Ready for midterm elections? Some selected reading

"Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto" by Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe (William Morrow: 266 pp., $19.99)

"History," explain Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe, "teaches us that nothing could be more American than protest." In this book, they connect that spirit of protest with the "tea party" movement, which Kibbe (chief executive of the smaller government advocacy group FreedomWorks) defines as being "built on a coherent, unifying set of values … that go back to the revolutionary traditions of our founding as a nation." He and Armey, former House Republican majority leader, include a "toolkit" of guidelines showing readers how to organize activists in their own communities. "Remember," they write,"we are following the tradition of the original American community organizers, the Sons of Liberty.… As they understood so well, it does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires of freedom in the minds of men."

"Don't Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards" by P.J. O'Rourke (Atlantic Monthly Press: 288 pp., $25)

Who better to provide a little reality check than pundit par excellence P.J. O'Rourke? You know his attitude before even cracking open the book thanks to a most succinct, expressive title. He goes soft on no one. Are you sure you want healthcare reform that requires government involvement? Then consider this: "Someday we'll be wheeled in for a heart bypass operation and the surgeon will be the same person who's now behind the counter when we renew our registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles." Do you want international efforts to fight global warming? If you do, then be prepared: "I want you to go tell 1.3 billion Chinese they can never have a Buick."

"Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America" by Dana Milbank (Doubleday: 256 pp., $24.95)

Anyone who thought

Fox News

host Glenn Beck's popularity would subside, that his novelty would wear out, is still waiting for that to happen, explains Dana Milbank, a syndicated columnist with

the Washington Post

. "[F]orecasts of a swoon may be too hopeful," he says. "Beck has transcended the role of entertainer and talk-show host and now finds himself at the front of an antigovernment movement. The de facto leader of the Tea Party activists.…" Milbank's book offers a portrait of Beck as a demagogue whose antic-filled performances have him "crying all the way to the bank." And yet,

Bill O'Reilly

asks Beck in an interview, doesn't he run a risk that his serious message will be dismissed "because of the burlesque"? Beck agrees, adding "but have you seen the ratings at 5 p.m.?...[You] don't get those ratings at 5 p.m. by being Charlie Rose."

"Dirty Sexy Politics" by Meghan McCain (Hyperion: 194 pp., $23.99)

Though she's the daughter of 2008 Republican presidential nominee

Sen. John McCain



, Daily Beast columnist Meghan McCain shows here that supporting a parent doesn't mean accepting all of his views and having none of your own. Readers receive a frank, inside glimpse of the campaign trail; the endless, exhausting schedules; hearing her father derided as "an old white guy" too out of touch to run the country. "[W]e never really thought Dad's age was a big deal," she says, "until the media kept pointing it out." McCain says

Sarah Palin

's selection as vice presidential candidate injected vitality into a sagging campaign even though, she later realized, Palin "wasn't much of a team player…. I tried to make up my mind about her, and never could." McCain has a crystal-clear style, and her candor is refreshing. "I am not a politician trying to drum up support," she writes. "My hope is to present a unique account of history without compromising it with attempts to make myself look really good."

— Nick Owchar