How Washington’s top book critic reads between 2024’s political lines


Carlos Lozada is a columnist for The New York Times, and before that, the longtime nonfiction book critic for The Washington Post.

In 2019, Lozada won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism for a series of pieces that judges described as “trenchant and searching reviews and essays that joined warm emotion and careful analysis in examining a broad range of books addressing government and the American experience.”

Well, he’s now collected nearly a decade of such reviews in what he calls “The Washington Book: How to Read Politics and Politicians,” which was released this week.

“If the art of politics can be to subtract meaning from language to produce more and more words that say less and less,” he writes, “then it is my purpose as a journalist to try to find that meaning and put it back.”

He reads a lot of books by politicians. As he likes to say, he reads all those books so that you don’t have to.

But he’s found a way to use those books to say something interesting about those same politicians.

So what does Carlos’ close reading of the likes of Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Mike Pence, Ron DeSantis and many others reveal about our politics in 2024?

It turns out quite a lot. On this week’s episode of Deep Dive, host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza sits down with Carlos in POLITICO’s offices to find out more.



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