A review of Boris Kachka’s Hothouse

[San Francisco Chronicle]

In yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle I’ve got a review of Boris Kachka’s Hothouse, a fun new book on the history of FSG. Kachka’s uncovered a ton of good anecdotes, including this one about improbable FSG author Tom Friedman: once, when Friedman called the office and found out his editor was unavailable, he started screaming at the poor assistant who’d answered the phone. “Do you know who I am?” he said. “I’m Tom fucking Friedman, and I pay your fucking salary.”

Speaking of which: have you read Matt Taibbi’s seminal review of Friedman’s The World Is Flat? If not, go read it right now — forget my review. Taibbi’s is way better.

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A grisly tale of murder . . . for kids?

[Boston Globe]

In this weekend’s Boston Globe Ideas section, I’ve got a short interview with Michelle Ann Abate, the author of a new scholarly book on the history of homicide in children’s literature. If your only exposure to YA and children’s lit is hearing about the scandals involving The Hunger Games — and unfortunately that describes me pretty well — then you might be surprised that there even is a history of homicide in this genre. But Abate makes a convincing case, and in the interview she also talks about how the adult reactions to these violent books have shifted.

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A review of Mark Leibovich’s This Town

[Boston Globe]

This week in the Boston Globe I’ve got a review of Mark Leibovich’s This Town. The book’s been reviewed everywhere, of course, but one of my favorite anecdotes hasn’t appeared in any of them. (To be fair, it didn’t appear in my review either.)

Anyway, Leibovich spends a few pages profiling the late Richard Holbrooke. Whenever the ambassador arrived somewhere, aides would whisper, “The ego has landed.” So it makes sense that, one day, Holbrooke decided to single-handedly heal the rift between Samantha Power and Hillary Clinton. Power, you may recall, called Hillary a “monster” during the 2008 primary, leaving everyone unfathomably angry for six or seven minutes. Later that same year, Power was getting married, and Holbrooke pulled her aside and offered her a truly special wedding gift: he would use his diplomatic skills to defuse the Power-Clinton contretemps. 

A lot of reviewers (including me) have read This Town as the story of the Obama administration lapsing into the ways of Washington. But the president himself comes off pretty well in the book. When he hears about Holbrooke’s matrimonial grandstanding, Obama shakes his head. “Some people,” he tells Power, “just get toasters.”

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The real facts on Indiana’s health insurance rates

[Indianapolis Star]

In today’s Indianapolis Star, I’ve got a short op ed on the claim that health insurance will go up by 72 percent under Obamacare. I’ve got a personal stake in this story since I’m moving back to my homestate later this year. But after doing some digging I found that this 72 percent number is totally misleading — and disappointingly political. It comes from Indiana’s Department of Insurance, an outfit that, in the words of one of my statehouse sources, “has traditionally preferred to do its work out of the public and political spotlight, regardless of which party controlled the reins of government.”

But that’s changing as Governor Pence’s administration makes one final push against Obamacare. Check out the op ed for more.

Also, if you want more context, the New Republic, the Washington Post, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have you covered. My previous reporting on Pence may be of interest, as well.

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A review of Edward McClelland’s Nothin’ But Blue Skies

[NUVO]

In this week’s issue of NUVO, Indianapolis’s alt weekly, I’ve got a review of Ted McClelland’s new book on the rise and fall of manufacturing in the Midwest. It’s an important book, even though it’s not a perfect one.

If you want more on this topic, check out my review last year of Mark Binelli’s Detroit City is the Place to Be. It’s still the best of the Detroit books. But one of the key things about McClelland’s book is that it expands its scope beyond that one city.

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Castellini, ctd.

[700 WLW; 1530 ESPN]

Yesterday, I got to go on Cincinnati’s 700 WLW to talk about my New York Times essay on the Reds’ owner Bob Castellini. You can listen to it here and read the essay here. I also went on Cincinnati’s 1530 ESPN with the excellent Lance McAlister — no link for that one, unfortunately.

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Is Bob Castellini the best owner in baseball?

[New York Times]

In yesterday’s New York Times, I made the case that, yes, the Reds’ boss  is the best in the baseball — and certainly the best in the Reds’ recent history. There’s some fun stuff in there about Marge Schott and Carl Lindner, but the main point is what a difference Castellini has made.

If you’re interested in more on Cincinnati sports, check out my features on the Reds’ efforts to draw more fans and on their enigmatic All-Star, Aroldis Chapman. Or check out my feature on the Bengals’ stadium fiasco — a good reminder that, even during the Schott era, the worst owner in Ohio was Mike Brown.

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