Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising when The Washington Post makes a list of the “Best Books” of the year, and then uses it to promote books by their own staff. But it looks more like advertising than book criticism.
The very first title on their ten-best list for this year (published on Sunday) is The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War, by reporter Craig Whitlock. This was an investigative series in the newspaper, which they’ve promoted agggresively. So this is just more pushy PR.
They gushed: “Whitlock shows how early in the conflict and how thoroughly U.S. leaders began misleading the world – and themselves – but putting a smiling face on failure and calling it success.”
In their “50 Notable Works of Nonfiction,” there is more of the same, including:
I Alone Can Fix It: Donald Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year By Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker
In this follow-up to A Very Stable Genius, two Pulitzer-winning Post reporters break down the last year of Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency.
Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service By Carol Leonnig
There’s plenty of courage in the Secret Service described by a Pulitzer-winning reporter for The Post, but not as mush professionalism as you’d think, and not nearly enough sobriety.
Notice how they're not going to miss telling you about the Pulitzers. Because this is advertising. But wait, there were more anti-Trump books:
Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History By Yasmeen Albutaleb and Damian Paletta
A chronicle by two Post reporters of the United States’ early response to the Covid-19 pandemic reveals that whenever public health and public relations came into conflict, public health lost out.
Peril By Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
Through copious interviews, Post investigative journalists describe the waning days of the Trump administration as the 45th president refused to admit defeat to Joe Biden.
Children Under Fire: An American Crisis By John Woodward Cox
A Post reporter explores with tragic clarity the terrible collateral costs children suffer from gun violence.
Even former Post reporters received a plug. Former diplomatic reporter Glenn Frankel scored one for his old-movie book Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic.
Then there’s some log-rolling for other liberal journalists. Anderson Cooper’s The Vanderbilts made the best-books list. So did New York Times race-baiter Nikole Hannah Jones for her book The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story.
To come around full circle, the Post even worked in the owner with a plug for a Bloomberg News editor.
Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire By Brad Stone
The author of The Everything Store focuses on a lucrative but lesser-known enterprise that generates the revenue to fuel Amazon’s super-charged expansion: cloud computing. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post).
You love the disclosure, as they shamelessly plug the boss’s “global empire.” But then, the Bezos book comes with this plug:
"Fascinating and deeply researched....Stone is at his best describing Bezos’s demanding style of management....[a] masterful book."
—Marc Levinson, Washington Post.