Anyone who has followed the journalism and books of New York Times columnist James B. Stewart over the past few decades is familiar with his skills as an accomplished storyteller and the insight and detail he brings to his reporting of financial scandals, corporate goings-on, and political and legal affairs. In Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law (Penguin Press, $30), he examines the handling of both the 2016 probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the investigation of links between Russia and the Trump campaign. Donald Trump, of course, has repeatedly denigrated the Russia investigation as some sort of sinister conspiracy by the “deep state,” a nebulous network of career bureaucrats, intelligence agents, military officers, and law enforcement officials bent on protecting their own power. Is there anything legitimate about this claim? Or are Trump’s incessant attacks on the investigators simply acts of obstruction meant to cloak his own illegal conduct? Those are among the central questions that Stewart gets at in his lucid and timely book.
Ruth Marcus calls her account of Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court a book she’s been preparing to write her entire career, and indeed she brings to Supreme Ambition a wealth of knowledge and experience gathered reporting and commenting on government over the past 35 years for the Washington Post. The book is revealing, insightful, and evenhanded, and its fast pace and lucid prose make for a compelling read. Beyond just filling in details about Kavanaugh’s nomination, Marcus places it in the larger context of a calculated, three-decades-long conservative effort to cement control over the high court. That mission merged last year with Kavanaugh’s own lifelong ambition to secure a spot on the court.
If you wonder why people are buzzing about the presidential prospects of a 37-year-old mayor of a midsize Midwestern city, read Pete Buttigieg’s memoir, Shortest Way Home. Buttigieg may be the intellectually deepest and most thoughtful of the Democratic presidential crop, despite his age. A history and literature major at Harvard and Rhodes Scholar, his deep love of novels comes through as he eloquently traces his roots in South Bend, interest in government, enlistment in the Navy reserves and deployment to Afghanistan, ascent to the mayoralty and, on the eve of his re-election, decision to come out as a gay man. A refreshing voice and a talented Millennial worth watching as he contemplates a run for the White House.