Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Favorite Political Books

No! Don't run away! We promise not to get overly political. The reason we're talking about our favorite political books today is because this week's review book, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, has the (extremely politicized) issue of abortion at its core. "Unwind" refers to the compromise made between the two sides of the debate... but more about that on Friday.

My favorite political book is probably actually Wide Awake by David Levithan, but since it doubles as my favorite LGBT book and we've already covered those, I'm going with America: The Book by Jon Stewart. It was kind of a four-way tie, because I've read this, Earth: The Book by Jon Stewart, I Am America and So Can You by Stephen Colbert, and Colbert's children's book, I Am A Pole (and So Can You). Tough choices.

The best thing about this (and Earth) is the format. This book is in textbook format! I have thought for a long time that more books need to be written in textbook format. It's a convenient, effective way to present information that is improved by the perfect photo or infographic in just the right place.

The trouble with political humor books is that they can get outdated pretty quickly. Example: this book was published in 2004. Do you guys remember 2004? (Of course you do. If you didn't, you'd be either comatose or under nine years old, and neither of those groups are this blog's target demographic.) That was the year Cassy and I graduated high school and started college, so it seems like a lifetime ago to me. But even politically speaking, that was before a black American president was a thing. That was before Sarah Palin did... much of anything. That was the year Kerry ran against Bush Jr. That was only three years after 9/11. Okay, enough examples; it was almost a decade ago, you get it. My point was supposed to be, Jon Stewart is good at making jokes and commentary that aren't just timeless (or as close to timeless as you can get when your fodder is current events) but are also informative.

So what is Cassy's favorite political book, you may ask?  Cassy, who really has zero interest in politics and even less interest in reading about them?  Well, clearly my favorite political book is Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.

Ok, before you get on my case say, "OMG, that's not political!  That's fantasy!" Well, ok, yes, technically this is a fantasy book.  BUT not all politics are necessarily American politics, or even real politics for that matter.

The general idea in GoT is that Cersei, the queen, wants to be in power.  She wants to control everything, which is pretty much the reason she marries her husband, King Robert, who controls all of the seven kingdoms.  Cersei's family, The Lannisters, are an extremely powerful and influential family, that is the power behind the power.  And none of them are really the people that you want to have dealings with.

Cut to the Starks, a good family who lives in Winterfell.  Eddard in the King of Winterfell and if Cersei is evil incarnate, Eddard doesn't seem to have an evil bone in his body.  He wants what's good for the kingdom and his family (all six of his kids and his wife) are just like him.  Working for the greater good.

There is intrigue and betrayal and everyone, everyone, is attempting to control the throne.  Control the throne, control the kingdom.  And as if the people IN the seven kingdoms trying to control it wasn't enough, let's add some Dragons.  Daenerys Targaryen is in the East, riding towards the seven kingdoms, ready to claim the birthright that was taken away from her.

This book, this series really, is all about who controls what.  It's all about manipulation and who holds the power and playing politics (after all, Cersei only married Robert so she would be queen, not because there was any actual love.)  It's all about who you know and who holds what position and who can and can't be trusted.  So if you think this book isn't about politics, you need to reread it.  You might have missed the point.

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