The Wrecking Crew

It makes perfect sense to Thomas Frank that George W. Bush would refer to himself as a "dissident in Washington" despite being behind the biggest executive branch power grab this side of Nixon. Conservatives, in what Frank calls a "supremely cynical maneuver," paint themselves as revolutionaries and outsiders even when they're running things; that way, they never have to take responsibility for government's mistakes and can point to those mistakes as proof that government doesn't work. In this nervy, brainy, no-holds-barred book, the liberal commentator argues that the "fantastic misgovernment" we live under -- his examples include the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the administration of Iraq -- is "the consequence of triumph...by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society." With the sharp analysis and scathing wit that characterized his 2004 bestseller, What's the Matter with Kansas?, Frank covers the decimation of the civil service in favor of outsourcing (the current administration actually tried to "contract out the job of supervising contractors"), the demolition of the regulatory state, and the use of deficit spending to paralyze the government. Frank entertains even as he alarms: he describes right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin as having "the appearance of a Bratz doll but the soul of Chucky," and similar gems pop up on nearly every page. But the overall tone is ominous, with Frank warning that even if the Democrats win the White House, it will require "years of hard political work" to return the government to the people.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

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

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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.