The Enemy of the People by Jim Acosta (2019, HarperCollins)
I freely admit I purchased this book specifically because Sean Hannity taunted Acosta about its sales figures. Unlike many other political hardcover purchases, I don’t regret it.
The book did irritate me at many points. Acosta’s pro-Democrat bias shines through in many of the passages, and the accommodation he gives to Obama and Obama staffers is evident. If it were a book about politics, I would have given up on the book partway through.
While it is a political book, it is not about politics; it is about the function of a free press in American society and what happens when a politician attacks that institution. Acosta presents that case well, through a series of anecdotes about press events both on the campaign trail and during the Trump Presidency.
His position as the CNN member of the White House Press Corps has provided him access to many members of the Administration, and his ground-level interactions marry well with the detailed breakdown of what was happening in the White House as presented in Bob Woodward’s Fear.
It’s a solid piece of work; that said, it’s still a bit too biased for me. I’d recommend that people purchase and read this one… when it hits the paperback edition. Unless, like me, you really want to stick a thumb in Hannity’s eye; then you can pay the extra $15 and buy it in hardback.
“Hello, Sailor” by Eric Idle (1975, Weidenfeld and Nicolson)
This book is a comic sex farce, dealing with an effort by a young man to bed the daughters of British Cabinet Ministers (as well as a few secondary, interwoven plotlines). It’s excessively bawdy, silly, and occasionally pseudo-censored… pseudo, because the censorship comes into play as blocked out text which were never written as words, only rectangular black boxes.
It’s a send-up of classical humor novels, with a great deal of then-contemporary politics thrown into the mix. It works well enough on its own. It’s not spectacular, but it will elicit some smiles along the way and relieve the tension of the day, which is all that most people look for in a humor novel. Those who read it should recognize the source material, however; a familiarity with works like Tom Jones or even the Flashman series would be recommended.
Some of the jokes would cause the readily-offended to be “triggered” today. That’s neither a recommendation nor a warning, merely a recognition of the shifting standards of what is acceptable for humor. Personally, I had no problem with them. They’re jokes.
The book works best for fans of the Monty Python comedy troupe. Those who have seen enough of Idle’s comedy work in film or television will have the added bonus of being able to read the lines and picture them being read in his voice. The humor works better when imagined using Idle’s standard cadence and delivery.