Summer is rolling along nicely and the Dewey library is bringing you round three of our Your Career in Fiction series. This part focuses on something that has probably been on a lot of people’s minds lately; politics. Whether you love them or hate them, politics can bring out some good stories, and these ones are for our public policy department.
Term Limits by Vince Flynn
The government isn’t working. The two major political parties have locked horns and fought the government to a standstill. Nothing is getting done and the people of America are suffering for their government’s pettiness and unwillingness to work together. No, I’m not talking about what we see on the news today; I’m talking about Vince Flynn’s novel from 1997, about a deadlocked D.C. being thrown into turmoil by a series of high profile political assassinations. When elite military commandos take it upon themselves to ‘relive’ three powerful politicians of their offices, and their lives, former U.S. Marine and freshman congressman Michael O’Rourke must look to clues in his past to help the FBI track down the terrorists and restore order to the government. Who says a congressman can’t get anything done?
Executive Orders by Tom Clancy
When terrorists destroy the Capital Building in an attack disturbingly reminiscent of 9/11 and wipe out most of the government, it’s up to Tom Clancy’s top CIA annalist turned Vice President to pick up the pieces. Moments after being sworn into his new office he finds himself taking another oath as he becomes the new commander in chief. Left to pick up the pieces of his shattered government, President Ryan must face terrorists and enemy nations as he works to restore the United States to stability. If you’ve read any of Tom Clancy’s work before you know he has an eerie knack for predicting political situations in the future. Executive Orders is book 8 in the Jack Ryan series, but if you want to start at the beginning with less political and more thriller, look for Patriot Games in the University Library under call number PS 3553 L245 P38 1987. The library also has a lot of other books by Clancy, including others in the Jack Ryan series, so if one just isn’t enough, just search Tom Clancy in Minerva and take your pick!
1984 by George Orwell
Available in the University Library
Call Number PR 6029 R8 N49 2000Z
What look into politics would be complete without this classic? Despite being published over 50 years ago about a time 30 years in the past, the concepts of government surveillance, historical revisionism, propaganda, and so on, are still highly relevant. Set in ‘Airstrip One,’ formerly London, England, in the superstate of Oceania, the story follows Winston Smith, a member of the Ministry of Truth, the government’s propaganda department, rewriting history so that it fits the party line. Far from being an obedient government drone, he harbors resentment for Big Brother’s totalitarian regime and rebels, only to be imprisoned and turned over to the mercies of the ominously named ‘Ministry of Love.’ If you’re studying public policy and haven’t read this book, you probably should. If you have read it, maybe read it again. After all, the term ‘Orwellian’ is getting thrown around a lot these days, so it couldn’t hurt to take a closer look at where it came from.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Available at the University Library
Call number PR 9199.3 A8 H3 1986
Ever wonder what the United States would be like if it were taken over by an ultra-conservative Christian military theocracy that hates women, Old Testament style? Margaret Attwood did, and it doesn’t look pretty. The Handmaid’s Tale follows Offred, a handmaid in the theocratic Republic of Gilead, established after Christian fundamentalists overthrew the American government and stripped women of all rights and autonomy. Handmaids function as mistresses to important men in the government for the purpose of combatting declining birthrates brought about by pollution and radiation exposure. The story also delves into flashbacks of Offred’s past, before the fall of the United States, when she was happily married and was raising a daughter of her own. With the political climate around gender relations, women’s and reproductive rights, and fundamentalism being what it is, this book seems especially relevant for today. Like many science/speculative fiction books, it uses the guise of ‘the future’ to talk about the important and controversial issues of today. And, like Orwell, this novel’s age hides its relevance to issues today. Don’t be deceived!
Classes will be starting before you know it, so don’t waste the precious free time you have left. Read something for yourself before all you have time for is assignments and research! As always, any books that can’t be found in our libraries can likely be found through interlibrary loan  or at a public library. And if this isn’t enough to satisfy your urge for political drama and thrills, don’t forget to email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (518-442-3691), or ask a librarian in person at the Dewey Library reference desk.
Blog post created by Alex Hoag