the stump, touting a Palin-McCain administration.

Freud would have a field day.

Here is the clip:

Posted by: scootmandubious | September 18, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

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