What I’ve been reading lately…
Politics, by Henrik Hertzberg. A collection of sharp and graceful essays that span Hertzberg’s career and cover topics from Woodstock to Homeland Security. Hertzberg’s writing is clear and personal, and often tends to shed insight into our own political climes. Here’s his take on Reagan:
“Reagan was the plaything of whichever of his aides most deftly pushed his hot buttons, but on the nuclear question he lurched into leadership — and that was a surprise. The same ignorance that made him a pawn in the struggles among his advisers also made him a savant — an idiot savant, but a savant all the same — in the surreal universe of nuclear strategy. He may not have known which end of the missile has the warhead on it, but he was an expert on the end of the world.”
Terrifying, apt, and disturbingly, prescient. Hertzberg doesn’t allow his politics to interfere with his writing, and as a result, his pieces are always entertaining and balanced (in the non-FOX news sense) with a liberal bent. Unlike so many of the ghostwritten political tell-alls coming out now, reading him has the refreshing effect of reminding you what good journalism is supposed to look like, and moreover, how a journalist can actually be accountable to his craft.