Books by John Nichols

NON-FICTION
Released: March 8, 2016

"An authoritative account of the challenges facing progressives wishing to fuse better governance with economic justice."
An energetic if grim discussion of inequality and the coming era of underemployment, viewed through the lens of the forgotten American progressive narrative. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: June 11, 2013

"An alarming, not-incorrect diagnosis, but an argument too one-sided and a solution so lofty as to be of little use."
Collaborating once more (The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again, 2010), Nichols, the Nation's Washington, D.C., correspondent, and academic McChesney (Communications/Univ. of Illinois) decry the pernicious influence of Big Money on our elections. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Feb. 14, 2012

"Richly detailed and inspiring—worth reading for anyone interested in organized labor, civil disobedience or the spirit of Wisconsin."
An engrossing, informative take on the mass demonstrations that broke out in Wisconsin in early 2011 in opposition to Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: March 14, 2011

"A brief and selective but well-written and spirited study."
An important reminder of the invaluable strains of socialist thought throughout American political history, from fighting despotism to creating universal health care. Read full book review >
THE EMPANADA BROTHERHOOD by John Nichols
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 2007

"The human energy swirling around the empanada stand is full of sound and fury but signifies very little."
A novel about a band of metaphorical brothers (and sisters and lovers) whose social life centers around an empanada kiosk in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Nov. 1, 2005

"The authors' argument gets a little soft when they trumpet their media-reform platform—but, to gauge by this book, no one else but the right is going to do the job. Good fuel for progressive responses to the Fox cabal."
The media are immoral, biased, unreliable and unpatriotic. But, The Nation correspondent Nichols and media scholar McChesney argue, it's the right's fault, not the left's. Read full book review >
THE VOICE OF THE BUTTERFLY by John Nichols
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 1, 2001

"Still, it's an amusing satire that, in its own way, manages to rebuke today's political realities. "
All hell breaks loose when a proposed highway bypass threatens a peaceful neighborhood and endangers a rare species of butterfly, prompting an unreconstructed '60s radical to scrape together a bunch of misfits and take on the town's establishment. Read full book review >
DANCING ON THE STONES by John Nichols
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: March 1, 2000

" A real pleasure for fans of Nichols's work."
Politically charged essays by the noted novelist and screenwriter. Read full book review >
CONJUGAL BLISS by John Nichols
Released: Feb. 1, 1994

What happens when two self-described sex fiends tie the knot? That's the subject of this broadly comic ninth novel from Nichols (The Milagro Beanfield War, 1984, etc.) Birds do it, bees do it, and newlyweds Roger and Zelda do it whenever the mood takes them, up against the refrigerator or out among the garbage cans. Though both are middle-aged, previously married and parents of teenagers, they have the sexual energy of, well, teenagers. But while everything worked fine during their courtship (``a lighthearted commuter affair'')—when both had other partners by mutual consent—marriage is another story. The problem is Zelda's jealousy, which begins on their wedding night (``Is it better with me than it was with Christie?'') and never lets up. Phone calls from Roger's ex-wife Bonnie and letters from his ex- girlfriends send Zelda into wild temper-tantrums; even his daughter Kim becomes a target (``watching you two together is almost like observing incest in action''). Roger reacts wimpishly, offering feeble resistance, trying to meet his deadlines (he's writing a profitable series of intergalactic detective stories) and knowing that Zelda's frenzied outbursts will be followed by even more frenzied lovemaking. Yet both the sex and the anger are mechanical: instead of the dynamics of a credible marriage, Nichols gives us two people on a sitcom treadmill, in a framework of strained bonhomie (``Get this, folks'') and hyperbolic imagery (``Zelda could shut down her ebullience...as emphatically as Fat Man had shut down Hiroshima''). He wraps up their first six months with a knock-down-drag-out fight, a reconciliation, and a too-cute peek into the future. Nichols is evidently in a slump; for all the effort, this is as unerotic as his last novel (An Elegy for September, 1992). Read full book review >
AN ELEGY FOR SEPTEMBER by John Nichols
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 1992

The narrator of this short novel by Nichols (The Milagro Beanfield War, The Magic Journey, etc.) is a 50-ish writer living in New Mexico, in the process of divorcing his second and much younger wife. A college junior has written him a fan letter, following it up with a spate of raunchy missives culminating in news that she's coming West to spend some time in a writers' colony near where he lives. Their affair, therefore, is preordained; but, suffering from heart disease and feelings of failure, the narrator finds himself most of the time a step behind, disappointing them both. Plus the fact that a charm-school graduate the young woman's not: ``She said, `Just think. You'll be stuck underground, riddled with worms, while I'm hot in the throes of passion fucking some young stud. Cold icy snow will cover your grave while sweat makes my breasts and belly slimy.' '' With a sideways nod to Hemingway's no less feeble Across the River and Into the Trees, the story consists of scenes of the narrator trying to revere nature (often by killing it: trout- fishing, grouse-hunting) while trying to ignore the young woman's criticisms of his sport or else her persistent habit of removing her clothes under God's skies. Self-proclaimed elegy though this means to be, the little book Nichols milks out of the contrast is depressed, unerotic, and forced. Read full book review >