Because he’s been selling me some books this week! Being a bit of a night-owl, I catch Charlie Rose on PBS most weeknights. Though I do enjoy the show and the newsmakers he interviews, it’s also pretty good for making me sleepy!
This week he’s talked to Tom Friedman of The New York Times and the legendary Bob Woodward of the Washington Post. Both journalists have new books out and after seeing them discuss the books, they are at the top of my must get list.
First is Woodward’s new book: The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008.
This is the fourth in a series of books that Woodward has written showing what goes on inside the White House during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As usual, the Post has excerpted the book in a series. Reading the excerpts and then hearing the Woodward interviews is heartbreaking. The sheer dysfunctionality of the Bush White House and the lives that were literally lost because of it will drive you to the point of anger. Even if you don’t go buy the book, take a couple of hours one night and read the excerpts linked above.
(And let me just head the obvious off at the pass. If anyone from the other side of the aisle wants to question Woodward’s reporting, when the White House cooperated with the book and President Bush himself sat for interviews, go ahead, give us all a laugh! )
But we expect Woodward’s stuff to be compelling, after all, he’s Bob Woodward!! The story is powerful, but is not really anything new.
If you want something new, check out Tom Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded; Why We Need a Green Revolution - And How It Can Renew America.
Friedman is an acquired taste and he’s definitely what anyone who attended the GOP Convention would call an elitist.
(Unrelated Sidebar - Bill Maher had one of the best points about the way that Republicans try to use the term “elitist”, as if that sides those people against the “rest” of America. The Founding Fathers were far and away the elites of the elites in their day. They leaned wholly on reason and very much looked to Europe for influence in creating our government. John Adams would probably have his intellect trashed today for being too French.)
Anyway - though I am grudgingly coming around to Friedman’s previous views on globalization, his interview on Charlie Rose was nothing short of fascinating. You can watch it here. The point of the book is this; The world’s population is growing at an amazing rate, and because of globalization, more and more people have the income to use non-renewable energy more frequently.
As much as innovation is needed, it can’t happen at the rate we need without governments shaping the market. Friedman gave a great comparison; The guy who invented the cell phone sells his buddy this great, life-changing invention. And as the technology improves, the price goes down and people innovate further. That DOESN’T happen with energy because it’s a resource we don’t see - it powers all the gadgets we need. People don’t care whether their light bulb is powered by the sun, as long as they have light. There’s no compelling reason to switch to a new, better form of energy because the one we have is relatively cheap. If government shapes those markets and passes along the true cost of energy, that kick starts the innovation market.
Now throw in the fact that China and India are going to be our competitors, wouldn’t we come out much farther ahead both economically and ecologically if we drove the global competition for the next great energy invention?
Again, I highly encourage you to watch the interview. I can’t wait to read the book.