AMER­I­CAN MAEL­STROM

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Audiobooks—nonfiction - CON­STANCE AU­GUSTA ZABER

Michael A. Co­hen, Wet­ware Me­dia, $24.95 (13.25 hours), B01IWM978S Co­hen’s book traces how the cur­rent nasty and mean mode of po­lit­i­cal dis­course de­vel­oped.

With an elec­tion over and an in­au­gu­ra­tion on the hori­zon, books that ex­plain the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal state are of re­newed in­ter­est. Im­pos­si­bly broad prom­ises aside, let it suf­fice to say that Michael Co­hen’s Amer­i­can Mael­strom will prove to be an in­valu­able tool for un­der­stand­ing the evo­lu­tion of Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal dis­course into the state we suf­fer through now.

Open­ing with the end of the LBJ ad­min­is­tra­tion and the sur­pris­ing dis­sent from a mem­ber of his own party, Co­hen sets out to il­lus­trate how the Amer­i­can world of pol­i­tics was im­pacted by the rad­i­cal changes to so­ci­ety that would be­come the hall­mark of the 1960s. The his­tor­i­cal events many might expect to read about are of­ten given only glanc­ing men­tions here, where the lens is in­stead fo­cused on the po­lit­i­cal rip­ples those events sent through Washington, DC.

Tasked with keep­ing track of a mas­sive num­ber of char­ac­ters and their plans, Co­hen lays out his knot­ted sub­ject into un­der­stand­able nar­ra­tives while mov­ing smoothly from the macro level of the na­tional mood to the mi­cro level of po­lit­i­cal deal­ings.

The nar­ra­tion by Stephen Paul Aul­ridge, Jr, is well done. His clear, rich voice is well suited to Co­hen’s writ­ing. Auldridge’s var­i­ous voices and ac­cents help to dif­fer­en­ti­ate where quo­ta­tions have been used and to as­sist in keep­ing track of the vast num­ber of play­ers in this drama. The record­ing qual­ity is con­sis­tently ex­cel­lent on down­load, if some­times dis­torted on Audi­ble’s player.

This is not a bi­og­ra­phy of Amer­ica in the fi­nal half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury, but is in­stead a study of how a po­lit­i­cal or­gan­ism re­sponds and evolves in re­sponse to stim­uli. While pol­i­tics have al­ways been nasty and mean, Amer­i­can Mael­strom of­fers a rare look into how our mod­ern po­lit­i­cal dis­cord de­vel­oped.

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