Book of Today: A Necessary Evil by Garry Wills


Along with the government shutting down and the Obamacare exchanges starting up, today’s other big news is the beginning of Fiction Advocate’s “Book of Today” series. We had some clever plans to kick off with Martin Amis’ Money since October 1 is the beginning of the fiscal year. But those plans were overtaken by events.

Since there is not (yet) a novel about 220 assholes who threaten to deny millions of Americans health care if we don’t shut down the government and wreck the world economy, we are going with Garry Wills’ A Necessary Evil. Wills is the author of the extraordinary Lincoln at Gettysburg, and here brings his talents to surveying the nation’s historical trust of government — and how that mistrust has been mobilized to justify any number of dumb choices and political positions like laissez-faire economics and libertarianism.

Much of what is happening today has its roots in the history Wills retells. A Necessary Evil is an important book by a great historian, and it’s now officially the Book of Today.

A bit of trivia about A Necessary Evil: In The West Wing episode “Let Bartlet be Bartlet” Josh Lyman can be see holding a copy of the book. It happens at about 3:20:

– Michael Moats

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