In this new feature of the Washington Watch, WW will primarily suggest books you may find interesting but now and then it may also mention a TV program, and other things. I welcome your suggestions and your input. What have you been reading or watching that you think WW readers might like?
Rock Me on the Water: 1974 – The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, Television and Politics
by Ronald Brownstein
In this exceptional cultural history, Atlantic Senior Editor Ronald Brownstein—“one of America’s best political journalists (The Economist)—tells the kaleidoscopic story of one monumental year that marked the city of Los Angeles’ creative peak, a glittering moment when popular culture was ahead of politics in predicting what America would become.
Los Angeles in 1974 exerted more influence over popular culture than any other city in America. Los Angeles that year, in fact, dominated popular culture more than it ever had before, or would again. Working in film, recording, and television studios around Sunset Boulevard, living in Brentwood and Beverly Hills or amid the flickering lights of the Hollywood Hills, a cluster of transformative talents produced an explosion in popular culture which reflected the demographic, social, and cultural realities of a changing America. At a time when Richard Nixon won two presidential elections with a message of backlash against the social changes unleashed by the sixties, popular culture was ahead of politics in predicting what America would become. The early 1970s in Los Angeles was the time and the place where conservatives definitively lost the battle to control popular culture.
Rock Me on the Water traces the confluence of movies, music, television, and politics in Los Angeles month by month through that transformative, magical year. Ronald Brownstein reveals how 1974 represented a confrontation between a massive younger generation intent on change, and a political order rooted in the status quo. Today, we are again witnessing a generational cultural divide. Brownstein shows how the voices resistant to change may win the political battle for a time, but they cannot hold back the future.
Every Day Is A Gift
By Tammy Duckworth, Soldier, Senator, Mother
Tammy Duckworth takes readers through the amazing—and amazingly true—stories from her incomparable life. In November of 2004, an Iraqi RPG blew through the cockpit of Tammy Duckworth’s U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter. The explosion, which destroyed her legs and mangled her right arm, was a turning point in her life. But as Duckworth shows in Every Day Is A Gift, that moment was just one in a lifetime of extraordinary turns.
The biracial daughter of an American father and a Thai-Chinese mother, Duckworth faced discrimination, poverty, and the horrors of war—all before the age of 16. As a child, she dodged bullets as her family fled war-torn Phnom Penh. As a teenager, she sold roses by the side of the road to save her family from hunger and homelessness in Hawaii. Through these experiences, she developed a fierce resilience that would prove invaluable in the years to come.
Duckworth joined the Army, becoming one of a handful of female helicopter pilots at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She served eight months in Iraq before an insurgent’s RPG shot down her helicopter, an attack that took her legs—and nearly took her life. She then spent thirteen months recovering at Walter Reed, learning to walk again on prosthetic legs and planning her return to the cockpit. But Duckworth found a new mission after meeting her state’s senators, Barack Obama and Dick Durbin. After winning two terms as a U.S. Representative, she won election to the U.S. Senate in 2016. And she and her husband Bryan fulfilled another dream when she gave birth to two daughters, becoming the first sitting senator to give birth.
From childhood to motherhood and beyond, Every Day Is A Gift is the remarkable story of one of America’s most dedicated public servants.
The Politics Industry
Katherine M. Gehl & Michael E. Porter
The truth is, the American political system is working exactly how it is designed to work, and it isn’t designed or optimized today to work for us—for ordinary citizens.
Most people believe that our political system is a public institution with high-minded principles and impartial rules derived from the Constitution. In reality, it has become a private industry dominated by a textbook duopoly—the Democrats and the Republicans—and plagued and perverted by unhealthy competition between the players. Tragically, it has therefore become incapable of delivering solutions to America’s key economic and social challenges. In fact, there’s virtually no connection between our political leaders solving problems and getting reelected.
In The Politics Industry, business leader and path-breaking political innovator Katherine Gehl and world-renowned business strategist Michael Porter take a radical new approach. They ingeniously apply the tools of business analysis—and Porter’s distinctive Five Forces framework—to show how the political system functions just as every other competitive industry does, and how the duopoly has led to the devastating outcomes we see today.
Using this competition lens, Gehl and Porter identify the most powerful lever for change—a strategy comprised of a clear set of choices in two key areas: how our elections work and how we make our laws. Their bracing assessment and practical recommendations cut through the endless debate about various proposed fixes, such as term limits and campaign finance reform. The result: true political innovation.
The Politics Industry is an original and completely nonpartisan guide that will open your eyes to the true dynamics and profound challenges of the American political system and provide real solutions for reshaping the system for the benefit of all.