Politics meets fiction
A few of my friends say they read "only nonfiction, never fiction," as though fiction comprises only election stories they're tired of hearing. But according to political scientist Yascha Mounk, author of "The Great Experiment," "You can't understand politics without reading fiction."
Mounk is referring to the 1958 novel, "The Leopard," by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. It covers how political change does (and does not) happen, in the story of a man and his ambitious nephew during the confusing, disordered years of Italy's unification.
Those preferring nonfiction to describe political turbulence often cite the memoirs of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, whose 12-year-old son was with him during the whole Vicksburg campaign. Grant said in his 1875 speech at an Army of the Tennessee reunion in Des Moines, Iowa: "If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason & Dixon ... but between patriotism & intelligence on the one side & superstition, ambition & ignorance on the other."
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