Politico had the interesting idea of asking various DC policy experts to recommend books in their areas of expertise. Unfortunately, it went off the rails. Things start out okay on the Middle East where they ask one person from CAP (left) one from AEI (right) and two from the Carnegie Endowment (center). But on energy, they ask one person from CAP (left) one from AEI (right) and one from Cato (also right). Then on economic history they go for Cato (right), Brookings (center), and Americans for Tax Reform (right). On American political history, it’s Cato (right), Brookings (center) and Heritage Foundation (right) and Foreign Policy Initiative (right).
For my part, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately working on reading Infinite Jest and also working on a review essay about books about finance. But two good politically relevant books I’ve read recently are Mark Kleiman’s When Brute Force Fails which I want to talk about when it’s actually in stores, and Chris Mooney’s new book with Sheril Kirshenbaum Unscientific America.
This book takes a wider-lens view of some of the issues dealt with in Chris’ great first book The Republican War on Science. The basic point is that, of course, it’s extremely dangerous to have important public decisions being made without them being grounded in accurate scientific information. Unscientific America looks at how we got to have a political, and media culture that’s so inhospitable to science and a public that’s so ill-informed. They then pivot to show how the culture within the sciences has tended to fail in its own responsibility to communicate scientific ideas to a broader public in an effective manner. Very interesting all around.