What the books are about
The Assault on Reason
The first question many people ask when hearing of a book from Al Gore is, “Is it about the environment?” The answer is yes, but it’s not (or, rather, not only) the kind of environment he wrote about in Earth in the Balance and of course painted such a vivid picture of in his Oscar-winning documentary (and companion book), An Inconvenient Truth. It’s the political environment he’s concerned about in The Assault on Reason: the way we debate and decide on the critical issues of the day. In an account that balances theoretical discussion of the foundations of democracy with a lacerating critique of the Bush administration, Gore argues that the marketplace of reasoned debate our country was founded on is being endangered by a variety of allied forces: the use of fear and the misuse of faith, the distractions of our entertainment culture, and the concentrations of power in the national media and the executive branch.
The Age of Turbulence
In the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, in his fourteenth year as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Alan Greenspan took part in a very quiet collective effort to ensure that America didn’t experience an economic meltdown, taking the rest of the world with it. There was good reason to fear the worst: the stock market crash of October 1987, his first major crisis as Federal Reserve Chairman, coming just weeks after he assumed control, had come much closer than is even today generally known to freezing the financial system and triggering a genuine financial panic. But the most remarkable thing that happened to the economy after 9/11 was... nothing.
The Godfather’s Revenge
It is 1963 in New York, and things have never been better for the Corleones. They’ve taken out their Mafia rivals, and legitimised the Family. Outside the fortified building owned by Michael Corleone, newly undisputed Boss of Bosses, a parade of people - among them former mob rivals and an emissary from the Mayor of New York - wait to ask the great man for favours. Only one thing remains to be done. Traitorous former Corleone capo Nick Geraci has powerful friends and far too much to say, and needs to be brought in. But then everything changes. As fireworks explode over First Avenue, news arrives that Jimmy Shea, President of the United States and an old friend of the Corleone’s, has been assassinated...
Playing for Pizza
Rick Dockery was the third-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. In the deciding game at the climax of the season, to the surprise and dismay of virtually everyone, Rick actually got into the game. With a 17-point lead and just minutes to go, Rick provided what was arguably the worst single performance in the history of the NFL. Overnight, he became a national laughing stock and, of course, was immediately dropped by the Browns and shunned by all other teams. But all Rick knows is football, and he insists that his agent, Arnie, find a team that needs him. Against enormous odds, Arnie finally locates just such a team and informs Rick that, miraculously, he can in fact now be a starting quarterback. Great says Rick - for which team? The mighty Panthers of Parma, Italy.
Blood of the Earth
China is now the world’s second largest energy consumer, trailing only behind America. And India has moved up into the fourth place behind Russia, after overtaking Japan in 2001. Dramatically changing the geopolitics of oil in the new century, China and India are rapidly expanding their navies as they become increasingly dependent on lines of oil tankers from the Middle East, posing the beginning of an eventual challenge to American hegemony in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. But while competition for oil sharpens - the world is approaching the projected peak oil output in 2012 - the number of countries able to export the commodity is shrinking. Those countries will be largely Muslim, or like Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, hostile to Western interests. The potential shortage of oil sets the stage for the coming oil wars of the 21st century.