Reviews of books by the three presidential candidates

Our own Morgan Meis on books by Obama, McCain, and Clinton, in The Smart Set:

Morgan_with_flower …in Hillary’s book there are no theoretical disputes. There are no methodological claims. There aren’t any ideas (in the fancier sense of the term) at all. There are simply facts, facts as she saw them. That’s how things are presented and that’s the only way they are presented. I guess we could say that she is a kind of extreme empiricist. Living History is exactly that for Hillary Clinton: history as a series of events that a person lives through. She makes decisions and she has positions but, in the end, the political decisions are no different in kind and status than the decisions about anything else during a day’s work. Indeed, one of the odd experiences in reading Living History is the utter lack of transitions. Here’s an example:

In Nepal, a plastic sheet for a woman in labor to lie on, soap for the midwife to clean her hands and utensils, string to tie off the umbilical cord and a clean razor blade to cut it can make the difference between life and death to a mother and her newborn.

On a stopover in the Royal Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal, Chelsea and I rode an elephant.

Now it’s true, of course, that this is partly the result of careless writing. But I think it is a sign of something else, a kind of facts-speaking-for-themselves extremism that is at the core both of what is admirable and disappointing about the woman. There is nothing to object to, per se, in Living History , and many of the actions and attitudes described therein are to be lauded. But one never escapes, either, the disconcerting sense that every experience is just like every other experience for Hillary. The funny thing is that this is the opposite of the conspiratorial mindset. For the conspirator, small things matter too much. In rejecting Alinsky, Hillary Clinton started down a path in which she stopped making distinctions between big and small things altogether. It’s kind of like the dedication to Living History , which starts out thanking her parents and her husband and her daughter, and ends up throwing in “all the good souls around the world whose inspiration, prayers, support, and love blessed my heart and sustained me in the years of living history.” You’re welcome.

More here.  Obama’s book reviewed by Morgan here; McCain’s here.