Dear Great Book Guru, As the year comes to an end, there are parties galore throughout Sea Cliff: Winter Solstice celebrations, cookie swaps, Christmas Eve and Day dinners , New Year's Eve galas, and holiday open houses. Such fun but I do yearn to read something that will help me understand a little better the political world we inhabit. Am I asking too much of any book? Baffled by Politics
Dear Baffled, Yes, you asking too much, but as we approach the new year I suggest you start by reading THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION: HOW 1965 TRANSFORMED AMERICA by James Patterson- not the Patterson of crime fiction, but the political scientist. Patterson's book opens at the White House Christmas tree lighting in 1964. John F. Kennedy had been dead a year and Lyndon Johnson had just been elected in a landslide victory. A buoyantly optimistic Johnson said as he switched on the tree lights, "These are the most hopeful times in all the years since Christ was born in Bethlehem." In 1965, he was to oversee sweeping changes in the country' s fabric-the Voting Rights Act, Medicare/Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act, and a series of vast education and immigration reforms. But by the end of 1965, the country would be mired in a deadly war in Vietnam, cities would be exploding with racial violence, and Johnson was being denounced as a pariah by both the Left and Right. Patterson offers us clues, culturally and politically, as to how this reversal of fortune came about and we the readers are left mourning what could have been….