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Culling together a wonderfully eclectic mix of political prose, Beatty, a senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly, has produced a discerning reader that gives voice to Americas civil servants: urban and rural, famous and infamous. Beginning with C. Vann Woodwards detailed account of Populist Tom Watsons devolution from unifying agrarian rebel to lynch-defending racist, and ending with a colloquial, if choppy, excerpt from Richard Ben Kramers chronicle of the 1988 presidential campaign, What It Takes, the collection features selections from a veritable whos who of noted historians and novelists. H.L. Menckens delightfully vicious dissection of Warren Hardings 1921 inaugural addressa speech "so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it"highlights Beattys ability to mix cleverly written commentary with straight historical reportage. Elsewhere Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., weighs in on Dwight Eisenhower, David McCullough analyzes Harry S. Truman, Richard Hofstadter examines Herbert Hoover, and Philip Roth and Norman Mailer take on Tricky Dick and JFK, respectively. While the collection is diverse, some of the selections lean towards the obvious (pieces on Reagans humor, Kennedys charisma, etc.), and others have been cut-and-pasted too roughly from their original sources (the sections on Truman and Bush Sr. are particularly bumpy). Overall, however, Beattys compendium reveals a reverence for our nations policy-makersthe crusaders and crooks alikeas well as for the belle lettrists who brought them alive for the American public.
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"A compelling compendium. Whether you are a blue, red, or purple voter, 'Pols' will help you laugh at political behavior..." -- San Antonio Express-New
"Take a breather from the crush of current political news and read through this collection of work by wonderful writers." -- Chicago Tribune
"The contributors' bold imagination, wit, and critical judgment set a very high standard..." -- Columbia Journalism Review
"a terrific read on some of the 20th century's most compelling political figures." -- Boston Phoenix --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.