In this feature of the Washington Watch, WW will primarily recommend books you may find interesting but may also 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?
“Renegade: Defending Democracy and Liberty in Our Divided Country”
By Adam Kinzinger and Michael D’Antonio
Adam Kinzinger captures one of the most transformative periods in recent political history in a riveting, personal account from inside Congress, including the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol and his vote to impeach Donald Trump.
On January 6, 2021, Donald Trump incited a violent mob to storm the US Capitol in attempts to overturn the presidential election. It was a betrayal of our Constitution, and one of the darkest days in recent history. Yet to former congressman Adam Kinzinger it was also the culmination of a cultural and political rupture he’d long seen coming. Constructive criticism from within the Republican Party was no longer enough. It was time to stand up, even if it meant betraying his own party.
In Renegade, Kinzinger tells his story of faith, service, and political duty in a democracy under siege. From the small Illinois county board where he got his start, to his years in the Air Force flying tanker missions over Iraq, to his final tumultuous term in Congress as one of the few Republican members to vote to impeach Trump and join the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Kinzinger takes readers inside the most critical moments and pivotal decisions of the last years. The result is both a searing examination of the rise of extremism and the GOP’s subsequent descent into a dysfunctional and destructive force, and a rousing call to return to unity.
Raw, provocative, and clear-eyed, Renegade captures one of the most transformative periods in recent American history.
Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party
By Jonathan Karl
An extraordinary view into the politics of our times, Tired of Winning explores how Donald Trump remade the Republican Party in his own image—and the wreckage he’s left in his wake.
Packed with new reporting, Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party tracks Trump’s improbable journey from disgraced and defeated former president to the dominant force, yet again, in the Republican Party.
From his exile in Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump has become more extreme, vengeful, and divorced from reality than he was on January 6, 2021. His meddling damaged the GOP’s electoral prospects for third consecutive election in 2022. His legal troubles are mounting. Yet he’s re-emerged as the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Jonathan Karl has known Donald Trump since his days as a New York Post reporter in the 1990s, and he covered every day of Trump’s administration as ABC News’s chief White House correspondent. No one is in a better position to detail the former president’s quest for retribution and provide a glimpse at what the GOP would be signing up for if it once again chooses him as its standard bearer.
In 1964, Ronald Reagan told Americans it was “a time for choosing.” Sixty years later, Republicans have their own choice to make: Are they tired of winning?
Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism
By Rachel Maddow
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Rachel Maddow traces the fight to preserve American democracy back to World War II, when a handful of committed public servants and brave private citizens thwarted far-right plotters trying to steer our nation toward an alliance with the Nazis.
“A ripping read—well rendered, fast-paced and delivered with the same punch and assurance that she brings to a broadcast. . .The parallels to the present day are strong, even startling.”—The New York Times
Inspired by her research for the hit podcast Ultra, Rachel Maddow charts the rise of a wild American strain of authoritarianism that has been alive on the far-right edge of our politics for the better part of a century. Before and even after our troops had begun fighting abroad in World War II, a clandestine network flooded the country with disinformation aimed at sapping the strength of the U.S. war effort and persuading Americans that our natural alliance was with the Axis, not against it. It was a sophisticated and shockingly well-funded campaign to undermine democratic institutions, promote antisemitism, and destroy citizens’ confidence in their elected leaders, with the ultimate goal of overthrowing the U.S. government and installing authoritarian rule.
That effort worked—tongue and groove—alongside an ultra-right paramilitary movement that stockpiled bombs and weapons and trained for mass murder and violent insurrection.
At the same time, a handful of extraordinary activists and journalists were tracking the scheme, exposing it even as it was unfolding. In 1941 the U.S. Department of Justice finally made a frontal attack, identifying the key plotters, finding their backers, and prosecuting dozens in federal court.
None of it went as planned.
While the scheme has been remembered in history—if at all—as the work of fringe players, in reality it involved a large number of some of the country’s most influential elected officials. Their interference in law enforcement efforts against the plot is a dark story of the rule of law bending and then breaking under the weight of political intimidation.
That failure of the legal system had consequences. The tentacles of that unslain beast have reached forward into our history for decades. But the heroic efforts of the activists, journalists, prosecutors, and regular citizens who sought to expose the insurrectionists also make for a deeply resonant, deeply relevant tale in our own disquieting times.