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This Should Be in Every Nonfiction Book

June 3, 2021

I just started reading Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis by Jared Diamond. I’m not sure if it’s a good book yet (it has potential), but I really like this paragraph on page 17.

*****

This is not a magazine article about current affairs, intended to be read for a few weeks after its publication, and then to fall out-of-date. Instead, this is a book expected to remain in print for many decades. I state that obvious fact just to explain why you might otherwise be astonished to find nothing whatsoever in this book about the specific policies of the current Trump administration in the U.S., nor about President Trump’s leadership, nor about the current Brexit negotiations in Britain. Anything that I could write today about those fast moving issues would become embarrassingly superseded by the time that this book is published, and would be useless a few decades from now. Readers interested in President Trump, his policies, and Brexit will find abundant published discussions elsewhere. But my Chapters 9 and 10 do have a lot to say about major U.S. issues that have been operating for the past two decades, that are now claiming even more attention under the current administration, and that are likely to continue to operate for at least the next decade.

*****

I think every nonfiction book that deals with major issues should have a paragraph like this to warn the readers. If a reader wants a hit piece on a current politician, no matter whom it might be, then the reader can move on to another book.

And the warning doesn’t even have to be about Trump. Every president has hit pieces written about him (and maybe her soon). It’s usually obvious when a book is a hit piece, but some authors like to sucker punch readers.

Don’t get me wrong; I like the occasional political hit piece. But there are too many of them out there, they are blatant money grabs, and they’re usually irrelevant after a few years.

I’m not saying that this type of warning paragraph should be mandated for every social/political non-fiction book, but this was nice to read.

OFF TOPIC!

Is it just me, or was Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond overrated? The book was okay, but I didn’t see anything special in it. I guess that’s for another blog post.

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