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JAMIE'S BOOKSHELF: Plenty Of New Books On Hand For Political Junkies

Compiled by Jamie H. Vaught

This is the second of a three-part series about recently-published nonfiction books for possible summer readings.

--“The Long Game: A Memoir” by Senator Mitch McConnell (Sentinel, $28.00) is a surprisingly pretty good autobiography by the Senate majority leader from Kentucky. While some folks may not be crazy about him, the 278-page hardcover, however, is a pleasant read with numerous behind-the-scenes stories and makes McConnell more human than he appears in television interviews. Since he often keeps a low profile, not very many people understand how he got to where he is, what motivates him, and how he deals with critics or the political establishment on both his left and his right. But his new book will help the readers get to know the undemonstrative senator on personal and political levels, including his childhood battle with polio and his failure to play good baseball.

I especially enjoyed a passage where McConnell and the new president, George W. Bush, had an uneasy discussion about the podium on the platform during the inauguration in Washington, D.C. At the time, it appeared the podium was nowhere to be found. McConnell also mentions an interesting episode with then-new Senator Al Franken of Minnesota after making a speech on the floor. I'll let you read and find out.

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin enjoyed the book and wrote a blurb on the back cover. “The Long Game is a warm, candid and captivating story of a young boy who conquered polio, loved the Brooklyn Dodgers, and set his sights on becoming a ballplayer before finding his life’s calling in politics,” wrote Goodwin. “The steady upward climb from high school president to office boy in the Senate mailroom, from county judge to majority leader, is told with insight, humor and telling detail.”

--“Bush” by Jean Edward Smith (Simon & Schuster, $35.00) is a critical but fair biography of George W. Bush. The well-researched book -- over 800 pages long -- is a comprehensive assessment of the Bush presidency (2001-2009). The hardcover has everything you need to know about Bush and his administration, but you may not agree with the author's conclusions, including the invasion of Iraq, which Smith calls "the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president." The lengthy book, which has numerous photos scattered throughout the pages, is scheduled for release on July 5. The well-known author has written several award-winning biographies, including the ones on Dwight Eisenhower, FDR and John Marshall.

--“Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History” by Karen Blumenthal (Feiwel and Friends, $18.99) is an intimate look at the public and personal life of presidential candidate Mrs. Clinton, who has more than 40 years of experience in politics and public life. The 433-page hardcover is actually written for teens but it’s still a nice read for adults as well. Wrote one reviewer, it is “a balanced, wholly human portrait with all the flaws it entails….”