16.14 Joan Didion Political Fictions

ISBN 13: 9780375718908

Political Fictions

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9780375718908: Political Fictions

National Bestseller

In these coolly observant essays, Joan Didion looks at the American political process and at "that handful of insiders who invent, year in and year out, the narrative of public life." Through the deconstruction of the sound bites and photo ops of three presidential campaigns, one presidential impeachment, and an unforgettable sex scandal, Didion reveals the mechanics of American politics. She tells us the uncomfortable truth about the way we vote, the candidates we vote for, and the people who tell us to vote for them. These pieces build, one on the other, into a disturbing portrait of the American political landscape, providing essential reading on our democracy.

"One of our most cherished and insightful explicators of American culture...brings her perspective to the ultimate insider world." --San Francisco Chronicle

 Winner of the George Polk Book Award

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Review:

This collection of eight essays covering U.S. politics between 1988 and 2000 is a critical look at what author Joan Didion calls "the ways in which the political process did not reflect but increasingly proceeded from a series of fables about American experience." The New York Review of Books originally published these writings, and they hit all the major events of the previous dozen years: the election of George Bush (the first), the emergence of Bill Clinton, the Republican takeover of Congress, Clinton's impeachment, and the 2000 race between George Bush (the second) and Al Gore. During this period, Didion worked and reworked a theme of political disconnect. In examining who cast ballots in 2000 (for the first time, more than half of all voters had incomes about $50,000), she notes acidly in her foreword: "That this was not a demographic profile of the country at large, that half the nation's citizens had only a vassal relationship to the government under which they lived, that the democracy we spoke of spreading throughout the world was now in our own country only an ideality, had come to be seen, against the higher priority of keeping the process in the hands of those who already held it, as facts without application." She puts it a bit more succinctly elsewhere by describing "the largest political party in America" as "those who did not vote."

Didion brings a novelist's eye to her project, and she delights in exposing fakery. In describing one of Vice President Bush's visits to the Middle East in the 1980s, she notes that his advance team requested that camels be present at every stop--so that photographers could capture the supposed authenticity of the trip. Many of the essays in Political Fictions are, at a fundamental level, book reviews--and Didion's observations can be withering. She calls Newt Gingrich's novel 1945 "a fairly primitive example of the kind of speculative fiction known as 'alternate history.'" The accomplishment of Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, she says, is to have produced "books in which measurable cerebral activity is virtually absent." Her targets are not always other writers: "No one who ever passed through an American public high school could have watched William Jefferson Clinton running for office in 1992 and failed to recognize the familiar predatory sexuality of the provincial adolescent." Needless to say, Political Fictions is not a celebration of American democracy. It is more like an indictment. --John Miller

From the Inside Flap:

In 1988, Joan Didion began looking at the American political process for "The New York Review of Books. What she found was not a mechanism that offered the nation's citizens a voice in its affairs but one designed by--and for--"that handful of insiders who invent, year in and year out, the narrative of public life." The eight pieces collected here from "The New York Review build, one on the other, to a stunning whole, a portrait of the American political landscape that tells us, devastatingly, how we got where we are today.
In Political Fictions, tracing the dreamwork that was already clear at the time of the first Bush ascendance in 1988, Didion covers the ways in which the continuing and polarizing nostalgia for an imagined America led to the entrenchment of a small percentage of the electorate as the nation's deciding political force, the ways in which the two major political parties have worked to narrow the electorate to this manageable element, the readiness with which the media collaborated in this process, and, finally and at length, how this mindset led inexorably over the past dozen years to the crisis that was the 2000 election. In this book Didion cuts to the core of the deceptions and deflections to explain and illuminate what came to be called "the disconnect"--and to reveal a political class increasingly intolerant of the nation that sustains it.
Joan Didion's profound understanding of America's political and cultural terrain, her sense of historical irony, and the play of her imagination make Political Fictions a disturbing and brilliant tour de force.

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Descripción Random House USA Inc, United States, 2002. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. National Bestseller In these coolly observant essays, Joan Didion looks at the American political process and at that handful of insiders who invent, year in and year out, the narrative of public life. Through the deconstruction of the sound bites and photo ops of three presidential campaigns, one presidential impeachment, and an unforgettable sex scandal, Didion reveals the mechanics of American politics. She tells us the uncomfortable truth about the way we vote, the candidates we vote for, and the people who tell us to vote for them. These pieces build, one on the other, into a disturbing portrait of the American political landscape, providing essential reading on our democracy. One of our most cherished and insightful explicators of American culture.brings her perspective to the ultimate insider world. --San Francisco Chronicle Winner of the George Polk Book Award. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780375718908

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Descripción Random House USA Inc, United States, 2002. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. National Bestseller In these coolly observant essays, Joan Didion looks at the American political process and at that handful of insiders who invent, year in and year out, the narrative of public life. Through the deconstruction of the sound bites and photo ops of three presidential campaigns, one presidential impeachment, and an unforgettable sex scandal, Didion reveals the mechanics of American politics. She tells us the uncomfortable truth about the way we vote, the candidates we vote for, and the people who tell us to vote for them. These pieces build, one on the other, into a disturbing portrait of the American political landscape, providing essential reading on our democracy. One of our most cherished and insightful explicators of American culture.brings her perspective to the ultimate insider world. --San Francisco Chronicle Winner of the George Polk Book Award. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780375718908

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Descripción Random House USA Inc, United States, 2002. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. National Bestseller In these coolly observant essays, Joan Didion looks at the American political process and at that handful of insiders who invent, year in and year out, the narrative of public life. Through the deconstruction of the sound bites and photo ops of three presidential campaigns, one presidential impeachment, and an unforgettable sex scandal, Didion reveals the mechanics of American politics. She tells us the uncomfortable truth about the way we vote, the candidates we vote for, and the people who tell us to vote for them. These pieces build, one on the other, into a disturbing portrait of the American political landscape, providing essential reading on our democracy. One of our most cherished and insightful explicators of American culture.brings her perspective to the ultimate insider world. --San Francisco Chronicle Winner of the George Polk Book Award. Nº de ref. de la librería BZV9780375718908

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Descripción Softcover. Estado de conservación: New. In these coolly observant essays, Joan Didion looks at the American political process and at "that handful of insiders who invent, year in and year out, the narrative of public life." Through the deconstruction of the sound bites and photo ops of three presidential campaigns, one presidential impeachment, and an unforgettable sex scandal, Didion reveals the mechanics of American politics. She tells us the uncomfortable truth about the way we vote, the candidates we vote for, and the people who tell us to vote for them. These pieces build, one on the other, into a disturbing portrait of the American political landscape, providing essential reading on our democracy. Nº de ref. de la librería 9302765

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