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

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

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

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.