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On the Sunday Blend bookshelf

Ah, it’s good to be home. Just got back from DC about 2 hours ago and I have a LOT of transcribing to do from my interviews at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s 14th Annual National Dinner last night. I’ll post them as I complete them.

Check out my live-blogging of the event, which features photos and audio/video clips from the dinner.

Many thanks to the interviewees — Dixon Osburn, the executive director of SLDN, Claudia J. Kennedy, USA (Ret.) the event’s keynote speaker, and former Marine Corps Sergeant Brian Fricke — all spent 20 minutes or more with me just before the dinner.


I’m always in the midst of a few books at once. Here are some that landed on my desk that are worth a peek that are in my queue:

Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush, by Eric Boehlert. (Free Press, $25.00, hardcover). A must-read. We all know the press rolled for Bush all throughout this administration. They know it too — look at the stony reception Stephen Colbert received at the White House Correspondent Dinner, for god’s sake. Boehlert punctures the idea of liberal bias in the media and looks at the real problem — coziness inside the Beltway, laziness, and the inability to ask the tough questions until this presidency was in full lying meltdown spin regarding Iraq. Case in point where the media was MIA, the Downing Street Memo, which proved Bush’s plan to invade was a done deal. CNN was more interested in Natalee Holloway:

Even after Blair and Bush were quizzed about the memo at a Washington, DC press briefing on June 7, CNN continued with its allergic reaction to the touchy story. From the time the memo was published in London until June 10, the news network had aired approximately 90 hours of programming in the United States, during which time the Downing Street Memo was mentioned 13 times. By contrast, when word got out that a young American woman vacationing in Aruba had gone missing, it was all hands on deck at CNN. During just one seven-day stretch in June 2005, CNN anchors, reporters and guests mentioned “Aruba” more than 190 times.

Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, by Tab Hunter, with Eddie Muller. (Algonquin, $24.95, cloth). Younger generations know him from John Waters’ Polyester and Paul Bartel’s Lust in the Dust, but Tab Hunter is one of the last of the Hollywood Golden Era creations, a completely studio packaged, trained, shaped and marketed “star” expected to live a life in the closet (see my earlier post on Mr. Hunter here). I’m enjoying this book, which has plenty of classy dishing (including a relationship with Tony Perkins — of Psycho, not of the Family Research Council, lol), and there are plenty of satisfying pictures from the glory days interspersed in the bio.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel. (Houghton-Mifflin, out in June, $19.95). This is the autobiography of Bechdel, the creator of the long-running strip, Dykes to Watch Out For. And yes, it’s done in comic strip form. It’s full of the humor and irreverence you’d expect, even in its dark moments, including a complicated relationship with her closeted gay father, an English teacher and owner of the local funeral parlor. Bechdel on creating Fun Home:

“When I was twenty, a year after my father died, I was looking through some old family photographs and found one of a young man, a student of my father’s, in his underwear. Finding this visual evidence of my father’s secret life was like being handed the key to a cryptogram.”

The K Street Gang: The Rise and Fall of the Republican Machine, by Matthew Continetti. (Doubleday, $24.95, cloth). Haven’t cracked this yet, but it looks like a good one — an exposure of the underbelly of lobbying and the ins and outs of the “Casino Jack” Abramoff scandal and the major players swept up in the maelstrom — Ralph Reed, Tom DeLay (of course) and all sleazebags trolling around the corridors of power.

The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, by Jonathan Alter. (Simon & Schuster, $29.95, cloth). Newsweek‘s Alter reminds us about a time in this country’s history when leadership was sorely needed — the Depression — and what FDR did to bring America back from the brink of disaster. (As opposed to the current occupant of the White House, who seems hell-bent on taking us over the edge into the abyss of disaster). FDR’s first 100 days was a much as political theater and maneuvering as it was a call to action. I’m in the first chapter of this one; Alter spends time describing the early life of FDR, the formative years that illustrate the self-confidence and security his family gave him that would later translate into his leadership style in office.

And last but not least — get blogger Glenn Greenwald’s How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding