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Bob Dixon

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JAMIE'S BOOKSHELF: More Fascinating Volumes for Autumn Reading

Compiled by Jamie H. Vaught Magazine Editor

(This is the second of a two-part column about recently-published nonfiction books.)

–“How to Lead: Wisdom from the World’s Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers” by David M. Rubenstein (Simon & Schuster, $30) is a probing examination of leadership that offers a rare look into the minds of some of the greatest leaders of our time. For the past five years, the author – who is a visionary cofounder of the The Carlyle Group and is a television host of Bloomberg TV’s “The David Rubenstein Show” – conducted behind-the-scenes conversations with legendary leaders from finance, tech, entertainment, sports and government.

–“The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness” by Morgan Housel (Harriman House, $18.99) is an engaging paperback that is filled with short stories about how people think about money. The stories explore the unusual ways folks ponder about money and teach you how to make better sense of one of life’s most significant topics. A former columnist for the Wall Street Journal, the author has captured several honors for excellent business writing.

–“Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President” by Michael S. Schmidt (Random House, $30) is a dramatic story about the clash between a president, who ignored the norms and sought to expand his power, and the government officials who tried to stop him. The 433-page volume draws on secret FBI and White House documents and confidential sources inside federal law enforcement and the West Wing, revealing a presidency like no other. The author is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington correspondent for the New York Times.

–“The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy” by Stephanie Kelton (PublicAffairs, $30) is an eye-opening account of understanding money, taxes and the critical role of government deficit spending, and how we can maximize our potential as a society. The author busts through the myths such as: that the federal government should budget like a household, deficits will harm the next generation, programs like Social Security and Medicare are driving us toward a grave fiscal crisis, among others. A college professor of economics and public policy at Stony Brook University, the author is a former chief economist on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee.

–“The Imposters: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics” by Steve Benen (William Morrow, $28.99) is written by the producer of The Rachel Maddow Show who writes the Republican Party has abandoned its duty to govern and walked away from the necessary work of policymaking. The 374-page hardcover begins its political discussion with Barack Obama’s 2008 election and ends with President Trump’s impeachment in 2019.

–“The Character Edge: Leading and Winning with Integrity” by Robert L. Caslen Jr. and Michael D. Matthews (St. Martin’s Press, $28.99) is an outstanding volume about the importance of having character – the moral values and habits of an individual – in a successful leadership role. The authors, who have solid military background, explain why all successful leaders depend on a foundation of strong character to survive after seeing firsthand that raw talent is not enough to stand on its own. They pointed out all of the good leaders display their skill, grit, resilience, charisma and courage, and all of their traits or qualities originated from one main element – their strength of character. The 350-page book contains many examples, including sports tidbits. A retired Army lieutenant general and former superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Caslen is currently the president of the University of South Carolina. Dr. Matthews is a professor of engineering psychology at the U.S. Military Academy.

–“Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House, $32) is an eye-opening reexamination about real people and history. The revealing hardcover is a deeply researched piece about how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden and powerful caste system. Beyond race, class, or other factors, a caste system influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations.

–“Journeys with Jimmy Carter and Other Adventures in Media” by Barry Jagoda (Koehler Books, $28.95) is a fascinating inside story about the author’s career in television journalism and politics, revealing a close working relationship with Jimmy Carter when the latter ran for President in 1976. A former producer at NBC News and CBS News, Jagoda served as television advisor to Carter before joining him at the White House as a special assistant. Now living in San Diego after many years in New York City and Washington, D.C., the Texas-raised author – who has a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University – currently serves as a campaign media advisor and media publicist for technology companies. It is an enjoyable read for a political or news junkie.

–“The Presidents vs. The Press: The Endless Battle Between the White House and the Media – from the Founding Fathers to Fake News” by Harold Holzer (Dutton, $30) examines the dual rise of the American presidency and the media that shaped it. From George Washington to Donald Trump, the award-winning presidential historian follows the disputes and distrust between these core institutions that define our country. While today’s unhealthy Trump-media relationship is troublesome, it should be pointed out the tension between presidents and journalists has always been there, and it’s as old as the republic itself. The author is one of the country’s leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era.

–“Trump and the American Future: Solving the Great Problems of Our Time” by Newt Gingrich (Center Street, $28) outlines the clear choices – pros and cons – Americans face in the 2020 presidential election. Featuring insights gleaned from his lifetime of experience and access, the author – a former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives – urges the readers to support President Trump for another term.

–“True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump” by Jeffrey Toobin (Doubleday, $30) is a well-written saga about a president guilty of historic misconduct and how he got away with it. Based on many interviews with prosecutors in Mueller's office, President Trump's legal team, Congressional investigators, White House staffers, among others, the 483-page hardcover provides an entertaining, behind-the-scenes account of the Mueller investigation and the impeachment of Trump. A senior legal analyst for CNN, the author has written several bestsellers.

–“The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III” by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser (Simon & Schuster, $35) is a definite biography about the former White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of State. Baker was a power broker who influenced America’s destiny for generations even though he had never worked in Washington, D.C. until a family tragedy struck when he was 39. A faithful Republican, Baker governed and made deals in a pragmatic fashion, a lost art in today’s toxic political environment. The authors are well-known political journalists.

–“Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth” by Brian Stelter (One Signal Publishers/Atria, $28) is a twisted account of the friendly relationship between President Trump and Fox News. Based on conversations and interviews with over 250 current and former Fox insiders, the 351-page volume attempts to understand the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. It is an interesting hardcover for anyone who reads the news and wonders: How did this happen? The author is the chief media correspondent for CNN Worldwide and anchor of “Reliable Sources,” which examines the world’s top media stories every Sunday.

–“Jimmy Carter and the Birth of the Marathon Media Campaign” by Amber Roessner (Louisiana State University Press, $39.95) discloses that Carter’s dramatic rise to the presidency signaled a transition from an older form of party politics focused on issues and platforms to a newer brand of personality politics driven by the creation of a political image. The author is associate professor in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

–“Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It is Easier than You Think” by David Litt (Ecco, $28.99) is an insightful and hilarious story of how politicians took over American democracy and how we can take it back. Not surprisingly, the democracy you live in today’s environment is different from the democracy you were born into. The author is a former White House speechwriter for President Obama.

Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime sports columnist in Kentucky, is the author of five books about UK basketball, including newly-released “Chasing the Cats: A Kentucky Basketball Journey.” He is the editor and founder of Magazine, and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via email at


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