The Teapot Dome Scandal

Americans have one vote apiece, but that equality doesn't extend to economics. Those with the most money have often paid for political access and influence -- as true in the 1920s as it is today. Financial journalist McCartney meticulously describes the systematic corruption of Warren Harding's White House in The Teapot Dome Scandal. Harding himself, McCartney notes, had won the 1920 presidential race by accepting millions of dollars in secret campaign contributions from oil companies. The author lays out a compelling case that Republican Harding had been truly "bought" by Big Oil -- and that he paid them back when elected. The poker-loving, skirt-chasing president proceeded to nominate his poker buddy Albert Fall for secretary of the interior: Fall's top priority was to "privatize" government land for commercial development. Fall would grant leases to Harding's biggest campaign contributors, allowing them to drill for oil on federally controlled lands. The richest prize was the now-infamous Teapot Dome in Wyoming, which Fall leased to oil baron Ed Doheny. Of course, Fall took his cut, receiving large bribes from oilmen like Doheny and Harry Sinclair, and McCartney doggedly follows the money trail. His thorough account of this massive scandal makes gripping reading -- and reminds us of the perpetually corrosive effects that money has on the political system.
-

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.