Monday, May 4, 2015

Review: The Columnist by David Auburn

Title: The Columnist
Author: David Auburn
Year Published: 2012

Genre: Adult fictionalized non-fiction (play)
Pages: 99
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map)USA (DC)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the back of the book): In mid-century America, newspaper columnists are kings--and Joseph Alsop wears the biggest crown. Joe sits at the nexus of Washington life: beloved, feared, and courted in equal measure. But as the sixties dawn and America undergoes dizzying change, the intense political dramas Joe is embroiled in come to claim a profound personal cost.

Inspired by the real-life story of Joseph Alsop, David Auburn has penned a vital letter from a radically changing decade to our own turbulent era. The Columnist is a deft blend of history and fiction: a hilarious, searing portrait of the glorious rewards and devastating losses that accompany ego, ambition, and the pursuit of power.

Review: My fourteen-year-old daughter bought this yesterday in a used bookstore. I thought it was an odd choice, but didn't want to dissuade her from book buying so I didn't say anything. She started reading it in the car on the way home, then began to ask me questions: What's the best way to read a play? Who is David Halberstam? What is Dien Bien Phu? What year did the Vietnam War begin? As I began answering the questions, she said she would just start reading aloud.

This is a play and the characters are all from history. They are the movers and shakers of politics when JFK was President. We ended up having a great conversation about plays, about history, and about journalists. This slim volume of only 99 pages covers 1963 to 1969 and through the conversations of the main characters the reader gets a fascinating glimpse into history.

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