Holiday Book Guide

Wondering what to give a friend or family member who follows the political
scene in Sacramento? GOP Political Strategist Joe Rodota compiles his
Forward Observer Holiday Book Guide with six books for Republicans,
Democrats, and those who Decline to State but are still Inclined to Read.
All prices are from

Infrastructure will be Topic A in 2006, so consider California Rising: The
Life and Times of Pat Brown
, by Ethan Rarick. One Democratic operative
flagged this for me as a book that encourages Democrats to “think big and be
unabashed about taxing the rich.” Republican readers will confirm their
view that pouring concrete isn’t a bad thing. (UC Press, $19.77)

For anyone who lives near a levee, try A Crack in the Edge of the World:
America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906
, by Simon Winchester.
Within 18 hours after San Francisco was hit, a trainload of food and
medicine had arrived from Los Angeles — and 200,000 rations arrived from
Washington State within 24 hours. A gift basket for this book could include
bottled water and spare batteries. (HarperCollins, $18.45)

Tech-friendly pols will enjoy The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote
the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture
, by John Battelle. Google
execs have also (partially) transformed our state budget outlook,
contributing $400 million to the General Fund by exercising stock options.
(Portfolio Hardcover, $16.62)

For campaign consultants of either party, I recommend an early political
novel: The Ninth Wave, by Ed Burdick. The main character morphs from
counting cards as an undergraduate at Stanford, to counting votes as a
pollster. Published by Houghton Mifflin in 1956, it is available from some
of the rare book dealers online.

A good book for a Republican to give is The New, New Left: How American
Politics Works Today
, by Steven Malanga, which predicts the Democratic Party
will eventually implode as public employee unions take control of every
square inch of it, crowding out the trades unions, for example. Republicans
love this book, but Hope Springs Eternal. (Ivan R. Dee, $15.30)

And for Democrats in the gift-giving mode, take a look at God’s Politics:
How The Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It
, by Jim Wallis. His
thesis is the true meaning of Christianity — righting social wrongs, quest
for peace — is more in tune with liberals than conservatives. The author
proposes a new type of political movement, pairing progressive causes with
spirituality (HarperSanFrancisco, $16.62)

For someone who can still laugh about California politics, or who needs a
laugh, wrap up The Columnist, by Jeffrey Frank. It’s a phony memoir penned
by a talking head on the Washington, DC circuit. It begins: “Even as a
young man, I was frustrated at the smallness of my surroundings and a
shortage of serious people” And it’s all hilariously downhill from there.
(Harvest Books, $11.20)

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