The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election

Political junkies who've had to get by lately on stories of stalled health care reform, used car trade-ins, and beer at the White House will find the fix they crave in The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election. Veteran Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Haynes Johnson team up for this exhaustively researched, objective, and lively account of the journey from the New Hampshire primary to Inauguration Day. Focusing on the campaigns of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain, the authors show how the unlikely, inspiring, and downright annoying pieces of the marathon contest came together. Don't look for newsmaking revelations. This book is about perspective. The authors -- who in addition to quoting all the key players draw on unnamed sources and leaked memos and emails -- do succeed in exposing some private, telling moments. They show Clinton informing her campaign manager (and longtime friend) Patti Solis Doyle by email that she's being pushed aside. In another email, Sarah Palin gleefully agrees to give a speech accusing Obama of hanging out with terrorists. "Yes, yes, yes," she writes. "Pls let me say this!!!" For the most part, Obama and his team come off looking focused and cohesive (a portrayal consistent with that in Richard Wolff's election book, Renegade). Meanwhile, infighting and strategic blunders continually trip up his more experienced rivals. The authors even give a plausible answer to the question many have asked since McCain tapped Palin as his running mate: "What was he thinking?"

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."