In this feature of the Washington Watch, WW will primarily recommend books you may find interesting but may also now and then mention a TV program or other things. I welcome your suggestions and your input. What have you been reading or watching that you think WW readers might like?
The Desperate Hours: One Hospital’s Fight
To Save a City on the Pandemic’s Front Line
AWARD-WINNING VANITY FAIR WRITER Marie Brenner shares a remarkable depiction of New York―a city in crisis―based on new, behind-the-scenes reporting that captures the resilience, peril, and compassion of the early days of the Covid pandemic.
In the spring of 2020, COVID-19 arrived in New York City.
Before long, America’s largest metropolis was at war against a virus that mercilessly swept through its five boroughs. It became apparent that if Covid wasn’t somehow halted, the death count in New York alone would be in the hundreds of thousands. And if New York’s hospitals failed, what chance did the rest of the country have?
Brenner, having been granted unprecedented 18-month access to the entire New York-Presbyterian hospital system, tells the story of the doctors, nurses, residents, researchers, and suppliers who tried to save lives across Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn and the northern periphery of the city. Drawing on more than 200 interviews, Brenner takes us inside secure ICU units, sealed operating rooms, locked executive suites, unknown basement workshops, and makeshift clinics to provide extraordinary witness to the war as it was waged on the front line.
But The Desperate Hours is more than a thrilling account of medicine under extreme pressure. It is an intimate portrait of courageous men and women coming together in their devotion to duty, their families, each other, and the city they loved more than any other.
Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More with Less
Jim Vanderhei, Mike Allen
This guiding principle turned first Politico and then Axios into hugely influential media companies. It’s also in the dna of Smart Brevity™, the Axios spin-off that teaches Fortune 500 companies, organizations, professional writers and other individuals how to get their message heard. Now they’ve distilled their lessons into an essential guide—and manifesto—for writing effectively in the digital age.
Smart Brevity is a system and strategy that will teach anyone who works with words how to think more sharply, communicate more crisply, and save your readers time. It’s about how to say more with less. And how, on a deeper level, to clean up and reframe your thinking.
You’ll learn how to create a muscular tease—the thing that will flag down your reader’s attention. How to craft a “lede”—a short, sharp, memorable opening sentence. How to round up, prioritize, weigh and whittle down your most important points. There are dozens of tips choosing the right words, kicking bad habits (hello, irony), and staying provocative. And rules-of-thumb: Would you read it if you hadn’t written it?
Today we’re drowning in words. Back when the authors worked at The Washington Post, web trackers revealed an eye-opening truth: hardly anyone it clicked through a story’s first page. Here’s how to fight through that fatigue and ensure that your message is finally and fully heard.
Split Decision: Life Stories
Ice-T, Spike, Douglas Century
Award-winning actor, rapper, and producer Ice-T unveils a compelling and astonishing memoir of his early life robbing jewelry stores until he found fame and fortune—while a handful of bad choices sent his former crime partner down an incredibly different path.
Ice-T rose to fame in the late 1980s, earning acclaim for his music before going on to capture television audiences as Odafin “Fin” Tutuola in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. But it could have gone much differently. In this gripping and candid memoir, Ice-T and Spike, his former crime partner—collaborating with New York Times bestselling author Douglas Century—relate the shocking stories of their shared pasts, and how just a handful of decisions led to their incredibly different lives.
Both grew up in violent, gang-controlled Los Angeles neighborhoods and worked together to orchestrate a series of jewelry heists in LA and across the US. But while Ice-T was discovered rapping in a club and got his first record deal, Spike was caught for a jewel robbery and did three years in prison. As his music career began to take off, Ice made the decision to leave the criminal life; Spike continued to plan increasingly ingenious and risky jewel heists. And in 1992, after one of Spike’s robberies ended tragically, he was sentenced to thirty-five years to life. While he sat behind bars, he watched his former partner rise to fame in music, movies, and television.
Harrowing, timely, and thoughtful, two men with two very different lives reveal how their paths might have very well been reversed if they made different choices. All it took was a Split Decision.