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Beltway Books: T-Minus 53 weeks until Election Day

By Aaron Hierholzer and Matthew Patin

The 2008 presidential election might seem far away, but cable news indicates otherwise. This is the first of an oh-so-relevant series about books by or about politicians, wannabe politicians, talking heads, and other myriad wonks. Some weeks there might be a column. Some weeks there might just be what we think are pithy headlines and commentary and a few links. Some weeks, if we’re feeling frisky, we might post a picture of a random object–say, a solar flare or a covered wagon–just to leave you wondering what possible relevance it has to the accompanying commentary.

In this first edition: The ‘Politics’ shelves of bookstores are swelling with books on presidential hopefuls. Last month was quite Hillary heavy.

  • Her Way (Little, Brown & Company, $29.99) by Don Van Natta, Jr., and Jeff Gerth is raising a lot of hoopla for its indication that the Clintons had a “20-year plan” to dominate American politics, Bill first, Hillary second. Can’t you just picture the Clintons sitting crosslegged in a candlelit Arkansas basement, pricking themselves with pins for a blood pact? Awww. Despite an endorsement from Sean Hannity and a title that makes its subject sound like a petulant thirteen-year-old, the book insists it’s balanced. Van Natta says he may even vote for Hillary.
  • A Woman in Charge (Knopf, $27.95) by Carl Bernstein seems to be more popular. Her Way’s Amazon.com peak was a sales rank of 257, and it now languishes in the 3000’s. Bernstein’s reportedly more evenhanded bio hasn’t dipped below 500; currently it’s at a healthy 131. The New York Times liked this one better, too. Do readers find this book less biased, or do they just want to save a couple of bucks on cover price? We may never know.
  • The intentions of Bay Buchanan’s Extreme Makeover of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton (Regenery Publishing, Inc., $27.95), which came out in May, are pretty clear from the get-go. The cover shows Hillary as a looming, shadowy mass of crow’s feet and double chins (a far cry from the black-turtlenecked Lifetime-special treatment of her 2004 autobiography). The flap copy says the author–Pat’s sister–will reveal Hillary’s calculating switch from far left to center as she looks to the White House. Shucks. Considering the title, I thought the book was going to be about scandalous eye lifts and chin implants.

Love or or hate her, there’s a Hillary book for you.

Full analyses of Van Natta, Gerth, and Bernstein’s books here and here.

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